I love finding drugstore makeup that works as well — or almost as well — as ultra-expensive products. I still vividly remember the day I realized Elf’s $9 Putty Primer felt and worked exactly as well as Tatcha’s $52 Silk Canvas Primer. It’s a rare (and thrilling) moment finding these hidden gems.
Recently, a ton of my everyday makeup products were simultaneously running out — my Charlotte Tilbury lip liner was down to a tiny nub, and I was scraping the bottom of my Makeup Forever Camouflage Concealer. I also had just paid rent —-and the thought of going to Sephora and spending $150 on refilling my beauty essentials was … unthinkable. I decided to pop into an Ulta to see if I could track down some more affordable options.
That’s where I encountered a shelf of products from a brand called L.A. Girl. I recognized the name because I’d tried (and liked) their HD Pro Concealer, a cult favorite vegan and cruelty-free brand with a loyal following that includes Desi Perkins and Jackie Aina. And what do you know: All of them were game changers. Their eyeliners were highly pigmented and stayed put all day long, their concealer covered up my crop of white-wine-related acne flawlessly, and their lip liner was basically a straight up dupe for my beloved Charlotte. The entire haul came out to under $20, and I had a new favorite super-cheap brand.
Below, a list of my top six favorite products from L.A. Girl — from concealers to eyeliners to contour sticks. The entire list is $27. You’re welcome.
L.A. Girl’s Velvet Contour sticks are not just for contouring. They also have light, shimmery shades for highlighting and reds and pinks that can be used as blushes. I like them all, but I’ve fallen especially in love with the blush shades Crushed Berry and Pom Pom. What I love most about this product how incredibly blendable and easy to apply it is — all you need are your fingers. Crushed Berry is a beautiful, purply-red shade that, when buffed into my skin, mimics my natural flush exactly. Pom Pom is a bubble-gum pink that breathes life into my skin on tired, dull skin days.
I tend to like dusty rose, slightly brown, or nude-y lipstick shades. And when it comes to lip liners, I like when the color is touch darker than the lipstick itself; it just tends to make lips look fuller and poutier. This lip liner is one of the all time best I’ve ever tried: It stays put all day long and gives you a kind of ’90s supermodel lip look. I keep buying this liner over and over again.
A gorgeous, crease-resistant concealer that’s perfect for getting rid of any under-eye bags as well as erasing blemishes. It’s extremely creamy and lightweight, meaning it’s won’t make your skin look cakey or gross. This is often referred to as an amazing dupe for the cultish NARS radiant creamy concealer, and I agree: For a fraction of the price, you get similarly flawless coverage.
These! Kohl! Eyeliners! Are! Everything! I’ve always found that kohls are much easier to use than liquid liners — unlike liquid liners (which can require serious precision) you can just messily run kohl pencils along your lash line, give it a bit of a wing, and you have a perfect eye-catching but not too-intense look. These colors — from a yellow to a purple to a lovely olive green — are so lively, and special.
If you are a liquid-liner fan, you must try this cobalt-blue liner. It’s a dramatic metallic color that honestly looks good on everyone and can be coordinated with just about every outfit. I usually save my neon liners for special occasions, but I’ve ended up wearing this cobalt blue out and about during the day on several occasions. It’s incredibly chic, and will add a little life to your day-to-day makeup look.
While this is technically meant to be used as a “topper” — i.e., a gloss that goes on top of any old lipstick in your cabinet — I actually like wearing it on its own as a regular gloss. It’s super-shiny, completely clear, and not very sticky, which is a boon for people who tend to get little hairs stuck to their lips.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.