A Beauty Editor’s Favourite Drugstore Beauty Brands

Think beauty editors only stock their shelves with pricey goods? Think again. Some of our favourite beauty brands come from the corner drugstore

A Beauty Editor's Favourite Drugstore Beauty Brands

Source: Best Health magazine, September 2015

Apart from passing my latest crush in the hallway, nothing gave my teenage self more of a thrill than a visit to the local drugstore. Save for filling my basket with as many fruity lip glosses and colourful eyeshadow palettes as my modest weekend-job paycheque would allow, not much has changed.

Now, thanks to more luxurious formulas, chicer packaging and runway-level makeup artists directing trends for your favourite drugstore-aisle labels, the finds at your local pharmacy can inspire that same hit of beauty adrenaline. Whether it’s a night cream (that actually works) or a new eyeliner or lipstick in the season’s hottest shade, they all come with a guilt-free price tag. ‘The quality of packaging has improved, more unique and technically advanced ingredients have been added and newer products have been developed, including hybrid technology that fuses skin care and makeup,’ says Grace Marie Papaleo, assistant vice-president for Maybelline New York Research and Innovation.

As an editor, I’m always testing new beauty products that run the gamut of budgets ‘ from toonie nail colours to three-digit face serums. But I still can’t resist stocking up on these items when I find myself roaming those all-too-familiar fluorescent-lit aisles.

French Pharmacy Finds

Whenever I’m lucky enough to find myself in Paris for work, you can bet that I’m using my spare time to duck into a nearby pharmacie to peruse exotic skin care that will help me attain that effortless femme Française complexion. Now that many of these must-have products have made their way across the pond, you, too, can stock up like an editor without the fancy travel itinerary.

Avène Eau Thermale, $22
This master multi-tasker is still bottled in France using thermal water with healing properties and can be used to refresh your complexion throughout the day and before moisturizing. But that’s not all: You can also use it to soothe irritated skin, rashes and sunburn and even set makeup before a night on the town.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Lightweight Lotion SPF 60 for Face and Body, $29
This cult-favourite sunscreen is my number one pick. The formulas for face and body, which also contain thermal water from a French spring, are light and silky, scent-free and ideal for sensitive skin.

Bioderma Sensibio H20, $27 (500 mL)
Not just a French girl must-have but also stocked by every model and makeup artist around the globe, this ultra-gentle makeup remover soothes skin while cleansing away every last drop of stubborn mascara and foundation.

Marcelle BB Cream, $23
Okay, so this one’s only available in Canada, but it’s our very own trademark staple that I’ve heard expats are willing to pack en masse for over-the-border trips. It’s lightweight, sheer and the ultimate hydrating base for foundation-phobes who want to streamline their routine.

Luscious Lashes

Mass-mascara formulas and wands have come a long way in the past few years. While Maybelline’s classic Great Lash Mascara is still hailed as an insider favourite, these are other luxe lookalikes I tend to stock most often. Find your favourite look below and try my swaps for a cheap and chic solution.

If you love the pumped-up volume you get from Dior DiorShow Mascara, give Revlon Grow Luscious Mascara, $11, a try.

If the dramatic length and definition of Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Mascara is what you pine for, try CoverGirl LashBlast Fusion Mascara, $11.

Is it the feathery softness of Marc Jacobs Beauty O!Mega Lash Volumizing Mascara that you’re after? Try Rimmel Wonder’Lash Mascara, $8.

Top 3 Hair Savers

It’s no coincidence that all three of my must-have hair products are straight from the drugstore. That means I can use them daily with abandon and stock up as I wish.

1. Day-old hair should always be disguised to look anything but. Enter this top-notch dry shampoo that, when massaged into your roots, will zap any telltale oil and add easy-to-style body and texture.
Klorane Dry Shampoo with Nettle, $16

2. The golden gun of hairsprays, this classic spritz tames flyaways without stickiness but can also whip any date-night updo into submission. If the powdery fragrance is a little too ‘vintage’ for your taste, be sure to pick up the unfragranced formula.
L’Oréal Paris Elnett Hairspray, $15

3. The secret to a polished bun or ponytail that looks intentional, not just like a bad hair day dilemma, is to lightly smooth back baby hairs and frizz with a lightweight hair gel. Bonus: It’ll come in extra handy for taming this season’s deep side parts, slicked-back ponies and artful knots.
Fekkai Sheer Sculpt Gel, $28

Skin is Always In

Whenever I meet someone new who learns I work in beauty, the first question without fail, is usually about what anti-aging cream I recommend. After spouting off the key ingredients (retinol, peptides, vitamins C and E, hyaluronic acid and daily SPF), the second question is usually about price. It seems most people equate price with performance, but that’s not necessarily so.

Geneviève Clermont, director of research and development for Quebec’s Marcelle Group, says creating skin care with ingredients that will garner results (and repeat customers) is the top priority for drugstore-level formulations. ‘The Canadian woman really cares about herself and wants to have products she can trust that are efficient and safe and come at a reasonable price. When we formulate, the actual performance of the end product is really important. We know that it has to be efficient,’ says Clermont. Granted, there are some pricey dream creams out there that will deliver, but the key to great skin is protecting yourself from UV damage during the day and repairing it overnight with proven ingredients. My favourites are always those in a tube or dropper, so active formulas stay as airtight as possible and avoid coming in contact with your fingers.

Try: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum, $30; Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Serum Fragrance-Free, $40; L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Volume Filler Serum, $36

Colour Your World

With mass-brand makeup lines releasing seasonal colour collections just as often as their department store counterparts and prestige runway makeup artists at the helm, it’s easier than ever to find the latest on-trend shades from season to season. Since many beauty brands are owned by larger conglomerates that share their R&D, it’s also possible to find some of the best technology in more budget-friendly products.

Megan’s Must-Haves

Face: Maybelline New York Dream Wonder Liquid Touch Foundation, $15
This is a seriously luxe formula that you have to try to believe. It goes on like a second skin thanks to its lightweight, buildable base.

Lips: Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm, $11
Never be wary of wearing bright lipstick again: These crayons make application a breeze, and their velvety, fashion-forward hues are unsurpassed.

Nails: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, $12
I love the red shades for fall and can’t resist the 10-plus days of long-wear (always remember to wrap the colour around the tip of your nail!).

Eyes: Lise Watier Féline Eyeliner HD, $21
The pen-like tip makes cat eyes easy to master, and the super-saturated shades mean no repeat applications are required.