Whether you need a new product in a beauty pinch or you're looking for a makeup refresh on a budget, these drugstore finds really deliver.

By Heather Muir Maffei
Updated August 05, 2019
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As a beauty director, my job is to try the latest and greatest in the cosmetic world. Tough job, right? All this testing comes with perks. Not only does that make me an expert in what to use, it also lets me know when to splurge.

Newsflash: beauty is expensive with a capital $. Sometimes it can feel like the best products are the ones that break the bank. I’ll let you in on a little secret: Great products don’t have to be pricey. To prove it, I explored the aisles at my local drugstore and picked out five getting-ready essentials—all for under $30. Whether you need a beauty fix on the go or you're looking to refresh your routine on a budget, these drugstore finds help put your best face forward all day long.

My first pick? Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream ($7; target.com). This mega-multitasker combines skincare and makeup into one easy breezy formula. With 2 percent pore-clearing salicylic acid and color-correcting technology, this cream provides coverage without clogging. Bonus: if you're unsure about your foundation shade, a lighter coverage product gives you much more flexibility. Also, applying BB cream is much simpler than a typical foundation. Its balmy texture makes your fingers the best blending tool.

On a $30 budget, I didn’t have room for a blush and lip product, so I found the best of both worlds: the Revlon Kiss Lip Balm ($3; target.com). The cream texture is perfect for a natural, rosy glow. Simply swatch some on the back of your hand and dab on both your lips and cheeks.

Eyes might have been the most difficult part of shopping. The aisle was loaded with chunky palettes and bold colors, so finding something for every day was a bit more of a challenge. The e.l.f. Clay Eyeshadow palette in Saturday Sunsets ($6; target.com) offered everything I was looking for. Not only is it reasonably priced (6 dolla holla!), but it also gives clear instructions for each shade for beginners. If you are a seasoned vet, toss it out and create something special on your own. Pro tip: the darker shades work as shadows and liner if you smudge along the waterline, and the lighter pinks can be used as highlight.

The eyes didn’t stop there. The number one beauty staple is...drumroll, please...mascara. Whether you are late to a meeting or simply not in the mood to do a full face, mascara alone will liven up your face after a few swipes. I settled on Wet & Wild Mega Volume Mascara ($3; target.com) to give my lashes maximum lift. If your lashes are feeling extra limp, make sure to wiggle the brush at the root to liven things up. After you have gotten a few strong swipes, hold the spoolie vertically and apply to the top of the lash.

Lastly, I settled on a more unconventional choice for my final pick. Instead of more makeup, I figured my money was best spent on some type of applicator. Cue the Q-tips ($3; target.com). These cotton swabs are lifesavers in a pinch. Whether you need to fix a makeup mistake or to quick smudge-out your eye makeup (see eyeshadow hack), these do it all.

Moral of the story? Don’t let drugstore fool you. These powerhouse products are made to multi-task.Try putting them to work instead of your wallet.