Makeup has become an important component of my daily routine. I realized that it not only makes me feel beautiful, but its also empowering.  As I learn more about techniques and products, I noticed that there is a wide range of products that accomplish the same goals in varying degrees. Unfortunately, the best way to know what works is by trial and error.

Because I am graduate student on a tight budget, I like to make sure Im getting the best product for my money. I decided that until I perfected my technique, I would only buy products that were $10 or less from local drugstores. I’ve been able to find tons of quality products within my price range, but I’ve narrowed down my favorites. Here are my 7 Drugstore Makeup Essentials.

Maybelline Facestudio Master Prime Primer

shopping $7.94

I love nice matte finish for my makeup. But to achieve a matte finish, I have to start with a matte base. Maybelline’s Facestudio Master Prime Primer (100) blurs my blemishes and makes my skin smooth before I apply foundation. You can find this product at Walmart for about $8.

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation

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The Maybelline Fit Me line has one of the widest range of foundation shades I’ve seen in the drug store, particularly for those with darker complexions like me. I was instantly drawn to the rich dark shades that would complement my undertones and give me full coverage. It is perfect if you want a flawless matte look all day.  Mocha 360 is my perfect shade and you can find this at Ulta Beauty for about $8.

Black Radiance True Complexion Contour Palette

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When I found the Black Radiance True Complexion Contour Palette, I was completely blown away! This powder contour palette is perfect for makeup beginners. It includes a dark powder for contouring , a light powderer for sculpting and a highlighter. And this highlighter is EVERYTHING! The palette comes in 2 types, creme and powder, and two shade ranges, light to medium and medium to dark. You can purchase this palette from Walmart for less than $7.

Black Radiance True Complexion Soft Focus Finishing Powder

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Just as I was impressed with Black Radiance’s contour palette, I was also impressed with the Soft Focus Finishing Powder. I love to use this powder to blend my entire face and create an even, lightweight finish. It comes in three shades, Golden Almond, Creamy Bronze, and Milk Chocolate. You can purchase this powder at Walmart for about $6.

e.l.f. Blush palette

16602656 $4.99

I am always amazed by how e.l.f can pack so much good product in such small packages. I use this e.l.f. Blush Palette every time I wear makeup. The palette includes four vibrant colors and comes in two shade ranges, light and dark. It can be purchased at your local Target for less than $5

e.l.f 3-in-1 Mascara

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The e.l.f. 3-in-1 Mascara is one of my less utilized products, but it is an easy choice when I’m creating a laid-back look. This mascara acts as a lengthener, definer, and a volumizer. Alone, it gives my thin lashes a natural lift and volume. If Im going for a more dramatic look, I use this mascara as a primer for a heavier product.   You can find this product at your local Walmart for only $3.

L’oreal Paris Brow Stylist Definer Tip Shaping Pencil

shopping-2 $7.99

My eyebrows have always been a struggle area for me. But the L’oreal Brow Stylist Definer Tip Shaping Pencil makes sculpting my brows so easy. I love the design of this product! It is a mechanical, retractable pencil on one end, and on the other end is a brush for combing and blending. Because my eyebrows have a nice shape and arch, I use this pencil to just fill them in. You can find this brow pencil at Target for about $8.

As I become more comfortable with my makeup routines, I am constantly looking for products that are not only affordable, but also high quality. I also need products that will complement my dark skin tone, undertones, and combination skin. All of these products meet my criteria and they complement each other well, too. I can create an entire look using only these products that will last all day and look great. These 7 drugstore makeup products have permanent place in my makeup arsenal.

Did I mention your favorite product? What are your drugstore makeup essentials? Let me know in the comments or email me at I look forward to hearing from you!