Drugstore Makeup Essentials: The Perfect Starter Kit for Beginners


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I’m Makena, the creator and editor of Makeup By Makena — a beauty blog dedicated to empowering others through the art of makeup.






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The more I became obsessed with makeup, the more high-end products I’ve been trying. Even though I love all the high-end products I’ve tried and think they’re completely worth the money, I also think that inexpensive drugstore makeup is just as amazing. Here are my top ten holy-grail drugstore makeup products that I use on a daily basis. These are all wonderful products that I would recommend to everyone, but they’re especially nice for beginners who are just starting to try things out and haven’t become enchanted by all of the beautifully expensive products at Sephora yet! So, let’s jump into the perfect starter kit!

  • L’Oreal True Match Foundation: This was the very first foundation I ever used, and I still use it on a daily basis. The original True Match is great for oily or combination skin since it has a natural, matte finish, while their True Match Lumi is prefect for dry skin since it has a very dewy finish. They both offer a light/medium buildable coverage that looks really natural and never cakes up. One of my favorite things about this liquid foundation is that they have a ton of different shades that are organized by warm, neutral, and cool undertones, so you’ll always find your true match. I like to apply mine with a flat top kabuki brush or a beauty blender, but your fingers work okay, too.
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From Left to Right: L’Oreal True Match Foundation in “W3”, “N5”, “N6”, and “W5.5”

  • Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer: This is my favorite concealer for under my eyes because it has a light coverage which is perfect for me and also acts as a highlight. I suggest getting it in one shade lighter than your foundation and applying it in an upside-down triangle shape before blending out with a slightly damp beauty blender. You can also use it on the other high parts of your face that the light would normally hit like the chin and center of the forehead to balance out that highlight for a more natural look. The only downside to this highlighting concealer is that you don’t get very much product, so you have to continue to repurchase it. If you want or need an undereye concealer that provides more coverage unlike this one, then the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Concealer.

Maybelline Dream Lumi Touche Highlighting Concealer in “Nude”

  • Milani Blushes: Just about everyone has heard about their Baked Blush in the shade “Luminoso” and I’m here to tell you to believe the hype! This is hands down my favorite blush from the drugstore! It literally looks good on all skintones from very fair to deep (it makes a really nice highlighter for darker skin) and truly gives you that “glowing from within” look. If you aren’t into this shimmery peach shade, they also have some really nice matte blushes, and other coral, pink, berry, and wine shades that are just as pigmented and just as blendable.

Milani Baked Powder Blush in “Luminoso”

  • N.Y.C. Bronzers: I own their matte Bronzing Face Powder in the shade “Sunny” and their Sun n’ Bronze shimmery bronzer in “Fire Island Tan” and really like them both for using everyday. They both blend really easily and last a decent amount of time, while doing a really nice job at naturally bronzing up the face. I did notice, however, that with “Fire Island Tan” it almost had a film on the top layer that made it difficult to get product on your brush, but once you use it a few more times, it works much better. Still, I would recommend choosing a shade darker than you normally would to save you the trouble of having to repeatedly build up the product. I do not use either of these for contouring, just for warming up my cheekbones and the outer edges of my face, but if you are looking for an inexpensive contour powder NYX has their Matte Bronzer which a lot of people like.
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From Left to Right: “Sunny” and “Fire Island Tan”

  • L’Oreal Infallable 24 Hour Eyeshadows: “Amber Rush” is one of my all-time favorite eyeshadows and i love it so much that I used it in my Go-To Eye Makeup Look! It is crazy pigmented, literally lasts forever even without a primer, and is a gorgeous shimmery rose gold shade. I’ve found that these shadows work best when applied with your finger because the color shows up better and there’s less fallout. I also have it in the shades “Bronzed Taupe” (a must-have if you love taupes) and “Bottomless Java”, but there are over 20 other shades to choose from!
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From Left to Right: “Bronzed Taupe”, “Amber Rush”, and “Bottomless Java”

  • Maybelline Expert Wear Eyeshadow Quad in “Chai Latte”: This is an amazing set of affordable eyeshadows and I highly recommend it to beginners! It includes a deep shimmery gold shade, a chocolate brown color, a frosty pearl highlight, and a neutral matte beige shadow. These are all very practical everyday shades and all have wonderful pigmentation. The darkest brown shadow makes the perfect everyday eyeliner when applied with a liner brush. My favorite part of this specific quad is that it has a matte shadow, which is very hard to find at the drugstore. I hit pan on my mine a long time ago because it’s a great transition/blending shade for the crease! All of these shades, especially #3, are amazing quality and are definitely an everyday essential and a must-have for beginners!

Maybelline Expert Wear Eyeshadow Quad in “Chai Latte”

  • Rimmel Scandaleyes Eyeliner: This is definitely the best pencil eyeliner I have ever used and it costs less than $5! It’s creamy, easy to use, lasts forever, and i have no complaints! My favorite liquid liner is the Almay Liquid Eyeliner in “Black” because it’s a little bit easier to use than most liquid liners and you can make a very precise, thin line, which is a necessity for me. If you’re looking for a gel eyeliner from the drugstore, I’d recommend the Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner; people say it’s just as good, if not better than the ones from Bobby Brown and MAC.
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Rimmel London Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eye Liner in “Black”

  • L’Oreal Mascaras: To be honest, I haven’t tried that many other brands of mascaras, but why fix something, if it’s not broken? Their Telescopic mascara makes your lashes really long and separated, which is perfect for everyday. Their Butterfly mascara does a great job of fanning out your lashes and creating more volume all the way from the inner corner to the outer corner. Their Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara is perfect for a more dramatic night out because it makes your lashes very thick, black, and dramatic. I love all of their mascaras so much and I’m pretty sure that I always will.

From Top to Bottom: L’Oreal Telescopic and Voluinous Carbon Black

  • NYX Lip Products: Even though I love lots of other lipsticks from other brands like Rimmel and Maybelline, I think that overall NYX has the highest quality and largest selection of lip products. I love their Extra Creamy Round Lipsticks, Butter Lipsticks, Soft Matte Lip Cremes, Retractable Lip Liners, Butter Lip Glosses, and Mega Shine Lip Glosses! They each have amazing long-lasting, creamy formulas with a wonderful variety of colors. My favorites are the Butter Lipstick in “Pops” and the oh-so-popular “Creme Brulee” lip gloss.

From Left to Right: NYX Soft Matte Lip Creme in “Antwerp”, Butter Lipstick in “Pops”, Mega Shine Lip Gloss in “Sweetheart”, Extra Creamy Round Lipstick in “Indian Pink”, Butter Lip Gloss in “Creme Brulee”, and Retractable Lip Liner in “Nude”

  • Maybelline Color Elixir Lip Glosses: I’ve mentioned these before here on my blog and can’t say enough good things about them! They have amazing pigmentation and feel really shiny, smooth, and moisturizing on my lips. My favorite shade is “Caramel Infused” and I literally use it all the time! They’re great for when you’re in a rush a want a foolproof lip color, but still want to look like you put in some effort. I can always count on these to give me that  really-pretty-lipgloss-on-top-of-a-really-pretty-lipstick look that I love so much helping me look more polished and put together! Needless to say, you need to go buy one of these right this minute! Well, after you finish reading, of course.
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From Left to Right: “Nude Illusion” and “Caramel Infused”

I hope that you liked learning about my favorite drugstore makeup products that I consider everyday essentials! If you’re new to the makeup world, I hope this post helps you build your perfect starter kit! Please comment some of your favorite drugstore products; I’m always looking for new ones to try out and would love to hear your opinions!


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Read the Comments +

  1. I LOVE NYX lip products! I just bought the NYX Butter lipstick in Pops. SO pretty!

    • Me too! I’m so glad you got “Pops”! I talk about it all the time here on my blog; it truly is one of the best quality lipsticks out there, drugstore or highend. Thanks for reading, I appreciate your lovely comment, and let me know how you like “Pops”! xoxo

  2. OMG I love the Maybelline eye shadow quad is amazing and the Scandal eyes liner too! It’s definitely a part of my everyday makeup routine, well weekend makeup since I can’t wear makeup to school! Recently got the Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer and yet to try it.
    P.S : I love your WordPress blog! I have one too but I find it so hard to get it to look how I want it to as there are so many features to WordPress! xx

  3. sofiacollins says:

    I just got the L’Oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Amber Rush, I absolutely love the rose gold-y shade!! I also have been wanting the NYX matte lip cream in Antwerp for YEARS! I’ve never seen the Maybelline eyeshadow quads, but that one looks so gorgeous I’ll have to track it down! xoxo

  4. Jess says:

    I came straight to this post because even though I’ve been wearing makeup for years it’s always so interesting to see what people’s beginner staples are- sadly my orange tinted foundation and ’14 year old attempts a smokey eye’ weren’t as classy as your L’oreal choices but we’ve all got to start somewhere right!? (and I mean I’ve only just learnt how to master liquid eyeliner, it’s taken soo long!) xo

    • Lol! Trust me, even I laugh when I think back on how silly my makeup must have looked when I first started! I’m so glad that this post helped you in some way! Thank you so much for the kind comments, I really appreciate them! xoxo

  5. I love the maybelline dream lumi concealer and the rimmel scandal eyes too !! Great picks 🙂

  6. randomstein says:

    I’d love to try NYX lip products! Especially their famous matte lip cremes!


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Hey, I'm Makena.

I’m Makena, the creator and editor of Makeup By Makena — a beauty blog dedicated to empowering others through the art of makeup.

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