Editor Approved: Victoria Kirby's Top 5 Drugstore Beauty Scores

Personally, I've never been a fan of those Splurge/Steal beauty stories where you're shown two identical products side by side, one of which is more expensive than the other. To me, they read as, "If you can't afford the nice product, here's the cheap knockoff!" But there are beauty products at the drugstore that I find perform better than any pricier option in their category. Having worked in the beauty industry for over 15 years, I've spent time in the labs of major drugstore beauty brands and seen first-hand how much research and cutting-edge science goes into creating their formulas. So the idea that you're sacrificing quality or technology in order to save a few bucks is simply not true. Plus, many drugstore beauty brands are updating their formulas and practices to become more sustainable and natural, so the options for cleaner, more eco-friendly affordable products are increasing every day. I've tried a zillion products throughout my career, and these five drugstore scores aren't just amazing bargains—they're amazing products, period.

Vaseline Lip Therapy Lip Balm Tin

I have this Vaseline lip balm in my bag at all times, and I pat it on probably 20 times a day. It’s got all the traits of a fantastic lip moisturizer: nourishing yet not at all sticky or slimy. But what I love most is that it gives my lips a subtle rosy tint that makes them look so plump and healthy. I don’t wear lipstick, so this is all the color I need. I call it my balm with benefits.

Almay Longwear & Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover Pads

I’ve tried every eye remover on the planet, and I always come back to these Almay pre-soaked pads. They dissolve every trace of eye makeup—including waterproof mascara and eyeliner—without having to rub or tug at delicate eye skin. They don’t irritate my eyes or shred little wisps of cotton that can migrate into eyes, and you get 80 pads for around $5, so you don’t feel bad if you go through them quickly. They’re also perfect for traveling because they’re not a liquid! These pads also come in an oil-free version, but I prefer the longwear and waterproof version because they take off everything and leave behind a slightly oily residue that’s like a nourishing skin treatment.

CoverGirl Total Tease Mascara

I’ve tried literally hundred of mascaras throughout my beauty editor career, and the best ones always come from the drugstore. I’ve seen first hand how much money and research the big makeup companies put into developing mascaras to constantly improve their formulas and performance. CoverGirl in particular—which is now completely cruelty-free, meaning none of their products or ingredients are tested on animals, either by CoverGirl or its suppliers—makes excellent mascaras, and Total Tease is no exception. The brush fans out your lashes so they look extra long and full, and the tiny comb on the tip is great for both getting rid of clumps and coating those tiny inner and outer corner lashes as well as bottom lashes. My one tip for all drugstore mascaras: replace them after about a month, because that’s when they start to dry out and get flaky.

Deep Moisture Body Wash by Dove

I grew up showering with the classic Dove bar because that’s what my mom used, so the smell of Dove automatically makes me feel clean. Their Deep Moisture body wash is a cleansing anomaly: it’s creamy like a lotion, but then it suds up into a nice lather. The NutriumMoisture complex helps skin hold in hydration longer, and the formula contains ultra-mild cleansers with moisturizers like stearic acid, which is found naturally in skin and gets depleted when you shower. That’s science speak for, this gets me clean while leaving my skin feeling even softer than before I showered.

Gillette Fusion5 Men's Razor

You might say I’m a traditionalist when it comes to my choice of razor, because the Gillette Fusion5 has been on the market for as long as I can remember. It may not have all the bells and whistles of some of the newer, fancier razors, but this gets the job done better than any women’s razor I’ve tried. (Not to mention, I don’t really need a kitschy pink razor with a handle that smells like strawberry shortcake.) The Fusion5 leaves my skin feeling nice and smooth and nabs all those little wayward hairs—but the real cincher is that in all the years I’ve been using it, I’ve hardly ever gotten a nick.

Former beauty editor at Harper's Bazaar, Allure, and Redbook and former editorial director of Makeup.com—now freelance beauty biz maven. I write, edit, consult, curate, post, tweet, Instagram, and occasionally pop up on TV shows like Today and Good Morning America as an on-air expert. Proud hoarder of beauty products in my tiny New York City apartment.