Drugstore Makeup Starter Kit | 2021


about 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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Beauty Book

This 32-page magazine is a guide to my all-time favorite beauty products.


When I first created Makeup By Makena, I promised myself that I would always make an effort to share affordable, accessible products for beauty lovers of all budgets. Although I have invested in and shared my love for high-end products, the drugstore will always have my heart. Whether you are new to makeup or hoping to spend less money, this drugstore makeup starter kit is the ultimate guide to budget-friendly beauty. These are all such high quality and perform just as well as my more expensive products.


I know many people prefer investing in high-end foundations, but I have sensitive, acne-prone skin and there are so many affordable formulas that I absolutely love. The Maybelline Fit Me Foundations are ideal for every day and can even be mixed with moisturizer for a more sheer, lightweight alternative. The Dewy + Smooth formula is one of the glowiest foundations I have ever tried, while the Matte + Poreless formula is one of the most universal. For a more full coverage option, the L’Oréal Infallible Foundations are my favorite because they feel so high-end and last all day and all night. Since I have dry skin and like a more luminous finish, I love the Pro-Glow formula, but there is also a Pro-Matte formula for more oily skin types.


If you’ve visited my blog before, then you know the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer is one of the most loved products in my makeup collection. It has buildable coverage with a hydrating, smoothing finish, perfect for all over the face or under the eyes. For an under eye concealer that works well on all skin types, the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Concealer is a classic. If you want to spot conceal blemishes, I recommend the L’Oréal True Match Concealer, which melts into the skin and has a wider variety of undertones.


Since I have dry, dehydrated skin and prefer a dewy finish, powders are not my favorite, but I have found two that work for me. The Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in ‘Transparent’ smoothes out my skin while preventing my t-zone from becoming oily throughout the day. In addition to making my makeup last all day, the Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder in ‘Translucent Extra Coverage’ is amazing for reverse contouring, making my bronzer and eyeshadow look more clean.


The Physician’s Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer in ‘Deep Bronzer’ is one of my all-time favorite bronzers, regardless of the price. It is highly pigmented, blendable, and long lasting. Affordable cream bronzers are difficult to find, but a deeper shade of the L’Oréal True Match Super-Blendable Crayon Concealer works well for bronzing and contouring.


I have never been obsessed with blush, but thanks to the Milani Baked Blushes, I am converted. My favorite shade is ‘Petal Primavera’, a subtle rose shade. I love these because they are long lasting and have the prettiest glow without being shimmery. For a more matte look, the Burt’s Bees Blush with Vitamin E has an amazing formula. I love ‘Toasted Cinnamon’, a warm nude ideal for tan skin tones. So many of my favorite cream products have been discontinued, but if you are looking for a liquid blush, the NYX Sweet Cheeks Soft Cheek Tint in ‘Nude Tude’ is a neutral brown shade that would look beautiful on all skin tones; it dries to a more matte finish and also works well on the lips.


One of my favorite products in my collection, the L’Oréal True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer is perfection in a bottle. In addition to mixing it with foundation or applying it all over the face underneath foundation or on bare skin, it also makes the prettiest liquid highlighter. All the shades are stunning, but ‘Light’ is a great rose gold for highlighting light to tan skin tones. With a shimmer-free sheen, the Essence Pure Nude Highlighter feels perfectly luxurious — ideal for a subtle highlight, even for the undereye area. For a true powder highlighter, the Wet n Wild MegaGlow Highlighting Powder is a great pick. It comes in lots of pretty colors and makes your makeup pop.


To be honest, I typically prefer to splurge when it comes to eyeshadow palettes, but the L’Oréal Paradise Enchanted Eyeshadow Palette is my favorite drugstore option because it has the prettiest warm-toned shades in both shimmery and matte finishes. When I’m not using my bronzer, blush, and highlighter on my eyes, the L’Oréal Infallible 24HR Eyeshadow is the absolute best in terms of pigmentation. I love the shade ‘Amber Rush’. For those of you who prefer cream eyeshadow, the Maybelline Color Tattoo 24HR Cream Eyeshadows last an insanely long amount of time.


If you struggle to perfect winged liner, the Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner is a game changer. I find that using a precise angled brush with this creamy but long-lasting formula is so much easier than using a liquid. To tight line, I like the Rimmel ScandalEyes Kohl Kajal Waterproof Eye Liners. They are pigmented, crease-proof, and easy to use.


When it comes to mascaras, the drugstore can do no wrong. For volume, I love the L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara. It makes my lashes look so beautiful and thick without becoming clumpy. For length, I rely on the L’Oréal Telescopic Mascara. It separates my lashes so well and doesn’t make them feel crunchy. For curl, I like the Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara. It fans out my lashes and helps them stay in place all day.


I prefer to keep my brow routine simple with just a powder, and although I have not found one I like from the drugstore, the L’Oréal Brow Stylist Definer is perfect if you like pencils, as it has a fine point in addition to a spoolie. I also recently purchased the Elf Brow Wow Gel, which adds a touch of color and thickness while keeping my brows in place.

Lip Liner

I have tried several different drugstore lip liners, but the Milani Color Statement Lipliner is my favorite formula. It is creamy but not too creamy, so it is long lasting both on the lips and in the pencil. If you do not want to have to sharpen your liner, the NYX Retractable Lip Liner also has a beautiful formula that is available in a wide variety of shades.


The drugstore has seemingly endless options for lipstick, but I have always loved the Rimmel London Lasting Finish by Kate Lipsticks and the Milani Color Statement Lipsticks. They are both opaque and creamy, and available in a variety of beautiful neutrals. For a sheer, shiny finish, the Maybelline Color Sensational Shine Compulsion Lipstick is my personal favorite — I love ‘Baddest Beige.’ For a long-lasting, matte finish, the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams are an affordable yet luxurious option.

Lip Gloss

An opaque and creamy classic, the NYX Butter Glosses come in so many beautiful shades and are great for layering. The Milani Keep It Full Nourishing Lip Plumper has a tingling sensation, and although I don’t think it actually makes my lips bigger, it definitely creates that illusion due to the shimmery finish. I recently discovered the Maybelline Lifter Glosses, and they are my new favorite formula. They are formulated with hyaluronic acid, which hydrates and plumps, leaving my lips perfectly glossy and luxurious.

I hope you found this guide helpful. Leave any drugstore makeup recommendations or requests down below so we can help each other out.

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  1. I agree with so many of these picks – Maybelline, L’Oreal and Milani really kill it when it comes to complexion products.

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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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