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Where to Purchase Affordable Makeup

Updated on April 27, 2012
The Color Institute's Ultimate Color Portfolio contains 80 eyeshadows and 70 lip glosses and is available exclusively at Shopper's Drug Mart and Pharmaprix
The Color Institute's Ultimate Color Portfolio contains 80 eyeshadows and 70 lip glosses and is available exclusively at Shopper's Drug Mart and Pharmaprix | Source

With the increasing popularity of makeup tutorials, reviews and hauls on YouTube and blogs, it can sometimes feel as if high-end makeup products are over-hyped. Most often, high-end products and brands are similar in quality to those of low-end brands that can be found online and in drug stores. This hub will provide you a list of these stores, as well as ways in which you can purchase a few items that can serve a variety of purposes, rather than purchasing many products.

Drug Stores

Drug stores are a great place to find affordable makeup. Brands such as L'Oréal, Maybelline, Physician's Formula, E.L.F., Rimmel, Annabelle, Wet N Wild, NYX and The Color Institute are all available at drug stores. Most of their products can be purchased under $20 with most of the items averaging $5-10. This is the easiest and quickest way to find and purchase affordable makeup as drug stores can be found in almost any town or city. They are especially great if you are looking for basic makeup products. However, if you're looking for other products offered by these brands, or a bigger colour selection, searching online will allow you to find what you're looking for.

NYX's Soft Matte Lip Creams, available from
NYX's Soft Matte Lip Creams, available from | Source

Makeup Stores Online

There are many stores online that carry affordable makeup brands and sometimes even sell them cheaper than the drug store. If you don't mind waiting for it to be shipped to you, shopping online may be perfect for you. Stores such as Cherry Culture and Coastal Scents offer makeup brands that aren't commonly found in drug stores, while stores such as Beauty Joint and Ebay carry more popular brands. It all depends on what you're looking for, but you might find something new along the way.

 PerformanceColors is a store which sells cream eyeshadows that work well as an eyeshadow base to help enhance the colours of your eyeshadow and to prolong its wear. They are called ColorPots.
PerformanceColors is a store which sells cream eyeshadows that work well as an eyeshadow base to help enhance the colours of your eyeshadow and to prolong its wear. They are called ColorPots. | Source

Handmade Cosmetics on Etsy

If you are looking for makeup that is handmade and doesn't use a lot of harsh chemicals, Etsy is an online store that allows users to sell things that they have made. Many Etsy sellers make soaps, sugar body scrubs, mineral eyeshadows, foundations and more. The prices are often very reasonable and sometimes you can ask the seller to create a custom colour for you. It's a lot more personal than purchasing from larger stores because you have the opportunity to speak with the creator of these products, and you're able to find out exactly what ingredients they use in their products.

Another palette from The Color Institute. Contains eyeshadows, lip sticks, blushes, bronzers, highlighters and brushes.
Another palette from The Color Institute. Contains eyeshadows, lip sticks, blushes, bronzers, highlighters and brushes. | Source

Purchase in 'Bulk'

It might seem weird to purchase makeup in bulk, but in the long run, it will save you money. This doesn't mean buying large quantities of product, but rather finding palettes and sets that offer many colours. For instance, the palette in the first photo above is from The Color Institute and contains 80 eyeshadows and 70 lip glosses. It cost $14.99 and is available at Shopper's Drug Mart. One NYX eyeshadow typically costs around $4, and although it contains more product than one eyeshadow from the palette, $4 is about a fourth of the total cost getting 80 eyeshadows from the Color Institute. Quality-wise, the NYX eyeshadows are great while the eyeshadows from The Color Institute range depending on the colour. It all depends on how much you are willing to spend.

You can find combination sets as well that offer eyeshadows, lip colours, blushes, bronzers, brushes and more. Many brands offer these types of sets such as NYX, The Color Institute, E.L.F. and Coastal Scents.

When to Purchase Combination Palettes

Though a lot of these palettes can be found year round (like the ones from NYX and E.L.F.), special combination sets come out around Christmas time and are even cheaper than purchasing them during the year.

For example, The Color Institute palettes are almost always sold only during the months before Christmas.

MAC Pigment Sample
MAC Pigment Sample | Source


If you'd still like to try high-end makeup, there are stores online that sell samples of these products so that you can try them out. The most popular type of makeup sample for sale are the mineral/pigment samples. You can try out high-end pigments from brands such as MAC, SugarPill and Ben Nye for about $3-4 per sample. They come in small jars and contain about 1/4 tsp of product. It doesn't sound like much, but these samples go a long way and enable you to try many colours and brands without purchasing the full-size.


Purchasing products that can serve several purposes is a great way to save money. For instance, blushes and be used as eyeshadows and vice versa. The same can be said of bronzers. Frosty light-coloured eyeshadows can work as highlighters and lipsticks can work as cream blushes. Foundations can be used as concealers and clear mascaras can be used as eyebrow gel. Have fun with makeup and maybe you'll discover other ways to use your favourite products!


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    • profile image

      Patricia Hollins 

      4 years ago

      I love maybellene, , and you can definitely purchase. A wide variety of makeup in well known pharmacy branches such as Walgreens where I have recently purchased most of my makeup needs at. You have also motioned that online stores have even cheaper prices for prchasing makeup that is even a better way to buy make now, especially if it is cheaper than buying in the pharmacies.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Just found your blog. Morena, have you heard of Devu Cosmetics? They are from Canada and sell affordable cosmetics. They sell brands such as Zpalettes and Bdellium tools, buying from the states is often a pain as the customs and duties can make purchases expensive. Your list is informative, I'm going to check out Etsy. Thanks!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      We shop at the local dollar stores for makeup.

    • melbel profile image


      8 years ago from Midwest, USA

      If you buy high pigment eyeshadow, you won't need to use as much. I've found brands like Jane to not go on very well. I personally adore Urban Decay, but what you can do to save money is buy just ONE expensive pearly color (like Polyester Bride by UD) and some costume makeup. Costume makeup is uber affordable and is EXTREMELY highly pigmented. Then, take the pearly color and heavily dilute the costume makeup to make a waaay lighter version of it.

      Awesome hub and really interesting, I'm bookmarking this one! :)

    • Morena88 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for the feedback! :)

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow, this is fabulous advice!! I was never much of a makeup person, but now I think I might be... O_O

    • Susan Starts Now profile image

      Susan Starts Now 

      8 years ago from California

      Thanks for the informative hub! I didn't realize you could buy cosmetics on Etsy. I am going to look into this. It would be neat to talk to people about the makeup they create. Like you also pointed out, the holidays are coming which is a great time to get bargains on makeup and other beauty product sets.

    • kerlynb profile image


      8 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      I love Maybelline and L'Oreal. They're relatively affordable. I do want to look presentable with the help of my make-ups but I do not want to spend a fortune just to buy them :) Thanks for this practical hub.


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