Six Drugstore Beauty Products That Makeup Artists Use Themselves

Buying budget makeup can be hit or miss, but you know that if a makeup artist uses them on themselves, it's a definite must-have! Makeup artist Eden Bluestein shares her favourite affordable beauty finds that she always has in her kit: 

When the topic of beauty products emerges, there seems to be a curiosity about what I carry in my kit as a makeup artist, and what I might also use on myself, personally. Often, there is an overlap here, as much of what I use on myself I would certainly endorse in my work. I think the notion is that I might prefer prestige brands or edgy, creative makeup. And though I do work with a multitude of products, many are quite surprised to know that some of my very favourites are budget friendly brands!
The beauty business has never been more booming, and many drug store brands have significantly upped their game. Of course, not all budget brands are created equal, and affordability or “a great deal” doesn’t always reflect the quality of the product. There are a few things you may want to consider when determining between a really great deal, vs. something that is cheaply manufactured:  

  • Who is the brand? (date of origin, reputation/history, parent company*, manufacturing) *Parent companies  or umbrella companies often carry many brands within a holding company, from prestige to drugstore brands. Often, ingredient recipes are shared within these brands so, for example, you might consider buying your skincare from the more affordable brand vs. the luxury version, which might be very similar in composition altogether a much gentler price point .
  • How does the product perform? (quality of pigments, ease of application, wearibility, packaging/function vs form)
  • What is the price-point? 
  • Availability (accessibility/retailer, limited edition/exclusive, stock regularity)
  • Colour range (universal, limited vs. wide)
  • Consumer testimonials
  • Personal experience (trial, usage)

These are my absolute favourite budget beauty products:
Retractable Brow Pencil, Annabelle,  $8.56
It’s always great to support Canadian brands! Annabelle is one of my favourite drugstore beauty brands, established half a century ago, in 1967, in Montreal. It’s really accessible.
One of my favourite Annabelle products under $10 is their retractable brow pencil. It’s so nice not to have to spend a lot on something you may have to replenish more frequently. And since brows are the framework to the eyes and with such a strong focus on this feature season after season, brow pencil is an ongoing essential in my kit. I’ve certainly tried my fair share of varieties through the years. And this one stands up well amid costlier similar versions. 
This product checks all the boxes on my list:

  • It’s affordable.
  • It’s retractable, so you never have to sharpen it.
  • It has a fine, sturdy tip for a more controlled application, where singular hairs can be drawn for a natural effect.
  • The rich, matte formula is easy to blend, with a convenient comb to soften the overall look.
  • It is waterproof, which makes it long lasting.
  • And, it comes in 6 Universal Shades (Light, Auburn, Medium, Taupe, Dark, Ebony)

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, $8.99 
There are a lot of mascaras on the market these days. With complex formulations, innovative applicators, unique dispensing systems, with the average luxury brand mascara ringing in at it’s lowest, $20 a tube, t’s all a little overwhelming.  Not to mention the replenishing cost involved every 6-8 weeks, especially if your favourite brand happens to fall at the higher end of the scale. 
But, there is one tried and true classic thats beloved by makeup artists, again and again. It’s the matriarch of mascaras and it comes in it’s iconic pink and green tube. For less than $10 and sometimes as little as $4.99, Maybelline Great Lash is my absolute favourite budget beauty item.
Here’s what I love about this mascara in particular:, which I happen use both personally, and in my kit:

  • It’s got a story and history behind it. This mascara was invented in 1971 and was the first ever water-based formula 
  • The classic design of this spooled applicator works easily and beautifully on a diverse range of lashes.
  • The formula glides on smoothly, while conditioning, and thickening the lashes.
  • It is available in several shades and varieties of regular, or waterproof formulas.

Maybelline, Eye Studio Lasting Pro Gel Eye Liner 24Hr, $9.96
Gel eyeliner is a must in a makeup artist’s kit. Quite often, the versatility of this product is invaluable for achieving a variety of effects, from the most often requested smokey eye to it’s counterpart, the classically lined cat eye. It can be used as a base to eyeshadow or it can stand alone. 
Once again, Maybelline hits the mark under $10, with is the Eye Studio Lasting Pro Gel Eye Liner. This formula is available in 4 shades, and delivers opaque, intense colour. It glides on effortlessly, sets instantly, it’s waterproof, long wearing, smudge-proof, with a flake resistant finish. 
ELF Blush, Contour, Illumination, and Bronzer pallettes $7.97 each
You will find a palette in every makeup artist’s kit, guaranteed. Most makeup artists will use a customized approach, but pre-designed/ready made palettes can also have great appeal. The criteria for a ready made palette may differ, but I always tend to look for the most universally packaged selection, with a range of colour, texture (matte to frost), or finish (powder vs. cream), to suit a variety of skin tones and to enable a range of looks to be created. Often, these can be difficult to find for under $10. But ELF  Cosmetics has managed to wow me with their quad palettes for Face
ELF is the brainstorm child of the creators of Hard Candy Cosmetics. It stands for Eyes Lips Face and was created in 2004 in NY, when the creators of the brand saw an influx of wealthy women in search of bargain beauty brands. As such, the brand was designed to have products fall within $1, $3 and $6 (USD). They also happen to be 100% Cruelty free, and supports PETA's no fur campaign. 
All that said, here’s why you can’t go wrong with ELF Palettes: 

  • You can’t beat the convenience of multiple hues in one smart package.
  • Face palettes can be customizable—you can coordinate colours to create your perfect match, adapting to your skin tone, as it changes seasonally.
  • The colours selected within these palettes are universal—they work on a range of skin tones to complement and enhance, and are seaonlesss.
  • The pigment and payoff of these products on aptly prepared skin is very good.
  • The price point for a quad of full sized products is superbly affordable.

Hard Candy, All Matte Up & All Glossed Up Lip Crayons, $5.68

Hard Candy and I both started in the biz in the very same year, all the way back in 1995! They were quite known for their brand of nail lacquer in very exciting colours, like sky blue. The brand was quickly bought out in 1999, by the LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Group) who own a significant number of beauty brands, including Sephora. Hard Candy carries an extensive range of products, and is exclusive to Walmart, which makes it a vastly available and affordable brand. 
I do love a great deal, and I have a thing for lip crayon’s. So when I stumbled upon Hard Candy’s version a while back, priced below $6, I had to try give them a try. Now personally, my lips are generally quite dry, though I do love a Matte finish. But whether All Matte or All Glossed Up, Hard Candy has a great formulation that is wonderfully hydrating with a multitude of conditioners, so not only do they feel good, but they are long lasting, too. Though they resemble a chubby pencil, these lipstick crayons are retractable and therefore, they don’t require a sharpener. They are nicely pigmented and available in a variety of hues and finishes from flat to frosted. All in all, a beauty budget fave that has has me smiling!
Kiss Cosmetics False Eyelashes, $9
Of course mascara alone can do wonders to accentuate eyelashes, however, falsies are next level and a sure way to emphasize your eyes. If you’re looking for something more, you don’t need to spend a fortune to go all out with your lashes. At just $9, and over 72 styles to choose from, KISS is the go to brand for false eyelashes. Comprised of top-quality natural hair, they’re lightweight and are reusable with proper care.
Lashes should always be applied as the final stage to your makeup, with a small bead of adhesive to the spine of the lash. If you are reusing your lashes, ensure any makeup or residual glue has been removed from the spine for hygiene, aesthetic purposes and for proper adhesion. 
I tend to favour individual lashes myself and keep a variety of lengths in my kit. I find these to be the most universal fit. And, they are customizable, enabling you to create a versatile range of looks from natural to dramatic, depending on how many are applied.