Top four French makeup artists have spoken about high-quality, democratically priced future cult classics that they stock up on in U.S. drugstores. Here, 12 steals you should add to your beauty repertoire, with some of my tips along the way.
Batiste Original Dry Shampoo
“When you have bangs, dry shampoo is your best friend. I also use it to give my hair texture and help shape and style it. I love the mini travel size version.”
My tip: working early mornings and late evenings leaves me no desire to wash my hair as often as I’d wish, so, this bad boy has been my third-day staple for years! It comes in a variety of different scents and sizes, as well.
“You can create a smoky eye on the go in just two minutes. I bought the entire shade range and pick one each day based on my mood.”
My tip: the shade MILK from this lineup is an industry staple white base, perfect for other shadows to pop on the lid or in the waterline. No-budge formula of this pencil has been around for years for a good reason.
“This mascara not only makes your lashes look longer and full, but lets you easily add more than one coat without clumping.”
My tip: this industry staple is one for a reason, with almost every brand out there trying to recreate their own version of a result that this mascara gives you. Volume, length, separation, longevity – it has it all. It also comes in a waterproof version, and a variety of fun shades!
“I keep a few of these with me so I can use it on my clients and give it to them for touch ups or a night on the town. The formula is rich, velvety, and easy to apply, and the pen doesn’t need to be sharpened.”
My tip: if you can’t find this product in your local stores, I recommend Maybelline’s SuperStay Ink Crayon as an alternative.
“I mix this serum into foundation to get rid of bags. I place two drops into the palm of my hand, add one dot of foundation, blend with my finger, and smooth it from the inner to outer corner of the undereye area.”
My tip: for a quicker and better result, use this product by itself before makeup application. Perhaps along with a moisturizer, while you’re working on the eye makeup or brows.
It’s been 20 years since celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic entered the scene, forever contouring the shape of the beauty world with highlights, shimmers, and perfectly winged liner that launched an army of copycats on social media.
Now, Dedivanovic, whom the New Yorker recently heralded as “The Makeup Artist at Ground Zero of Internet Beauty Culture,” has taken his years of expertise, massive internet fame, and a few personal checks to labs across the world to create his dream: a self-funded line of products titled Makeup by Mario.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #19 series on my blog.
For Dedivanovic, this moment is huge. He begins to tear up on a Zoom call as he discusses the project he began working on three years ago. “I’m just so excited for October 1st”—the launch date, Dedivanovic’s birthday, and the date he began working on the Sephora floor many years ago—“because it almost still doesn’t feel real to me,” he says.
The artist comes fully loaded with all the bonafides to make a bestselling beauty line. He’s most famous for his work on one of the 21st century’s most famous canvases, Kim Kardashian-West, and helped launch her KKW Beauty line. He’s also had brand partnerships with Laura Mercier and hosts a mega-popular Masterclass. This is the last box to check on his way to beauty moguldom.
For Dedivanovic, the Sephora gondola, the display for all a brand’s beauty products inside the store, is the ultimate symbol of his success. “I used to manifest into those Sephora bottles when I was cleaning them, that I would one day have that, knowing very well that I had to work very hard and it probably wouldn’t be 20-plus years until I did that,” he explains. “I’ve been dreaming about this moment for a long time.”
His dreams are finally a reality. The new line includes 21 products and tools, including eyeshadow palettes, brushes, and highlighters created to flatter any and all skin tones. “When I work, I tend to like products that I can use on all skin tones,” he says.
Below, a few beauty tips from the seasoned vet, plus a peek at the products in his collection.
He knows you’re bad at winged eyeliner.
A standout product in the line is the Master Pigment Pro Pencils, inspired by his older sister Vicky, a relatable queen with an inability to work with eyeliner.
“I think it’s hard even for an artist to really do a beautiful wing,” Dedivanovic says. “I know that a lot of people want to do wings, but it’s challenging and can be intimidating. With this pencil and brush shape, you take the pencil and draw a line from there [the center of your eyelid] to the corner. You stop at the corner and flip the brush over and up and lift. [The brush] literally does the flip for you. I wanted to make this technique very, very easy.”
Dedivanovic added that he will provide new content that inspired tools like the eyeliner and tutorials around how to use it on his social media platforms.
He likes both contoured and natural makeup.
“I know I’m [known] as the contour king, but I think there was a little misconception,” he says. “I’m not the type of artist that typically will do the heavy stripes and all those types of things. I like makeup to look as if one were born with it in terms of the colors and finishes on the skin. I like it to enhance a woman’s face, not to have it feel unnatural or that they have a ton of makeup on. My goal at the end is that when you are up close, in person, you do makeup to make it look beautiful there. But for me, that’s not enough. I want it to look beautiful for the person as well. Bot in the sense, Oh, wow, your makeup is beautiful. More in the sense of, Wow, you look beautiful.
The brand is for novices and beauty experts alike.
While the line is infused with years of experience from Dedivanovic, he wanted to create something that was easy for the most green of makeup appliers to use.
Here’s his tip for the Master Metallics palette:
“This is a very creamy formula that’s a blend of powders and creams, so it’s very easy to use with just a swipe of a finger on your lid for a quick application. I wanted to separate my products by texture because as an artist, I was always trained from the very beginning that you always separated your mattes [from] your metallics. That’s the way you packed your bag as well.”
The packaging is the future of beauty.
Dedivanovic was inspired by the iPhone and how easily it can fit into your hand. He wanted the tools to feel accessible and comfortable while you apply your makeup. Think 2001: A Space Odyssey meets BTS’s “On” music video: The full, nearly all-white kit comes in what looks like a briefcase from a space-age population that cracked the code on product design. “It felt like the future of makeup in a sense,” he says. “I hadn’t seen something like this when it was presented. Also, it felt pure.”
The Master Prep and Set
Available in three different tones—light, medium, and deep—each set comes with six shades to be used as an eye primer. Dedivanovicoriginally tried to get this product in the palettes but couldn’t configure it correctly and inclusion would make the palettes gigantic. Thus, it evolved into its own separate product.
The Master Mattes were the first product Dedivanovic began working on in 2017. “The Master Matte palette is inspired by human skin tones,” he explains. “It’s inspired by the technique I have done for many years, in which I shape and contour the eyes using typically different, varying shades of foundation and/or concealer to shape and contour the eyes before I apply eyeshadow.”
To find the right human skin tones for the palette, he researched the different pigments that make up our skin tones. The shades also have a bit of translucency because he prefers subtle to extremely pigmented eyeshadow.
The all-metallic formula is a creamy blend of both powders and creams, making it very easy to use with a single swipe of your finger onto your lids. Dedivanovic, a self-proclaimed geek, researched the inside of our bodies for the pink, brown, and cream hues. “This is sort of representative of the shades that are within all our bodies on a cellular level,” he explains. “What’s really interesting is when you swatch all these colors together, it’s the epitome of my dream color palette when it comes to shimmery shades.”
If you’re looking for the easiest-to-use product in the collection, this palette is your go-to. But, if you’re looking for more of a high-intensity pigment, Dedivanovic created the Master Metals and Master Metals Manipulator to create your very own dream eye looks. “The idea is that the artist could scrape several shades and mix their own metal shades,” he says. “What happens when you use the Master Metal Manipulator is it turns it into a molten liquid metal. You can do liquid liners with it, you can do a quick all-over eyeshadow shade, or just the inner corner.
Bonus points: The Master Metal Manipulator also turns them into a completely waterproof product.
Mario’s Master Metal™ Manipulator™ is the ultimate mixing agent for metallic pigments. It instantly transforms loose or pressed metallic pigments into a liquid, creating a gorgeous metal foil. When mixed with pigment, it provides intense grip, lasting power, and locks the formula in place.
The Master Crystal Reflectors come in three shades: quartz, citrine, and bronzite. The reflectors are a few of his favorites because of their sheer finish that “sparkles while dancing on the eyelid.”
The product also reflects light beautifully and gives a bit of reflection and dimension to the eyelid, but can be worn all over the face. “It’s a global exclusive formula, so no one can ever have this formula,” he adds. “I’m very excited about that.”
“For years, I liked to use a highlighter on the cheek or on the eye that is a completely sheer emollient glow,” he says. “I envisioned this even for the girl who really doesn’t wear any makeup. I do clients that have a very natural look and I like natural looks as well. This product really fits both of those.”
For the collection, Dedivanovic created four pencils and four eyeshadow brushes. According to him, “Pencils are one of the most transformative aspects of makeup, especially when it comes to the eyes.” He incorporated his signature liner techniques into crafting them.
Mario’s dual-ended liner has all you need to create a precise line. The velvety gel-based formula delivers a full-coverage finish in a single swipe. It has incredible grip after it sets but still allows time to blend, layer, and define. For a soft, symmetrical line, use the brush to smudge and blend.
This liquid liner is extremely pigmented and features a super sharp, flexible felt tip for ultimate control. The bulletproof formula grips the lid and is completely smudge-proof for bold and lasting definition.
The brushes are inspired by the eyeshadow brushes he usually works with from Japan. They’re designed to work with the other formulas in the collection like the Master Mattes to make for an easy blend and application.
This brush has fluffy, soft, flexible hairs that are ideal for blending and softening on the eyes and face. It’s also perfect for applying and blending matte shadows. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free, made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
This brush has fluffy, soft hairs and a wide, tapered shape. It’s perfect for effortless eyeshadow application and an easy sweep of color across the lid. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free, made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
This brush features a denser, rounded head with flat hairs and works well with cream and powder formulas. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free, made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
This brush’s small, tapered head makes it the perfect detail brush. Use it to apply shadows wet or dry or to blend and smoke out eyeliner with control and ease. All Makeup By Mario brushes are cruelty-free and are made with a custom blend of synthetic and vegan fibers, and 100% FSC-certified birchwood handles.
Last but not least, he created gentle makeup remover wipes. “When I work, I’m very particular with wipes,” he says. “I use them to gently exfoliate the skin right before I go on with skincare.” He wanted to move away from traditional oily formulas so he created something without fragrance or the normal oily residue. “These are made with 100 percent natural, pure cucumber water, and they don’t leave any oiliness.”
Let’s face it: As beauty-obsessed as we all might be, many of the products themselves can be downright pricey. Considering the fact that we need to own enough lip and nail colors to practically match the entire rainbow (because you always need to have a shade on hand that can match what Kylie Jenner or Gigi Hadid just wore, obviously), it all adds up pretty damn quickly.
This is where your neighborhood drugstore comes in. A splurge on a luxe product every now and again is just that: a splurge. It’s something you’ll proudly display on your vanity and use sparingly, but your drugstore makeup products become your most reliable pretty quickly. And, a good number of the drugstore brands — whether you’re talking hair, skin care or makeup — actually use similar (if not the same) technologies as mass prestige brands since they tend to be owned by larger companies that also have mass prestige brands under their umbrella, so the methods are passed through the company.
Mascara may be the most obvious, as the drugstore brands have been doing mascara correctly for eons. Not only do they have varieties ranging from volumizing to lengthening, drugstore brands like Maybelline, CoverGirl and L’Oreal also boast new launches multiple times throughout the year to stay on top of the trends. For example, there are several formulas offering iterations of the runway’s “spider” lashes at the moment.
L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara, $8.99, available at Ulta.com:My ultimate drugstore mascara? L’Oreal Butterfly Effect, which I hoard in bulk. This mascara has a winged brush — like a butterfly wing, hence the name — and adds that perfect hint of volume to your lashes while also helping to lengthen and separate. Basically, it’s my cannot-live-without desert island beauty product.
Liner pencils tend to wear down pretty quickly, so there really is no sense in dishing out a lot of cash for them. Of course, you should always make sure they don’t run or smudge too much, and that they draw a clean line without tugging the skin.
Maybelline Eyestudio Master Precise Skinny Gel Pencil, $7.99, available at Ulta.com: My personal favorite is Maybelline’s new Eyestudio Master Precise Skinny Gel Pencil, which is similar to the company’s beloved Master Drama pencil, which is no longer on the market (to many a fan’s dismay). The tiny, precise tip of the new gel pencil helps even the most amateur cat-eye artists get their flicks right though, and the gel glides along the skin ever so easily.
Makeup wipes are every lazy girl’s answer to a clean face, as well as the easiest way to remove dirt and grime while on the go. So, whether you’re a frequent traveler or you spend a lot of time at your significant other’s place, the makeup wipe will be your best friend.
Simple Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes, $5.99, available at Target.com:These deliver the cleaning benefits of micellar water without stripping your face of its natural oils. I personally am a micellar water junkie, singing it’s praises time and time again — my skin’s tone has greatly improved since jumping on the bandwagon, and I won’t be going back anytime soon.
Blush is one of those products that can be fun to experiment with a few different shades depending on the season. You want soft pinks and corals to brighten up your cheeks in the warmer months, and can go a bit deeper in the winter. And then, of course, there are various formulas and textures, adding an entirely new layer of experimentation — so why fuss over high-end brands?
Flower Beauty Transforming Touch Powder to Crème Blush, $12.98, available at Walmart.com: Trust me when I say that this is one of the best blushes on the market today. Drew Barrymore’s line boasts an exclusive “liquid powder” technology that literally transforms the loose powder blush into a crème right when you apply it to your skin, helping it to blend easily and set quickly.
While mousse frequently conjures up memories of crunchy curls circa the ’80s, it’s actually back with a vengeance. And luckily for you, like Warnke mentioned earlier, many of the top hair-care companies work together on their technologies (i.e. to prevent aforementioned crunchy curls). So, the mousse of today helps your hair to form a curl, without the frizz or stickiness.
John Frieda Luxurious Volume Perfectly Full Mousse, $6.99, available at Drugstore.com: My current favorite comes from John Frieda, and is a reinvention of its Perfectly Full Mousse. The new version has a lighter feel, so that you’ll have that touchable curl with hold — but without the crunchiness that we all tend to associate with a mousse product.
Since nail polish is addictive to collect, it’s in your best interest to find a drugstore brand that you love — and that lasts. With all of the polishes to choose from these days, this can be an overwhelming task. To make it easier, many of the top brands have developed some sort of “gel effect” polish, which essentially means that it will last longer; the technology may vary in some ways from brand to brand but, in the end, the purpose is for it to last up to two weeks — the same as if you were getting a professional gel manicure.
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, $9.99, available at Ulta.com: After testing all of these new gel effect formulas, my favorite, hands down, is Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel. You have to buy the top coat separately in order for it to work, but it truly does last almost to the two-week point — and that’s through washing dishes, swimming and more.
Since most of us love to extend the life of a blowout (or let’s face it, we just like to wash less frequently, because it’s a hassle) dry shampoo is often our best friend. We all own bottles and bottles of the stuff, so it better be cheap — but like RiRi says, it also better work.
Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo, $6.19, available at Ulta.com: There are countless dry shampoos you can get at your drugstore, but my recent favorite is Not Your Mother’s due to the fact that it absorbs oil quickly and leaves a matte texture for that perfect bedhead finish.
Since we’ve already told you that lip gloss is back in a big way (the proof is in your Instagram feed), it’s due time to try out a new sheen. Many of the best new glosses are drugstore brands, like NYX, Milani and Flower Beauty.
NYX Cosmetics Butter Gloss, $4.99, available at Ulta.com: My all-time favorite gloss is actually an Instagram fave as well: NYX Cosmetics Butter Gloss. The sweetly scented gloss gives medium color coverage and high shine. But, the best part is that the formula isn’t sticky and actually stays on your lips, as opposed to most glosses that come off after drinking or eating.
Everyone needs a few great shimmering nudes, and Milani actually has a fantastic palette to start with — for under $10! For folks looking to build up their eye-shadow collections in general, drugstore palettes are a great place to start, and both nudes and soft metallics are the essential starting points.
Milani Everyday Eyes Powder Eyeshadow Collection in Bare Necessities, $9.99, available at Walgreens.com: Milani’s palettes are my favorite for essential colors, like shimmering nudes as a baseline for a smokey eye. This Everyday Eyes Powder palette is one that I always have on hand (or is an easy palette to stick in my bag for travel) and will cover all of the bases.