Most of us, when we consider restocking our beauty products, usually venture toward department stores or Ulta, or heck, even Amazon. But what most people won’t tell you is that if you consider those your only options, you’re really missing out on some hidden gems.
CVS is the first place you’d consider running to if you’re low on facial moisturizer; it’s the place you go when your pantyhose have ripped or you need to pick up a prescription or two. There’s an entire aisle that’s stacked with low-key beauty wonders that are a must have/must try—even some of the top beauty gurus will agree. And the best part? They won’t weigh too heavily on your bank account.
However, there are some things you need to watch out for when you’re bargain hunting for beauty goods inside CVS because not everything that’s hidden is good or actually works. While the price may be alluring, the quality of the product is just that – simply cheap. Tons of reviewers have lived through live-testing the beauty products at CVS just so you don’t have to. They came out with some of the highest rated (and loved) beauty products at CVS, along with some of the lowest rated.
20 Just The Perfect Hint: Renpure Lavender Cleansing Conditioner
Yes, we know: usually, when you think of hair products, you tend to want to go to your nearest Ulta or hit up your hair salon for the finest name brands.
We’re here to tell you that you only need to go as far as your nearest CVS to pick up this WEN-lookalike product.
“I love this product"- one reviewer raved about this particular conditioner- “I’ve been using expensive shampoos and conditioners for over 15 years. I’ve been wanting to try WEN but was scared because it was so expensive. I’m so glad I stumbled on this product. My hair looks 100x healthier than when I used the expensive products.”
19 I Am Titanium: Vichy DermaFinish Titanium Dioxide Sunscreen Corrective Fluid Foundation SPF 30
Finding any sort of workable foundation at a drugstore can be tricky, though not impossible if you know what you’re looking for. Take the Vichy brand, for instance – the product is both good and affordable, especially their Corrective Fluid Foundation.
“This is amazing!! For once since having acne scars, I do not have to use a concealer,” one customer raved after giving the product a five-star review. “I have ridiculous acne scars and naturally very rosy skin, and this covers everything like magic. It’s a blessing for anyone with very problematic skin :)” This product sells for just $30 at CVS.
18 Summer Fresh, Summer Glow: Peach Slices Citrus Honey Aqua Glow
This particular product is used for hydrating and soothing your skin while giving it a little extra glow. Usually, you’d assume that a product like this (that works this well) would be rather expensive and only sell at department stores, but, thankfully, it’s not.
Even the most budget-minded among us can have a "honey aqua glow."
“I stumbled over this at my local CVS,” one customer explained. “Initially, it was the packaging that drew me in. As I kept reading, it says it’s a hydrating gel. I decided to try it since I have oily skin and was running low on my Tatcha. I honestly have to say it’s really great stuff! It absorbed so quickly and kept my skin hydrated and plump all day. The best part is… it’s $11.99!”
17 Light Reflecting Wonder: MUA High Shine Lipstick
Lipstick is never something we beauty seekers would ever dream to find at our local CVS – a top quality brand, that is. MUA (stands for Makeup Academy) is actually an EXCELLENT brand that is not too expensive.
“This brand popped up recently at my local CVS,” one happy customer reviewed. “I purchased Brick and Rust in this formula. Brick is a winner! It’s a beautiful red-brick color, similar to MAC glazes but with more lingering stain. Sheer, but powerful, and smells like cake. This will be my fall glam lip!”
She really had us at the “smells like cake” part.
16 Brilliantly Subtle: Ariul Brilliant Tone Up Egg Cream
Judging night creams can be rather tricky since we usually don’t see the results right off the bat.
But this one is not only a steal price-wise ($28), but it works quickly as well.
“I use this every night and wake up with soft skin in the morning,” one high review says. “During this time of year, my face becomes really dry and the tone of the face becomes uneven, but I feel like this product helps with those two issues!”
The Ariul Brilliant Tone Up Egg Cream is hypoallergenic, which is why the formula tends to work rather quickly. You may even start seeing results after one use.
15 More Than A Pretty Face: Nuance Salma Hayek Dark Cacao And Coffee Firming Body Cream
For those of you who didn’t know, actress-producer-writer Salma Hayek has her very own beauty line. And yes, it actually works- and people are in love with it. Especially her Dark Cacao and Coffee Firming Body Cream, which goes for around $11 at CVS.
“I love the consistency and results this product delivers,” says one review; “I tend to love all the Nuance products that have come out so far and most of them smell wonderful.” Unfortunately, Nuance has discontinued some of their products, which upsets some loyal customers. Though you can still find some of them online at Amazon.
14 So Fresh And So Clean: Dr. Murad Blackhead & Pore Clearing Duo Set
Getting rid of your blackheads can be a daunting and expensive process. Luckily, this duo set can be found right down the street from your place AND doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. “The cleanser is a heaven exfoliator,” claims one review. “The pore cream is great at filling up pores before you put your makeup on.”
Dr. Murad is a trusted brand, and its availability at CVS makes it accessible.
This duo set helps detoxify your skin by drawing out the excess dirt that embeds itself deep in your pores. The process helps get rid of blackheads while also preventing more from popping up later down the line.
13 All You Need Is Control: Frudia Green Grape Pore Control Toner
This CVS wonder only goes for $14 at your local drugstore and contains 89 percent green grape extract, which is why it works (and smells) incredibly well. It helps mattify pores and gets rid of those pesky dead skin cells.
“I was lucky enough to find this at CVS and I love it,” one customer wrote, giving the product five stars. “I use it twice a day and it really does leave your skin feeling refreshed and soft. I could really tell a difference in how my face (mainly my cheeks) felt after I started using this in my skincare routine. Will definitely purchase again.”
12 Revivifying Your Mood: ElishaCoy Moist Up Hyalurone Ampoule Serum
It’s usually difficult to find a beauty product that works and hydrates your entire face with just a simple drop, but that’s the magic of this particular ElishaCoy product. “This ampoule serum feels very nice!” one beauty blogger reviews.
“Silky, smooth, a touch-sticky – not too noticeable for me although reviews online complain about the stickiness."
"I think this is a thicker serum than other ones I’ve tried in the past but I think it’s a good thing because it keeps my dry skin moisturized!"
"I’ve gone through ¾ of the bottle now and it’s been about 5 months.” Very much worth it in the long run- especially as it's only $13.
11 Rainbow Magic: Milani Everyday Eyes Powder Eyeshadow Collection
Sometimes we beauty and makeup lovers tend to overlook eyeshadow as a fussy product, so we tend to get it whenever we see a vibrant color that would look good on us. This product is a low-key wonder and looks good with all different skin colors and tones.
“I have very fair skin, whenever I apply eyeshadow I look like a circus clown, but this eyeshadow changed my idea after feeling hopeless,” says one customer who gave Milani a five-star review. “The dark color is pigmented and easy to correct, light colors are really soft. This base is so light but gives a nice effect.” Some even called it the “hands down best drugstore eyeshadow.”
10 Repairing It Doesn’t: Beauty 360 Comfort Hold Slant Tweezers
For those of us who spent years plucking rogue hairs from our faces, we know what a really, REALLY good pair of tweezers can do. And usually, the higher the price, the better the tweezers.
Cheap is not the way to go if you want to look like you have perfectly groomed eyebrows.
With inexpensive pairs, you’ll find you can’t grasp the finest of hairs and yank. So it should be no lingering surprise that this pair of $4 tweezers just don’t do the job you need. “ABSOLUTE TRASH,” writes one CVS customer. Cannot grab hair and broke in one use because the adhesion at the end split. I want my money back.”
9 Losing Control: Neutrogena Deep Moisture Day Cream
This may come as somewhat of a shock for those beauty gurus who are fans of all things Neutrogena. While the price of the Neutrogena Deep Moisture Day Cream may be attractive ($9) not all people agree that it actually works. Even longtime customers of Neutrogena aren’t fans of this particular moisturizer.
Apparently, Neutrogena discontinued their Intensified Daily Moisture and switched it out with this one, which has people rushing to give it a one-star review. “I have no idea who made this decision at Neutrogena, however, they made a mistake,” said one customer. Yikes. That is not a good look for the company.
8 Stress Filled: Dead Sea Minerals Anti-Stress Clay Facial Mask
You can’t satisfy everyone, even if the price sometimes reflects the quality of the product. While some people are happy with the Dead Sea Minerals Anti-Stress Facial Mask sold at your local CVS, not everyone was thrilled.
“I’ve never had an issue with any skincare product until this one,” says one customer, who gave the product a one-star review.
“The smell was ok. The bright color was unexpected. After washing off the mask, my skin on my cheeks and temples were blotchy, red, and just angry looking. Almost looks like I took off my sunglasses after sitting in the sun too long. My skin felt tight, dry, and burned. I do not recommend this mask.”
7 Don’t Let The Pleasant Smell Fool You: CVS Oil-Free Acne Cleansing Towelettes, Pink Grapefruit
Some drugstore brands enjoy comparing themselves to the real thing (in this case, the CVS brand is comparing itself to the Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Cleansing Towelettes) with a reduced price tag. In this case, the cheaper version doesn’t test well against the name brand according to reviews.
“Bought this product because I ran out of the normal product that was not in stock,” a one-star review said. “The smell was okay and I thought it was cleaning my face. About a week later I broke out into red blotches and acne flare up I have not had since high school. Once I clear my face up, I will be using my normal product and will NOT be purchasing these again.”
6 Maybe(lline) Just Skip This One: Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel
Maybe… just skip Maybelline? While they have a lot of products that people love and are thrilled with, this one seems to miss the mark in comparison with other waterproof gel eye pencils.
Oddly enough, it’s the application that fails with the seemingly convenient twist-up pencil.
“I tried to sharpen it with a good quality sharpener, and it will not work,” said one review. “I bought a new one, still nothing. I don’t mind that you can’t twist more up – even though the end turns and turns and it does nothing, but I not think it should be such a challenge to be able to use the product. You really should provide a video on how exactly to do it.”
5 This One’s A Shocker: Neutrogena Deep Moisture Night Cream
If the day cream made this dark side of the list, should one really be surprised that the night cream doesn’t live up to its potential either?
A lot of reviews only gave this Neutrogena Deep Moisture Night Cream a single (or two) stars and were quite upset in their critiques. “Deep moisture is a misnomer,” said one customer. “This is not a rich, soothing night cream like the Cerave in the tub, I was hoping for that effect without the pore-clogging that always follows my Cerave use. But back to this mediocre product, my initial reaction is mild stinging on my most sensitive area around eyes and top of cheeks, which lasts about 10 minutes or so.”
4 Steer Clear: CVS Sport Clear Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Spray
Sometimes, even though a product works extremely well and does what it’s supposed to do, it fails in other areas. This is the case with the CVS brand of sunscreen.
Though effective against sunburn, CVS-brand sunscreen fails miserably at staying where you want it.
“I used this product on myself at the beach,” said a one-star review written by a customer. “It stained the tank I was wearing orange and the shorts. It also stained the shirt I put on hours later when we were leaving and the clothes my baby was wearing from me holding him.” A majority of the other negative reviews were not thrilled with the fact that the product stains everything it touches, even hours after putting it on.
3 No Such Frizz Control: L’Oreal Paris Elvive Smooth Intense Frizz Taming Serum
The one thing about L’Oreal (besides making some pretty good products) is that if one of their beauty product seems to miss the mark, even with a small number of people, the company will do what they can to right the wrong.
One customer wrote, “I bout [sic] this about a month and a half ago and decided to just use it. I only used a bit. At first, it smells good but after a while of having it on, it gave this nasty smell and I had to wash it off because it was horrible.” L’Oreal immediately wrote the customer and asked that they call their hotline to get a refund.
2 "Spray" Is The Wrong Word: OGX Protecting + Silk Blowout Quick Drying Thermal Spray
Don’t believe in false advertising, even if the price is attractive. This is what seemed to be the case for most of the reviews via CVS for this particular blowout spray. “I tried this for the first time yesterday and my first impression was ‘why is this in a spray bottle',” one puzzled reviewer wrote.
“This is almost a gel consistency trying to get through about an eighth-inch tube. It doesn’t even pour out of the bottle..."
The review continued: "Today, I tried it again, this time taking the sprayer off and pounding the bottle on the palm of my hand. I have short, naturally curly hair. When I was done my hair was all over the place, much like when I use no product at all.”
1 Not Really In Control: CVS Health Acne Control Cleanser
Most customers ended up buying this brand of cleanser when their name brand wasn’t available, and most weren't too happy with the result. “I bought this because my store was out of the Clean and Clear cleanser I normally purchase… regretting that terribly,” said one review on CVS.com. “
I used it this morning at 6 am before work… by 9 am my face was burning, red, and swollen and had little bumps all over it. I wash my face very thoroughly, so I know I rinsed it very well, only used a small amount.” Sounds like she may have been allergic to the ingredients in the cheaper version.