Our childhood selves didn’t know how good they had it when it came time for back-to-school shopping. It’s all gel pensand monogrammed lunch boxes when it’s on mom’s dime, but as we get older, the frills fall off, and the first day of school means a very depressing trip to Walmart to grab the cheapest spiral notebooks our summer babysitting money can buy.
Because it’s only natural that your shopping budget and summertime high spirits both take a hit as first semester looms, we’re making your BTS makeup haul easy and affordable. Whether you need a waterproof mascara to hold up through your end-of-summer tears or a dewy highlighter that’ll turn heads when you step on campus, we’ve got the must-have basics covered — and everything’s less than $11.
Check out the best back-to-school makeup from the drugstore, ahead. Because your upcoming shopping trip should be more fun than doom, gloom, and ugly three-ring binders.
There is a lot of product out there — some would say too much. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team, but if you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
Whether you’re trying to color-correct that bad sunburn on your nose or you need to cover up some first-day stress pimples on your chin, a smooth, lightweight, non-greasy foundation is a must.
COVERGIRL TruBlend Liquid Foundation, $8.44, available at Jet.
It’s impossible to overdo it with these tinted lip oils — they leave lips shiny smooth, and are dressier than simple balm, with none of the annoying stickiness of a gloss.
COVERGIRL Vitalist Tinted Lip Oil,$6.94, available at Jet.
Use it as a shiny eyeshadow or dab a bit on your cheekbones. Either way, this glowy highlight will turn heads at roll-call.
NYX Professional Makeup Away We Glow Liquid Highlighter, $6.97, available at Jet.
You can’t go wrong with a simple six-pan rose-gold eyeshadow palette — especially when it’s only $8.
NYX Professional Makeup Soft & Rosy Eyeshadow Palette, $8.47, available at Jet.
If you want to make your brows look naturally full, here’s your answer. Use this soft pencil to draw tiny, hair-like strokes through your arches, then sheer out the pigment with the spoolie side.
Maybelline Eye Studio Brow Precise Shaping Pencil, $6.94, available at Jet.
This waterproof mascara will hold up long after your final cannonball into the pool.
NYX Professional Makeup Worth the Hype Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara, $7.84, available at Jet.
We like this creamy cushion concealerbecause it gives just the right amount of coverage to even out discoloration and cover up pimples, without ever going cake-y mid-day.
Revlon Youth FX Fill + Blur Concealer,$11.97, available at Jet.
This sheer, multitasking blush is gorgeous as an everyday cheek color, and can even be used as a shadow in a pinch.
Burt’s Bees® 100% Natural Blush with Vitamin E, Bare Peach, $9.43, available at Jet.
Think of this silky potted highlighter as your Champagne-taste-on-a-beer-budget version of the RMS Living Luminizer: It delivers the same creamy, radiant finish on the skin, at a fraction of the price.
COVERGIRL Vitalist Healthy Glow Highlighter, $8.99 $5.99, available at Jet.
Because we don’t all have $20 to throw on a BeautyBlender, this $6 makeup sponge will do the trick, seamlessly buffing foundation and concealer into the skin.
L’Oreal Paris Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender, $6.99 $6.44, available at Jet.

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