Budget Beauty Bible: Makeup – Best Beauty Buys Under $20

My favorite budget makeup picks.  All have a list price of below $20 but can be purchased for much less when bought on offer or with a drugstore coupon.  I rarely pay full price for drugstore makeup because there are always sales to be found.  Loyalty programs can result in big discounts by using points or coupons.  I’m partial to CVS, Walgreens, and Ulta.  This is where I get the biggest discounts in my area.

Whether you shop at CVS, Walgreens, Ulta, Target, Walmart, Rite-Aid, Amazon or even some supermarkets, create an online account, sign up for coupons or download their app to get the best deals possible.  

A word of caution about buying makeup or skincare on Amazon.  I do buy some items on Amazon but I’m very selective these days.  There are so many third-party sellers now, one has to be wary of expired or counterfeit product.  Returns can also be a hassle on Amazon if a beauty product doesn’t work for you.  You may get stuck paying for return shipping.  All the better reason to shop retailers in your area for convenience and deals. 


MILANI Eye Shadow Primer – $6.99 Ulta
This will make your eyeshadow last all day and helps avoid creasing.  The small tube lasts ages. 

Maybelline Master Prime Hydrate + Smooth Primer – $9.99 Ulta
A good all around face primer. 

Catrice Light Correcting Serum Primer in Candlelight – $10.99 Ulta
If you’re looking for a primer to give you a kind of lit from within glow, this is a good one.  I enjoy it. 


L’Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation – $16.99 Walgreens
This is a light to medium coverage and longtime favorite foundation. 

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint – $16.99 CVS
A light coverage foundation, I wore this throughout the summer.  

Wet n Wild Photo Focus Foundation – $5.99 Walgreens
This is a medium coverage foundation.  It smells a little like paint thinner but I love the flawless finish.  I usually apply it with a sponge. 

L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation or Infallible Pro-Glow – $13.79 CVS
Either of these is great.  Pro-Matte is a soft matte and won’t make people with dry skin like myself look dry or flaky.  The Pro-Glow version similarily gives a soft glow to the skin. 

BB Cream

Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream – $15.49 CVS
Similar to a tinted moisturizer, this is a nice BB cream for quick makeup days and the tube lasts for months. 

MISSHA – M Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF42 PA+++ – $7.50 Amazon
My favorite Korean BB cream is this one from Missha.  It is full coverage.  I use a light hand and have used it for years.  It can be found at Korean beauty stores or online on offer through YESSTYLE, Amazon or Walmart.  Check the color range here.  I’m pretty fair and I use #21 Light Beige. 


Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer – $9.99 CVS
One of the best concealers on the market, it covers darkness and doesn’t crease. 

NYX HD Photo Concealer – $5.99 Ulta
Another excellent creaseless concealer with good coverage. 

JOAH Dark Circle Concealer – $7.99 CVS
New at CVS is the Korean beauty brand, JOAH.  This is similar to Maybelline’s Age Rewind, it gives good coverage and isn’t drying under the eyes. 


Burt’s Bees Blush – $9.99 CVS
A fairly recent discovery, these blushes are buttery and pigmented.  They only have three shades at the moment but I hope they bring out more. 

L.A. Girl Just Blushing Powder – $4.99 CVS
A good option for pigmented color at a great price. 

INGLOT Face Blush – $14.99 INGLOT
One of my favorite makeup brands of all time is INGLOT.  I love the texture and shade range of their blushes.  They cost a little more but they last ages. 

Contour & Highlight

NYX Wonder Stick – $11.99 Ulta
I love this product.  The cool-toned contour shade is perfect for my pale skin tone.  So many contour shades on the market have red/orange undertones.  I equally love the highlight which is void of glitter, just gives the cheekbones a brightening lift. 

Rimmel Kate Sculpting and Highlighting Palette – $6.99 CVS
A terrific option for an all-in-one contour, highlight and blush is this one from Rimmel. 

Essence Strobing Highlighter Stick – $4.99 Ulta
If you want your cheeks to shimmer without glitter, try this affordable option.


Physician’s Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer – $14.99 Ulta
I don’t use a lot of bronzers therefore, I haven’t experimented too much in this category.  However, I doubt there are many out there better than this one.  It’s buttery, has a decent shade range and smells like suntan lotion.


L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara in Blackest Black – $9.99 Walgreens
For big fluffy lashes, this is a winner. 

Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara – $4.99 Ulta
For length and Wow lashes, this is superb.  

L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Original Carbon Black – $7.99 Walgreens
For an all-around solid choice, you can’t go wrong with Voluminous Carbon Black.

Single Shadows

L’Oreal Paris Infallible 24HR Eye Shadow – $8.79 CVS
Excellent quality shadows for the price.  MAC single eyeshadows are $17 each for comparison.  

INGLOT Freedom System Singles – $8.00 INGLOT
For $8 each, you can build your own amazing palette with INGLOT’s buttery shadows.  You also get a ton of product in each pan.  The best quality for the price that you will find. 


There are a lot of drugstore palettes.  I’ve chosen these two ranges for their high-quality pigmentation, texture and shade range.  You will have no regrets with either of these options. 

Rimmel Magnif’eyes Eyeshadow Palette – $8.99 CVS

MELANI Everyday Eyes Matte Eyeshadow Collection – $10.99 Ulta


Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Eyeliner – $3.97 Amazon
I’ve used these for years.  Incredible low price and your eyeliner will not budge. 

Maybelline Lasting Drama by Eye Studio Matte Eyeliner – $5.99 Walgreens
Another terrific option is these matte liners.  I have the shade Rusty Terracotta. 

Essence Gel Eyeliner – $3.99 Ulta
A stay-in-place gel option at a killer price. 

INGLOT AMC Eyeliner Gel – $17.00 INGLOT
For an amazing gel eyeliner that will not budge and has an awesome shade range, check out INGLOT.


e.l.f. Instant Lift Brow Pencil – $2.00 Ulta
A $2 eye pencil? Yes! Great product.

Essence Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel – $2.99 Ulta
Great coverage used alone for a quick brow routine or over pencil.

Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Eyebrow Mascara – $7.99 Walgreens
Another good brow gel is this one from Maybelline.  I don’t get the need for the ball-shaped wand but I like the gel a lot. 

Eylure Brow Stencils – $2.99 Ulta
A bit of a gimmick but I have loved these. 


Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in Transparent – $5.29 Walgreens
A very affordable, high-quality powder compact. 

Essence Brighten Up Banana Powder – $4.99 Ulta
I particularly like to use this to set my under eye concealer but it works great all over. 

Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder in Translucent – $7.99 Walgreens
For a loose setting powder, you can’t go wrong with Coty Airspun.  It’s been around since 1935 after all. 

Setting Spray

e.l.f. Matte Magic Mist & Set – $5.00 CVS
An incredible deal for $5.  It doesn’t smell as nice as some other setting sprays but it works and lasts.

Revlon PhotoReady Prep Set Refresh Mist – $12.99 Walgreens
I love this.  


The best quality brushes for the price is Real Techniques.  I’ve had several sets of brushes and have streamlined down to my favorites.  The orange face sponge is awesome and just as good if not better than the $20 Beauty Blender.  It’s bigger than the Beauty Blender and I like the shape.  There are many sets available and you can buy some individually.  Below are a few of my recommendations. 

Flawless Base Set – $19.99 Ulta
I love this set for foundation, contour, powder, etc.

Eye Shade + Blend Duo Pack – $8.99 Ulta
Excellent duo for eyeshadow.

Miracle Complexion Sponge – $4.99 Ulta


Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick – $8.99 CVS
My all-time favorite lipstick range is Super Lustrous from Revlon.  Having been around for decades, they’ve stood the test of time and there’s a reason.  I love the moisturizing, satin finish that isn’t drying on the lips and the color range is huge. 

L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Shine Lipstick – $9.99 CVS
A recent discovery, these are similar to YSL Volupte for a fraction of the price.  They are shiny and moisturizing without being a gloopy gloss.

Burt’s Bees Lipstick – $8.99 Walgreens
For a more sheer and moisturizing lipstick, I really like Burt’s Bees.

NYX Butter Gloss – $4.99 CVS
For a creamy liquid lipstick/gloss, I love the Butter Glosses.  And, they smell like cupcakes. 

Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick – $8.99 CVS
Equally smooth and moisturizing as the name suggests, these are fantastic. 

Soap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Lip Plumping Gloss – $10.00 Ulta
My favorite gloss.  I’m on about my sixth tube. 

Lip Balm

Carmex – $4.19 Walgreens
Love or hate it, I love it. 

Aquaphor Lip Repair & Protect SPF 30 – $4.99 Walgreens
Another favorite over the years.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lip Treatment – $9.99 CVS
A recent discovery contains hyaluronic acid and it’s very moisturizing. 

What is your best budget beauty buy?

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