The Best Cheap Makeup

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Confession: I am a makeup hoarder. Okay, maybe that wasn’t exactly groundbreaking news. But I love makeup. I do not discriminate towards any certain price point. If it’s good stuff, I will sing its praises. In fact, I am a sucker for good cheap makeup, and will always choose it if it performs just as good as its high end counterpart.

But today, I’ve compiled what I think is the best cheap makeup. And this is everything, from foundations, to mascaras, to eyeshadows, and more! I pretty much put together a budget makeup wardrobe for you. Put it all on your wish list, and you’ll thank me later. I own, love, and swear by each and every one of these products! Best of all? Everything is under $10, with many being under $5!

The Best Cheap Makeup by beauty blogger Meg O. on the Go

The Best Cheap Makeup:

NYC Liquid Eyeliner: Super black, super waterproof, and I absolutely love the small brush applicator. Makes it a breeze to apply, even for the liquid eyeliner novices.

Milani Brow Shaping Gel: This is the absolute best brow gel I’ve found at the drugstore, especially for the price. Goes on clear, never flakes, and keeps my wild beasts in place.

Wet ‘n Wild Eyeshadow Trio in ‘Walking on Eggshells’: If you are really at a loss on where to start with eyeshadow and want something neutral and every day, this trio is absolutely for you. The quality and pigmentation of these shadows are absolutely incredible, and are so easy to blend and use.

Milani Baked Blush: This is my absolute favorite drugstore blush. I have the colors Luminoso and Rose D’Oro, and they are such high quality products. Highly pigmented, blends like a dream. Pretty much what you want in a blush.

Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss Lipstick in ’08 – Rosetto’: I am really impressed with the Rimmel lipsticks, and this color is an amazing way to get on board for that “brown-nude-mauve-Kylie-Jenner” type lip.

Jordana 12 Hour Made to Last Liquid Eyeliner Pencil: One of my absolute favorite pencil liners… ever! These are so creamy, glide on easily, and stay put! I would even compare them to the likes of the Urban Decay Glide on pencils. And that price…. you just can’t beat it!

NYX Butter Gloss: By far, the best lipgloss at the drugstore. Not sticky, beautiful colors, and looks gorgeous on the lips.

Pond’s BB Cream: This is my favorite drugstore BB cream (also, drugstore BB creams can be sort of expensive). It’s got a fair amount of coverage and stays put a lot better than my other BB creams.

E.L.F. Cream Liner: How many times have I talked about this eyeliner? Countless. You guys know I love it. Forget wasting your money on the MAC Fluidline or Bobbi Brown gel liners. I’ve bought them both and this is exactly the same, but for $3.

Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24 Hr Eyeshadow: These cream shadows are absolutely amazing. They are completely smudge-proof (seriously, they don’t budge). They make amazing eyeshadow bases, or are great on days when you are in a rush and want a wash of color over your eyelids.

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder: I absolutely adore this setting powder! It really does help with keeping the skin matte without looking chalky. Oily skinned girls, you have to give this a try.

NYC Smooth Skin Bronzer in ‘Sunny’: This is a great dupe for Benefit’s Hoola, if you love that bronzer. It’s a light matte brown color and looks good on most light skin tones. Great to contour with.

E.L.F. HD Powder: Another one of those products that I’ve mentioned more than a couple of times. This is an amazing loose powder that I love to use on those days when I want my skin to have a flawless, even finish.

L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara: An oldie, but a goodie. This mascara delivers time and time again for me. I love the bristly brush and how lovely my lashes look with this on!

Wet ‘n Wild Single Eyeshadow in ‘Nutty’: If you really are a one eyeshadow kind of girl, you need to get this. It’s an almost exact dupe for MAC’s Satin Taupe. If you don’t care about that, just know that it’s a beautiful, shimmery, taupe color that looks good all over the lid and even into the crease. It’s perfect for a one eyeshadow look. And like the other Wet ‘n Wild eyeshadows, the consistency, pigmentation, and quality of the product is exceptional.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser Treatment in ‘Brightener’: Yet again another product I’ve talked to death and used in countless video tutorials.

NYX Powder Blush: These are my second favorite drugstore blushes. The color selection with these are vast and I have yet to find one that I don’t like.

Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation: If you are into a full coverage matte foundation, this will be your friend. My beloved Revlon Colorstay is my absolute favorite, but it’s over the $10 mark, depending on where you get it (I often use coupons and buy it when they go BOGO 40% off at Walgreens). If you are trying to stay under $10, the Rimmel is for sure what you need to get. A little goes a long way for full coverage!


There you have it! The best cheap makeup! If you like what you see here, be sure to pin this post so you can pull it up while you’re perusing your drugstore beauty aisles. What’s your favorite dirt cheap makeup? You have to let me know because I love discovering budget friendly high performing makeup!


  • Reply
    November 6, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Thanks for this list! I am overwhelmed at the ever-higher prices for makeup, and I am a stickler for shadows and foundation. This is a great list – I never would have consider Wet n Wild for anything just because I’m reminded of when I used to use their cheap but delicious smelling lip gloss tubs in middle school. Didn’t think they’d grow up, but they did! Thanks again.

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      November 6, 2014 at 10:56 am

      You’re so welcome!! Wet ‘n Wild seriously has revamped their brand to one of my favorite drugstore brands ever! I seriously love all of their eyeshadow palettes, too. You will not be disappointed!

    • Reply
      February 6, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      I can’t live without the rewind eraser brightener!! they also have that in a foundation it’s great goes on smooth better then a sponge. When you run out you can dip it in other things you need and it will act like a sponge with the other product too. I also use the rewind eraser to blend in my “white” concealer. 😀

      • Reply
        Meg O.
        February 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm

        Glad you love the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer! I also bought the neutralizing shade recently and I love it too! I haven’t tried the foundation yet but now I’m intrigued!!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2014 at 11:13 am

    You are speaking my love language – great items at great prices!! Lol! My bronzer is on it’s very last use as of this morning so I’ll definitely be checking that one out!! $2.99 is certainly better than my regular $16 one!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I love this post!! I need to buy some of this, I’m a sucker for cheap makeup. I’ll try ANY mascara or bronzer!

  • Reply
    jocelyn p
    November 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    I suck with makeup like I seriously feel like I didn’t get the makeup gene lol but I love makeup. I seriously can’t wait to try out all of these products !! Thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    Becca @ Becoming Adorrable
    November 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    That NYX gloss is everything.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I love love love the NYX lip butters!


  • Reply
    Ruthie & Rose
    November 9, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    We LOVE this post! We reference your blog regularly for make-up finds like this, so thank you! PS, we have a little love affair with that L’Oreal mascara too… it’s amazing! xo

  • Reply
    Claire Kiefer
    November 12, 2014 at 1:19 am

    Love this!! And I bet it was so fun to write–makes me almost wish I were blogging again. 🙂 I totally agree with you on the blushes, and in that order! Milani followed by NYX. Luminoso is my fave but I also really love Fantastico Mauve by Milani which unfortunately I think they discontinued. UGH. NYX’s Terra Cotta is one of my top 5 favorite blushes of all time. I don’t know that I could come up with that list on the spot, but if I had to, it would definitely include MAC’s Melba, Milani’s Luminoso, and NYX’s Terra Cotta. And probably Illamasqua’s Thrust.

    Have bought the Age Rewind concealer in Brightener a billion times. As for eyeliners, I totally love the Jordana one you mention–it may be my favorite but I find it a huge pain to sharpen since it’s SO creamy. I love it anyway, but I reach for the Jane twist up liner in brown a teeny bit more often I think. Regardless, those two are my favorites above Dior, Urban Decay, etc etc.

    Other cheap favorites: Jordana’s mascara (the original one) is my favorite ever, above all the high end ones other than MAYBE Benefit’s They’re Real, though I still might choose Jordana’s $2.99 Best Lash. I also love Revlon’s Super Lustrous lipstick in Sassy Mauve.

    I have WnW’s Nutty but never use it: gotta pull it out!

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      November 12, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      Oh yes, girl, I love these kinds of posts and recommending great drugstore makeup is one of my favorite things to do! Okay I really need to go get NYX Terra Cotta!! You’ve convinced me!!! And yes, the Jordana is a pain to sharpen – feel you on that. I’ll have to check out the Jane liner and that mascara! I keep hearing good things about it but I always forget to pick it up! And yes, pull out your Nutty eyeshadow! I always forget how gorgeous it is!

      • Reply
        December 2, 2014 at 9:35 pm

        Hi I was reading this post and thought about the Jordan’s pencil problem, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes then try sharpening it;)

      • Reply
        December 31, 2014 at 2:04 am

        My absolute favorite drugstore product is the color correcting powder from elf. Not only does it neutralize the redness on my cheeks, but it is a fantastic oil preventing powder. I would even compare it to Urban Decays de-slick finishing powder. I swear by it!!!

        • Reply
          Meg O.
          January 2, 2015 at 5:18 pm

          I do have that and I enjoy using it to set my undereye concealer! I found that it gave my face a little bit more of a white cast than I like, but I think it’s DIVINE to set my undereye area! It never creases!

  • Reply
    November 12, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Since recently being laid off, I am trying to replace some of my more expensive make-up with Drugstore brands.
    So far, I have tried the NYX Butter Gloss in E’clair Pink and I love it!
    I am doing my own manicure’s too. I highly recommend NYC’s, In a New York Minute Quick Dry Nail Polish in Madison Ave, which is a beautiful red color for just $1.99. OPI and Essie are nearly $10 bucks a bottle!
    I would also like to recommend my new favorite concealer, Hard Candy’s Glamoflauge Heavy Duty Concealer which even comes with a Concealer Pencil for $6.00 at Walmart!
    Thank you so much for sharing! I won’t be leaving my house without this list and some of these brands will have a permanent place in my make-up bag. Move over Nars,I am trying Milani’s Baked Blush next!!

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      November 12, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      I haven’t tried the NYC nail polishes but now I want to! You should also try the Wet ‘n Wild Megalast nail polish – it’s $1.99 too and it doesn’t chip for way longer than my other nail polishes! I have also tried Glamoflauge and it really is heavy duty! I haven’t used it in a while, but it has amazing coverage! I’m glad my post could help you with your next drugstore shopping trip! I have way more suggestions but I didn’t want my list to be too long 🙂 Maybe I’ll write a follow up post soon! 🙂

  • Reply
    November 14, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    I love your blog! I’m a pro make-up artist and have to constantly replenish my kit. It can get very expensive. I too, have been chasing down the great bargains for many years. I have to say your list is fabulous! Your color choices and products are perfect for everyday use as well as for a professional artist. I’m taking this list to the drug store and filling my kit! I already use some of them but I’m getting what I don’t have. The lip gloss is something I’ve been looking for for years! Can’t wait to try the NYX. Keep up the great work! We need you! P.S. L’oreal foundation is the bomb!

  • Reply
    Jasmine Maria
    November 23, 2014 at 6:49 am

    love the E.L.F powder.

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      November 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      It really is the best!!!

  • Reply
    December 27, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Ive been using the Elf line and really like it. I’m tired of paying high prices for Estee Lauder. Does anyone know of a good moisturizer? So expensive.

    • Reply
      May 13, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      L’Oreal Skincare, hands down! I went from Estee Lauder and Skinn Cosmetics to L’Oreal and my skin has improved drastically! I don’t have break outs anymore either! Love this! I’ll never go back to the expensive brands!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Amazing list! I found this article on Pinterest. So good! The only thing I would certainly avoid (I’ve owned a good lot of these) is the L’Oreal. They do a LOT of animal testing for their products and I never want an innocent little bunny to suffer for the sake of my lashes. I hope maybe you reconsider, too. (I find that Maybelline’s Mega Plush does the job nicely!)

  • Reply
    December 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Any recommendations on an eyebrow pencil for blondes?
    Thank you!

    • Reply
      December 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      I am blonde and the best one I’ve found is by Mary Kay and it’s super inexpensive, and works better than more expensive ones I’ve tried!

      • Reply
        December 31, 2014 at 7:19 am

        Excellent! Thank you so much!

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      January 2, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      I have pretty dark brows but I keep hearing YouTuber LeighAnnSays talk about the NYX and Wet n Wild brow powders! She’s a blonde and it looks really good on her! Maybe you should look those up! 🙂

  • Reply
    December 31, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I tried the ELF creamy eye liner thanks to this post and it is THE BEST! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      January 2, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      Yay! Glad you love it!!! 🙂 🙂

  • Reply
    January 2, 2015 at 1:12 am

    Where should i buy these products from plz hlp

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      January 2, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      Well, I am from Texas so all of these I’ve found at Walgreens, CVS and Target! You can also find some of these at grocery stores and Walmart. ELF products are found mostly at Target, however.

  • Reply
    January 5, 2015 at 6:27 am

    second the Jordana original mascara (“best lash extreme”). They could put me on their payroll for how often I recommend it. Concealer second the Hard candy glamoflage, but I caution you to try the medium even if it looks dark in the tube. I tried the light and light/medium and they don’t have the same effect….ashy on my pale skin. Strange.
    There’s a new Maybelline concealer in a tube (special display) that I just got last week and have been grabbing over the Hard candy too. If you can find it, it sets better and creases less than the Hard Candy.
    NYC also makes a creamy waterproof eyeliner that isn’t quite as soft as Jordana, so you can sharpen it better. I’m still wanting one that glides without melting or skipping. I think even Urban Decay is too soft. Have heard good things about Smashbox self-sharpening one.
    Clearly I have makeup hoarding issues too 😉

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      January 6, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      I really need to get my hands on the Jordana mascara! It’s definitely on my list! I have done the Glamoflage before and I feel like it’s waaaay too thick for my liking, although it’s amazing for coverage and works really well on acne. Oh, and I just picked up the Rimmel self sharpening pencil and I am LOVING it! It stays put on my waterline like a dream! Give it a try if you are looking for something less creamy. With all these awesome suggestions in the comments, I have a feeling I’ll be trying so much awesome stuff and writing a follow up post!

  • Reply
    January 5, 2015 at 11:23 am

    i loved the list and am also in need of a good list of skin care products for dry skin- Dior is too expensive cause I am on a budget- any suggestions?

    • Reply
      January 5, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      I am liking the “Yes to” lines from Target or drugstore .com

  • Reply
    Shaina Longstreet
    January 10, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Thanks so much for this list!! I just got that foundation this week, and I’m LOVING it so far! Going to check out some of your other suggestions too. Thanks. 😀

  • Reply
    January 26, 2015 at 12:53 am

    I’m so happy to see my picks on your list Meg. Rimmel is my favorite! I’ve got their foundation, lip gloss and matte powder. I have yet to use Milani brand. Thanks for sharing your beauty holy grail!

  • Reply
    Hurricane In Heels
    February 12, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I am in love with so many of the NYX products. Great colors and the prices are perfect for a person on a makeup budget.

  • Reply
    February 26, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Oh how happy this has made me!!! At nearly 51 y/o, make up is like my drug I am so addicted! Lol. Love your list and thank you so much!!!!!

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    Jessica DImas
    March 10, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    OMG!!!!!!! This is amazing info, thank you so much for sharing!! Literally, thank you lol. Awesome graphic you made and I’m totally going to pull it up when I’m buying makeup next time (I’m a total hoarder too!). Pinned!

  • Reply
    Natalie Patalie
    March 10, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    I love the Rimmel Stay Matte powder! I just wish the case was a little better. It’s definitely not for traveling! Lately I’ve been trying to step up my eye shadow game, so maybe I’ll give the Color Tattoo a try!

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  • Reply
    March 16, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I love the E.L.F powder it is amazing stuff. And the Milani baked blush is everything!

  • Reply
    Tiffany @ A Touch of Grace
    March 20, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Yes times 1000! I was just at Target yesterday and picked up a few of these! So excited to finally have a brow gel too! You are the makeup queen my dear!

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      March 21, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      Yay! Thank you! Glad my list helped!!

  • Reply
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom
    March 20, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Awesome suggestions here! It’s hard to discern which are the best deals and which are just terrible brands/products. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m off to share that glorious graphic everywhere!

    Thanks again!

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      March 21, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!

  • Reply
    Ailee | Snapshots & My Thoughts
    March 25, 2015 at 6:35 am

    I love that Milani blush color! I need to buy it! And I’ve wanted to test out the Age Rewind for ages now. Going to need to make a stop at Walgreens today. Thanks for sharing!! xo

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Scott
    April 20, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Honest Hour: I LOVE this post! I’m a major makeup hoarder like you – but I had to cease my habits because ….well, I’m a broke college student! Your post was literally heaven sent to me because I’m tired of shopping at CVS for half off (half expired) cosmetics. Actually, it inspired me so much that i decided to curate a post using your content as well as others. Thank you!

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    Carrie Overman
    April 22, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I love this post! I bought the Milani blush and NYX gloss, and they are PERFECT. Thank you!

  • Reply
    April 28, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    I guess I’m the only one, but ELF cream eyeliner wears off in no time. It just has no staying power for me even though I tend to have dry skin. I had to go back to my Laura Mercier. But I LOVE L’Oreal Voluminous mascara – it’s as good as the Elizabeth Arden that I used to use exclusively. And overall, I am very impressed with the quality of NYX makeup. Thanks for this post.

  • Reply
    ashana roach
    May 8, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    I want to buy these product contact me plz

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      May 11, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      If you click on the links in the post, it will take you to where you can purchase them!

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    August 1, 2015 at 7:09 am

    Hard Candy makeup primer! Very light, not greasy, and justvas good as pur minerals, bare minerals, mary kay… Ive tried them all… And only $8.00!!!

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      Meg O.
      August 3, 2015 at 11:16 am

      I need to try that one!! I hear great things!

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    September 14, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Does the stay matte foundation cover freakles very well? Im looking for something that will really cover them that wont cost me an arm and a leg

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      September 15, 2015 at 11:07 am

      I don’t have a lot of freckles, but I notice that it’s VERY full coverage and I think it will do the job for you!!

      • Reply
        September 16, 2015 at 8:56 am

        Great thank u ill let u know how well it covers and you can add that into ur blog

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  • Reply
    October 10, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    LOVE your list!! Here’s what I’ve found:

    I just started using L’Oreal Lumi Cushion foundation. It’s a sponge w/ foundation built in so you can control your coverage so much easier. I use Suntan but there are MULTIPLE shades to select from – not just neutral, beige, natural beige, etc.

    I like Maybelline’s Master Concealer (although I use it sometimes with my Bye Bye Under Eye by it Cosmetics). If I’m not mistaken, I purchased the it Bye Bye on sale for under $10 on a sale at Ulta. I also like Maybelline’s Master Hi-Light Bronzer. I chose Deep Bronze and the beautiful colors blend in so perfectly when contouring.

    E.L.F. Cosmetics – I’m a sucker for this. Like you, love the Loose Powder. You should try the Contouring Blush & Bronzer Powder duo – great for ‘not too much make-up’ days. Also, for those LUCKY ladies with thicker brows & lashes, E.L.F. has a great double ended Gel Wand. One end for brows, the other for lashes. I also love the Illuminating Face Primer in Radiant Glow (but after FL summers, I need a darker shade). I like using small amounts over my foundation for a glowing look. The Baked Eyeshadow Trio in Peach Please is a nice, soft, subtle shadow. And, lastly, the E.L.F. Lip Balm in Nude has a nice, true nude look with SPF 15.

    Milani Cosmetics is becoming my go-to favorite fast!! I have two Everyday Eyes collections. One is Must Have Neutrals and the other is Earthly Elements. They last all day & you can make several looks out of the 6 shades included. And, I am in serious LOVE with the Milani Easybrow in Dark Brown. For those with thinner brows, you must try for $6! Gives a nice, natural look, is water resistant, & a little goes a long way!

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      October 10, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment!! I really appreciate it. I really want to grab those Milani eyeshadow palettes – they look amazing!!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2016 at 11:34 am

    Thanks so much for posting this! As a complete novice at makeup, i need a list of cheap ideas. Don’t really want to waste $30 on a tube of mascara that i don’t even really know how to use properly.

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