When we talk about the best makeup brands we know of, generally drugstore makeup gains a mention due to its affordability and accessibility. Being able to run into your nearest local pharmacy on the corner and grab a new lipstick, eye shadow, mascara, foundation — or anything really — sometimes really is a revelation when you really need it. (Hey, it’s how Cardi B’s makeup artist discovered the greatness of Milani foundation.)
Beauty tends to be one of those markets where price really can skew one’s perspective anyway, with luxury rice tags tricking you into thinking that just because it’s expensive that it will work — how very Emporer’s New Clothes. While “affordable” means something different for everyone, “drugstore beauty” definitely means the same thing to all of us: a price point around but not surpassing $10, right? To me, anything over $15 defeats the purpose of drugstore shopping. So many of the best makeup brands are only sold directly online or have a less omnipresent in-store placement than the typical drugstore brand — but they may be even better than our drugstore favorites, often for just as much or even less money.
Worth noting is that many of the drugstore big guys are not cruelty-free. Lame. Many drugstore-adjacent brands are certified cruelty-free. (All of them on this list certainly are.) So you get all the benefits of the drugstore prices, even better formulas (yeah, I said it), no animal testing, and more wide-ranging shades than the drugstore foundations (which never seem to go deep enough, anyway). The idea of “drugstore beauty” is evolving, and these are the brands at the frontier of the great affordable makeup expansion.