We’ve never met a drugstore beauty section we didn’t love—for reasons of cost and the vastness of new and classic beauty products to explore. “I always peruse the drugstore and if something’s two for one, sometimes it’s the best thing I ever bought!” says celebrity makeup artist Nico Guilis, echoing our sentiments.

We chatted with Guilis and Ashley Andrade, a Beauty Boutique manager at Shoppers Drug Mart, for their expert advice on navigating drugstore makeup and skin care aisles for the best products (and the ones to leave at the counter).

Drugstore skin care products—pro shopping tips
The beauty of getting clear skin is that it doesn’t always have to come from high-end skin care lines—you just have to know how to wade through the skin care aisles to find what will work best for you. “If you want just a simple moisturizer, instead of paying $100 for a little jar, you could probably just get an oil-free basic one at the drugstore,“ says Guilis. She loves PerfectSkin All-in-One Equalizing Cleanser for use on teenage skin that continues into a blemished, problematic complexion with age.

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And don’t forget about daily sunscreen use. “Hawaiian Tropics—I use that daily all over my body because there’s an SPF in it. A lot of people don’t think of using a good sunscreen on their body everyday, we just care about our face mostly. But it’s very important to remember to use on your body.”

Just be wary of loading up on on-sale skin care products. “Products like sunscreen should only be purchased in bulk if you are going to use them right away as they have specific expiry dates,” advises Andrade. Feel free to stockpile inexpensive beauty products with abandon to squirrel away for future use. “Mascara and lipstick are safe as long as you don’t open the product until you want to use it.”

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The best drugstore makeup to try? Read on to find out!


Drugstore makeup—what to load up on

We’re all guilty of walking into a drugstore for just a few essentials, and coming out with an armful of on-sale beauty products. “I think its fun to try new things,” says Guilis. “When people think of makeup, they don’t think that they can purchase anything at the drugstore but they’re always shocked when they see lines like Neutrogena and Revlon that are really awesome.” She’s a fan of Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin foundation and Revlon mascara.

“I love nail polish from the drugstore, there’s always really fun colours,” gushes Guilis. “And I’m obsessed with cheap eye liner—I know that sounds crazy but it’s actually better. If you notice sometimes that when you purchase a professional eye liner, it tends to be really heavy and sit in the water line, whereas cheaper eye liner gets a little greasy and runs off easier, but it makes it a very cool look.” Especially if you’re unsure of committing to that electric turquoise hue. “You have little pop of colour. I love the Wet ’n Wild eye liners.”

Keep in mind the lifespan of beauty product when deciding whether or not to make the investment—this could be the determining factor. One product to save on? “Mascara, because there are so many options and the life span is only 3-to-6 months,” says Andrade. “The new GOSH Growth mascara is a definite product to load up on. Not only is it a mascara, but it’s also a lash serum to enhance and grow your lashes in just two weeks,” she says.

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Drugstore beauty products—what to avoid
When it comes to beauty products, know when to save but also when it’s wise to spend a little more money. “If you’re going to splurge and you want to have the best, always purchase your eye shadow with a professional line,” says Guilis. “I’m going to stand by that because with the drugstore, the quality of eye shadows are a lot more crumbly, they’re not as pigmented.” She’s a fan of eye shadow palettes (for day and night) by Benefit Cosmetics, Nars and M.A.C. “And blush is a big one—it has to be pigmented a certain way otherwise it falls off the cheek.” And to get the best application of your high and low-end beauty products, “it’s a good idea to splurge on a good set of cosmetic brushes,” says Andrade.

It’s all about what you want to get out of your beauty products and spending accordingly. “If you want your lipstick to last all day, you should probably get a Nars matte lipstick or a Tarte lipstick,” says Guilis. “I feel like how it is when girls dress in all vintage and have a $2000 handbag—it’s totally OK to be that way with your makeup. You can have on a $14 foundation and $30 lipstick,” she says.

Read more:
The best under-eye care makeup
Beauty trends: Fall 2013’s prettiest lips
Long-wearing makeup tricks
Gentle cleansers for sensitive skin