After the immense popularity of my post on affordable skincare in South Africa, I decided to dedicate a post to affordable make up in SA drugstores. Our drugstores are Dischem and Clicks, Takealot and Superbalist also stock many makeup brands in this post. I have noticed over the last 5 years or so SA stores have been stocking well known international brands and increasing their ranges. The arrival of brands like Makeup Revolution, NYX and LA Girl has made makeup trends more accessible and affordable for SA consumers. Worldwide trends indicate, that drugstore makeup brands have upped their game and are on par with some of the more luxe counterparts. Drugstore makeup is more widely accessible to the vast majority of us. My one gripe is to see more local brands in SA stores and when it comes to complexion products shade ranges are still sub par especially for Africa where we have a consumer base with such diverse skin tones. My selection process was to purchase the brands available (this was not always possible), I also relied on trusted reviews from people I know who love and wear makeup often.
I started this list all the way in July and many edits, and tries and research later this is my list. I am aware that the time of publication there are many more excellent releases and this list will be updated to reflect those choices. A special thank you to lifestyle blogger Rowena Saloojee for assisting with some of her recommendations on this list. My sister (a makeup junkie) also helped me with student recommendations especially for students on a tight budget. Some international brands are available from MuseSA, a reputable online retailer of skincare and makeup brands. Items from Muse will be indicated with an *
Please note nothing on this post was gifted or sponsored, the opinions here are solely my own.
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As recently as 2 years ago, you could not find a decent primer in SA stores. The selection now is vast, brands stock primers for every skin type. Prices are pretty good and with the merge of makeup and skincare primers are getting better. When it comes to choosing a primer I believe in a good moisturiser and choosing a primer that’s suitable for your skin. I always go in with a hydrating base and for very heavy make up days I use a pore filler. A tiny dab of jojoba or rosehip oil under the eyes allows makeup to be more forgiving and less cakey especially for more mature skin types.
Essence Correcting and Pore Minimising Primers
Catrice Prime and Fine Mattifying Primer
Neutrogena Gel Cream
This helps to prep especially dry skin and gives enough tackiness to allow the makeup to stay on, I use this as a hydrating primer all the time.
Palladio Rice Primer
This is an exact dupe for the Benefit Porefessional. Palladio primers are quite good value for money, I swatched the hydrating primer in store and was very impressed. This brand also contains lots of natural ingredients so it’s good for your skin.
E.L.F. Hydrating Primer*
Naeema Recommends: Wet n Wild Primer R99.00
Rowena Recommends: NYX Total Control Drop Primer R220.00
I believe that drugstore foundations can outperform their high end counterparts, affordable foundations are getting really good. My favourite foundation for years has been the Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation and the CC cream, but unfortunately Bourjois has left Clicks stores. I am loving the L’oreal Infalliable foundation and the cult favourite Maybelline Fit Me. Shade ranges are getting better but stores still need to cater for and stock shades for deeper skin tones.
Wet n Wild Photofocus Foundation
Maybelline Fit Me Foundation
Revolution Makeup Stick Foundation
Ponds Flawless Radiance BB Cream
Catrice HD Foundation
I love this foundation and its and ingredients wise it is a dupe for the Fenty Foundation. This is a full coverage and very matte but gives you a flawless base for makeup application. If you are dry prep the skin with a hydrating primer and a good facial oil.
Pretty by Flomar Weightless Foundation (available at Foschini)
This is a new purchase, I like the feel of the foundation already but haven’t. The entire Flomar range looks very promising and I will update this list as I try more products from the range.
L’oreal Infallible Foundation
Naeema Recommends: Palladio Powder Finish Foundation R95
Rowena Recommends: NYX Total Control Drop Foundation R220
Revlon Candid Foundation R149
This is my favourite category, because of my hereditary dark under eye circles, I am a concealer junkie. On most days I only wear concealer, and I always try out the latest releases. I kept this category very small because I am fastidious about my concealers. A good concealer should have a good undertone, good coverage and I steer clear of drying concealers as my skin is ageing. If you don’t need too much coverage the Maybelline Fit Me concealers work very well, they can also be used for contour and highlight.
LA GIRL PRO Concealers and Correctors
This is one of the best drugstore concealers out there, they are affordable and the shade range is excellent. The orange and yellow correctors work very well if your skin is prone to hyperpigmentation and the deeper shades make an excellent cream contour. A tip when using these concealers; allow them to dry a bit on the skin after application and tap in with your fingers or a brush. I feel a sponge sheers out the coverage under the eyes.
L’oreal Infallible Concealer.
This is my new favourite, it blends out very well and the coverage is decent. Perfect for light makeup days.
Maybelline Instant Age Eraser
This remains my holy grail. A little know secret is that you can also apply this as a foundation. Apply to the centre of the face and buff out the edges for a flawless base. I like to use this as a foundation especially when I’m travelling. You cannot go wrong with this concealer its full coverage, hydrating and beautiful.
Naeema Recommends: LA Girl Concealers R70
Rowena Recommends: Maybelline FIT Me concealer: R109
Setting powders have also gotten better in the affordable category, my favourite on this list is the Catrice powder. I have also included pressed powders for extra coverage. The Maybelline Fit me pressed powder in a lighter shade can also be used to brighten up the under eye. I am still hoping we get to see the cult favourite Fit Me loose powder in stores, if anyone from Dischem or Clicks is reading this, PLEASE get on it!
Catrice Nude Illusion Setting Powder
This powder is very finely milled and great for lightly setting your makeup. It also doesn’t cake up the under eye. I find this powder works best applied with a brush. I don’t recommend baking the face with this, it is best used to lightly set concealer and foundation.
Revolution Makeup Loose Setting and Baking Powders
Revlon Candid Anti Pollution Powder
COTY Airspun Powder*
Black Opal Deluxe Finishing Powder
This range is excellent for deeper skin tones, the powder has enough colour to prevent ashiness it also controls shine. You also get a decent amount of powder for the price point.
Essence Brighten Up Banana Powder
Maybelline Fit Me Pressed Powder
Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder
This is an excellent powder for oily complexions.
Naeema Recommends: Wet n Wild Photofocus Pressed Powder R99
Bronzers are not a strong category in SA drugstores, finding a shade that’s not too orange and that can suit my skintone is a mission. Too many bronzers run too light, with the exception of the LA Girl contour powders. Remember to contour you need a bronzer with a cool tone and bronzers are used to warm up the face. Blushes on the other hand are a winner in the affordable category. The LA Girl blushes wear longer then my MAC and the colour selections are gorgeous.
Wet n Wild Colour Icon Bronzer
These sell out very quickly, if you get a chance to find one grab it! They perform exceptionally well for an affordable bronzer.
Essence Sun Club Matt Bronzer
This sells our quickly in stores but you will find it online at takealot.com, this is a good bronzer but doesn’t show up in mediums and deep skin tones.
LA Girl PRO Contour Powders
Swatch these before purchasing because the colours perform differently when blended vs in the pan, I wish they only sold the darker shades. The split pan, and lighter shade is so redundant.
NYX Bronzer Matt Bronzer
Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer
The cult favourite but I feel the shades run a bit too light.
Revolution MakeUp Ultra Contour Palette
Palladio The Definer Contour Palette
NYX Contour Palette
I love the quality of these blushes (try the colour Apricot), the baked blushes are also gorgeous and they wear exceptionally well.
LA Girl Just Blushing Blushes
These blushes are so pigmented it’s unbelievable and it’s a blush range that caters for a wide variety of complexions. Use a very light hand with these, I also love using them on the eyes as eyeshadow because the pans are quite generous. My recommendations are Just Radiant, Just Rosy and Just Peachy, these are my favourites at the moment.
Just Fearless has a mauve undertone and is stunning on deeper skin tones. Be careful with these, a little goes a long way.
Essence Matt Touch Blush
I also love the Mosaic blushes, Essence makes gorgeous blushes. They’re easily buildable and blend nicely into the skin, they not as long wearing as La Girl but are compact enough to pack in your makeup bag for touch ups.
Naeema Recommends: Wet n Wild Color Icon Blush: R79
If you’re on a budget purchase the LA Girl Brick Blush: R100 which is value for money plus you get 2 blushes and a good bronzer.
Rowena Recommends: Wet n Wild Colour Icon Bronzer R70
Essence Good Times Blush and Maybelline blushes
After concealers I am the most particular about highlighters. I look for a highlighter that blends well, is not chunky and textured and I like a highlighter with a golden undertone. Makeup can be overwhelming and brands and beauty gurus make you believe you need a million products to achieve a look. I believe you only need 1 decent highlighter in your collection. If you are fair go for a pink or peach undertone and for medium and deeper skin tones you cannot go wrong with a highlighter that has a golden undertone. My favourite on this list is the Maybelline Master Chrome highlighter, it’s blinding.
Essence The Highlighter
My unpopular opinion is that you don’t need a blinding glow for everyday makeup. The Essence highlighters impart the most subtle glow and are perfect for work, check out the NUDE baked range as well.
Wet n Wild MegaGlo Highlighter
There’s a reason why this is so hyped online. The texture, finish and glow are so gorgeous, it also blends out really well. Apply after your setting spray for a blinding glow. The best colour from the range is Pearlescent Pink.
LA Girl Strobe Light Powder
La Girl Luminous Skin Illuminator
This is perfect under your foundation, applied on the highpoints of your face to allow the highlighter to pop. Also add some to your lotion and make your own illuminating body cream. LA Girl has the biggest range of highlighters in the affordable category, they’ve also recently introduced loose highlight powders and a jelly highlighter in their collection. I haven’t yet tried these out but the list will be updated if they impress me.
Maybelline Masterchrome Highlight
The best shade is this range is Molten Gold, I didn’t like the Rose Gold version as much. This a blinding highlight, and comparable to high end versions. Molten Bronze is ideal for deeper skin tones.
RAWR Beauty Honeymoon Glow Face Illuminator
RAWR is the latest kid on the block, they are a start up focusing on no BS skincare. This skincare/makeup hybrid gives the perfect glow. This also hydrates the skin and can be used as a undermake for a gorgeous lit from within glow. The range caters for different skin tones, I suggest visiting the team when they pop up for recommendations from the brand.
Naeema Recommends: For babes on the budget try The Essence Hey Cheeks Palette
This palette contains a gorgeous, blush, light bronzer and the highlighter is very impressive. Its smooth and buttery and applies very well its priced at R99.
Rowena Recommends: NYX Strobe Palette R360
If I could give one recommendation it would be to splurge on a good eye palette with warm and neutral mattes. A good palette is an investment and can be very versatile. Drugstore palettes do well with shimmer shades but almost always fall short with the mattes, as alot of them are very patchy and dry. I have hyperpigmentation on my eyelids and less pigmented matte shades struggle to show up on my lids. My recommendation for a good paletter is to go in store and swatch a palette you like, make sure the mattes are pigmented and blend well. Affordable eyeshadow palettes have gotten better, around the holidays Essence launches some good palettes. Revolution Makeup also makes good dupes of high end palettes that work well, the SOPHX collab has some lovely shades and the palette is quite versatile. I have included a few brands from Muse on this list as well, Colourpop is another cult favourite with excellent shadows at an affordable price point. Juvias Place wins in this category the mattes are stunning and wear very well on all skin tones.
Essence Ola Rio Eyeshadow Palette
NYX Ultimate Shadow Palette Warm
ColourPop Lit Palette*
Juvia’s Place The Warrior Eyeshadow Palette *
Palladio Crushed Metallic Singles
Pick up the colour of your choice on these singles, the payoff and metallic gleam is gorgeous and on par with the metallics in the Anastasia palette.
Revolution MakeUp Ultra Eyeshadow Palette Matte
Brows are my least favourite category in makeup and the sparsest in my collection. I have naturally thick brows so they often just need a brow powder. I asked a few friends for their suggestions to assist with this compilation.
Essence Make Me Brow Gel
NYX Micro Brow Pencils
These are an excellent dupe for the Benefit Precisely my brow
LA Girl Brow Kit
Maybelline Tattoo Brow Peel off Tint
Naeema Recommends: Essence Eyebrow Style Set R54
When it comes to eye pencils and liners 3 brands never let me down.
All their eye pencils are creamy, glide on well, and the colour selection is always on trend. If you’re an eyeliner newbie pick up the Superfine felt eyeliner pen. The matte liquid liners with the brush are another favourite of mine and budge proof.
Catrice Eyeliners are also excellent and good value for money. I have the blue and turquoise eye pencils and they are stunning, also purchase their sharpeners.
LA Girl also makes lovely neon eye pencils that are very pigmented and perfect for the summer neon eye trend.
Naeema Recommends: Rimmel ScandalEyes Liquid Liner (best brush tip for wings) R124
Rowena Recommends: NYX Epic Ink Liner R210
Maybelline 24hr Colossal Kajal R50 (this is the best kajal out there).
Another category drugstores excel in are mascara, you don’t need a high end mascara the drugstore versions outperform them and the selection is excellent.
Essence Lash Paradise
I don’t know what they put in this stuff but this is the best mascara range out there. The lash primer is also a must have if you have sparse lashes.
L’oreal Telescopic Mascara
This is highly recommended by MUA Tasneem Bamath and it does not disappoint, I really like the wand especially for bottom lashes.
L’oreal Lash Paradise
Try the preglued variety they make putting lashes on a fuss free experience.
Naeema Recommends: Any of the Essence mascaras
Rowena Recommends: Any Maybelline or L’oreal mascara! You won’t go wrong! Bonus: the L’Oreal Paradise primer (apply before mascara) is a game changer for mega lashes.
LA girl Lip Liners
These are so good and comparable to MAC lipliners. Natural Creme is an exact dupe for MAC Whirl lip liner and Cafe is a dupe for MAC’s Stripdown.
Essence Lip Liners
The cult favourite in this range is a nude liner 11, it pairs well with all your nude lipsticks. For the price point you cannot go wrong with the quality of these liners.
NYX Soft Matte Lip Creme
I only purchase this for the colour Stockholm which is the perfect pink nude.
In the same vein as a highlighter I believe you need one decent gloss in your collection. These are the best out there and the colour Creme Brulee is a lovely nude gloss with the perfect amount of sheen. I also like the Rimmel Vivid Gloss they retail for R124
Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Matte
L’Oreal Paris Infallible Matte Lip
L’oreal Colour Riche Lipsticks
The quality of these are incredible, the matte obsessions range is my favourite from L’oreal.
Revlon Ultra HD Lip Range
SIR JOHN x WBEAUTY Tinted Lip Oil
Naeema Recommends: Wet n Wild Megalast Lipcolour R70 Cherry Picking is a divine colour
Rowena Recommends: L’Oreal ColourStay Lipstick. Matte lipsticks nude : NYX Lip Lingerie
M.O.D Setting Spray
This spray was recommended by Nabeela a renowned makeup artist. This is an excellent spray, it has a light floral scent and has major staying power to keep your make up locked in! I am serious, this is the strongest and most long lasting setting sprays in the affordable category. It is available only at Dischem.
Catrice Prime and Fine Spray
I am currently using this one, its not that bad. It doesn’t hold the make up for that long but its really good to refresh the skin and can also be used a primer.
Palladio setting spray
Their sprays are good value for money, I prefer the dewy version to the matte one
NYX Dewy Setting Spray
This is one of my favourites I remember purchasing because Nikkietutorials was a big fan. It’s a lightweight spray keeps your makeup fresh and dewy, it also prevents caking on the under eye. Dampen your sponge and set the concealer with this spray before powdering for a flawless and smooth under eye.
Maybelline Masterfix Setting Spray
I hope you guys enjoy this list, let me know which products worked best for you by chatting to me on my socials.