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 luxury makeup, I strongly believe that highend does not automatically translate to high quality. Whether you are new to makeup or simply hoping to spend less money, I’ve created the ultimate guide to budget-friendly beauty.
I know many people prefer investing in high-end foundations, and although I have sensitive, acne-prone skin, there are so many affordable formulas that perform just as well.
A skin tint is a staple in every collection, and I always reach for the L’Oréal True Match Nude Hyaluronic Tinted Serum. It’s lightweight but buildable with a luxurious, skin-like finish.
The Maybelline Fit Me Foundations provide beautiful medium coverage for every occasion. The Dewy + Smooth formula is my favorite since I have dry skin and prefer a luminous finish, but the Matte + Poreless version is a popular option for normal, combination, and oily skin types.
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. I love the Pro-Glow formula, but there is also a Pro-Matte formula.
I am very selective when it comes to concealers, but I have three affordable options that meet and exceed my standards.
The Maybelline Fit Me Concealer is one of the most loved products in my makeup collection. It’s light, buildable coverage with a hydrating, smoothing finish—perfect for all over the face or under the eyes.
If you want glowy skin but medium coverage, I recommend the NYX Bare With Me Hydrating Concealer Serum. It melts into the skin so beautifully.
The ELF Hydrating Camo Concealer offers full coverage. Because it has a long-lasting, matte finish, I typically use this for spot-concealing blemishes.
I’ve always struggled to find bronzer formulas I love at the drugstore, so if you’ve had the same issue, try one of these.
I love how easily cream bronzers blend, and the ELF Putty Bronzer is the best affordable option I’ve found. The line has beautiful undertones, and the color doesn’t disappear once blended.
The Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer is a highly pigmented, matte option that comes in a range of colors.
If you want to achieve a refined, lit-from-within bronze glow, the Revlon SkinLights Prismatic Bronzer is a dream. It provides a sheer but buildable wash of color.
I had such a hard time narrowing down this category because there are so many affordable blushes I absolutely adore.
The Honest Beauty Crème Cheek & Lip Color is the perfect product for beginners because it is truly foolproof. It’s pigmented but not too pigmented, it blends effortlessly, and it layers so well over powders which I can’t say about all creams.
The Flower Beauty Lip & Cheek Gel Crush is another beautiful cream blush. It’s a sheer wash of color that makes my skin extra dewy.
The Milani Baked Blushes will always have my heart. They are perfectly pigmented, highly blendable and last all day. I love how they are glowy but not glittery.
The L’Oréal True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer is a staple in my makeup collection and one of the most versatile products at the drugstore. It can be applied all over the face underneath foundation, mixed in with foundation, or worn on the high points of the face as a liquid illuminator.
The ELF Halo Glow Liquid Filter can be used in all the same ways as the Glotion, but is a bit more soft and subtle, especially since the shades are more natural. Because it offers light coverage, it can even be worn in place of foundation, and it performs just as well as its highend counterparts.
If you’re like me and don’t enjoy powdery, glittery highlighters, then look no further than the Essence Pure Nude Highlighter. The baked formula offers the most unique shimmer-free sheen that looks like it costs far more than $5. Sometimes I even combine this with a setting powder to brighten my undereye area.
Since I have dry skin and prefer a dewy finish, I haven’t found too many powders I love, but the Covergirl Clean Fresh Pressed Powder does an excellent job of smoothing out my skin while preventing my T-zone from becoming oily throughout the day.
For all of my dewy makeup lovers, I recommend the NYX Bare With Me Multitasking Spray. I reach for this when I want to refresh my makeup after a long day because it adds an instant glow.
If you want your makeup to last longer, then opt for the Makeup Revolution Hyaluronic Fixing Spray. I think this would work for all skin types because although it’s hydrating, it doesn’t change the finish of your makeup.
If you’re striving for the lifted, laminated look, you have to try the Got2B Glued Spiking Glue. It’s meant to be used for hair, but I promise if you apply a tiny amount with a spoolie, it will hold your brows in place like nothing else.
For those of you who prefer using a wax, the Makeup Revolution Soap Brow is ideal. It’s easy-to-use and comes in a tinted option.
I think so many of you would love the Elf Wow Brow Gel. The precise wand and tinted hair-like fibers help me acheive thicker, darker brows so effortlessly.
I typically prefer investing in eyeshadow, especially 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.
The ELF Bite Size Eyeshadow Palette is available in a variety of color stories, and the shades are pigmented and blendable. For $3, these are amazing.
I will always recommend the L’Oréal Infallible 24HR Eyeshadows. They are the absolute best single in terms of pigmentation and longevity, and the metallic finish is stunning.
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, as it it separates my lashes so well and doesn’t make them feel crunchy.
For curl, I like the Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara because it holds all day.
I always recommend saving rather than splurging on lip products because the drugstore has so many high-quality options. I have tried countless lip liners at a range of price points and approve of all of these.
The NYX Long-Lasting Slim Lip Pencil is a bestseller for a reason. The more dry, stiff formula makes it especially long-lasting, and it’s available in every shade you could imagine.
The Maybelline Color Sensational Shaping Lip Liner looks and feels so luxurious, and has a more hydrating formula that glides on the lips. Plus, it includes a hidden sharpener on the end.
The LA Girl Perfect Precision Lip Liners aren’t as long-lasting as I would like, but the nude shades in this line are absolute perfection.
I cannot say enough good things about the L’Oréal Colour Riche Les Nus Intense Lipsticks. The formula feels so buttery and luxurious, and each of the shades are stunning.
For a more sheer wash of color, the L’Oréal Glow Paradise Balm-in-Lipstick is so lovely. It keeps my lips hydrates and has a beautiful sheen.
I’ve never been into liquid lipsticks, but the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams redefine the category. They are opaque and long-lasting, but they somehow never feel dry or look thick. The variety of shades is also very impressive.
The Maybelline Lifter Gloss is truly the most beautiful formula. In addition to the high-shine finish, they are hydrating and plumping because of the hyaluronic acid. This is another line that has a wonderful shade range.
Another formula I recommend is the L’Oreal Glow Paradise Lip Balm-in-Gloss. It makes my lips appear more full and smooth, and it definitely lives up to its name.
There are countless expensive products that claim to repair dry, chapped lips, but the Aquaphor Lip Repair is truly the most effective formula I’ve tried and it only costs a few dollars. I constantly reach for this before bed and before my makeup routine, but I also love wearing it over a neutral lip liner.
I would have loved a resource like this when I first began building my makeup collection, so I hope you found it helpful. Comment your top drugstore makeup recommendations below so we can all look amazing while saving money.