How to Transform Your Drugstore Makeup into High-End Products

If you’re anything like me, you’d love to go out and spend hundreds, maybe even thousands, on expensive lipstick and foundation and highlighter and blush … I could go on forever.

But since I’m stuck on a college student’s budget, there’s only so much I can afford. That’s why I started researching ways to make my low-end makeup look like it was much nicer than it really was. It turns out there are more than a few methods out there that can completely transform your makeup!

Before I get into all the tips and tricks, I first want to recommend something: Ipsy. (This isn’t sponsored; I just really love Ipsy.) It’s a monthly subscription that only costs $10/mo, and it’s seriously one of the best investments I’ve ever made. You get five high-quality samples in each bag, and for the most part I’ve been able to make these samples last for months. Most of them are from high-end brands, so you’re getting expensive products for less than $2 apiece. If you’ve ever read through my MOTD posts, many of the products I use are from Ipsy. Basically, it’s the perfect way to get expensive products for an extremely low price.

Now, on to making your drugstore makeup look high-end!



Foundation is actually one of the easiest types of makeup to transform. You do need to do some prep work for this, however; it’s important to keep your skin looking its best by keeping up a regular regimen of cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing. That way, you’re giving your makeup a clean slate to start with.

A primer is absolutely essential to keep your foundation looking its best. Primers fill in pores, make your skin smooth, and help foundation to last longer.

Application is another important component. Never, and I mean never, use your hands to apply foundation. It’ll make your coverage uneven, spotty, and cheap-looking. Turn to a foundation brush (I love mine from Real Techniques, and it was less than $10) or a beauty blender (you don’t have to buy the name-brand version; there are tons of dupes out there). Using a brush or beauty blender will blend your foundation seamlessly and help you achieve higher coverage.

Next, you’ll want to make sure you set your foundation with a powder. Nearly any translucent powder will do the trick. A spritz of setting spray (Nyx has some great, cheap ones) will make sure your face stays in place all day.



Lipstick is another product which can be easily transformed. Similar to foundation, you’re going to have to do some prep work. Keep your lips moisturized and exfoliated or your lipstick won’t look good regardless of how expensive it is!

When you apply your lipstick, start in the middle of your lips and really work up the color. Continue to apply it until it’s reached your desired shade. Briefly press your lips together to transfer the color you’ve achieved, and then grab a lip brush. With the brush, paint the lipstick that’s already on your lips toward the edges. Once your lips are completely filled with color, clean up the edges with a q-tip and makeup remover or concealer and an angled brush. Precise application always makes lipstick look better.

When application is complete, separate a two-ply tissue or piece of toilet paper and lightly press one ply against your lips. Use a fluffy brush to pat setting powder over the tissue. This will give your lipstick major staying power! However, you’ll still want to toss your lipstick in your purse for touchups later on.


mascaraWhen it comes to mascara, it actually makes a lot of sense to buy cheap products rather than expensive ones–mascara’s shelf life is only three months long! To make cheaper mascara look better than ever before, simply layer both a lengthening mascara and a volumizing mascara and make sure to coat the back of your lashes as well as the front.



For expensive-looking mascara, always use a primer. This prevents fallout and creasing and keeps your colors bright rather than dull.

A common problem with cheap eyeshadow is that its pigmentation isn’t great. However, there are ways around this! Wet your brush, pack it with eyeshadow, and press it (rather than rubbing it) onto your eyelid. This should help the eyeshadow stay true to color.

Another tip is to apply eyeshadow before your foundation or any other makeup. That way, if you run into problems with fallout or flakiness, you won’t have eyeshadow falling all over your flawless foundation application.


I hope that these tips and tricks helped you guys out! Feel free to comment and let me know what you thought about these new methods and if they worked for you 🙂


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