Real Simplereaders divulge their bargain beauty buys.

By Real Simple
Updated April 09, 2007
Face powder
Credit: Gemma Comas


My favorite beauty product is Revlon Great Lash Blackest Black mascara. It doesn't matter how awful I feel or what makeup I forgot to put on―as long as I apply some of that magic mascara, I look and feel sexy all day long.
Misty Grubbs
Allen Park, Michigan

False eyelashes! I love experimenting with different lengths for different occasions. Even when I wear them to casual gatherings, they give my eyes that extra-special pop and make me feel glamorous.
Megan Watkins
Phoenix, Arizona

CoverGirl clear mascara tames my eyebrows and brightens my eyes―and a little dab helps rein in the flyaway hairs on my head.
Heather Dunning
Kirkland, Washington

Neutrogena MoistureShine lip gloss adds quick color to my lips, brightens my face, and reminds me that at least I don't need to look like a frazzled mom.
Binnah Han
Cypress, California

Carmex. There may not be anything pretty about the little yellow-and-white pot that it comes in, but nothing else can make my lips as soft and tempting (to my husband, anyway). I use it every night before I go to bed.
Kelly Davydov
Des Moines, Iowa

As the mom of three kids, I have limited makeup time―limited to the wait in the car between the kids' activities. Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers come in many different shades, and each gives me a great splash of color, SPF, and the healing qualities of a lip balm. And since they're less than $4 each, one can go in my makeup bag, one in my purse, and one in the car.
Jennifer Mason
Independence, Oregon

My Bonne Bell Cherry Lip Smacker is one product I can't leave home without. The scent brings back childhood memories without being overpowering, and the gloss offers perfect protection. My husband says he likes it because I don't get lipstick smudges on him, but I think he just likes the taste.
Julie Peacock
Northbrook, Illinois

I fear that my self-esteem would plummet without Revlon's New Complexion One-Step compact makeup. It's my foundation, under-eye concealer, sunblock, and powder all in one. The foam pad blends the makeup perfectly onto my not-so-perfect skin.
Lori Ulrich
Burke, Virginia


Despite occasional mishaps (like the time the brown dye turned my hair purple), hair color is by far my favorite drugstore beauty product. When I was living abroad, I saw how hair color changed people's views of me. Blond meant I must be from California. Black made me look like a New Yorker; brown, like a Brit. And red, of course, meant Irish. My current favorite shade is Black Leather by Feria. It helps me feel fierce and ready to take on the world.
Genevieve Valiot
Mount Clemens, Michigan

I can't live without John Frieda's Brilliant Brunette Satin Shine Finishing Creme . After I've blow-dried and styled, I smooth it over my thick hair to tame flyaways and make it extra glossy. It's lightweight and shimmery, it smells incredible, and it makes me love being a brunet.
Elizabeth Stephens
Chicago, Illinois

I have the kind of hair that I'm not really sure how to describe. For it to be straight, I need a flat iron. For it to be curly, I need a curling iron. When natural, it's just puff and frizz. I bought Sunsilk De-Frizz conditioner for "frizz-prone waves or curls." I wash my hair at night and leave the product in while I sleep, then wake up to a head full of beautiful, frizz-free waves and curls.
Patty Barrett
Boston, Massachusetts

When Pantene Pro-V Silver Expressions shampoo and conditioner came out, I rejoiced and even sent the company a praise-filled, grateful e-mail. It's my favorite drugstore beauty product because it's perfect for my gorgeous shoulder-length silver ringlets.
Martha Lee Head
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Lotions and Potions

Lotions and Potions

For sandal-ready feet year-round, I couldn't live without Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme. A few nights of applying it and wearing socks to bed and I'm pedicure-perfect.
Jessica Bennett
Key West, Florida

My grandmother, who had beautiful skin, always told me to moisturize every day with Olay. I've been using Olay Active Hydrating Beauty Fluid since I was a teenager, and now that I'm 47 years old, I don't have any wrinkles. Each time I put on the cream, I'm reminded of her.
Carol Hopper
Cold Spring, New York

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer. It really does reduce the redness in my cheeks and calm my sensitive skin.
Kim Finlay
Waltham, Massachusetts

Vaseline! One seemingly bottomless jar removes my makeup, softens my feet and elbows, moisturizes my lips, and tames my eyebrows. It's my number one product.
Carol Madonna
Manhattan Beach, California

Formulated to soften cows' udders, Vermont's Original Bag Balm is an amazing beauty product. It contains lanolin, which works wonders to moisturize and soften dry hands and feet.
Viv Lieskovsky
Penticton, British Columbia

Neutrogena Body Oil is on par with the much more expensive body oils. It's not greasy like baby oil; it goes on light and sinks into the skin, leaving a clean, subtle scent and moisture that lasts all day long.
Kellie Marlatt
Salem, South Carolina

I have tried every beauty product known to man, but my favorite is Revlon's Bare It All Lustrous Lotion. Mix a dot with foundation for a healthy glow, rub it on cheekbones to define bone structure, and pour a little into body lotion for a sexy shimmer.
Todra Payne
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Aquaphor Healing Ointment is the best product for cracked winter skin, chapped lips, diaper rash, dry feet and hands, itchiness, crazy cuticles―you name it. Our whole family uses a big tub, and we all love it.
Korrie Wilhelm
Fort Wayne, Tennessee

I love Dr. Bronner's Lavender Magic soap because it can be used as a bubble bath, a shampoo, or a body wash. Plus, if I forget my magazine or novel, I can read the crazy label while I soak in the tub.
Melinda Pietrusza
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Noxzema Deep Cleansing Cream. I smear it all over my face in the shower, and it takes me back to childhood. I love it because it makes my face feel tingly, fresh, and smooth―plus the smell just perks me up.
Loree Arrington
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Evian Water Atomizer is a wonderfully hydrating part of my morning routine and a great refresher after a day in the sun.
Shana Cain
Orlando, Florida

My mother instilled in me the importance of wearing sunscreen even when the sun isn't out. It reduces the chances of premature aging, sun spots, and cancer. I apply SPF 30 sunscreen with moisturizer in the winter and waterproof sunscreen in the summer.
Tara Depew
Spokane, Washington


My magnifying makeup mirror is my favorite drugstore beauty product. At 50-plus, I can see much better to apply my makeup, tweeze my brows, etc.
Mary Scharp
Lewis Center, Ohio

My favorite drugstore beauty product is Q-tips. They have so many uses besides cleaning your ears. I use them for blending eye shadow, wiping off excess mascara, and applying liquid concealer.
Amy Carter
Phoenix, Arizona

There's nothing more affordable and useful than big, fluffy cotton balls.
Paige Eubanks-Barrow
Dallas, Texas

I love my little no-spill tub of nail-polish remover. I don't have to mess around with cotton balls that fall apart or get acetone on my rug. The polish is gone with just a few quick finger turns inside.
Jennifer Doherty
Sammamish, Washington

I'm allergic to nail polish, so I struggled with manicure envy until I discovered buffing boards. I keep one in my purse and one at home. Whenever I get a chance, I buff my fingernails to a bright shine, and it looks as if I have a French manicure that never chips. Buffing boards cost less than $3, so if you want to go nuts and buy a white nail pencil, too, you can probably get by for less than $5.
Patricia Simms
Evanston, Illinois

I hate to floss, but I found floss picks, which make it simple. I keep the picks in my car and floss on my way to and from work. They work great, and I can tell my dental hygienist in all honesty that I have flossed.
Chris Shields
Port Townsend, Washington