The Five Dollar Face: Get A Full Face Of Makeup At The Dollar Store

While in Sephora and Duane Reade you have a pretty good handle on what to expect, the Dollar Store is delightfully mysterious.
Publish date:
May 22, 2013
beauty on a budget, being cheap, cheap makeup, dollar stores

Most people's idea of a make-up splurge is a beautiful eyeshadow palette from Chanel. My idea of a make-up splurge is a pretty OK eyeshadow palette from Revlon.

While the drugstore now offers a fine selection of relatively affordable, yet good quality products, nine dollars for a lipstick is still too high a price for my Ramen Noodle budget. I'm really broke right now. Like " I've been using the same Starbucks cup for three days so I can get a 54 cent refill of iced tea because two dollars a day on a drink is kind of beyond me right now" broke.

As much as I would like to pretend I'm a responsible person who can curb her urge to buy make-up and save money for the important stuff like Make-up makes me happy and you can't put a price on self esteem, right? Oh wait, yes you can. And that price is five dollars. Seriously.

I started hunting for make up at the Dollar Store in high school, the highlight of my poverty, out of desperation but soon realized that I had discovered a gold mine. While in Sephora and Duane Reade you have a pretty good handle on what to expect, the Dollar Store is delightfully mysterious. You're sure to stumble on some brands you've never even heard of with new and exciting colors you'd never find elsewhere.

This is an especially great place to shop if you're looking for bright, unique eyeshadow colors. For some reason the cheaper brands of neon colors are typically highly pigmented. If you purchase an electric blue shade, it is electric fucking blue with one swipe. I have no idea why this is a pattern with the cheaper colors, they may totally be infused with lead or something horrible but I'm not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth, you know? I may be slowly poisoning myself, but at least I'll look nice for the autopsy.

You can also find an impressive array of nail polishes in shades and textures you can be sure your friends aren't wearing. I find that for the most part their formulas wear as well or better than some of the most expensive brands. Dollar Store nail polishes also tend to be pretty opaque in only one coat.

Most prices tend to be between 99 cents and two bucks, you just can't beat that. For a full face of make up (no base because anything but my BB cream would give me hives) including blush, mascara, eyeshadow, and lipgloss, I spent all of $5.69. If you want to play it safe stick to shimmery, neutral colors and just test different brands until you find the one that's right for you. The Dollar Store tends to have a nice selection of neutrals with long lasting formulations.

I do have one word of caution, and I'm not a cautious person (obviously) and that is to check expiration dates if they're included. Since this is not exactly a make-up shopping hot spot, some of that shit has to have been there for a million years. A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything collecting dust or covered in spider real estate.

You would think this is obvious but I learned the hard way by just grabbing anything shiny and running out the door, only to realize it was covered in dust later. Dollar Store fail, you guys, so LOOK at things before just shoving them in your plastic basket.

Some of my favorite brands you can find at the good old Dollar Store:


E.L.F is really moving up in the world since they opened a store in New York City, but you can still find them at most discount outlets. Pretty much everything is a buck. They don't have quite a dazzling array of colors but you can find some great matte basics and I've always enjoyed their eyelash curlers.

L.A. Color

This is a much showier, fun brand. They have some really great metallics, neons, and glitters. Their stuff is really well pigmented and a great texture. Some really unique interesting colors.


You can also find them at the drugstore, but they're extra cheap at the Dollar Store. They have some really great eyeliners in shiny pastel colors and a great range of nail polish that dries super fast.

Aziza II

I've ONLY seen this at the Dollar Store. They have some really nice neutral palettes but my favorite thing from this brand is the powder. And I HATE powder. This stuff is really lightweight and natural looking though. It says it's "wet to dry" foundation and comes with a sponge applicator, but this is a lie it's just powder. Use it with a big fluffy brush and you will be in love.


Holy fucking shit does Jordana take me back. My first ever "real" make up was a brown eyeliner from Jordana in like 5th grade. Before that I wore blue sparkle eyeshadow and gold lipstick because I wore it once for a talent show and decided this would be a really great every day look. My mother let me walk around like this, I assume, for the LOLs. Jordana makes some really great, non-smudgy eyeliners. I like to tight line with their black pencil.


Jane cosmetics used to be sold elsewhere but I've had a really tough time finding it anywhere but discount stores for a few years now. They also have some unique eyeshadow choices, but the outstanding product from this line is the concealer. I used to use that shit in H.S. when I was going through strange hormonal periods and there was some scary stuff on my face. It covers everything. EVERYTHING. It was the only reason I left the house on some days.

So there you have it, these products are really worth looking into even if you aren't completely destitute. Some of the most expensive stores in the country carry ripped jeans and dirty sneakers now, so why not slum it with some make-up from the Dollar Store?

*Photos by Mark Raker*

Kristine Rose is really fucking poor on twitter @prtoftheprob