There’s no denying that the “no-makeup makeup” trend seems to be here to stay. The look of 2018 will probably be remembered as one of effortless beauty—brushed up brows, clean skin, and barely there lip colors. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
However, I can’t be the only one who’s missing proper makeup. I’m talking foundation that doesn’t necessarily mimic the look of natural skin, neon lipsticks, holographic glitters, and cut creases. While the freedom to go bare is great, there’s still a time and a place for true makeup-y makeup.
There’s a misconception that to achieve this “full glam” look, you have to rely on higher-end products. And while it’s true that to pull off a full makeup vibe you need high quality, that doesn’t necessarily mean a high price point. Here are the very best full glam purchases from the drugstore.
I’m yet to find any primer, whether high priced or low, that is as good as the NYX Angel Veil. It’s a perfect combination of pore-smoothing and hydrating, making it beneficial for all skin types. It basically renders skin the same texture as a blow-up doll—a creepy image, but a very good look. It also helps your base products to stick down and last better, which is absolutely essential when you’re putting in this much work.
For a full glam look, you’ll want a high-coverage foundation. But the key to achieving fuller coverage without cake is to go for something emollient and sheeny. One of my very favourites is the L’Oreal Infallible Pro Glow, which somehow looks like skin even whilst covering every imperfection. It also manages to last as well as a super-matte whilst keeping your face looking youthful and dewy. Truly an enigma.
If you’re really serious about coverage, though, I point you in the direction of the Milani Conceal & Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation & Concealer. This product is no joke—it’s almost completely opaque. However, it’s also nicely thick and creamy, meaning it blends seamlessly and looks flatteringly hydrating. A damp sponge is key to applying this satisfactorily, but once it’s on, it will not budge.
For concealer, the best (and I don’t say this lightly) is the Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define Liquid Concealer. You may think “this reminds me of Shape Tape,” and you would not be wrong. It’s extremely effective, but never looks dry or caked on, and it really lasts. The shade range is decent, too.
On to powder. If you’re into baking, the ELF High Definition Undereye Setting Powder will serve you well. It’s loose and finely milled, and has a superfine reflect which gives undereyes a brightening boost of radiance. To set the face, and hear me out on this, the best drugstore powder is a bronzer. The Wet ‘n’ Wild Colour Icon Bronzer, to be exact. It’s a finely milled, lightly reflective compact, similar in formula to the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders. There are three shades which will suit all skin tones: “Reserve Your Cabana” is a pale, slightly yellow tint for fair skin, “Ticket To Brazil” for medium tones, “Bikini Contest” for those with a deeper complexion. All three set the base well, creating a flattering, glowy vibe.
For drugstore blush, there is really only one choice: the Milani Baked Blush. These are not just good for the drugstore, they’re just good. They have a slightly harder formula, meaning they apply a stunning wash of color which looks, put simply, expensive. Their most famous shade, “Luminoso,” is popular for a reason—it’s a suits-all peachy shade. “Dolce Pink” is a great doll-like flush, too, while “Red Vino” is one of the best blush shades for deeper skins.
Bronzer-wise, the Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer is the best. I won’t go on too much to labor this point, but it smells like coconut, is as soft as silk, applies incredibly smoothly, and comes in the best ‘80s tropical packaging. I rest my case.
The drugstore has a surprisingly huge selection of amazing highlighters. The ELF Baked Highlighters are a great choice. They’re a little hard, but if you apply and buff in with a scratchier brush, you can get a really reflective glow. The Wet ‘n’ Wild Megaglo Highlighting Powders are essentially Becca dupes—they’re much softer and can even be applied with fingers. An option slightly harder to track down is the Sleek Solstice Palette, which has three unbelievably pigmented powders and a stunning opalescent cream.
Eye-wise, I’m yet to find a drugstore option as fantastic as the Milani Eyeshadow Primer. A simple name for a simple product, this smooths and preps lids whilst making any shadow applied on top look brighter and last longer. What more could you ask for?
In terms of shadow, a good drugstore palette is hard to find. Luckily, Wet ‘n’ Wild has made four of them—their Colour Icon Eyeshadow Ten Pan Palettes. All the shade options are pretty great, but the old classic, Comfort Zone, is a stunning mix of neutrals and pops of color, while Rosé in the Air gives serious Anastasia Modern Renaissance vibes.
For lips, the best liners are from Rimmel. I will not be fought on this. I hold a particular fondness for their Exaggerate Automatic Lip Liners, partially for the formula, and partially because they don’t need sharpening. “East End Snob” is a great neutral pink, “Addiction” an incredibly useful dark nude, and “Red” an inventively named red.
If you want a long-lasting, brightly colored statement lip, you can do no better at any price point than the Wet ‘n’ Wild Megalast Lip Colors. The shade range is vast, the formula is matte but not drying, and the colors last well but fade evenly rather than crumbling or *winces* peeling.
If you want a sheerer and glossier vibe, I’d just like to say that the Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Glosses do not get enough attention. They’re almost like liquid balms—incredibly hydrating, but delivering a lovely wash of color and a super ‘00s sheen. If you want something with a touch more color payoff, however, the NYX Butter Glosses won’t ever do you wrong.
Now comes the final step: setting spray! You must seal in all your hard work. (Otherwise, what’s the point?) My favorite drugstore options come from NYX—choose their matte or dewy finish depending on personal preference, and be confident that come blood, sweat, or tears, your makeup isn’t going anywhere.
Annie Walton Doyle