Beauty lovers can use drugstore makeup products to get glammed up. By no means do makeup consumers need to drop hundreds of dollars on high-end beauty products. It’s completely possible to get a red carpet-worthy look using only stuff found in the aisles of the local Walgreens or Rite Aid, and there are plenty of YouTube makeup gurus out there who will show you how it’s done.
But how can you tell the difference between one drugstore makeup product that’s guaranteed to give you fresh, dewy skin and another sitting right next to it that’s more likely to make it look like you’re wearing a flesh-colored face mask? The answer is you can’t really, at least not without first checking out hundreds of reviews first. And since it’s unlikely anyone would have the time to do that while standing in the middle of a makeup aisle, we’ve gone ahead and narrowed the list down on those products that should be avoided at all costs.
Rimmel Lasting Finish Breathable Concealer
Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Breathable Concealer is marketed as a “25-hour” long-lasting formula, with medium coverage — perfect for covering minor imperfections and smoothing out complexions without the need to reapply after a few hours. That’s great in theory, but, in practice, this product fails to live up to its claims. With a rating below two stars at Target (and on the Rimmel website) at the time of publication, this drugstore concealer reportedly falls short of its previous Match Perfection formula, which customers adored.
According to aesthetician and beauty blogger Nia Patten, the Lasting Finish Breathable Concealer doesn’t work for someone with fine lines around their eyes. “It doesn’t cover my dark pigmentation fully,” she said. “I’m not keen on the finish either, it sets to look a bit shiny plasticy, not pleasing on the old crow’s feet.” Patten is also not a fan of the concealer’s applicator, which she said is “too small and hard to blend the product,” and also lacks the ability to be properly cleaned — a major negative for anyone concerned with keeping bacterial growth away from their face.
L'Oreal Paris Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream
While L’Oréal Paris’ Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream is supposed to counteract redness via its use of “beautifying beads,” which, according to L’Oréal’s website, are encapsulated pigments in lightweight lotion, people who have actually used the cream have found that it appears to change the color of their skin. According to one customer who left a review on Rite Aid’s site, the product turned their skin orange, with one reviewer saying her face appeared “bright orange.” The reviewer compared her startling skin tone to that of an “oompa-loompa,” noting, “I blended it, and blended it but eventually I washed it off because it wasn’t getting any better.”
But orange wasn’t the only color mentioned in reviews. In her review of the Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream, beauty vlogger Anchalee Pagsanjan said it made her skin look gray: “I hate things that make me look ashy, and I’m looking quite ashy with this.” Pagsanjan also said the cream failed to cover her hyperpigmentation, which admittedly would be asking a lot from a BB cream. But, if it does enough to turn your skin gray, the least it could do is even it out.
Maybelline Dream Wonder Powder
Maybelline’s Dream Wonder Powder is a pressed medium coverage powder that’s advertised as being “buildable” — so if you’re unhappy with the first layer, you can easily add onto it without a cakey result. Overall, the reviews for the powder fall somewhere around average, and, for ten bucks, average may not be that bad of a compromise. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some far better products out there just a half aisle away in the drugstore makeup section.
The biggest complaint with the Maybelline Dream Wonder Powder is that it falls apart and quickly. Most one-star reviews claim the compact crumbled within days of use, with one reviewer saying, “It lasted all but [nine] days before breaking apart into a powdery mess in my makeup bag.” Beauty vlogger Emily Noel gave a generally good review of the powder but agreed that it was “flaky,” and said, “If you like to use a brush with this, you end up kind of working up a lot of loose powder in the process of just dipping your brush in.”
Neutrogena SkinClearing Mineral Powder
Not only does Neutrogena’s SkinClearing Mineral Powder claim to provide “optimal coverage for blemishes,” it also contains 0.5 percent salicylic acid, which is meant to actually treat acne. Win-win, right? Unfortunately, for many who have more sensitive, acne-prone skin, the powder allegedly just made their breakouts worse.
One Makeup Alley reviewer called it the “worst powder ever,” while another reviewer said it both dried her skin and exacerbated her acne problem. “I also found the powder to be kind of grainy and not very smooth,” she said. “The finish was cakey on my skin and it felt really uncomfortable on my face, extremely noticeable as well.” Even the better-rated reviews took aim at the powder’s acne-clearing claims, with one reviewer saying, “I find its claims to help with acne pretty useless.”
But the worst of it comes down to the cost. At around $15, Neutrogena’s SkinClearing Mineral Powder is more expensive than a lot of other drugstore makeup options out there (including the Maybelline Dream Wonder Powder), and, without having much of a return on quality, it becomes less worth it to spend the money.
e.l.f. Illuminating Palette
According to the e.l.f. website, the four-color Illuminating Palette is meant to be mixed and built upon “for a gorgeous, glowing complexion that flatters any skin tone.” At about $6, the product — which has been called a “dupe” for the $60 Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette — seems like an incredible deal. And if you’re looking for something so subtle that it might go completely unnoticed, then this may be perfect for you.
But if you’re trying to find a decent highlight, you’re going to want to pass on e.l.f. It’s true that there’s a difference between an illuminator and a highlighter, and an illuminator is meant to be less intense than a typical highlighter. But obviously consumers want a little shine. Beauty blog Blush & Pearls called the product a “dud,” saying, “It has zero glow when I swatch it and looks like chalk on my skin. I always try to give every new product a chance, but I’ve tried using it several times and it’s always the same.” The site’s blogger added, “I’ve seen rocks that have more radiance than this palette.”
L'Oreal Paris True Match Naturale Mineral Blush
L’Oréal Paris’ True Match Naturale Mineral Blush is an add-on to the company’s mineral makeup line, which also includes its True Match Mineral Foundation. It’s a noncomedogenic product that’s free of both talc and fragrance, and it’s advertised as a “natural, healthy-looking cheek color.” All in all, it isn’t a terrible product, and a lot of people who’ve managed to figure out how to use it without getting it everywhere first think it’s a pretty decent drugstore find.
But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Is it really worth the trouble of covering yourself and your entire bathroom counter in makeup for a product that’s just pretty good? The general consensus seems to be that the issue lies with the packaging more than anything else, but that packaging is enough to deter many from buying the blush a second time.
This kind of issue appears to be a common theme with L’Oréal’s mineral line. In ModaMob’s review of the company’s True Match Mineral Makeup, one of the channel’s hosts said, “It did mess up my entire outfit that I was wearing. It’s all powder now.”
Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid Lip Color
The struggle to find the perfect matte lipstick is a real one. Sometimes, you find one that dries to a perfect matte finish but only stays that way for an hour or two before it flakes off or dries your lips out. Or there are those that wind up being a complete mess to put on and never actually dry to a matte finish. Maybelline’s Color Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid Lip Color falls more on the latter side of the matte lipstick struggle.
Reviews are varied for this drugstore makeup product. While it’s overall easy to apply and highly pigmented, the lipstick winds up falling short in terms of durability and finish. Adia Goss tested the lip color out for Makeup & Beauty Blog and said it dried “more as satin” and “a bit glossy.” The other downside, according to Goss, is the product’s smell. “If you’re sensitive to fragrances, be very careful about these,” she said. “Upon application, there’s a strong floral/powder scent … that I can still notice after 20 minutes.”
Revlon Kiss Plumping Lip Creme
Revlon’s Kiss Plumping Lip Cream is marketed as a “cushiony soft formula with a creamy shine finish” that’s meant to actually enhance the size of your lips. It’s been featured by YouTube beauty guru Laura Lee, who assured viewers that it would give you “fuller, luscious looking lips in one easy step.” For all its hype, however, Revlon’s plumping cream reportedly doesn’t really deliver.
Beauty vlogger Pampered Wolf decided to test the drugstore makeup product out for herself, and her impression of both its pigmentation and its plumping ability was that the product fell pretty short of the Revlon ad experience. “It’s definitely not making my lips look fuller,” she said. “And it’s definitely not made my lips bigger.” As far as the color goes, according to Pampered Wolf, the product may appear heavily pigmented when it’s first applied, but, after a few moments, it sets into the lips and winds up losing some of its color. It’s a good lipstick if you’re looking for something that’ll hydrate, but, if it’s a fuller pout à la Kylie Jenner you’re after, you may as well keep searching.
e.l.f. Baked Eyeshadow Palette
At just $10, the e.l.f. Baked Eyeshadow Palette seems like it would be a pretty great drugstore find, especially considering that each set comes with ten distinct colors to blend and build on. The idea with this eyeshadow, and with any “baked” eyeshadow, is that it can be applied dry or wet, depending on how much pigment you’re looking for on your lids. The problem with the e.l.f. version is that it doesn’t seem to have much in the way of pigment, regardless of how it’s applied.
Of the 193 reviews posted on the product’s CVS page at time of publication, a large portion gave the product one star. In spite of the drugstore makeup palette’s first-glance appeal, for many of its users, its hard, chalky finish allegedly made it nearly impossible to apply. One reviewer said, “These are awful. They are hard, rough, and pain to get any on your brush, wet or dry. When you finally do it’s basically all glitter.”
L'Oreal Paris Infallible Matte-Matic Mechanical Eyeliner
The idea behind L’Oréal Paris’ Infallible Matte-Matic Mechanical Eyeliner is that you can create long-lasting, smudge-proof/waterproof looks quickly and easily with the product. It has a built-in sharpener, too, so you’ll never have to worry about keeping it cat eye ready. While it sounds like it’s a beauty must-have (at under $10, too), it’s reportedly a pain to use, and the sharpener is reportedly only handy because the eyeliner tip sometimes breaks off mid-use.
Beauty vlogger Seriously Saarah took the Matte-Matic eyeliner for a spin to see if it could live up to its commercials, and, sure enough, she said it couldn’t. “When I tried to apply this to my eye, it was really, really rough,” she said. In terms of its wear and tear, she said, “Obviously, this thing isn’t smudge resistant.” Others have said the eyeliner is too soft and breaks often, and that, although it smudges easily, it’s actually incredibly difficult to remove when you’re trying to.
NYX Professional Makeup Super Skinny Eye Marker
The NYX Professional Makeup Super Skinny Eye Marker’s biggest claim to fame is in its “micro-fine felt tip,” which is built to aid in creating a flawless lined look. Meanwhile, its carbon black pigment is supposed to be perfect for a cat eye. Unfortunately, the only thing NYX reportedly got right with this is its felt tip, which for the most part, keeps its shape. What the eye marker reportedly lacks is longevity — numerous reviewers complain that within days it completely dried out.
But where the product dries out over a matter of days, within a few hours of wear, it’s said to completely smudge on the eye. While beauty blogger Anne Di of BeautyBitten.com gave a mostly positive review of the eyeliner, she emphasized that using a primer is a must. “However, the eyeliner doesn’t have a long lasting power for people with oily lids as it will crease or smudge if applied without a primer on bare lids,” she said.
Maybelline Define-A-Line Eyeliner
While NYX’s Super Skinny Eye Marker may be a failure without the help of an eyelid primer, Maybelline’s Define-A-Line Eyeliner is reportedly just an overall failure, with or without primer, according to reviews. Maybelline marketed it as an easy to use all-in-one tool that would provide full coverage “in just one stroke.” And while it is generally regarded as easy to use, the full coverage it promises is apparently only meant to last an hour or two.
Makeup vlogger Tatiana Ambrose said the eyeliner feels like it never quite sets into your skin and explained, “The fact that it glides on so easily, it’s almost like it sits just on top of your skin … so the moment that you go to wipe your eye … you have almost completely taken off your eyeliner wing.” She went on to say that if used on the lower lid the product will continuously move into the corner of your eye, forcing you to repeatedly wipe it away. Overall, it’s a well-pigmented eyeliner, but it’s said to lack the staying power needed for use on even remotely dramatic makeup.
CoverGirl LashBlast Fusion Water Resistant Mascara
CoverGirl has a pretty extensive line of LashBlast mascaras, and it’s easy to find something that’ll appeal to whatever you’re most concerned with, be it volume, length, or waterproof formulas. Its Fusion Water Resistant formula is kind of an all-in-one product that’s meant to give lashes volume, length, and density.
Unfortunately for many reviewers, the mascara applies heavily, leaving lashes clumpy. Its waterproof formula reportedly isn’t all that waterproof either. One reviewer said, “I had raccoon eyes within minutes of being at the lake.” Another made the mistake of wearing it to a funeral and said simply, “Turns out it’s not water resistant.” For many others, the product dried out quickly, and, for some, it would flake and crumble even before the day was over. And the topping on the runny mascara cake? It’s said to have a tendency to flatten lashes instead of plump them.
L'Oreal Extra-Volume Collagen Mascara
If a company is going to describe its drugstore makeup mascara by saying it will give the appearance of “12 times more lash impact,” then it’s already setting itself up for failure. Twelve times more anything is a huge task to achieve, and L’Oréal’s Extra-Volume Collagen Mascara has not achieved it, according to reviews. With an overall 2.0 rating on Rite Aid’s site at the time of publication, the mascara is a total letdown for many of its users.
Its biggest issue is that it doesn’t actually add volume to lashes, according to many consumers — it reportedly just makes them clumpy. For a good amount of consumers, the formula is too thick and flaky and is incredibly difficult to apply. That has something to do with its oversized wand, which beauty blogger Brittany at Clumps of Mascara said was hard to get into the corners of her eyes. While she admits the mascara is good enough to get the job done, it wasn’t anything special for her. She warned readers to not “expect to be blown away.”
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