As a kid, I loved digging through my mom's makeup and beauty products and giving myself "makeovers." I may have looked like a clown afterward, but I did make a few observations. There was always a bottle of Cetaphil cleanser and a package of Coty Airspun powder on her shelf.
When I got older (and my makeup less clown-like...hopefully), I asked Mom to tell me why she always bought these bargain products when the rest of her makeup was Chanel and Bobbi Brown. She told me that her grandmother could always make herself look flawless in a flash with a quick dusting of Coty. And the Cetaphil had become a staple of her medicine cabinet after her dermatologist claimed it was the best cleanser on the market, period.
Through the years, I've found my own buried treasure at my local drugstore. Avalon Organics Lavender cream keeps my face smooth and soft without any chemicals. And Skin Musk, yes Skin Musk in the cheesy early '90's packaging, is still the fragrance that makes people ask what I'm wearing in elevators.
I got to wondering what other drugstore secrets my beauty-conscious friends had in their bathrooms.
New York fashion designer Mel C. claims her friends all kick it grandma-style, swearing by Ponds Cold Cream.
St. Ives Apricot Scrub is a standby for a few of the ladies I spoke to when their skin needs a good sloughing.
But the clear go-to for the face in my informal survey was Olay Regenerist. Half of the people I asked sang its praises. Beauty PR specialist Erin K. says:
"I saw a huge change when I was using this product: less lines, etc. It totally turned me into an Olay addict."
Jergens Natural glow was already on my list, but a lot of beauty addicts echoed my sentiments. The gradual self tanner is an easy way to get a summer glow at home.
Erin K. says:
"I'm obsessed with this product. I use the "dark tone" and totally notice a difference after one use. And it's idiot-proof; I never notice streaks."
And more love for Jergens. Actress Jen Z. can't get enough of Jergens Ultra Healing Lotion.
"Jergens Ultra Healing Lotion is by far my biggest beauty must-have. I'm obsessed with having soft skin. It's totally cheap, doesn't smell like anything and is the greatest lotion of all time!"
Savings.com's own Lindsay S. reaches for Cholesterol when she hits her local Rite Aid.
"My newest fave drugstore secret is using Cholesterol on my thick, thick hair that likes to fro out. It's the best conditioner ever and WAY cheaper than getting a deep conditioning treatment at the salon. It will make my hair actually do things I want it to do for about a week before it returns to not doing anything but what it wants to do."
As for me, when my hair is dry and my wallet is empty, I pick up Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask. Other bloggers agree. Bren from Sparkle Shelf says:
"I simply lather it on once a week, leave it in while I watch Sex and the City reruns, then rinse it out and bam! Soft lustrous hair again, no mayo needed."
What else made the cut? Mane 'n Tail. Not just for horses, this classic conditioner is a leave in or rinse out and it's been smoothing tangles since the seventies.
You've probably heard that Maybelline Great Lash in the pink and green tube is one of the best-selling mascaras of all time. Turns out it's not the only mascara that ladies like to pick up on the cheap. One longtime beauty editor, Jess M., swears by Max Factor.
"It's what Madonna uses."
Can't argue with Madge. Unless you're hairstylist Marty M. She recently made a discovery in Cover Girl Lash Blast. The orange wand separates and the color doesn't smudge.
"And I know a lot of makeup artists on film sets use it, so that speaks well for it."
Hair Stylist Jordana L. (Follow her on Twitter: @jordanalorraine) swears by Sally Hansen Lip Inflation Extreme.
"It's almost as good as Lip Fusion and waaay cheaper."
Jen Z. had another great reminder for all girls looking for a beauty pick-me-up on the cheap.
"Lastly, every gal should go to the drugstore, get a water filter and drink, drink, drink water."
So, what are your favorite, tried-and-true drugstore bargains?