Makeup Artists and Editors With Expensive Taste Love These Cheap Makeup Brands


(Image credit: @glossipgirl)

I know you're all probably tired of us editors endlessly touting luxury skincare and makeup brands. Sure, these brands are wonderful if you can afford their products, but I know that isn't always the case for everyone. You might be surprised to know, however, that we also love affordable, drugstore-priced brands, too. Our criteria for what makes a great affordable makeup brand is simple: deliver high quality products for an amazing price point. Luckily, we happen to know a few that meet the requirements and are backed by celebrity makeup artists. Keep scrolling—editor favorites are below along with picks from celebrity makeup artists Judi Gabbay and Alexa Persico.

1. E.l.f Cosmetics

It's true—beauty editors lose it over just about every E.l.f. product. A few favorites of WWW Beauty Director Erin Jahns include the Lip Plumping Gloss, Eyebrow Duo Brush, Glitter Eye Shadow, Putty Blush, and Putty Primer. Personally, I've always been pleasantly surprised by how affordable E.l.f. products are for the quality you receive. I always reach for the Putty Primer myself and the Bite-Size Eyeshadow Palette in I Love You a Latte for its rich, warm brown shades which are perfect for fall.

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2. Nyx Professional Makeup

Don't just take my word for it, makeup artists swear by Nyx, too. Perisco says, "Nyx has been a favorite of mine for years. They have super-pigmented formulas and a huge selection to choose from. One of my favorite products from the brand is the Pore Filler Blurring Primer. This is effective enough to smooth over and blur any imperfections in your skin, all without feeling thick or tacky. It feels smooth to the touch, and helps your base makeup glide on like a dream." Gabbay laid another glowing review for the brand on me, but this time she couldn't stop raving about the brand's lipsticks. "Nyx's Matte Lip Creams are comfortable, lightweight, and pigmented. At $7, you can't go wrong having one in your purse and one in your makeup drawer! (Guilty). My favorite shades are Cairo and London."

3. L'Oréal

Beloved drugstore brand L'Oréal also tops the list because it's affordable, trustworthy, and delivers solid longwear formulas. Perisco also gave this one an endorsement. "L'Oréal is another brand I trust when it comes to quality," she shares. "Their Telescopic Original Mascara is, hands-down, one of the best mascaras I’ve ever used. It enhances your lashes like no other. The flat side of the flexible brush lengthens lashes up to 60% while the comb side of the brush precisely separates lashes for a clump-free result. It truly is a must try!" The brand's Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear Foundation also went viral on TikTok for it's smooth, matte formula that creates a flawless airbrushed look.

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4. Colourpop Cosmetics

I've waxed poetic about Colourpop before and nothing has changed since then. I've loved the brand for years because it delivers high-quality formulas for unbelievably affordable prices. My favorite offerings from the brand are its eye shadows. The pigment payoff is amazing and they stay put for so long. I'm not the only one who loves it, either. Gabbay also called this one out as an affordable fave. "Colourpop shadows are an absolute favorite of mine," she says. "Their palettes are cohesive and user-friendly, pigmented and long-lasting. For $14, you can steal a nine-pan shadow palette. That’s the same price as a single shadow from some brands! My go-to is the Going Coconuts Palette." Naturally, Going Coconuts is sold out because it's so good but I've included a few of my own favorites below.

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5. Maybelline

Another classic drugstore brand, Maybelline formulas continue to impress both beauty editors and makeup artists. Perisco called out one particular product from Maybelline that always gets the job done. "I always grab the Instant Age Rewind Concealer when I am at my local drugstore," she shares. "This multiuse formula does it all: hydrates, conceals, contours, and corrects in a click! It has crease-resistant coverage and a sponge tip applicator that works like a charm when you are on the go!" The brand's Master Chrome Metallic Highlight also happens to be a staple in my makeup bag for its gorgeous finish on the skin. It adds so much warmth, shimmer, and color to the cheeks.

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BLK/OPL is a brand I haven't tried yet, but Gabbay convinced me that needs to change ASAP. Her go-to product from the brand? Its foundation stick! "I love the BLK/OPL foundation sticks for foundation or contouring. It has an extensive shade range for medium to deep skin tones and won’t break the bank at $12 a stick!"


7. Sephora Collection

My love for Sephora Collection really blossomed when the brand's makeup artist Helen Phillips Dagdag created two killer looks for me using only products from the brand. The best part? Most Sephora Collection products are under $20 and won't disappoint in the quality department. I love the brand's Eye Love Eyeshadow Palette, Gloss Balm, and Best Skin Ever Foundation. When all used together, the products create a fierce full face that will take you less than 20 minutes in the morning. 

Sephora Collection:

8. BH Cosmetics

I won't lie: I think BH is totally underrated. A lot of people forget about this brand and its stellar offerings, but I'm here to remind you of its greatness. For instant facial definition, try the brand's Totally Snatched 6 Color Face Palette. It's universally flattering, provides a velvet matte finish, and brightens and contours like no other. Other stand outs from the brand include its powder blushes. Normally, I don't love powder blushes because they're a bit chalky, but this formula is creamy enough that it melts into the skin and blends out beautifully.

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9. Physicians Formula

Jahns also told me she swears by Physicians Formula products. I was more than excited to hear this because I'm a fan, too. It's another drugstore brand that continually delivers when it comes to quality without costing an arm and a leg. One of my 5-minute makeup secret weapons is the brand's Butter Believe It Foundation + Concealer. It's perfect for those days you'd like to be quick and use just one product on your face. And, most importantly, it doesn't dry out my skin or crease when I wear it for a full day.

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10. Essence Cosmetics

Not to be dramatic, but the Essence Cosmetics Lash Princess Mascara is one of my all-time favorite formulas. I've honestly never used a mascara that lengthens quite as much as this one does. My only issue with the formula is that you absolutely have to wear a lash primer with it otherwise it smears around your eyes quite a bit. That aside, you can't beat the fact that the formula is also only $5. Most folks tend to go for Lash Princess from this brand, but I also back the Fix & last Makeup Gripping Jelly Primer. It's an option I reach for in my primer arsenal quite often.

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11. Flower Beauty

Drew Barrymore's Flower Beauty is one of the best affordable makeup brands because it has the cutest packaging and excellent quality formulas. Gabbay has one particular product from this brand that she always keeps handy. "Flower Beauty’s blushes are cruelty-free, run about $10, and have the most beautiful tones," she says. "They're silky and buildable. I am in love with the shades Sweet Pea and Warm Hibiscus.

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Up Next: I Asked Adele's Makeup Artist to Share the Best Eye Shadow Hacks of All Time

Shawna Hudson
Associate Beauty Editor

Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.