the drugstore project

What Are Teens Buying at the Drugstore These Days?

Photo: Courtesy of the retailers.

If you want to know what’s cool at any given moment, whether it’s the best white sneakers, the trendiest lip gloss, or even the newest way to say “cool,” usually your best bet is to ask a teen. What’s more, most teens have limited funds with which to buy said lip gloss and sneakers, so they’re uniquely positioned to sniff out good deals. As part of our ongoing drugstore shopping coverage, we wondered, do teens still shop at drugstores? And if so, what drugstore products get the cool-teen seal of approval? We talked to 14 teens about the hair-ties, concealer, cleansing wipes, gum, and condoms they buy over and over again at the drugstore.

Unsurprisingly we heard a lot about beauty products, tampons, hair-ties, and candy. But our panel of teens also told us about their less obvious purchases like press-on nails and underwear. “Drugstores are a good place to buy cheap boxers in bulk,” says Isaac, 18. Alette, also 18, put it this way, “I always thought of drugstores as a tampons and mascara type of shopping destination, but chances are, if you need something random, it’ll be waiting for you in one of the aisles of your drugstore.”


The most common thing our panel of teens reported buying was gum. Eight of them say they regularly stop into CVS, Walgreens, or Duane Reade for a pack or two. Isaac and Didi, who are both 18, say that Wrigley’s 5 sugar-free gum in peppermint is their current go-to. Other favorites include Extra Peppermint gum, 18-year-old Chloe’s pick for long study sessions. “When I study, you will never see me without gummy bears and this gum,” she says; and Trident Tropical Twist, which is beloved by 15-year-old Lena because of the flavor and the fact that it’s sugar-free. It also doesn’t hurt, she says, that “Trident gum is known for whitening teeth and helping prevent stains.”


We didn’t get a full picture of everyone’s skin-care routines, but we did see a few repeat products and brands worth mentioning. “I’ve seen a lot of people use Thayer’s Witch Hazel Toner,” says Georgia, who is 15. “It’s supposed to reduce the size of your pores and clear up your skin but besides that, it just feels really nice,” she says. Alette is also a fan of the all-natural astringent. “I love to pick up Thayer’s Witch Hazel,” she says, “because I have oily skin and witch hazel works fantastically for that. I particularly love the rose with aloe, because it smells so nice.” (In addition to Georgia and Alette, Thayer’s Witch Hazel is beloved by Strategist beauty writer Rio and has been recommended to us by professional barbers as a gentle and effective aftershave alternative.)

Cleansing wipes

Both Chloe and Georgia stock up on Neutrogena face wipes at the drugstore. Georgia says her go-to skin-care product is Neutrogena Acne pads because they stop her breakouts fast. “I only have light acne so I can use these and wipe it out pretty quick instead of going through a longer routine. They’re also great for when I’m running late, or I’m tired at night,” she says. Chloe goes for the milder light blue pack of Neutrogena makeup remover wipes, saying, “They’re perfect for sensitive skin like mine and take makeup off so easily.”

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