Join Our Financial Boot Camp

Subscribe to our newsletter

Our Makeup Guru Shares Her Favorite Budget Beauty Buys

Hip2Save may earn a small commission via affiliate links in this post. Read our full disclosure policy here.

More Health and Fitness
79 Comments
HOT! Getting Toasty! Lukewarm Starting To Melt Ice Ice Baby
5.0 / 1 rating

emily's makeup bag makeup and cosmetics

Hi there! I’m Emily, one of Collin’s sidekicks.

Collin asked me the other day to recommend some makeup brands since I’m always talking about my favorite beauty buys. She knows I’m someone who loves makeup, so I think she was a bit surprised that some of my favorites are drugstore brands that cost under $10. Interestingly enough, those low-cost makeup essentials have become tried and true staples in my beauty bag.

Check out some of my favorites below!


emily's makeup bag — maybelline falsies mascara

Maybelline Volum’ Express Falsies Waterproof Mascara

Buy it at Target – $6.99

I’ve tried almost every mascara under the sun, but I always come back to Maybelline. It’s the same one I’ve been using since high school! I find the waterproof version holds my lash curl better. That said, water-resistant formulas can be drying to lashes, so keep that in mind if that’s a concern for you.


emily's makeup bag — nyx long wear concealer

NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Contour Concealer

Buy it at Target – $8.49

I love NYX concealers. I think their formulations are on par with higher-end brands, but the price can’t be beat! I used to use this NYX concealer, but when my shade was sold out (and I was in desperate need to cover my undereye circles), I picked up this long wear concealer option – and I couldn’t be happier with the switch! It has an angled sponge tip on the wand and an even more opaque formula (meaning a little bit goes a long way).


emily's makeup bag — eyebrow pencil

Maybelline Total Temptation Eyebrow Pencil

Buy it at Target – $6.99

Okay, so the pencil pictured is obviously not the Maybelline version because the one I have is from a small K-Beauty store, and all of the branding has worn off. To be honest, I have yet to land on a brow product that I’m 100% committed to, but these retractable brow pencils come pretty close. It’s a very easy application with the always-defined soft tip that makes creating hair strokes a cinch. It also has a round spoolie end to blend in the strokes for naturally fuller eyebrows. That said, if I’m ever in a pinch, brown eyeshadow applied with an angled brush works just as fine.


emily's makeup bag — sleek makeup eyeshadow palette

Sleek MakeUP Eyeshadow Palette

Buy it at Target – $12.99

I am not big on eyeshadow. It’s not like I don’t like the look, I’m just too lazy when it comes to putting on makeup. I also find so many eyeshadow palettes are big, bulky, and expensive, and those don’t really fit into my streamlined routine. I received this tiny palette in a beauty box and thought, “Now this is more my speed!” Sure, it looks like it probably belongs in a pre-teen’s makeup set, but the colors are shockingly pigmented and offer a range of both shimmer and matte neutral shades. And the best part is it’s the size of a business card!


emily's makeup bag — maybelline all day liquid eyeliner

Maybelline All Day Liquid Liner

Buy it at Ulta – $7.99

Yes, another Maybelline product—are you sensing a pattern here? I have a hard time finding products from this brand that I don’t like. I was originally using Stila liquid liner, but I made the switch to this budget buy after testing it out in a beauty box. I found my higher-end Stila pen would dry out and become difficult to apply but it’s always a smooth application with the Maybelline liner. Budget is better! 


emily's makeup bag — ulta beauty translucent powder

Ulta Translucent Finishing Powder

Buy it at Ulta – $10

To make sure my eye makeup doesn’t budge, I apply a little bit of powder over my concealer and liquid liner. The powder also coats my lashes, adding volume and staying power to my mascara. This can also be used all over the face for a more matte finish to your skin.


emily's makeup bag — it cosmetics your skin but better cc+ cream

It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream

Buy it at Ulta – $39

If you need a full-coverage skin-loving cream, this is it, my friends! It’s a fairly thick cream, so I warm it up on my fingertips and then gently dab all over my face and neck. I actually use my hands for my foundation application, so I blend the CC cream by continually pressing (not harsh rubbing) for a flawless finish. It’s pricey, but it does have anti-aging elements and a hefty SPF. I know other Hip2Save team members are fans of this cream as well!


emily's makeup bag — urban decay naked skin foundation

Urban Decay Naked Weightless Liquid Makeup

Buy it at Ulta – $40

I like this foundation for summer when I’m looking for a more lightweight and sheer finish. I apply it the same way as I do the It Cosmetics CC cream, but it’s a much thinner consistency, which makes it a touch easier to blend. Again, it’s not cheap, but when the budget allows, it’s a solid choice for a breathable foundation.


emily's makeup bag — the ordinary colours foundation

The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation

Buy it at The Ordinary – $6.70

I’m a big fan of contouring, so I dab on some of this affordable serum foundation just underneath my cheekbones. The Ordinary is known for their quality affordable skincare, and the foundation line holds up to the same standards. I’ve used their coverage foundation previously, and I loved its feel, blendability, and the ease of matching your shade even when buying online.


emily's makeup bag — thrive causemetics eye brightener highlighter stick

Thrive Causemetics Eye Brightener

Buy it at Thrive Causemetics – $23

Ever try to fake eight hours of sleep even though you’re running on four? Yep, we all have! I came across this highlighter stick in my FabFitFun box, and I’ve become obsessed. I use it to line my eyes to instantly brighten them up. After that, I glide it on to add some shimmer to the tops of my cheekbones, the bridge of my nose, cupid’s bow, and brow arches. It is on the pricier side for a highlighter stick, so check out this e.l.f. highlighter stick as a budget-friendly option.


emily's makeup bag — led light up makeup mirror

LED Lighted Vanity Mirror

Buy it on Amazon – $29.99

While this mirror technically doesn’t fit in my makeup bag, I couldn’t not mention it. It’s incredibly convenient whether you use it daily at home or while traveling! It works especially well when you don’t have sufficient lighting to apply your makeup – and many hotels definitely lack in the lighting department.


What are your must-have products in your beauty bag?

Let me know in the comments. I’m always on the hunt for fun new beauty buys!


Check out these clever hacks for storing your makeup!

Join The Discussion

Comments 79

  1. Gisette

    I swear by the IT cosmetics!!!It’s my #1 foundation 😁

    • Ann

      Agree, I just like the purple one better

    • Diane

      I second that!! Love the foundation!!

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      So glad you like it too! Almost everyone I know who’s tried it loves it!

    • JGC

      My #1 too! But I have to mix the shades Fair and Light (2:1) to get my perfect shade.

  2. Mollie

    My problem is trying to match my foundation. I have been through a lot of foundations.

    • Jen

      Visit any ulta and ask for a color match. They mainly only match the prestige brands. But if you end up with the wrong shade or don’t like it for any reason, ulta has an easy return policy. Exchange or get your money back. Make sure you sign up for a free rewards membership and hold onto your receipt!

      7 year ulta manager here

      • Diane

        Get one shade darker then you think you need, I had to do that.

    • ~jenn~

      Go to a Sephora with a color IQ device. It’ll give you a color number that matches your skin tone and a list of all the foundations that they carry that will match. Pick one and you can then take that information of a specific brand shade and find pages on the internet that’ll find that shade in drugstore versions of the same shade. Even if your local Sephora doesn’t have the device they can still shade match you manually and with your specific skin concerns in mind.

      • Jen

        Ulta gives samples. Brands like lancome, clinique, and mac give up to 10 days of foundation free. Aldo based on skin type, coverage, etc. They can’t give samples of many things because you cant hand out lists of ingredients for every product in the store.

    • 50ShadesofLipstick

      Go to Sephora- they give out free samples unlike Ulta and many of their brands like Fenty, Huda Beauty, Nars, etc. have a much wide shade range unlike drugstore brands which do not. Ask for a color match on your face. The Color IQ device that they sometimes use is nice in theory, but in reality it’s notoriously accurate and inconsistent esp. if you have redness or hyperpigmentation. I have used it several times and have gotten 5 or 6 different results…and that’s within the same season LOL

      • 50ShadesofLipstick

        sorry, that should say “notoriously INaccurate”

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi Mollie! Tons of great advice already commented, so I’m just going to reiterate that asking to try them out in store (and waiting a couple minutes for the product to fully dry to see if it the color changes when oxidized) or taking home samples are great options for testing out shades. Worst case scenario, many beauty stores have pretty generous return policies if a product doesn’t end up working out for you.

      • Linda

        I always walk outside to check new foundation in the daylight. Saves a ton of hassle with returns.

  3. Kristin M.

    Wet n Wild cushion foundation, ELF Beauty Shield setting powder and Physicians Formula butter bronzer are my must haves.

    • Amy

      I second the wet n wild cushion foundation!

      • Ana

        I tried wet n wild one time that I got at the grocery store because I was out and I have very fair sensitive skin and it was a disaster. After a couple of days my skin by my jawbone got little bumps all over! I guess it depends on your skin type, but now I will pay more and get good stuff.

        • ❤️ To Save

          It really does come down to skin types and allergic reactions or sensitivity to certain ingredients. It doesn’t mean that paying more will guarantee a better product.

  4. Ceebee

    My faves drug store: L’Oréal lash paradise mascara/ Elf instant lift eyebrow pencil/ Maybelline superstay foundation/ Pacifica liquid cover concealer/ Burt bees natural blush/ Physicians formula butter bronzer/ L’Oréal colour richer lipstick line/ Rimmel magnif’eyes eyeshadow palette.

  5. Bunny

    Love these beauty budget posts! Thanks so much and keep them coming!

  6. Mariam

    ELF setting spray and ELF camo 16 hour concealer blew my mind. Better than a lot of high end options IMO.

    • Susie

      Yes! I love the ELF setting spray!

  7. Hannah

    I also LOVE the NYX concealer! I’ve tried any high end brands and stumbled on this one and it’s by far the best!

  8. ❤️ To Save

    It Cosmetics CC cream is just too thick and heavy feeling for my liking. I discovered Lumene CC Cream randomly and ended up loving it. It covers redness well and feels lightweight and non greasy and has SPF 20. It’s also more affordable around $15. I think there is even a Cartwheel offer on Target right now.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Ooo I may have to give that a try! I only have about 1/4 of my CC cream left and love a good low budget option. Thank you for the recommendation!

      • ❤️ To Save

        No problem! It’s worth a try. I have gone through about 4 tubes nows through out the years. I never stay commited to just one foundation but I always go back to that one because it’s a nice, affordable, everyday option. I see it go on sale sometimes on Amazon too! Not too many people seem to know about it but I always recommend it as one of my favorites.

      • ❤️ To Save

        Another everyday, lightweight bb / cc cream with SPF fave of mine is Buxom Show Some Skin Weightless Foundation. Although it is pricey-er! Ulta carries it

    • acjr

      It sounds like this might be a good option for me! I really dislike the feeling of “foundation” and it constantly goes into my lines or wrinkles in which I’m also looking for a good face cream for hydration…I also have some redness to cover. Did you easily find a color that matches your skin tone by Lumene? Thanks for any tips or opinions! 🙂

  9. Melissa

    I love these beauty budget posts!!! Please do more. My ultimate forever favorite concealer is the revolution conceal and define concealer from Ulta and it’s around $7. It’s amazing.
    Would you recommend the falsies mascara that isn’t waterproof? I’m still looking for a great mascara that won’t break the bank! I also love the simple ELF brow pencil with the spoolie on the end.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Hey Melissa! SO glad you like this post! We’ve got more in the works as well 😊I would totally recommend the Maybelline Falsies non-waterproof mascara as well. I’ve picked it up before by mistake and hardly noticed a difference until it was the end of the day and noticed my curl wasn’t as perky as it was in the morning. Sure enough, it was because I didn’t have the waterproof formula that I was used to. But truthfully, it still looked pretty great!

    • Cherryluva

      IT cosmetics 7 in 1 mascara is amazing!

    • podvintage

      An AMAZING non-waterproof mascara is IT Superhero. It lasts and makes lashes super long and dark.

      • Melissa0912

        I actually really love this one and HUST finished a tube…it just dries out more quickly than others, I find, sonfor the money I was hoping to find a comparable but cheaper! 🙂

    • sara

      I really like l’oreal double extend mascara

  10. Jen

    Just curious. Is she the Emily on Youtube? emilynoel83?

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi Jen! I’m not on Youtube, I’m actually pretty absent from social media because I feel a bit awkward in front of the camera 😆I’ll just be sharing beauty tip videos on the Hip2Save Facebook page.

  11. Juma

    My favorite foundations are Lancôme, Estée Lauder, or Claris. Tinted moisturizer I like Estée Lauder or Claris. My moisturizer with sunscreen is Clinique, Lancôme or Estée Lauder. Lipstick, gloss, eyeliner and mascara I usually go for Maybelline.

  12. Pinkrazrbrd3

    I only use bareminerals

    • Anna

      Me too! Bare minerals has helped my skin so much and I love the natural look

      • Christine Blaylock

        same. love it!!

  13. SG

    Boy Brow by Glossier is my favorite brow product…and it is somewhat cheaper than my second favorite brow product (Gimme Brow by Benefit).

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      I hear Boy Brow is amazing! My friend swears by it but I have yet to make the leap from an eyebrow pencil to the gel-like product. Guess I’ll have to give it a try!

      • Meredith

        Personally, I think Essence Make Me Brow is a way better dupe. $2.99 and frequently buy one get one 50% off at Ulta. I use every day.

        • *Angela-Miles*

          Just posted the same Meredith. I use Essence brow product too, and think it works great. 😃

    • 50ShadesofLipstick

      You should try the new Anastasia Dip Brow Gel! I used the Gimme Brow for many years, but this one is much better- better consistency and pigmentation- and they have a lot of shades to pick from! They have the regular size for $18 but a mini is $9.

  14. Donna

    I like the Benefit brow pencils, Precisely My Brow and Goof Proof are the best. As I am getting older, I have bald patches. Those fill them in nicely without looking like a painted on strip above my eyes (I don’t get that trend! Why would anyone want to look like Joan Crawford?) They are soft enough to go on easily, yet waxy enough to stay and not smear or run off in the rain.

    • ❤️ To Save

      The Benefit Goof Proof pencils are really nice and natual looking! I got a sample and loved it. I think natural is better and that trend will fade 😉

  15. Betsy

    So I am a make up junkie!! Have tried about 20 mascaras the past few months and still have not found the perfect one but will try this one for sure. As far as eyeliners, have you tried AVON glimmersticks. I am OBSESSED. Have used for about 20 years but just recently started selling AVON and now I just have almost every color;) I’d be more then happy to stick one in mail for you for free so you can try & best part is you can often get for about $3!!

    • podvintage

      Glimmer sticks are THE best and under rated eyeliners out there!

    • Bunny

      Thanks for mentioning Betsy. Just went online and the glimmersticks get excellent reviews. I’ll contact someone to buy.

    • kayti

      Glimmer sticks are great! I love Channel base and mascara! The base is the my absolute favorite eye product!

    • jlg

      I think I love smashbox full exposure mascara the best. It works great alone, but even better with smashbox lash primer.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      I’m going to have to try these Glimmersticks out since everyone is raving about them—thank you for the recommendation!

      • Betsy

        Emily I will seriously gladly send you one! Can you get my email from this post and send an address to send it too!!

  16. Saiza

    My favorite foundation is Wet N Wild Photofocus foundation, it’s around $5!! And Physician’s Formula Healthy Foundation is gorgeous at around $15. Wet n Wild also makes a good brow pencil it’s like $3, and their loose highlighter is $7 at CVS and blinding. Milani has an excellent bronzer for around $7 and I also love Maybelline’s mascara, you can’t beat it.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Love these recommendations, Saiza! Thank you!

  17. Lindsay

    Do you use the it cosmetics under the naked foundation or so you use them
    Both as foundations? I wonder if I could use that it cc cream instead of sunscreen?

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Hi Lindsay! I use them separately based on how much coverage I’m looking for that day; It Cosmetics CC Cream when I want full coverage, Urban Decay Naked when I want sheer. I still use a moisturizer with SPF underneath the CC Cream (my mom has instilled diehard SPF habits in me since I was young). I would recommend still using another form of sunscreen in addition to the CC Cream since the amount that is needed for coverage is so minimal, I’m not sure it’s truly an adequate amount for total sun protection. That’s just my preference though!

  18. Samantha

    At the moment, I’m exclusively using Tarte… I can only wear certain brands of makeup. Every drugstore kind I have tried either irritates my skin or I’m just not happy with 🙁 but I’m very happy with Tarte

    • Heather C

      Me too….great coverage & works with my acne prone oily skin. I’m trying the IT cc cream today for the first time. Not sold yet, but too soon to really tell

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Totally understandable Samantha! I’ve been pretty fortunate that my skin isn’t sensitive to much and can handle a lot of different formulations, but just because something works for one person doesn’t mean it will for the next. Glad to hear that Tarte is a winner for you, it’s a great brand!

  19. Susanne

    If you live in a humid part of the country like me (Houston 🤪), you can get the oil-free IT CC Cream at Sephora and it lasts a lot longer the the regular IT CC from Ulta ~ but the SPF is 40 rather than 50 (buts that’s still awesome). I like that it is a primer, foundation, aging serum, and sunscreen all in one, I don’t like layering in hot weather!

    • ❤️ To Save

      I didn’t know they make an oil free version. Maybe that’s why I didn’t like it. I also live where it’s Humid. As I mentioned above, I had more success with the Lumene CC cream and it’s an all in one too

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Wow, I didn’t know they made an oil-free version either. That’s great to know, thank you for the heads up, Susanne!

  20. Casey

    I swear by Urban Decay eye primer. It is one of the few things I splurge on. That and Tarte mascara. I use it at 5:30 a.m. and my eye shadow and eyeliner are still on until I take it off before bed. Granted it is around $22 a tube, but I have been using the same one for four months and it is still half full. Also Macy’s sometimes sells them half off.

    • jlg

      Me too on the ud eye primer! I often don’t even use shadow…it’s almost like concealer for your eyelids. Removes redness, darkness or any imperfections like magic!
      I always have hated my light & undefined brows & basically ended up severely over plucking them because of that (totally backwards, I know) but anyway the UD eye/lid primer is a MUST MUST have along browline under my brow penciling…it makes it go on much smoother & create a much more natural look.
      Smashbox face primer is amazing too…it feels & looks like magical transformation every time!

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Gosh, I had no idea eye primer was so necessary, but I’m pretty sold after how well you say it works! I’m going to have to check this out. I’ll keep my eye out for it at Macy’s to try and score a deal on it!

  21. Khera

    Anyone have recommendations for a foundation for aging skin? I know several have anti-aging agents but sadly I already have wrinkles. I don’t want a dry cakey finish or settling in fine lines. Please help.

    • Jennifer

      Hi Khera, I was recently introduced to Juice Beauty (organic and vegan) at Ulta. It’s a bit pricey but I’ve really liked the difference it’s made in my skin’s appearance so far. I’m 37 and have dry skin, fine lines around my eyes, uneven skin tone, dark circles under my eyes, acne scars, sun spots, sensitive skin… you name it I probably have it. I’m currently using their phyto-pigments youth cream compact foundation (applied with my fingers and then a wet beauty blender). The foundation doesn’t settle into the fine lines around my eyes and isn’t cake-like or drying. I’m also using their green apple brightening solutikn kit (gel cleanser, age-defy moisturizer, age defy serum, brightening spf 15 moisturizer, and face peel). I also purchased their brightening eye cream. The only thing I have that I don’t care for is their concealer. The texture is pretty thick and grainy and I haven’t quite figured out how to apply it and make it look seamless without it settling into lines. I would highly recommend visiting an Ulta store, if you can, so you can experiment with this product line. And if all else fails, they do have their 30 day return policy. Hope this helps!

      • Khera

        Thank you. I’ll head to Ulta the next time I’m in the city. I’m excited about these options.

    • Megan

      The maybelline age rewind concealer is the best! I don’t use foundation, but if you are in need of a concealer that won’t sink into wrinkles and looks good all day then this is worth trying. And it’s cheap! Win win!

      • Jennifer

        Thanks Megan!

  22. *Angela-Miles*

    Enjoyed reading this post 😍. I switch between Physicians Formula foundation and Ulta foundation whenever I get a new one. They are both light weight I feel and don’t make me cakey looking. I agree about the NYX concealer, I like it too! A very small dab and my eyes have no tired look too them at all Lol.
    Oh and for brows I like a brand called Essence at Ulta, it’s super cheap like $2 😂 lol but works great for filing and shaping my brows. Anyone looking for low cost brow pencil or powder, check it out! 😉

  23. Amber

    I miss Aveeno BB cream in light. It was the best!!

    • Sydney

      Me too!

  24. Bunny

    Thanks Emily (and everyone else’s comments) for these great suggestions. I’m going to take this post with me to Ulta and find all these fun makeup items y’all have mentioned. Always looking to try something new and different and there are some great ideas here.

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      So glad you enjoyed the recommendations, Bunny!

  25. Rebecca Shebester

    Be careful of toxic makeup!! Many products contain very dangerous chemicals. Check out ewg for safer makeup alternatives.

  26. Nikki Morgan

    I love trying new products! I’m a bit of a product junky when I can afford be. But the one product I always end up going back to and have since high school, btw I’m 43, is my foundation. As a teen & young adult I had oily skin and most foundations just wouldn’t last all day. Until a friend told me to try Merle Norman Lasting Foundation. It was a game changer. Not only did it stay put but it stayed till I took it off! And because it is a drier formula it actually helped to dry up my skin so I wasn’t shiny looking which I loved! Then as I started to get older I don’t suffer from oily skin any longer but now I’m super hot natured and sweat very easily. So much so that it can be embarrassing in the MS humidity when I’ve got sweat rolling off my face. That said this foundation is for the most part sweat proof! It doesn’t claim to be but as long as I apply it to a clean dry cool face it will last till I take it off. Now if I’m outside a lot and wiping sweat away then yes some does wear off. But only after a lot of rubbing not dabbing. When applying this foundation you do have to apply it quickly or it will set on you. I’ve always used my hands to apply it & never had any issues. It cost $27 a tube and a tube will easily last me 3 months. A little goes a long way. I’ve always said as long as you have a good foundation it will even make cheap makeup look great! Btw, I use it on my eyelids & never have any creasing from my eyeshadow either. I just can’t find anything else that measures up to it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

It's not your Grandma's coupon site!

OOPS! Be sure to login or register to access this feature. It's FREE!

Forgot Password?

Don't have an account? Register

Forgot Password

Don't have an account? Register

Become a Hip2Save Insider

Don't Miss Out! Join our large community of insiders - it's totally free! Once you join, you'll be able to save & share your favorite deals, rate posts and recipes and add items to your cookbook! What are ya waiting for?!

Already have an account? Login

Become a Hip2Save Insider

Don't Miss Out! Join our large community of insiders - it's totally free! Once you join, you'll be able to save & share your favorite deals, rate posts and recipes and add items to your cookbook! What are ya waiting for?!



Already have an account? Login

Thank you for rating!

Would you also like to leave us a comment?