Budget Beauty Review: CVS Makeup Academy

In which I find a new favorite lipstick/balm and a genius fake eyelash tool--all for $9 and under.

I've been excited about CVS's new line, Makeup Academy, which hit stores this month, ever since I heard about it.

It's a range of high quality makeup brushes (for eyes, lips and face), lip products (stains, glosses, balms, liners, and lipsticks), and false eyelashes at drugstore prices. Here's what I got my hands on to try.

First off, the packaging is fairly nice. The brush and fake eyelashes came in typical plastic boxes, but the lipsticks all have sturdy packaging with minimalistic design.

I like to use angled brushes for filling in my brows and doing eyeliner and cat-eyes. This one was great for all of that, and it appears to be high quality and durable. It works well with both brow powder and gel eyeliner. You can use it to create a very thick or thin, precise line, as demonstrated below.

The four lipsticks varied in quality. Overall I liked each one and will probably use them all, but my favorite by far was the Color Infused Lip Balm in Nude. This was surprising because generally nude lipsticks look awful on me, but this one isn't the usual pale putty color. It has an interesting setup with the nude pigment in the middle of the tube and a clear, moisturizing shell of lip balm surrounding it.

The result is a small deposit of color (very light and natural) with a good amount of shine. I love the way this feels and now I want one in every shade.

My second favorite was the High Shine Lipstick in Scarlett. It's an easy-to-apply, bright, glossy red. I wouldn't call it a stain, but it's very long lasting.

I wasn't so sure about the next one, Extreme Shimmer Lipstick in Rosy. It looked gorgeous in the tube but when I put it on it had a lot of shimmer, hence the name. As someone who has never worn shimmer on her lips, I was (and still am) sort of unsure of how I feel about it. But it's a pretty color and long lasting formula for someone who likes shimmer.

The Liquid Lipstick in Coral appeared to be a stain. Appropriately named, it's a pretty and very bright color. It lasts really, really well as a stain and has a great peppermint scent. The other three had a strong, sweet scent that I can't describe but didn't hate.

My only issue with this one has to do with the packaging. The brush was sort of wonky, with bits poking out that made it hard to apply. I'd have to try another color (just as well, since this one is a bit bright for me) and see if my frazzled brush was a fluke.

Here's a swatch of all four:

And here's the swatch after a few wipes with a makeup remover towelette:

As you can see, Coral lives up to its promise as a stain. It was still there 10 hours later.

The last thing I tried out was the Volume Lash Boosting Kit. It comes with one set of eyelashes, eyelash glue, and, best of all, a large plastic, tweezer-like applicator. I've never used anything like this to apply fake eyelashes (I use my fingers like a cavewoman), and it really helps a lot.

The glue was fine and the eyelashes were good quality, if a little too big for me. Even after trimming them I felt like the overall effect was a bit much. I don't wear fake eyelashes for a natural look, but I don't want it to look too overboard. Decide for yourself, though. Here I am wearing them with liquid eyeliner and the nude lipstick.

If you love the dramatic look then this kit is worth a shot--if only to get your hands on the nifty applicator. I'll definitely be using that a lot in the future. And luckily they also carry more natural looking fake eyelashes, if that’s more up your alley.

Have you tried anything from Makeup Academy? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts.