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Top Ten 10 Best Drugstore Beauty and Hair Products

Updated on February 19, 2012
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Photo: ©SmartandFun
Photo: ©SmartandFun

Lots of my friends spend a small fortune on their makeup, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, soaps, wrinkle fighters and the like. They go to high-end department stores or to ultra-chic beauty boutiques to get their beauty products. I, on the other hand, can't imagine paying $48 for a tiny cake of eyeshadow. I do love makeup and beauty products, but I just don't have that kind of money. Even if I did and had a huge beauty budget, I don't think that I would buy the expensive products, since I've found so many great drugstore products that work so well. When I have splurged on products from the department store, for the most part I have found that they're really very similar to drugstore products.

I've yet to find any products anywhere that produce miracles, but I do have a nice little stable of drugstore products that I depend on and purchase over and over. I like that they're less expensive than department store beauty products, and I love the convenience of being able to run up to Walmart, Target or CVS and grab them any time, as opposed to making the longer trip to the mall. So here are my picks for the best drugstore beauty products. Please comment and let me know what your personal favorites are!

Rimmel Lasting Finish 25-hour Foundation

This foundation really does last. I don't know that I would say it lasts 25 hours, but it is a very long-wearing makeup. It goes on smoothly, feels light, and gives medium coverage. Even though it's a long-wearing makeup, it doesn't dry in place right away, so there is plenty of time for blending. I apply it with a damp makeup sponge. The texture of the sponge seems to help it cover my pores, and dampness slightly dilutes the formula so it looks a little more sheer. It gets raves from many, many reviewers on my favorite beauty site, Many of the reviewers there love to use it as an under eye concealer as well.

Almay One Coat Dial Up Mascara

I love this mascara! Ever since Max Factor was discontinued in the U.S., I have been looking for a replacement for my favorite 2000 Calorie mascara. I think I may have found it in Almay Dial Up mascara. You turn a dial on the bottle to choose how heavily you'd like to apply the mascara: 1 for a natural look, 2 for medium and 3 for super long and thick. This mascara doesn't smudge or flake off during the day, which for me is hard to find!

Almay Intense i-Color Liquid Liner, Brown Topaz
Almay Intense i-Color Liquid Liner, Brown Topaz
Brown Topaz is my personal favorite; more shades are available.

Almay Intense i-color Liquid Eyeliner

Almay Intense i-color Liquid Eyeliner is the bomb. Its applicator is not a floppy, hard-to-use brush. Instead, applying it can be compared to dipping a fine-tipped felt-tip pen into a bottle of ink. This applicator makes it so easy to draw the perfect line, whether you want it thick, thin, or tapered. The liquid product is great, also. It goes on smoothly and, once dry, is smudge-proof and lasts all day. However, it is not waterproof, which in my book is a plus, because it washes off easily every night. I am a redhead so I prefer the Brown Topaz color. Other colors such as black and purple are also available. One note: when you first begin using a new bottle of this, it might be (maybe) a little messy if you're not careful. But once you've used it for a week or two and the bottle is less full, it goes on much more neatly.

Crest 3D Pro Effects Advanced Seal White Strips

In my earliest foray into at-home teeth bleaching, I went to the dentist for custom molded trays and professional-strength gel. I was thrilled when my corn-kernel teeth emerged a lovely bright white after just a few treatments. I continued to use the trays off and on as needed, until the day that I set my fully heated flat iron down on top of the trays and they melted into a piece of abstract art. Not wanting to go to the expense of getting new trays from the dentist, I began using the stick-on strips from the drugstore. They worked quite well but were messy and slid around on my teeth. I was fine with them though, since they kept my teeth gleaming white. The last time I went to purchase them, Walmart was all out of the least expensive model. The only choice they weren't sold out of was the top-of-the-line Crest 3-D Professional Effects White Strips with Advanced Seal. I was unhappy to pay the more expensive price, but now prefer them because the adhesive on the strips works so well to keep them in place on my teeth. Plus, their whitening power is amazing! I think they would do a great job even on someone who has never had their teeth whitened before.

Nexxus Sleek Memory Straightening Smoothing Spray

It sounds silly, and yeah, I'm exaggerating a little when I say that this product has changed my life. It hasn't actually changed my life, but it has changed my hair. My hair is not super curly, but it is very wavy, very thick, long and very fluffy. However, thanks to Nexxus Sleek Memory Straightening Smoothing Spray, I can wear it in the sleek, straight styles that I prefer. This product has made my hair straighter, lie flatter and look sleeker, smoother and glossier than any other product I've tried. Additionally, instead of spending half the morning with hair-damaging heat appliances, I can get great results with merely a quick blowout followed by a few touch-ups with the flat iron. Nexxus claims that Sleek Memory will help train your hair to remain straight even after you wash it out, hence the word "memory" in the name. I haven't found this to be the case, but for me it is the best temporary hair straightener/smoother that I have found, and I think I've tried them all.

Pantene Pro V Time Renewal Replenishing Mask

Like the Nexxus product above, if your hair is fine and limp, this is probably not the right product for you. However, if your hair is dry, crunchy, color-treated, processed, damaged or long, thick and wiry, you will love it. Pantene Pro V Restoratives Time Renewal Replenishing Mask is an ultra-thick, rich, luxurious deep conditioner that will give you the softest, shiniest, most moisturized hair. It smells great and works even better. I make sure my wild-haired 12-year-old daughter always has some in her shower, because after she uses it, the tons of tangles in her wavy, very long, even-thicker-than-mine hair just fall right out. Whether you leave it on the recommended 5 minutes or rinse it off after a minute or two, you'll love the results.

Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle Moisture, Night

I use this night cream every night. I just can't bring myself to pay the big bucks for the high-end retinol creams from the dermatologist. I imagine they are stronger and more effective, but I am pleased with Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle Moisture Night cream and I feel like its the next best thing. I have used it for several years and depend on it to keep the wrinkles at bay. It is packaged to keep its active ingredients from degrading, and I trust Neutrogena to deliver a high-quality product. It contains hyaluronic acid to plump skin, and retinol to help the skin shed old, wrinkled layers and build up healthy new ones. I like that Neutrogena uses real ingredient names and doesn't make up their own, as some companies do, which prevents beauty sleuths from being able to research the product's effectiveness or compare its strength to other brands.

Vaseline Smoothing Body Butter with Cocoa and Shea Butter

This body butter is so rich, creamy and luxurious, you'll swear it was put out by a spa or high-end cosmetics company. It melts into your skin, moisturizing and softening even the driest hands, heels and elbows. Use it all over for the softest, most pampered skin you've ever experienced. It is made by Vaseline, has a nice but nonperfumey smell and is packaged in a brown plastic jar. But don't be fooled by its humble name, scent and appearance. It's a luxurious yet hardworking product at a bargain bin price.

Olay Ultra Moisture Bath Bars with Shea Butter

I love to wash my face in the shower every night, but until I found this wonderful soap I wouldn't have dared use the same soap on my face that I use on my body. But this soap is so gentle and full of moisturizers! It does a terrific job of removing a faceful of makeup every night. It cleans well and leaves my face and the rest of my skin soft and moisturized, ready for my nightly anti-aging treatment. Since it looks basically like a plain white bar of soap, my husband uses it every day also, though he might stop if he knew I consider it part of my beauty routine. Once he used the soap provided by a hotel and then complained about how dry his skin felt afterward, so even he is hooked! Turns out this lowly bar of plain white soap in a little cardboard box isn't so lowly after all.

Aqua Net Professional Hair Spray, Extra Super Hold 3

Anyone who has happened to see my hub "Why I Love Aqua Net" already knows why I recommend this product. It is an old-fashioned hairspray with a not-so-great reputation, dare I say a stigma. But if you ever need "hair glue," this is the product for you. Aqua Net #3 lasts all day to hold down flyaways, slick back bangs and make mountains of teased hair. It will even hold a bun together while you're doing multiple flips on a trampoline. Yes, I know that sounds like I'm trying to be funny or exaggerate, but I always Aqua Net on my daughter's hair when she does exactly that, as she is a competitive power tumbler and must have her hair in a bun, and it must not come undone during her routine or she'll get a point deduction. I admit I also use Aqua Net on my own daily hairstyles if I need a little extra hold.


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