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9 Cheap Makeup Alternatives to Expensive High-End Brands

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9 Cheap Makeup Alternatives to Expensive High-End Brands

By Courtney Omell
on September 14, 2022

Makeup seems to be the one beauty item that can withstand a pandemic and rising costs of inflation. People just keep spending money on beauty and we completely support it! But, give these cheap makeup alternatives a try to get more bang for your buck.

For those of us who enjoy stocking our makeup bags despite any dwindling finances, we’ve compiled a list of drugstore makeup that is just as good (or better!) than the high-end stuff.

With some help from Brad’s Deals managing editor Casey Runyan and a few other beauty lovers on the team, we’ve compiled a list of quality cheap makeup alternatives to expensive brand-name beauty products. Enjoy!

Liquid Eyeliner

Swap Lancome Artliner Precision Point Liquid Eyeliner ($31 at Nordstrom) for Wet ‘n Wild MegaLiner Liquid Eyeliner ($3.19 at Target)

Bottles of liquid eyeliner

Lancome Precision Point Eyeliner has an easy-to-use minibrush and long-lasting style, but shelling out $31 is just not doable for some budgets. The Wet N’ Wild liner found at most drugstores will likely be the best $3.19 you’ll ever spend! Just like the Lancome liner, it’s easy to apply, stays on all day, and, given how small the bottle is, it lasts a freakishly long time. Save yourself the $22, seriously. No one will notice the difference.


Swap Benefit BADgal Lash ($27 at Sephora) for L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Mascara ($8.99 at Target)

Tubes of mascarra

Benefit’s BADgal Lash, thickens without clumping and stays on all day smudge-free. L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Mascara does the EXACT same thing at a fraction of the cost. A bottle of this stuff also lasts way longer than its more expensive counterpart, which can noticeably dry out rather quickly.


Swap Pureology Hydrate Shampoo ($35 at ULTA) for OGX TeaTree Mint Shampoo ($7.89 at Target)

Hydrating shampoo bottles

Both Pureology and OGX are sulfate-free, use “all natural” ingredients (although anyone who knows about labeling  in this country knows “all natural” can literally mean anything), and have a scalp-tingling feel and a minty-fresh smell. OGX shampoo and conditioner are a customer favorite for both their outstanding scents and the way hair feels after use. Pureology is great, but is it worth $35? Our answer is a resounding no.


Swap AVEDA Feed My Lips Pure Nourish-Mint Lipstick ($26 at AVEDA stores and salons) for REVLON Super Lustrous Lipstick ($8.99 at Target)

Lipstick tubes

A popular high-end lipstick, Aveda’s Nourish-Mint lipstick has a fresh mint flavor but we’ve noticed that customers complain about the length of wear. Instead, try REVLON’s Super Lustrous Lipstick. While it’s not deliciously minty like its AVEDA counterpart, REVLON Super Lustrous Lipstick comes in a much wider variety of colors and stays put for a lot longer. Plus–the price is right.

Face Primer

Swap Smashbox Photo Finish ($42 at Ulta) for Monistat Chafing Relief Powder-Gel ($5.99 at Target)

Skincare bottles

This is Casey’s holy grail dupe. The key ingredient for most high-end makeup primers is Dimethicone, which gives skin a smooth texture and helps those with normal, oily, or combination skin achieve a semi-matte finish when foundation is applied over it. Monistat Chafing Relief has the same ingredient and does the same thing at a fraction of the price!

Eye Shadow

Swap Urban Decay, Smashbox, Tarte, etc. ($18-65 at Sephora) for Wet ‘n Wild Color Icon Collection ($3.19 at Target)

Eye shadow pallets

Some of our Brad’s Deals beauty lovers have long been believers that only pricey eye shadows have the color payout and finely-milled texture that makes for beautiful application. The Wet ‘n Wild Color Icon shadows proved us wrong.

Blotting Papers

Swap Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets ($7.29 at Walgreens) for Starbucks Paper Napkins (FREE!)

Oil absorbing sheets

The next time you are at a Starbucks, grab a few spare napkins and use them in place of your normal blotting paper. They do an outstanding job of de-shining areas prone to mid-day oiliness and the price can’t be beat. Cut them down to size and store in a cleaned out compact or business card holder and they will be there when you need them! Just remember to buy a drink in exchange for all the free napkins you’re hoarding.

Nail Polish

Swap Essie Nail Polish ($9.99 at Target) for Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Polish ($5.29 at Target)

Nail polish bottles

In search of the perfect plum polish that dries fast and stays chip-free for days? Sally Hansen’s Just in Wine is on par with similar shades from pricier brands, and the price can’t be beat.

Cream Eye Shadow

Swap MAC Paint Pots ($25 at MAC) for Maybelline Color Tattoo 24hr Cream Gel Eye Shadow ($6.99 at Walgreens)

Eye shadow pots

This is one of those have-to-see-it-to-believe-it swaps. The color selection is different, but both MAC Paint Pots and Maybelline Color Tattoo offer easy-to-blend color that lasts and can be used as a base for powder eye shadows. The biggest difference is in the price. Betcha can’t buy just one.

What are your go-to drugstore brands?

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