It's interesting...having participated on beauty boards over the past seven and a half years...I've become more observant. Cosmetic shopping was a singular experience before there was an Internet. You bought something; either it worked fantastically or, more likely, it was a disappointment. And that was that.
I waver between wanting to spend more on less, and sheer curiosity--wondering how that intriguing-looking drugstore makeup item really performs. Because over the years, there have been drugstore products that have performed as well as, and sometimes better than, their more expensive department store counterparts.
Over the long run, I have tended to use my department store items more often, to remain more loyal to them...yet there remain those odd better-priced items that dwell happily in my stash.
Here's a short list of what I have that qualifies as drugstore. I'll follow up this post with more drugstore classics that aren't currently in my stash.
Sonia Kashuk makeup brushes. They don't have a brush for every need, however it's hard to beat their $5 blush brush. I also use their large and medium eyeshadow brushes (no idea anymore of the price, it's comparable to the blush brush though).
No shedding or splaying, and I've had them for years and washed them many times.
Milani Golden Bronze and Moonlight eyeshadow singles. Of course there are many Milani shadows to choose from, and their low price makes it almost necessary to try a few and see what sticks.
Golden Bronze is not really golden nor bronze. It's a sort of cool goldish neutral shimmer. Moonlight fades within the hour if I apply it on bare lids, so I anchor it down with a longer-lasting neutral eyeshadow (MAC Brule). It's white with an interesting blue sheen.
Prestige Waterproof Automatic eyeliner pencil in Expresso. I can confess I found the regular eyepencils, the kind you sharpen, disappointing...for me, the pencil must glide on without effort. But the automatic ones...I've owned Expresso for a year and a half. It's still smooth and creamy and wears slightly better than MAC Powerpoint pencils.
Neutrogena MoistureShine tinted lip balm in Sunny. I own this in Warm, too, but somehow Warm does not translate as well into an all-around lipstick; Warm seems better in summer, on the beach.
Sunny is similar in color to MAC Jubilee Lustre lipstick...a "your lips but better" color, slightly warm in tone. The staying power isn't as good as MAC but then it's half the price.
Pantene Sheer Volume shampoo. Costco sells this in ginormous Costco-sized bottles; it's a pretty good shampoo imo. It doesn't volumize in my experience, but it is a surprisingly mild shampoo (I have a naturally oily scalp and dry bleached ends).
Pantene Smooth and Sleek daily conditioner. I'm super picky as far as daily conditioners, if only because so few of them seem to work. The majority tend to either build up/freak my scalp out, or else fail utterly to detangle.
Smooth and Sleek is as good as the uber-obscure Smash the Finisher daily conditioner I used to use (and dumped; too hard to find b & m wise).
L'Oreal Feria hair color components and Feria deep conditioner, sold at Sallys Beauty Supply. This is not quite "drugstore" yet it's cheaper than buying the kits at a drugstore, hence the mention.
Sallys sells a separate large-sized Feria creme developer, plus individual color liquids. Takes a bit of practice to decide what you want to throw into the mix...but for veterans of mixing two or more kit colors together, that shouldn't be a biggie.
The Feria deep conditioner comes in a separate large tube. I tend to use it right after I color, and it's as if I never just colored the heck out of my hair.
Johnson & Johnson Head to Toe Baby Wash. This was a board lemming way back when. I still use it though. Why not? It works.
Costco likewise sells Costo-sized double packs of this.