Drugstore Doubles: The Best in Beauty

by Paula Begoun

Despite evidence to the contrary, the combination of seductive marketing and opulent packaging has convinced many consumers that expensive means "better" in the world of beauty. The truth is there are impressive skin care and makeup products at all prices. This list contains some of the best options, regardless of price. Whatever you decide to spend is up to you, but let me assure you, after evaluating and researching thousands of products, the inexpensive products listed here work as well as, if not better than, their pricey counterparts. If you can get past price as an indicator of excellence, your skin (and wallet) will be far better off because you'll make choices based on quality, not exaggerated claims. Keep in mind that wasting money isn't beautiful. (For more information and product reviews, visit www.cosmeticscop.com.)

Cleanser, Normal to Dry Skin

  • Trish McEvoy Gentle Cleansing Lotion ($58, 6.8 ounces)
  • Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Solutions Cream Cleanser for Dry Skin ($12, 5.1 ounces)

Cleanser, Normal to Oily Skin

  • Lancome Gel Clarte Clarifying Gel-to-Foam Cleanser ($25, 4 ounces)
  • L'Oreal Ideal Balance Foaming Gel Cleanser for Combination Skin ($12.99, 6.7 ounces)

Anti-Blemish Products

  • Oxy Balance Acne Treatment for Sensitive Skin, Vanishing ($6.49, 1 ounce) or Clearasil Total Control Crisis Clear Up ($8.99, 1 ounce)

Daytime Moisturizer with SPF 15

  • Clinique Repairwear SPF 15 Intensive Cream ($97, 1.7 ounces)
  • Dove Fresh Radiance Moisturizer SPF 15 ($16, 1.7 ounces)

Facial Moisturizer, Normal to Dry Skin

  • Prescriptives Intensive Rebuilding Moisturizer ($85, 2 ounces)
  • Spa Sciences Anti-Aging Moisture Day Lotion ($18.99, 1.7 ounces)

Facial Moisturizer, Normal to Oily/Combination Skin

  • Renee Rouleau Skin Correcting Serum ($38.95, 0.5 ounce)
  • Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum ($19.99, 1.7 ounces)

Facial Moisturizer, Very Dry Skin

  • Creme de La Mer ($435, 3.4 ounces)
  • Dove Essential Nutrients Night Cream ($23, 1.69 ounces)

Body Wash/Shower Gel

  • Inexpensive is the only smart way to go here because the majority of body washes contain the same standard but effective ingredients. Consider Aveeno, The Body Shop, Dove, Ivory, Jergens, Nivea, Neutrogena, or Olay.


  • Stila Illuminating Liquid Foundation ($38)
  • L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Makeup ($10.95)

Foundation with Sunscreen

  • Cover Girl AquaSmooth Makeup SPF 15 ($8.99) or Neutrogena Visibly Even Natural-Look Makeup SPF 20 ($11.75)

Tinted Moisturizer with Sunscreen

  • Aveda Inner Light Tinted Moisture SPF 15 ($26) and Bobbi Brown SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer ($59)
  • Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer SPF 20 ($12.99) and Revlon Age Defying Light Makeup SPF 30 ($13.99)


  • Lancome Maquicomplet Complete Coverage Concealer ($30)
  • Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Under Eye Concealer ($9.99)

Loose Powder

  • Giorgio Armani Micro-fil Loose Powder ($49)
  • L'Oreal Translucide Naturally Luminous Powder ($25.99) (By the way, L'Oreal owns Armani Cosmetics)

Pressed Powder

  • Neutrogena Healthy Defense Protective Powder SPF 30 ($8.95)
  • Estee Lauder AeroMatte Ultralucent Pressed Powder ($70)
  • Cover Girl TruBlend Pressed Powder ($19)


  • Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow ($21)
  • Prestige Cosmetics Eyeshadow ($3.95)

Cream Lipstick

  • Vincent Longo Gel-X Lipstick ($23)
  • Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick ($4.50)

Lip Gloss

  • Chanel Cristalle Gloss Waterlight Lip Gloss ($27.99 )
  • Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss ($4.99)


  • Prescriptives False Eyelashes ($22)
  • L'Oreal Lash Architect ($3.99)

Waterproof Mascara

  • Laura Mercier Waterproof Mascara ($20)
  • Maybelline Volum' Express Waterproof Mascara ($7.77)

Updated October 2013

Copyright 2005 by Paula Begoun. This publication is the property of Paula's Choice, Inc. ("Paula's Choice"), and/or its owners or affiliates. A more detailed report is available when you sign up for Paula's free Beauty Bulletin at CosmeticsCop.com. Reproduction, republication, alteration, posting, transmission or distribution of this material requires written permission from Paula's Choice.

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