If you spend a lot of money on something, your brain perceives that item as having more value. You don't have to fall for this trick of psychology though, thanks to drugstore products.
We've rounded up 10 beauty and toiletries essentials that have a cult following among savvy shoppers. Every item below is affordable, but performs as well as (or better than) the pricey competition. Whether you need to stock up on hair dye, makeup, or shampoo, our guide has suggestions that will appeal to your wallet and your inner style maven.
Best Drugstore Tweezers
A good pair of tweezers is indispensable for removing stray hairs. Cheap tweezers can make it difficult to get a grip on short or thin hairs, leading to more skin irritation and frustration for you. So we understand why some people drop $30 on fancy tweezers. However, certain types of inexpensive tweezers can really hold their own against the competition.
In a recent comparison test by the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, Revlon's super cheap Expert Tweezers with slanted tips performed nearly as well as a fancy $28 model from Anastasia Beverly Hills. Since Revlon's tweezers generally cost $7, this bargain buy is a no-brainer.
Best Drugstore Foundation
Foundation is the, well, foundation of perfect makeup. If your foundation is the wrong shade, or doesn't play nice with your skin's moisture levels, you can end up looking like a hot mess. It's no wonder then that some women are willing to spend $40 or so on foundations from companies like Estee Lauder and Smashbox. Brit + Co recently did a roundup of the best drugstore foundations. The top pick for gals with oily skin was the affordable L'Oréal Infallible Pro-Matte 24HR Foundation. While it has a somewhat limited number of shades, those who have matching skin tones will be pleased with the $13 price tag and impressive staying power.
Best Drugstore Hair Dye
The problem with a lot of cheap hair dyes is they can dry out your hair. Worse still, the color can fade more quickly, leaving you with hair that's nothing like the picture on the box.
One line of ultra-rich dye that has the Today show seal of approval is Garnier's Olia permanent hair color. Packed with natural flower oils and made without ammonia, this is a cheap hair dye that reportedly leaves your hair looking like a million bucks. Expect to pay around $9 for a box, which is probably less than you'd tip your stylist for a salon-quality job.
Be aware that oil-based dyes are not for everyone. Amazon reviews for this product, while overwhelmingly positive, do note that some shoppers had trouble getting the dye to spread evenly, or wash out completely.
Best Drugstore Moisturizer
Boots No7 is one of the best drugstore moisturizers out there. Made for a big chain of pharmacies in the U.K., this brand is now available in the U.S. at both big-box stores and beauty chains like ULTA.
Beauty magazines and bloggers agree that this brand is worth the money. As someone with sensitive, combination skin, I can personally attest that every Boots No7 product I've used to date has left my skin feeling balanced and acne-free.
No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum costs around $30, and it works great alone or under another moisturizer. Daily Mail has a glowing review of this product and its clinical tests.
Best Drugstore Shampoo and Conditioner
Tired of overpriced salon shampoo? Try Dove. Allure highlighted Dove's Quench Absolute shampoo and conditioner in its Best of Beauty awards for 2015, selecting the product line as the best option for curly hair. Refinery29 also praises Dove shampoo, naming the Intensive Repair Shampoo as a great option for dry hair. Each product should only set you back about $5, depending on where you shop.
Best Drugstore Teeth Whitening Product
If you don't have hundreds of dollars to drop at the dentist's office, you may want to consider a drugstore whitening treatment. Real Simple gives the $24 Rembrandt Advanced Whitening Strips kit high marks. (Though it seems these exact strips are no longer available, Rembrandt still has several similar products.) The magazine noted that these strips stayed in place really well, compared to other teeth whitening systems.
If $24 is still too rich for your blood, the same article also recommends Arm & Hammer's Advance White toothpaste. At just $4, it's a solid choice for people who aren't looking for fast results — or for those who hate having strips or trays on their teeth for a long period of time.
Best Drugstore Hand Lotion
We've all splurged on tubes of hand lotion that feature amazing scents, but don't actually do much to repair dry or cracked hands. However, Allure gave Neutrogena's Norwegian Formula hand cream a Best of Beauty award way back in 1996. You don't need a lot, so a small tube lasts forever. (Two ounces will set you back about $5.)
Best Drugstore Hair Product
Everyone's hair product needs are different, depending on the hair's length and oil level. One general-purpose product that's great for a lot of different folks is Garnier's Fructis Style De-Constructed Texture Tease spray. Its volumizing abilities are great for long tresses, while shorter styles will love this spray's added texture.
It'll cost you less than your daily Starbucks run, and Allure particularly loved the lack of starchy streaks.
Best Drugstore Sunscreen
With beach season right around the corner, it's time to stock up on cheap sunscreen. Into the Gloss recommends Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 100+. Though ideal for those with fair skin, this formula is great for all skin types and tones. It's light enough to go on under your makeup, and gives parents peace of mind when they're sharing a sunscreen with the kids. Depending on where you shop, expect to pay about $8 to $10.
Best Drugstore Perfume
High-end perfume can cost more than $100, and sometimes it doesn't even smell that great. Calgon's Morning Glory Fragrance Body Mist gets Redbook's endorsement and only costs about $7. Its scent is subtle, which makes it ideal for those who like to reapply periodically throughout the day.
Readers, what's been your best drugstore beauty find? Tell us about your favorite bargain beauty products in the comments below!