Kate’s Department Store AND Drugstore Beauty Faves!

CATEGORIES: Kate, The Scoop

Ever since I was old enough to love beauty products, I have loved beauty products. Which is funny, because I’m actually a pretty low-maintenance kind of girl, but I always have at least 2-3 shampoo/conditioner combos, body washes, and an embarrassing number of eyeliners and lip glosses.

When my husband and I were broke college students, I couldn’t wait for the day when I could buy high-end cosmetics. And then I got some high-end beauty products and realized there were some drugstore versions that I loved just as much, if not  more, than their much more expensive counterparts. So if you’ve ever wondered where to splurge and where to save, today’s your day–I have my top 5 favorite drugstore AND top 5 favorite department store beauty products! As always, these posts aren’t sponsored in any way, we’re just sharing things we truly love!

Drug store faves

1. Remington Teardrop Curling Wand. So I kind of have a lot of curling irons (and one flat iron…I’m not totally crazy). I’m not sure how it happens. But the Remington Teardrop Curling Wand is my favorite. When it comes to loose, casual, beachy waves, this is definitely the easiest way to get them (for me, at least). I will say that this only works for me when my hair is shoulder-length or longer. I will also say that the hot end is really hot and you should avoid grabbing it at all costs and that the little glove that comes with it should always be worn and that you’re never too good to wear it. Just sayin’. This bad boy is $24.99 at Target.

2. Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner. I have tried a lot of toners in my day and seriously, this one is my favorite (bonus points for not costing $79 because it’s made with the tears of angels.) It gets the job done–keeps breakouts under control, deep cleans my skin, shrinks my pores. Can’t beat that, right? Go snag a bottle for $7.49 at Walgreens.

3. Cetaphil Face Cleanser. I had my daughter in the summer of 2007 and then we moved to Louisiana about 6 months later and somewhere in the middle of hormones, stress, and humidity, I developed acne for the first time in my life. After trying all sorts of expensive fixes, my dermatologist gave me a few recommendations, one of which was ditching the department store face washes and going for the Cetaphil. And I haven’t looked back. Sure, it’s not in a cute bottle and it doesn’t smell amazing and I don’t really feel like I’m giving myself a magical facial while I’m washing my face, but it has been the best, gentlest face wash I’ve tried. And I’ve tried a lot. I did it for you guys (just kidding, I did it for me, but that’s what I’m telling myself.) A bottle of Cetaphil will run you about $9.47 at Walmart.

4. Cover Girl Lip Perfection. Between samples and impulse buys, I have a lot of lip sticks/glosses/stains, ranging from $1 snags from the beauty aisle of a drugstore to higher-end department store brands. And these are my current favorites. Obviously, it depends on what you’re looking for–these aren’t particular saturated or glossy, but these are perfect when you’re looking for a little enhancement (as opposed to a full-blown lipstick). No stickiness or yucky flavors, either. $5.59 at Target.

5. John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hair Spray. I have really fine hair, but I have a lot of it, which can make for some interesting styling situations. Throw in the oppressive Louisiana humidity and things get really limp or really frizzy really fast. John Frieda Sheer Blonde (although I’ve used this when my hair wasn’t blonde and the universe didn’t explode, so I’m pretty sure you can use it for any hair color) hairspray is by far my favorite–it has enough hold that my hair stays in place, but it doesn’t look unnatural or weighed down. You can get 2 cans for $10 at Walgreens.

Now…if you’re looking for a splurge or two, I’ve got some recommendations there, too! These are the five department store buys I bring with me everywhere!

Department Store Faves

1. Aveda Phomollient. Like I said, I have really fine hair, but before I blow dry it, I need something that will help smooth it out, make it manageable, and add a little body without weighting it down. This is hands-down my favorite high-end product–if I had to pick just splurge, this would be it. I don’t have an Aveda store or salon nearby, so I order mine from Nordstrom (free shipping–heeeey!) for $19 a bottle.

2. Urban Decay Naked Palettes. There are actually three Naked palettes, so no matter what your skin tone and eye color are, there’s one that’s right for you (Naked, Naked 2, and Naked 3). The price tags are a little steep at $54, but if you get a good palette for your skin tone, you don’t really need any other eyeshadow and it will last you for.ev.er (I’ve had the same one for a year and a half and I haven’t come close to using even all of one color.)

3. Benefit Tints. I got a sample pack with Benefit Benetint (dark rose), PosieTint (light pink), and Cha Cha Tint (orangey-coral). They were all about the size of small bottles of nail polish, which was perfect. At first, I was a tiny bit confused–it’s like a very thin liquid stain you can either use on your cheeks or on your lips. I don’t love it on my lips, but it is my very favorite cheek color–it looks totally natural and flattering. I ended up ordering a large bottle of Benetint, which was significantly larger (and more expensive at $30), but this also lasts FOREVER because you only need a few drops at a time.

4. Bare Minerals. I have a hard time trusting anything that has ever been on an infomercial (okay, not that hard of a time…I’m the proud owner of several Beach Body DVDs as well as a ShamWow). But after Cover Girl discontinued my favorite foundation (that natural stuff in the squeezy bottle that Taylor Swift was the spokesmodel for), I needed something else. So I broke down and tried Bare Minerals (actually, come to think of it, it was also recommended by my dermatologist). And I kind of fell in love with it. The concealer alone is amazing and totally worth it (although it doesn’t really work without the foundation). If you’re iffy, you can try the system for $20 at Sephora.

5. They’re Real Mascara. I’ve talked about this mascara before, but it’s seriously my most favorite mascara ever (I can hear all the YouNiquers coming out of the woodwork, but I promise, They’re Real and I are very happy together.) I’m not sure if it’s the formula or the brush or both, but I’ve never loved a mascara like this one. I will warn you that it’s water-resistant (not full-blown water proof), but I just rub a tiny bit of coconut oil over my eyes when I’m washing my face at night and it comes right off. You can get a large tube for $23 or a small tube for $10.

All right, I think that’s it! Since I’m always on the lookout, what’s your all-time favorite beauty product?


And a quick nothing-to-do-with-makeup note for you Idaho fans.  Many Fred Meyer Stores across the state will be doing samplings of Sara’s Huckleberry Pie Ice Cream this weekend!  Here’s a list of participating stores.  Swing by between this Saturday, July 26 between 10:30am and 4pm to get your free sample of the newest Private Selection flavor.  Note that Sara will not be in attendance for any of these samplings (including a previously scheduled one) but you can still get your hands on some ice cream!

Participating stores:
560 W Kathleen Ave, Coeur D Alene
1555 Northgate Mile, Idaho Falls
50 2nd St S, Nampa
800 Yellowstone Ave, Pocatello
705 Blue Lakes Blvd N, Twin Falls
5425 W Chinden Blvd, Garden City
5230 W Franklin Rd, Boise
10751 W Overland Rd, Boise
1400 W Chinden Blvd, Meridian


  1. I’ve made it more than a week without a Target trip, which is probably a personal record…but I’ll have to break it soon as the Lip Perfection looks like something I need to try! Appreciate the testimonials for these products – even the drugstore ones add up when you are experimenting aimlessly to find the ones that work for you!

  2. Thanks for this post! I’m always wanting to know more about everyone’s favorite beauty products!

    My favorites right now…are Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Oil Free with broadspectrum SPF 20. This stuff is a little pricey at $43 but lasts a really long time and a little goes a long way. I don’t feel like I’m wearing makeup and it has great coverage.

    Also, I’m loving the “What’s Hot Now” nail polish collections by Jenna Hipp that you can get at Costco. I love all the different colors, and the nail polish doesn’t smell!

  3. I really love Bare Mineral products and they just came out with a new foundation that I’m loving. I used to use bare minerals powder foundation but it really looks cakey/settles in wrinkles the older you get and I need more moisture. With that said, I’ve never done well with liquid foundations because they always irritated my skin. this one does not do that, it applies and buffs on with a brush – sort of like the dry mineral products and has great coverage – I love it!! It is called: BareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation with Broad Spectrum SPF 20

    1. Ditto on the Bare Minerals products! I’ve used their powder foundation (and still love it) for years but the new liquid foundation is PERFECT. Honestly, ONE drop is enough (two for more serious coverage). Even all around your eyes, it stays on all day–a perfect base for eye makeup. I use a quick buff with the powder to set it. Thank you, Bare Minerals, for finally creating a liquid foundation! (The Naked Palette 3 is also my favorite splurge. And Cetaphil–or it’s Walgreen’s cousin–is indispensable!)

  4. Wow, good list. I’m sure high-end cosmetics will never be in my budget (with 6 kids there’s always somewhere more important to spend the cash), but I will have to try that Neotrogena Toner!

  5. Never seen that curling wand- looks SO intriguing!!!! I’ll agree that the only ” splurges” I ever buy ( and my friends who use super high end stuff laugh because my splurges are cheap to them) is the benefit BAD GAL mascara and eyeliner. But maybe I’ll try the They’re Real next time!!!!! Thanks for this!!!! Love real life reviews of things like this…..
    I’ve wanted to try the bare minerals for SO long because so many people rave about them!!!!
    And Sara Thank you for the sunscreen recommendation!!!!!! Answered my exact question!!!!

  6. Do you (or does anyone else) have a sunscreen recommendation? They all feel so yucky that I hate wearing them. It’s not so bad when we’re at the pool, but I hate wearing sunscreen when we’re just outside and it feels all greasy and ruins my clothes if it gets on them. I’d love to hear what kinds other people don’t mind wearing.

    Also, I tried They’re Real mascara after you recommended it last time and I love it. I’ll have to try the coconut oil trick for removing it.

    1. Ellie- I feel the same way, especially about sunscreen on my face. Check out the one I talked about in this post, it seriously changed my life! I’ve used it all summer and never been burned once. For body sunscreen, I’ll tell you my favorite, but I’ll also tell you that the one time I shared this on Facebook hundreds of people told me I was basically rubbing poison all over my body, so there’s that, haha. If you’re into all-natrual mineral based sunscreens you can go that route, but I’ve had great success with this line from Hawaiian Tropic. It doesn’t feel like sunscreen, it just feels (and smells) like a normal lotion. So much in fact, that I often just put it on right out of the shower so I’m ready for the day. I love it.

    2. I like two products from philosophy:
      1. Hope in a Jar SPF 30 for when I’m going to be active outside and need really good coverage.
      2. Hope in a Jar a-z cream spf 20 for every day under make up – it acts as a primer, is tinted, and is very light weight.

  7. I’m always on the lookout for a good lip product…..I like more of a balm texture (but not waxy) with light color. My current faves are Maybelline color whisper in pin up peach and neutrogena moisture color stick in fresh papaya.

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