St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Tinted Body Lotion, $38
Self-tanners are getting better and better each year, and this one from St. Tropez is a definite improvement upon a lineup that was already very good. This new version is a tinted lotion so it provides instant coverage and you'll either want to wear disposable gloves or apply a heavy cream on your hands first and then wash thoroughly afterwards. Give it a solid 10 minutes to dry before putting on clothes, but once it's set, it won't smudge or transfer.
But it's also a gradual self-tanner so when you wash off the lotion, you're left with a natural glow that lasts 2 to 3 days. It's a fantastic product that's a cinch to use and delivers exactly what it promises. You can use it on consecutive days or just a couple times a week (this will only affect the longevity of the faux tan, not the colour).
This new hybrid mascara by Rimmel performs double duty. As a mascara, it works as you'd expect, providing a little thickening, a little lengthening. But it also acts as a semi-permanent lash tint. After daily use over two weeks, you lashes are visibly darker.
The formula is thin but intensely pigmented. Don't expect dramatic lashes. But I really like the non-clumping, non-flaking, non-smudgy formula and will gladly take that any day over dramatic lashes that end up clumping, flaking or smudging.
As a lash tint, it really does work. Obviously, the result is more dramatic if you have lighter lashes but even with my darker lashes, I feel that they got a bit more intense, particularly noticeable with my lower lashes.
Disclaimer: Reversa's Anti-spot Brightening Serum won't be available to the public until September 2016, but I've had the chance to use this for a few weeks already and it's amazing. It's wonderful to have access to such a powerful product at the drugstore level, at drugstore prices. And it's Canadian, to boot.
This serum blocks the production of melanin, accelerates the cell renewal process and prevents damage to cells by free radicals. For best results, apply twice daily, using a full-spectrum sunscreen during the day (or you'll undo any progress you've made with the serum). Follow these instructions and within a few weeks (or even sooner), you'll notice a more even skintone and lighter hyperpigmentation spots.
This milky serum doesn't have any fancy fragrance and is housed in a utilitarian pump dispenser, but that's part of why I love it. You know the money is being spent on research and development and not on pretty packaging.
Pur Minerals Air Perfection CC Compact Cushion Foundation, $49
For anyone curious about the wildly popular Korean cushion compacts, Pur Minerals has their own version at a slightly lower price point. And for anyone who's still balking at this price, keep in mind you receive two compacts in the package.
This is a lightweight foundation with beautiful light to medium coverage. The trick to this (and all cushions) is the application. Don't go in with a heavy hand. Lightly tap the cushion over the compact, but do not overload your cushion. Then tap and bounce the sponge over your face. Do not slap the sponge on your face and proceed to rub the makeup over your face. These lightweight formulas were designed to be stippled on, not smeared around.
Comes with a full-sized replacement compact and sponge inside the box.
Always a fun brand with on-trend colours, NYX's Ombre Blush offers highly pigmented blushes in pretty, gradient colours. Realistically, you're not going replicate this ombre effect on your cheek (let's be honest, that would require far too much precision work and many separate brushes).
However, the colours are distinctly different at their opposite ends, so you can definitely swirl your brush to mix everything up, or concentrate on just one end or the other, giving you three colours.
The blush isn't fully matte, but has micro-shimmer in it to give you a nice glow. If you're a fan of highlighter, you'll want to dip into your fairy dust.
Makeup Revolution London is a UK line, brand new to Canada (and exclusive to London Drugs). It's dirt cheap and the pigmentation and performance of the products I've tried have been impressive. Makeup Revolution is also 100% cruelty-free; none of the products are tested on animals. Hooray!
This brand is highly accessible at incredibly low price points and provides fun (but not childish), on-trend (but wearable) products that everyone will enjoy trying out. Of course, at these prices, they're a natural go-to for a teen's birthday. But for adults, the palettes in particular may look suspiciously similar to more expensive department store brands. They're a fabulous way to either experiment with certain colours before committing to a higher price tag or simply enjoy using in place of more expensive products.
A few stellar products to try are the Vivid Baked Highlighters ($9.99) and the variety of eyeshadow palettes ($15.99-$23.99). Do keep in mind that at these prices, not everything's a winner. The cases are rather flimsy (the clasp on my highlighter broke the first time I tried using it), and just go ahead and bin the applicators that come in the palettes. But at these prices, I don't mind putting up with a few nuisances, because the products within are fabulous.
Essie, Gel Couture Nail Polish $13.99 and Gel Couture Top Coat $13.99
Essie's Gel Couture two-step nail system promises the gel performance we've grown to love from salon systems like CND Shellac, but with the convenience of at-home application. The price is fabulous too. But does it actually work?
Yes, yes and yes! Not only did my nails not chip for a solid five days on a recent trip to Tokyo, but the application was exceptionally good for this price point. As a total amateur, the brush design makes or breaks a polish for me. This one is plush, wide and flat, offering fantastic control that covers the nail in three even strokes without flooding the cuticle.
The new bottle design is noteworthy: the curves of the bottle are meant to mimic the swish of a skirt, but more importantly, they provide an ergonomic shape for your fingers to wrap around as you do your nails. This is a winner all around.
e.l.f. Contouring Blush and Bronzing Powder, $4.99 and Contour Palette, $7.99
e.l.f. is always a great brand to turn to when you have a handful of loonies and toonies and want to try fun a colour or product. For under a tenner, you have two great contour products to try. The first offers a shimmery blush and bronzer duo, the second a quad consisting of one highlighter and three bronzers. However, the lightest bronzer colour in this palette is useless as it's far too light to be a bronzer, too Barbie-tone-flesh to be a finishing powder. However, the remaining three are great.
For a cheap thrill, you can have some fun diving into the contouring trend. Just make sure to use a light hand and keep to the low points on your face: hollows of your cheek, eye crease, jawline, sides of temple, sides of nose, etc. Use the blush on the upper part of your cheeks (not the centre of your apples, but just above) and don't go past the centre of your eye. Then use the highlighter on the high points of your face: brow bone, centre of the nose (but not the tip), tops of cheekbones, centre of forehead (lightly, or it'll start to look greasy, not glowy).
The only major con to these two products is that they're really only applicable to fair to medium skin tones; they will look too chalky on darker skin tones.
Bio-Beauté by NUXE Toning & Nourishing Satin-touch Oil, $26
Fans of NUXE's cult favourite, Huile Prodigieuse, know that this brand does oils exceptionally well. Their newest by Bio-Beauté is the Corsican Citron-based Toning & Nourishing Satin-touch Oil. It's made with organic, cold-pressed, fair-trade sesame and sunflower oils that are rich in essential fatty acids and infused with whole, macerating Corsican Citrons.
The scent is gloriously zesty and fresh, similar to lemon curd, thanks to seven essential oils (lemon, Tahiti lime, orange, Petitgrain, verbena, white grapefruit and red cedar), which help stimulate circulation in addition to smelling fabulous. It's best used after the shower to lock in moisture and dries quickly. It's been the perfect solution to ashy summer skin, when increased exposure to the elements often lead to miserably dry arms, legs and feet. You'll be amazed at how quickly your skin drinks up this intoxicating elixir.
This Avène sunscreen is always in my travel kit and I'm already on my second tube this summer. It feels amazing for a sunscreen: it's lightweight, fast absorbing, dry to the touch and non-irritating. It's also highly effective at blocking both UVB and UVA rays, is photostable as well as being waterproof. (You'd be shocked at how many sunscreens don't cover you for UVA rays and are not photostable.)
I use this on my face and body and while some might think it's not the best value as an all-purpose sunscreen, keep in mind it's TSA-friendly and is so small I can easily carry it with me on the go. What's the point of having a larger size product if you can't use it when you need it? And don't forget to put sunscreen on your hands. It's one of the first and worst places for sun damage. I actually use this as my hand cream during the summer months.
Is there any feeling better than discovering a gem of a beauty product at your local drugstore at drugstore prices? They really do exist.
There are plenty of amazing items that perform just as well if not better than their higher priced, department store counterparts. You just have to find them. Admittedly, there are a lot of products to sift through and over time, the mis-purchases can add up.
The good news? I've done the experimenting for you.
Click through for my top 10 drugstore discoveries, all new for 2016...
Catherine is a lifestyle writer, specializing in travel, style, food and beauty. You can read more of her work in WestWorld, Real Weddings, AsiaSpa, Darpan, Wine Enthusiast and others. Follow her on social (Instagram, Snapchat & Twitter) @TSEwords.