Looking for affordable drugstore make-up finds? Here are some of my favorites that work for me just as well as more expensive versions.

When I started writing this blog I never imagined that I would write a post about make-up.

I’m a home decor blogger after all.

And then?

I lost 105 pounds.

And discovered something AMAZING.


But here’s the thing. The world of make-up can be a little overwhelming. You can spend a zillion dollars on something and it doesn’t work like they promised. Or you can spend a little on something that works better than any product is even supposed to. It took me a little while to navigate the world of make-up and along the way I figured something out.

Most of the time drugstore make-up is just as good (or even better) than expensive make-up from the department store.

So in the first (and probably only) post I’ll ever write about make-up?

I’m sharing everything I’ve learned.

Here are my top 10 drugstore make-up finds (straight off my make-up table) that REALLY WORK.

1. Essence Lash Princess Mascara

If you only buy one new make-up find this year?

This is the gold standard.

This mascara lengthens your lashes and adds TONS of volume and doesn’t clump.

It has almost 250,000 reviews on Amazon and it’s under $5.00.

It comes in several variations but the “false last effect” is the one I like the best.

You can see it here.

If you want to try all the different kinds including the waterproof version (perfect for summer) there’s actually a bundle I found with the regular and the waterproof mascara. You can see it here.

2. Essence lash primer

And as if the mascara wasn’t already good enough?

If you want to take it to the next level? Add this lash primer (that’s under $5 too, too).

It conditions your lashes with acai oil and adds a base to build on with the mascara and really boosts your lashes and makes them look so much longer.

You can see it here.

3. e.l.f.Flawless Finish Foundation

Okay—I’m going to break foundations down into several categories.

First of all—I have mature skin (and it is maturing even more by the day). Depending on where I’m going or what I’m doing, sometimes I need a little bit more coverage. A little bit of this foundation goes SO FAR so use it sparingly.

For the price of $3.00-$6.00 (depending on the shade)—this elf foundation gives SO MUCH coverage.

I have this foundation in four different colors (depending on how much fake tan I’ve put on—LOL).

Here are my go-to shades:

You can see the foundation here.

4. Physicians Formula Color Corrector

If you are looking for a tinted moisturizer with really good color and coverage?

This Physician’s Formula is my go-to. It’s what I use when I’m just running errands and I don’t have a lot of time to put on make-up, but I’m worried I might run into someone from high school so I want to look cute.

It smooths out your skin and hides imperfections and generally makes you look finished and ready to go.

You can see it here.

5. e.l.f. camo concealer

If I’ve been up all night watching episodes of Downton Abbey and my eyes are puffy and I have under-eye circles, this camo concealer is my favorite. E.l.f. has several different versions of this product, but this is the one I like the best. 

My best tip for using concealer under your eyes is to go LIGHT. Do not use a heavy hand. Apply a little concealer with a thin brush and pat it in.

With this concealer, a little goes a long way. I’m in the awkward place where I still have blemishes AND WRINKLES. So I use it on my blemishes too.

And it’s affordable enough that you can order it to try it in several colors.

You can see it here.

6. e.l.f. putty primer

I put this in the category of foundation because it’s what I put on before I ever put on foundation.

This foundation is kind of miraculous.

It smooths out the wrinkles and fills in the tiny lines on my face so when I put on my foundation my skin looks even smoother.

You can see it here.

7. e.l.f. powder blush pallete

I LOVE this blush palette.

It’s my first e.l.f. product that I ever purchased.

It’s super affordable and has four different shades of blush. I use all four colors at different times depending on my outfit. The colors are just so light and bright and pretty and give you such a sweet glow.

You can see it here.

8. e.l.f contour pallete

In full disclosure, I don’t use this every day. It’s an extra step that I skip for every day.

But when I’m going out and want to look extra cute?

This contour palette is GOLD.

I use it to contour my nose (yikes) and under my chin and on the sides of my temples to lengthen my face. I’ve tried several versions of this, but I keep going back to powder because it sets up better and lasts longer for me.

You can see it here.

9. OPI Plumpkin Top Coat

In the nail category, this plumping topcoat from OPI is the winner.

It literally DOUBLES the length of your polish.


Just make sure to wrap it around the top of your nail when you paint it.

I add another topcoat every couple of days to make my nail polish last longer. It also adds volume to the top of your nails and makes them look like a professional manicure.

You can see it here.

10. This L’oreal Lipstick

In all the world. In all the make-up counters. In all the beauty travels I’ve ever been on.

This lipstick reigns supreme.

My beloved British Red.

I have tried dozens and dozens and dozens of lpsticks and I always go back to this one. It’s affordable. It’s moisturizing. It’s long-lasting. It’s such a pretty color.

This lipstick comes in tons of other colors and I wear those too.

When I want something a little longer lasting, I use this NYX professional lip lingerie here. It lasts through cups of coffee and water and then I layer the L’oreal lipstick on top for additional coverage.

I also always line my lips with lipliner to help the lipstick last longer.

But there’s just something about a red lipstick that makes the day a little brighter.

You can see it here.

Thank you for letting me share my love of make-up today.

It was kind of fun to write a post that’s a little out of my comfort zone.

If you have ANY questions about any of these products, ask away.

We beauties need to stick together. 🙂

disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a purchase through my links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Thistlewood.

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  1. Image for Danielle Danielle

    I love that these are affordable! I’m not a high maintenance girl, and I don’t like to spend a lot of money on makeup. These are fabulous products! Thanks for trying them out for us!

  2. Image for Harper Harper

    lost 109 ilbs. WOW, that says a lot about you DETERMINED! Love your site, funny stories, tips and now makeup advice. Keep the post going!


    I have to say My all time favorite product you introduced is the NYX Lingerie XXL lip stick. ‼️I've purchased like 5 and friend bought her and her sisters 5 or 6.. As you always say "GOLD" ‼️

  4. Image for Meg Meg

    This is SOOOO helpful...Thank You! I would love to see a blog post on skincare you like for mature skin. Thank You.

  5. Image for Sharon Sharon

    Thanks for sharing these products. I have tried the mascara on your recommendation and I have to agree that it's great. I will be trying the lash primer and a few of the other products that you featured. I love that everything is super affordable.

  6. Image for Patti Patti

    Great post and congrats on the weight loss! I’m a regular reader but I don’t remember seeing any posts on how you accomplished this! Was there one? Thanks!

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Of course! I've kept it off for over a year now and I did a post about it a while back. I did a program called Optavia! Let me know if you have any questions!

  7. Image for Jeanine Kesey Jeanine Kesey

    There is an even better essence mascara. It’s in a bright pink tube, not the black with pink. It has a comb brush. It’s called I ❤️ extreme crazy volume mascara. You will never go back to the other I promise. Love all these suggestions. Elf make some great affordable products but I don’t usually try them.

  8. Image for R Newton R Newton

    I've used the L'Oreal lipsticks for years, different shades, etc., but I don't wear red well. Also I find the lipstick does not stay on long even tho I like the fact it is not drying. It also goes in the tiny creases which makes it look smearing on me. I'm trying to find something that won't bleed and will stay on and won't change color once its on as some do on me. I'm glad it works for you tho. You always look great!

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      I always line my lips to prevent the tiny creases! I also layer it with the lip lingerie to make it last longer too!

  9. Image for jan jan

    I bought the mascara and lash primer you mentioned and it is definitely a game changer! Thanks for putting all the work in for us.

    1. Image for KariAnne KariAnne

      Mildred, Have you tried Nail Envy by OPI? You can get it at Walmart! Here's the link with more info: https://bit.ly/3x7yZkS happy day! KariAnne

  10. Image for Kris Kris

    Have you tried any finishing sprays? They really do help your makeup last longer (just don't apply it over mascara that hasn't had a chance to dry .... ). Essence has an affordable one. Also, especially in the summer, tinted moisturizers with SPF (like Neutrogena's) are great--a little color/coverage and a little sun protection. It isn't meant for a day in the sun but if you are popping in and out of stores on a sunny day it's good to have on .... and that's from someone whose skin is more "mature" than yours!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Image for Va in NC Va in NC

    Tks for the tips. Love to save money! Bought the lash primer and the mascara and like them, Ordered the lipstick just to go with one red outfit. You look great, love your blog.

  12. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    Love this post! Have a couple of items you recommended in my cart now. Do you have any recommendations for makeup remover? I have sensitive skin and have had a hard time finding one that works well without rubbing.

  13. Image for Scott Baver Scott Baver

    Terrific post, KariAnne! I enjoy boy E.L.F. and NYX products and will try others per your recommendations.

  14. Image for April Hendricks April Hendricks

    Way to go on the losing all that weight! How did you do it? We would love to know. Can't wait to try some of your makeup suggestions!

  15. Image for Karen B. Karen B.

    I always welcome drugstore cosmetics that come with a recommendation. Thank you for that. You look lovely. Karen B.

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