The Best Budget Makeup

Real Simple

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Best Mascara: The Classic

Maybelline New York Full n' Soft Mascara, $7
Its famous (and even older) sister mascara in the pink-and-green tube has its following, but this wand surprised testers with its ability to define and keep lashes soft — never spiky. Available at drugstores.




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Best Mascara: The Newcomer

Rimmel London Sexy Curves Mascara, $7.50
Eyebrows were raised at the sight of the unique waved brush. However, all were soon won over: "It separates and really enhances lashes," said a tester. The conditioners also strengthen hairs. Available at drugstores.




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Best Lipstick: The Classic

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick, $8
First launched in 1974, it still impresses today because its creamy formula feels comfortable on lips and comes in over 72 (!) flattering shades, from Love That Red to Coffee Bean. Available at drugstores.



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Best Lipstick: The Newcomer

Maybelline New York Mineral Power Lipcolor, $8
With a featherweight feel, this lipstick "delivers a beautiful boost of color," remarked one tester. The formula's shea butter makes it moisturizing, too. In 12 shades. Available at drugstores.




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Best Eye Shadow: The Classic

L'Oréal Paris Wear Infinité Eye Shadow Single, $4
An oldie but a goodie, this vitamin E-infused shadow comes in 25 shades in shimmery and matte finishes. All sweep over lids easily, feel velvety, and stay put for a full day. Available at drugstores.




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Best Eye Shadow: The Newcomer

Almay Pure Blends Eyeshadow, $7.50
Testers liked the "easy-to-blend and buildable color" of these shadows, each of which contains 98.2 percent natural ingredients. All 10 shades are wearable and hypoallergenic to boot. Available at drugstores.




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Best Nail Polish: The Classic

Revlon Nail Enamel, $5
Originally produced in the 1930s, this polish enlists proteins to ensure a chip-resistant paint job. The rich lacquer comes in more than 60 shades and offers full coverage with one coat?no brush marks or bubbles. Available at drugstores.




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Best Nail Polish: The Newcomer

Nicole by Opi Nail Polish, $8
Its "smooth consistency," "perfectly sized brush," and expansive 72-shade range (from subtle pinks and taupes to unexpected blues and purples) delighted testers. Available at drugstores.




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Best Blush: The Classic

Covergirl Cheekers Blush, $4
It's been popular since it hit counters in the 80s, and no wonder. This blush comes in 17 shades, offering options for any skin tone, and it blends ever so naturally into cheeks. Available at drugstores.




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Best Blush: The Newcomer

Sonia Kashuk Beautifying Blush, $8
This finely milled blush has a silky feel and is available in seven just-plain-pretty colors. Plus, the generously sized pan offers enough applications for more than a year. Available at





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Best Eyeliner: The Classic

Wet n Wild Eyeliner, $1
You can't beat the price or the performance of this extra-long kohl pencil. It goes on smoothly, stays in place the entire day, and, best of all, comes in 12 colors, including everyday neutrals and vivid brights. Available at drugstores.




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Best Eyeliner: The Newcomer

L'Oréal Paris Infallible Never Fail Eyeliner, $8
The silicone-based formula comes in three shades, glides on without tugging, and "makes it easy to create a defined or smoky eye," said a tester. Also a hit: the attached sharpener. Available at drugstores.




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Best Bronzer: The Classic

Physicians Formula Multi-Colored Bronzer, $13
When you swirl your brush across its surface, the sunny powders blend together to give skin a beautifully natural glow. In three shades. Available at drugstores.




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Best Bronzer: The Newcomer

Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Sun Glow Powder Bronzer, $13
A trio of colors, offered in two combinations (here, bronze, pink, and shimmery gold), creates a healthy-looking flush. Use the pink to highlight cheekbones. Available at drugstores.




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Best Gloss: The Classic

Bonnebell Liplites, $3.50
This clear original formula feels nice and smooth, never tacky, on lips. Wear it alone or over a favorite lip color for extra shine. It also comes in 19 tinted shades, including soft neutrals and bright berries. Available at drugstores.




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Best Gloss: The Newcomer

Boots No. 7 Lip Glacé, $10
The tube's flexible tip applies color with precision, while the vitamin E in the gloss nourishes dry lips. All 12 of the sheer colors (none were too strong or too soft) "stayed on for hours," said a tester. Available at

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