First impressions matter and there is nothing wrong with wanting to put your best face forward. But when it comes to the tools and products of the trade, things can get pricey.

With Youtube experts and Instagram gurus professing love for products left and right, your wallet can get “beat” during the process.

Here is a little known fact about me: I worked as a traveling makeup artist and beauty advisor for Estee Lauder during and after college. Yep, yours truly spent her days getting paid to play in makeup. Sure this was before the days of false lashes, contouring, and cut creasing but I know my way around a makeup brush or two.

Over the years I have developed my holy grail of drug store products that I keep stocked religiously. In an effort to save you a bit of money, I wanted to share a few products that I know work, and won’t cost you an entire paycheck to stock up on.

Here are my 8 must have drugstore beauty cosmetics:

Aveeno Positively Radiant Cleanser 
I started using this line off and on a few years ago. I started with exfoliating pads, which I loved but they ran out too quickly for my liking. A friend of mine introduced me to the  Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer  and  Cleanser  and they have been my go to ever since. I love it’s light smell and affordable price point. But even more so, I love what it has done for my skin. During my late 20s I suffered from persistent acne and had several hyperpigmentation scars. You wouldn’t catch me outside of my house without makeup on. After using the product for months the scar began to naturally fade away. I know this sounds like an infomercial, but this is one of my favorite skin care products and it works without over lightening the skin.

SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie
In 2010 I big chopped and went natural. Each stage of my hair growth has presented new learning opportunities and new products. As my hair grew, products that previously worked lost their magic, until I tried the Curl Enhancing Smoothie. This is my favorite product for my wash and go’s and coily fros. It leaves my hair soft and moisturized without weighing it down. I have heard that this product doesn’t work for everyone. It is probably too heavy for Type 3 hair or finer coils, but me? I won’t exist without it. It is my secret hair weapon.

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Pre-Afro Tonya

Eucerin Lotion, Intensive Repair, Rich Very Dry Skin
I’m telling all of my secrets today. I have a skin condition called Ichthyosis Vulgaris on my legs. It’s genetic and my father has it and my grandfather had it. Basically I have terribly dry skin that resembles scales if not moisturized properly. The only lotion I have found to make my extremely dry skin look normal is Eucerin. My frugal heart has tried many other products that promise to treat dry skin, but this is the only product that works and works consistently.

Black Radiance True Complexion Soft Focus Finishing Powder
I’ve tried a few department store powders and none of them of them are as effective and inexpensive as this powder. I have really oily skin it keeps me matte throughout the day. I love it so much I have one for my bag and one for my kit at home.

P.S I wear the shade Milk Chocolate

Milani Easy Brow Automatic Pencil, Dark Brown
Back when I big chopped, my hairstylist told me that the most important thing I needed to do as a woman with short hair was keep my eyebrows groomed. I immediately started using the cult favorite, Spiked by MAC, but decided to try Milani’s Easy Brow on a fluke. While it isn’t as precise as MAC’s brow pencil it does a good job of filling in brows and it lasts longer for half the price. It is the only drugstore brand eyebrow pencil that I buy regularly.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge 
Beauty blenders are too expensive. I learned the hard way that all beauty sponges aren’t created equal and I’ve wasted quite a few dollars trying to find dupes on Amazon and Alibaba. This is the only dupe that I have found and loved. It’s soft and blends well for a fraction of the price of a beauty blender.

L’Oreal Paris True Match Blush, Spiced Plum
As a brown girl I love this blush for an everyday look. It’s not too pink and not too plum giving me a natural flush that I can wear every day. It also transitions seasons well.

Maybelline New York Dream Fresh Bb Cream, Deep
This was the first BB cream I tried and I loved it. Since then I have tried other BB creams and I keep coming back to this one because of its price point and its natural coverage. When I wear this, people often ask me if I have makeup on. If you’re going for the naturally flawless look, this is a great BB cream that is really affordable and lasts for a while.

While these products won’t work for everyone, I have had tremendous success using most of them for years and have saved money by choosing these over more expensive department store brands.

Do you have any must have drugstore cosmetics that you love? Share them below!