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Ask The Makeup Diva
Welcome to Ask The Makeup Diva™! Our resident expert, The Makeup Diva, answers makeup and skin care questions sent in by readers just like you.

Q: Department store cosmetics are so expensive, and sometimes I just don't see the results they promise. Are there any products from the drugstore that really work and won't drain my wallet?

A: Let me just start by saying that for the most part, cosmetic companies often make pretty lofty claims about what their products can do. So many of them promise the sun, moon and stars, but those claims often are terribly inflated (like "re-training" the skin to act differently, making pores physically smaller, and magically erasing wrinkles, just to name a few). We all want to look our best, so we get sucked in and start to believe that a miracle cream or potion might really exist - it doesn't :(

Having said that, there are plenty of good quality skin care and makeup choices at the drugstore that are just as effective (just ignore the hype) as department store brands for a lot less money. Here are a few of my favorites:

Makeup
Foundation can be a little tricky if there are no testers to try the colors on your skin, but there are still some great products to be found at the drugstore. If there are no testers, try to shop somewhere that will let you exchange your purchase for another color if necessary. You can also bring a favorite foundation you currently use from another brand to the drugstore and compare colors. I've done this several times and find it can really help narrow the choices down. Of all the drugstore foundations available, I've found Maybelline True Illusion liquid, Almay Skin Stays Clean liquid, Neutrogena Healthy Skin liquid, and Almay Wake-Up Call! liquid all have nice texture, good wearability, a nice range of colors, and work well for a variety of skin types.

Mascara is one of my favorite products to get at the drugstore. It's so reasonably priced, I can afford to replace it every three months (good for preventing eye problems caused by bacteria) and not feel like I'm throwing my money away.

When most women think drugstore mascara, they think Maybelline Great Lash; it has been touted for years as a favorite in the business, named countless times as magazine beauty editors' favorite, but I honestly have no idea why. I find it to be thick, gloppy, overly wet, and it smears like nobody's business. This is one of those "like it or hate it" products, so I can understand if you strongly agree or disagree with me. Here are a few drugstore mascaras that I recommend: Maybelline Lash by Lash and Volum' Express, L'Oreal Voluminous and Le Grand Curl (compares to Lancome Extencils), Max Factor 2000 Calorie, Rimmel Extra Super Lash, and Jane Flashes.

Lipstick is another easy winner at the drugstore - the prices are so much lower than dept. store brands that you can afford to try new colors and textures. Of the brands I've tried, Maybelline Wear 'n Go, Max Factor Lipfinity, Revlon Absolutely Fabulous Lipcream and Olay Colormoist are among my favorites. Changing your lipstick is one of the easiest ways to update your makeup, and these drugstore finds make it affordable, too.

Skin Care
With the prices of fancy treatment creams at the department store counters skyrocketing, it's no wonder we want to find something comparable at the drugstore. Many of the products are even practically identical to department store brands; for instance, Lancome and L'Oreal are owned by the same company and have many similar skin care products. If you have a Lancome favorite but hate spending so much money, L'Oreal just might have a similar product for less.

Of all the drugstore products I've tried, here are a few of my favorites that I think perform as well or better than those at the expensive cosmetic counters:

  • Biore: I particularly like the non-foaming cleanser, daily scrub, and new Blemish Double Agent gel.

  • Pond's: Their makeup remover towelettes are a great find, as is their Cleansing Lotion & Moisturizer In One.

  • Neutrogena: Their Extra Gentle Facial Cleanser, Fresh Foaming Cleanser, Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream (compares to Estee Lauder Diminish Retinol Treatment), and Norwegian Formula Hand Cream are among my favorites of this brand.

  • Oil of Olay: You can't go wrong with the original beauty fluid, and I also love the sensitive skin cream.

  • Aveeno: This new line of skin care has an amazing cleansing lotion and daytime moisturizer with retinol and SPF 15.
Remember a basic cosmetic rule - you don't always get what you pay for! With a little comparison shopping, you'll find some great, inexpensive products at the drugstore that work just as well or better than high priced department store lines.

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