Many women have an entire arsenal of beauty products, much of which come from specialty stores like Sephora & Ulta, including me. Today, however, I wanted to share some of my favorite cost effective & more importantly results-driven products that I always pickup from the grocery or drugstore. Much like their higher-end counter parts, these products are effective, deliver on their promises and seriously affordable! I always have these in my arsenal and they could never be replaced by a higher end product. These are the 10 most amazing drugstore beauty products that I swear by and continue to use over and over again.
10 AMAZING DRUGSTORE BEAUTY PRODUCTS I SWEAR BY
This is probably the newest addition to my drugstore/grocery store favorites. I tend to wash my face twice a day, first thing in the morning and second after my workout. My regular face wash (although brilliant) is a preventative acne treatment that I don't need to be using twice. That being said, I was looking for a great gentle cleanser that made my skin feel squeaky clean post-workout sweatiness. In the past I have used Fresh's Soy Cleanser which is amazing, very gentle, but also a little bit pricey for something I am going to wash off in ten seconds. After much research I found this fantastic dupe for Fresh's Soy Cleanser. I love that this cleanser is vegan, sulfate-free, paraben-free and cruelty free! Plus its made with seriously wholesome ingredients like acai berry, blackberry, rosehips, pomegranate, calendula, chamomile, olive oil and argan oil to name a few. You can readily find this product at Whole Foods and Amazon and its generally less than $10! NOTE: a little bit goes a long way, I usually use about a pea size amount.
Next up is one of my "holy-grail" items. I have been using this product for 10+ years now and I am beyond thankful for it. Seriously though, I used to have really bad acne in high school & college. I tried everything from antibiotics to pretty much every face wash at the supermarket (like Neutrogena, clearasil pads, noxema, dove, aveeno, etc). Nothing seemed to work on my skin. Finally my mom spotted this face wash at Costco and thought I should give it a try (this was back in 2006). At first, I used the 3 step program of face wash, toner & moisturizer. Within two weeks my skin cleared up. Twelve years later, and I still use this EVERYDAY. I use this as my daily cleanser but this product is also great at stabilizing my skin when I travel. It is readily available in drugstores, Target, Amazon, Walmart & Costco. NOTES: this product does discolor colored towels so use with white towels!
This next item has been a regular in my makeup bag since I was in middle school. It was the first mascara I ever used. 18 years later, I still swear by this stuff. Lets just say that I purchased the Charlotte Tilbury False Lashes Mascara which I tried once and haven't used since because it smudges & smears SO bad. This mascara however is more reliable, creates the same voluminous fake lashes look at about 1/5 of the price and stays put. I have yet to find another mascara that I like better and can't count the number of times my lashes have been mistaken for falsies when using this product. Its another one of my "holy-grails" and can literally be found in every drugstore and supermarket. NOTES: I am a huge fan of the regular wand (not curved) and in the color Carbon Black. I am NOT a fan of the waterproof version (which tends to flake).
This next product is also newer to my medicine cabinet. I have previously mentioned how much I love the Body Shop's Vitamin C pods which unfortunately were discontinued. They were so lightweight and really brightened my skin while also diminishing fine lines. I was in the market for a new VitC product but really didnt want to spend absurd amounts of money. At the time The Ordinary products were regularly sold out and had yet to be sold at Sephora. I was walking through a local organic market when I tried a sample of this Vitamin C serum. I was immediately in love with the consistency and smell (lightly floral). The next morning my skin was literally glowing and dewy. I was sold, so I went back to purchase the product pretty much committing to it regardless of price. When I found out how affordable it was I was shocked! Another added perk was that this serum has a healthy serving of Ferulic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid (which I am obsessed with), Vitamin E & Aloe to soothe skin! I found this product at my local organic market but it is also available for purchase here. P.S. Also wanted to note that Vitamin C is the second listed ingredient!
Next on my list is another great skincare product - this moisturizer. I was first introduced to this product a couple years ago when I left my moisturizer at home and was visiting my parents for the weekend. My mom was using this product so I tried some. I was immediately impressed with the light as air consistency, ingredients (hello ceramides & hyaluronic acid!) and potency. I went home and bought some for us the next day. I am a HUGE fan of moisturizers that are water based (usually have water listed as the first ingredient). I find that they absorb fast into my skin and keep my skin hydrated without being oily. Initially I used this product on its own daily, but about a year ago I started mixing in 1 drop of this Facial Oil before applying (this will literally make your skin glow). This is by far the best drugstore moisturizer and both the HUBS & I absolutely love it. NOTES: I am not a big fan of the sunscreen version of this, so I use this product when I am staying indoors. My favorite sunscreen can be found here.
Last but not least of my drugstore skin saviors is these bad boys. Although they are about $1/strip, these are the only product that get every last blackhead out! The originals strips were great but these charcoal strips are AMAZING. Seriously that feeling after when you remove the strip and can't even count all the blackheads (kinda gross but unbelievably satisfying like waxing haha). These are a staple in our medicine cabinet and the HUBS swears by them too! We also like to keep a strip on us when traveling just in case! NOTES: We find that using these immediately post shower (or even in the shower) works best. Always steam your face immediately before use to get the most use out of each strip! Also, side note: the hubs and I have tried at least 4 other charcoal blackhead removing products at this point (freemans, random amazon 5-star review products, bars, etc) none of which have removed as much or made our skin so clean! We will be sticking with these from now on!
Ok so I am finally done with skincare products. Next lets move on to hair. As an Indian woman, obviously maintaining a thick luscious mane is important to me. I take really great care of my hair - I don't use heat tools too much, I don't dye my hair, and I try to keep my shampoos to no more than 3 times in a week. That being said, I have accrued some favorite haircare over the years. Including a shampoo that actually adds volume to my crazy thick Indian hair, styling products that actually keep my dead straight hair curled for 3 days (yep you read that right) and the best detangler for long hair that tends to get crazy knotted.
When I first went to college, there were so many things I had to buy for myself including many toiletries. I grew up in the very Indian household in which most everything was bought in bulk, at severely discounted prices and in which I very rarely had a say in. So when I started buying stuff like shampoo for myself, I was excited to try something new but overwhelmed with all the options. Personally, I have super thick, long, heavy Indian hair that tends to get flaky in the winter. It also tends to get flat easily, and oily pretty quickly. Naturally, I needed a shampoo that could add volume (especially at my roots) without making my hair more oily or adding unnecessary gunk to it and treating my dandruff. After trying everything from Garnier to John Frieda, I finally just opted for the shampoo that smelled the best. Turns out it was the only shampoo that actually added noticeable volume to my hair. I have been using this shampoo for about 8 years now. I alternate between it and this sulfate-free dandruff shampoo.
Growing up, I had a really hard time learning how to style my hair. I was thankfully blessed with long, thick pretty straight hair but that just meant impossible to style. Since my hair was so thick and heavy, it rarely maintained a heat style. I can't tell you how many times my mom would curl my hair only for it to fall out by the time she got the last curl. Thats also post tons of hairspray. Flashback to a couple of years ago, I went to have my hair styled at a salon for my friends wedding. The stylist but texturizing cream first to my hair while damp and then styled as usual. My hair stayed curled for 3 days straight. I was so impressed, I immediately sought out some texturizing cream of my own. I didn't want to spend too much so when I found this affordable product I felt confident. I have been using this cream for about 3 years now. A little nickel size amount goes a LONG way (I am still on my first tube!). This is also a great unisex product so the HUBS and I share this when traveling to lighten our load. NOTES: I always add this product right before I blow dry my hair and before curling/styling. With hairspray, any heat style lasts at least 3 days before falling out. This product does not leave my hair crunchy, but rather touchable and soft with a matte finish.
THE BEST DETANGLER
With long hair comes lots of knots. When you add working out, you get even more, some nearly impossible to get out. I used to use spray detanglers to try and work out the knots in my hair, but they rarely delivered. Then at the gym one day I got a sample of this shampoo, conditioner & mask. The shampoo was ok, nothing to write home about, but the conditioner and mask were excellent. I was very familiar with using ceramides for preventative anti-aging skin care, but I had never at that time heard of their great benefits for hair. The HUBS and I were both so impressed that we bought both the conditioner and mask. Although not explicitly one, this conditioner is seriously the BEST DETANGLER I have ever used. Its honestly quite magical really. After Indian weddings, my hair has been through too much heat styling, and lots of dancing and therefore lots of knots. This is the only thing that really gets them all out and it does it pretty much immediately. It also leaves my hair so incredibly soft. You can readily find this product in most grocery stores, supermarkets, and drugstores. NOTES: I massage about a quarter size amount throughout my ends and within a few minutes I am able to comb out my hair with ease.
The corresponding mask is also spectacular. If you aren't using a hair mask, you are missing out, well rather your hair is. Hair masks are a great way to add nutrients to your scalp, deep condition & moisturize your hair, and they are so invigorating. In fact, I much prefer using masks over conditioners. At $6 or less, this product is a steal, offering ton of goodies for your hair. Personal tip: I like to add a couple drops of mint & rosemary essential oils to this before applying. I also love using this as a long mask, so I wet my hair, massage this throughout and leave in for 10-20 minutes. I immediately follow this with shampoo. My hair always ends up unbelievably soft & hydrated. You can't beat this product at this price!