I love a bargain…who doesn’t? And while I am constantly trying new things, many of which come from specialty shops, I really LOVE a good drugstore (or chemist, in the UK) find. I have a great devotion to products that are cheaper yet work better than things that cost several times their price. Below is a list of some of my absolute favourite beauty products, and the fact that they are cheap and readily available from the chemist makes them even more loveable.
(NB: I am pretty sure everything on the list can be had in both the UK and the US, because my beauty regime is as transatlantic as I am!)
Shampoo & Conditioner
I was so happy, SO HAPPY, when L’Oreal finally started selling their Sulphate-free EverPure/Strong/Sleek range in the UK. I’ve been using EverStrong for a couple of years back in the states and Loving It. It is truly my holy grail shampoo and conditioner, and I love every little thing about it from the smell of the gentle, rich lather to the lushness of the conditioner. This combination does great things for my very dry, very fine, very fragile hair. The shampoo cleans it beautifully without drying it out, and the conditioner really enriches and gives a moisture boost without weighing it down. They compare very favourably with the Pureology range of products, which cost at least twice as much. I cannot recommend this range highly enough. If you are in the UK, go to Tesco or Superdrug and buy some so that L’Oreal will keep us stocked up with the goods!
I stopped using foaming cleansers years ago because I realised that one reason that my combination sensitive acne-prone skin was flaking up and breaking out so much was because my acne cleansers were stripping my skin. In fact, I think a lot of women inadvertently strip their skin by using harsh cleansers. Nowadays, I use only cream cleansers (either Clarins Extra Comfort or Neal’s Yard Remedies Calendula), but they must rinse quite cleanly. Not squeaky clean, just…smooth and clean. Cetaphil, of course, is hugely recommended for this reason: it is great at cleansing without overdrying. Usually. While it is great when I am in the oil-slick-inducing humidity of Mississippi, it dries my skin out in London winter. For this reason, I also really love Simple’s Purifying Cleansing Lotion: it’s creamy and gentle and dissolves all of the dirt and makeup on your face. Hard to beat for 3 quid.
Recently, I have become quite faithful to Clarins Multi Active Jour, which while I can get it at the posher Boots, is decidedly NOT drugstore in price (sadly). When I need something a bit lighter in warmer weather, I really like to use Olay’s 7 in 1 Blemish Care: it is a really nice and light moisturiser that does a great job of not aggravating any breakouts or irritating my sensitive skin. Mr Man has even more sensitive skin than I do, and the only moisturisers that don’t break him out are Neutrogena Visibly Clear (which is cheap as chips) and L’Oreal Men’s Vita Lift which has some retinol in it and does a good job of, ahem, tightening around the eye area (bless his silver fox socks). He doesn’t care what he uses as long as it is cheap and can be bought in our online grocery shop from Ocado, but I believe it makes a visible difference in evening his skin tone and tightening things up a bit.
I hate wearing foundation and avoid it as much as possible. My daily “base” is Bobbi Brown’s Oil Free tinted moisturiser, which is just about as perfect as it gets for me: sheer coverage, not too shiny, and most importantly, the right colour (I am quite fair with a peachy undertone — most shades are either too pale and chalky and too dark and yellow). For this reason, I don’t tend to buy foundations or TMs at the drugstore, but I have purchased a couple of BB creams which are more forgiving because they are sheer. The Maybelline BB cream is super light and sheer and I quite like it on a summer day. The light shade is still a little orange for me, but it’s okay if I’ve had a bit of sun. The Garnier is a little heavier and gives a bit more coverage, but is even darker — for normally hued people, I think it would work well, as I quite liked the texture and used up almost the whole tube anyway. I use BB creams on my days “off” just to even things out a bit without suffocating my skin, so why spend a fortune?
My favourite mascara (so far) is Trish McEvoy’s Lash Curling or High Volume mascaras, both of which are tube mascaras and cost a bloody fortune. The reason I use tube mascaras is because normal mascaras invariably run and smudge and give me horrible zombified panda eyes. L’Oreal does a good tubing mascara in the form of Beauty Tubes, and it does a fine job as long as you apply a couple of light coats and keep it from clumping up too much. The white primer makes your lashes look HUGE. If you don’t like tube mascaras (why not?!), the only normal mascara that stays in place without smudging for me is Maybelline’s The Falsies. For such a cheap mascara, it really works beautifully and volumises and lasts. I can’t recommend it highly enough. For me, it is way better than the likes of DiorShow.
I utterly adore this stuff. Previously I used coloured balms from Laura Mercier or the Almost Lipstick from Clinique in Black Honey (classic!), but my Lip Butter in sheer red is absolutely my favourite right now. I won’t wear normal lipstick, so having some colour on my lips that doesn’t drive me crazy and dry them out is a revelation.
* Palmer’s Cocoa Butter
You can buy it anywhere. It’s super cheap. It smells like chocolate. It is the only lotion that keeps my skin from going flaky. My only complaint about Palmer’s Cocoa Butter lotion is that is has petrochemicals in (ie, mineral oil, petrolatum) which I really try and avoid, but nothing else does the trick like this. Only Kiehl’s Creme de Corps compares, but it costs nearly 10 times as much!