En español | Have you ever wondered if your $11 Maybelline mascara is as good as that $25 Lancôme version? Well, guess what? Parent company L'Oréal Paris owns both brands, and since they share research, you know you're getting the same quality ingredients, design and up-to-the-minute technology when you go with the low-cost option. Yes, some glossy high-end makeups in their fabulous packaging are owned by the same companies that produce the low-cost makeups sold in drugstores. The truth is, not only do some inexpensive makeups compare with the luxury stuff, they sometimes surpass it. Here's where to save with the best makeup bargains for women 50-plus.
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PHOTO BY: Walgreens (2); Ulta Beauty
Women who buy and wear foundation at 50 expect miracles. We want it to look totally natural, make us look luminous, match our individual skin tone, and cover everything from broken capillaries to redness, breakouts and brown spots — with no caking or creasing. It's a lot to ask, and until now posh brands like Giorgio Armani, Lancôme and Estée Lauder had the best solutions. Well, now, for $16 or less, drugstore brands have launched comparable makeup that does all of the above (and more), comes in expanded shade ranges, and even offers a “healthy skin” angle. These three foundations tick all the boxes: Revlon PhotoReady Candid Foundation ($10, walgreens.com), which is dye-, oil-, fragrance- and paraben-free; NYX Professional Makeup Born to Glow Naturally Radiant Foundation ($10, ulta.com), which is vegan; and L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Creamy Powder Foundation with Minerals ($16, walgreens.com), which has barrier-boosting ceramides to lock in moisture. Done!
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PHOTO BY: Target (3)
2. Tinted moisturizer, BB and CC Cream
Plenty of mature women now prefer a hybrid makeup for an instant combo of moisture, a hint of color and serious SPF 30 sun protection. Luxury brands like Laura Mercier, La Mer and Chanel do this well, but drugstore brands have elevated their formulas to offer some serious competition. For example, Neutrogena Radiant Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 30 ($18, target.com) has vitamins A, C and E and provides a radiant dewy finish; Honest Beauty Clean Corrective CC with Vitamin C SPF 30 ($22, target.com) is vegan, with mineral sunscreen; and Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream SPF 30 ($10, target.com) truly soothes dry skin like a hydrating balm but subs perfectly for makeup. These are sheer, moisturizing formulas that will blur imperfections and don't require a perfect match — just choose your general shade range for a seamless, authentic look.
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PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty (3)
We all have under-eye discolorations; we all need concealer. The hunt for one that minimizes circles but won't emphasize lines, crepey skin or puffiness often makes us turn to pricey wands by Bobbi Brown and Giorgio Armani. There are now a few low-cost concealers that are virtually indistinguishable from their luxury counterparts and offer improvements like short chunky doe-foot applicators for better control and accuracy and a wider range of shades. Revlon PhotoReady Candid Antioxidant Concealer ($5, ulta.com) is available in 18 shades with caffeine in the formula to reduce puffiness; e.l.f. Cosmetics 16 HR Camo Concealer ($6, ulta.com) comes in 25 shades and spells out what skin tone each suits; and L'Oréal Paris Infallible Full Wear Waterproof Concealer ($13, ulta.com), with 25 shades, provides full coverage for the very darkest under-eye circles.
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PHOTO BY: Walgreens (2); Target
This new category of light-reflecting liquids and creamy sticks is meant to be worn under makeup — like a versatile primer. Premium department stores are flooded with these products from the likes of Tom Ford, MAC Cosmetics and Chanel. My take as a beauty editor is that if your skin care routine and foundation are not doing the trick, give a luminizer a whirl. Stick with affordable choices like Milani Soft Focus Glow Complexion Enhancer in nude glow ($8, walgreens.com); Revlon ColorStay Endless Glow Liquid Highlighter in rose quartz ($11, target.com); and L'Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer in 902 light glow ($11, walgreens.com). There are additional shades, from light to deep, for every skin tone.
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PHOTO BY: Target; CVS; Glossier
If you haven't made the switch from powder blush to cream cheek color, by all means, do it now and stop wasting your money on glam brush-ons in fancy compacts. Cream blush like Stila's Convertible Color, Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow and the NARS Multiple (especially in best-seller shade Orgasm) never fails to make mature faces look healthy and energized. They are, though, an indulgence, and lower-cost options with similar textures and shades do exist. They may be a bit hard to find, since they sell out quickly, but do yourself a favor and get your hands on a cream stick blush like Revlon Insta-Blush in candy kiss ($14, cvs.com) or a gel cream blush in a tube like Maybelline Cheek Heat Blush in nude burn ($6, target.com) and Glossier Cloud Paint in storm ($18, glossier.com). All deliver a fresh glow-from-within look and come in plenty of colors for every possible complexion shade, from porcelain to espresso.
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PHOTO BY: CVS (2); Walgreens
No matter the price tag, some bronzers look dry, muddy, sparkly or orange. So how come expensive best sellers like Guerlain Terracotta and Tom Ford Soleil Glow never do? They've gotten the mix of texture and shade right by enhancing the powders with moisturizing ingredients like nut butters, botanical oils and essential fatty acids, and by sticking to colors that mimic a genuine sunny glow. Now a few low-cost versions (all with multiple shades that flatter every complexion) deliver strikingly similar results. Perk up dull, tired winter skin with a powder bronzer like Rimmel Natural Bronzer in sun dance ($7, cvs.com); Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer in brazilian glow ($18, cvs.com); or Maybelline City Bronzer and Contour Powder in 300 ($10, walgreens.com). Be sure to use a large, fluffy makeup brush to apply the color evenly and produce that authentic just-back-from-vacation look.
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PHOTO BY: Target (3)
7. Brow makeup
Filling in thin brows, drawing on missing tails and correcting misshaped comma brows has never been easy, even with high-end slant-tip pencils, gels and powder kits. Drugstore brands have come up with three solutions that even those of us who are makeup-challenged can pull off. Try a skinny-tip mechanical pencil like the Maybelline Brow Ultra-Slim Defining Eyebrow Pencil ($9, target.com) to create realistic hairlike strokes; a wand like the NYX Professional Makeup Tinted Brow Mascara ($8, target.com) to tint and blend salt-and-pepper brows together and control wiry rogue hairs; or a slim waterproof marker pen like the L'Oréal Paris Micro Ink Pen by Brow Stylist Up to 48H Wear ($10, target.com) to fake missing tails and fill gaps. Be sure to choose shades in sync with your own brow color.
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PHOTO BY: Target (3)
Let's be honest. Drugstore shelves are cluttered with liquid liners, gels and pens for the winged-cat eye trend so popular among young women. Forget that. Instead, look for updated pencil liners that restore definition without looking harsh and can work for a smoky look or a tight-lined effect. The best are gel pencils that glide on, like the Revlon ColorStay Micro Hyper Precision Gel Eyeliner in brown ($9, target.com), or creamy pencils, like the L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Satin Glide Eyeliner with Mineral Pigments in black ($8, target.com) or the CoverGirl 24HR Kohl Liner in charcoal ($10, target.com), that don't tug as you apply but stay smudge-proof once you do. These are dead ringers for so-called classic pencil liners you can find at any top-of-the-line luxury retailer.
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PHOTO BY: Target (3)
9. Eye shadow
Here's one area where we can have fun … even in our masks! Yes, those incredible A-list shadows by Urban Decay, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent are fabulous and tempting. But you can easily find high-quality neutral palettes for less than $15. Not so long ago, bargain shadows were a little off in color selection and there was plenty of fallout on our cheeks, That's changed. New palettes like the No7 Stay Perfect Eyeshadow Palette in nude ($15, target.com), the Rimmel Magnif'Eyes Eyeshadow Palette001 in nude edition ($8, target.com) and the Maybelline Nudes of New York Eyeshadow ($12, target.com) have very curated, elegant collections, rich velvety textures that blend easily, and intense pigments that last all day or night (called “great color payoff” in beauty speak). In other words, one swipe and you're good.
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PHOTO BY: Target (2); Walgreens
If you currently buy expensive mascara … why? Mascara is the one makeup that's got to be tossed and replaced every three months to stay hygienic and safe. Most drugstore mascaras are now ophthalmologist- and dermatologist-tested and safe even for contact lens wearers, so if sensitivity is your issue, it's a home run. Look past the trendy buzzwords and the weird wands in bright packaging, and head for a simple black mascara that emphasizes a soft texture and conditioning ingredients. Try CoverGirl Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara in pitch black ($8, target.com), which comes in three shades of black for the discerning; L'Oréal Paris Air Volume Mega Washable Lightweight Mascara in 850 blackest black ($11, target.com), which feels like naked lashes — it's that weightless; and Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Waterproof Mascara in very black ($10, walgreens.com), with silkening vitamin E. No one needs or wants stiff, bulky mascara anymore, and these modern formulas will keep your eyes looking defined but feeling fresh.
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PHOTO BY: CVS; Ulta Beauty; Revlon
Whipping out a designer lipstick still gets our thumbs-up, but practically speaking, right now we need mask-friendly lip makeup that's hydrating. Expensive brands are focused on mattes of every degree: ultra mattes, super mattes, supreme mattes — you name it! However, since our lips tend to be dry (especially in winter), we need nourishing lipsticks. Try inexpensive new formulas that don't need constant touch-ups but make a statement, like Revlon Kiss Cushion Lip Tint in pretty kiss, wine trip and naughty mauve ($10, cvs.com), which looks like a stain and feels like a balm thanks to coconut oil in the formula; Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Suede Lipstick in finale, couture or boho chic ($12, cvs.com), a velvety lipstick with shea butter; and Maybelline SuperStay Ink Crayon Lipstick in treat yourself or hustle in heels ($9, cvs.com), a comfy roll-up crayon that's smudge- and transfer-resistant enough to get you through a day of Zoom, FaceTime and masks — with no need for a redo.