Cardi B. or Nicki? La Croix or Spindrift? Uptown or Downtown? Don’t you always feel like you need to choose?
But what if we thought of it more as...
Cardi B. AND Nicki. La Croix AND Spindrift. Uptown AND Downtown. Why choose when you can have both? That’s The Sunday Issue’s philosophy when it comes to Department Store AND Drugstore skincare and beauty. There’s an art to combining hero products from both categories and we’re here to share with you our years (and we mean...DECADES) of trying a cornucopia of creams, potions and lipsticks from our neighborhood Duane Reades and Sephoras.
We’ll admit it, when we began concepting this piece we were completely overwhelmed. We pooled our collective product reviews and results, read a lot of beauty guru and editorial opinions, reviewed past Top of the Towers and crowd sourced our readers and friends for their opinions. It quickly became clear we needed to devote separate posts to skincare and makeup to give each category the proper focus they deserve. It also became clear that while, in general, we believe one should spend on skincare and save on makeup, there are subcategories within each where this rule does NOT apply.
Without further chatter, we bring you the Department Store Drugstore Smackdown: Skincare.
- Fresh Soy Face Cleanser ($26)
- Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm ($64)
- May Lindstrom The Honey Mud ($90)
- basis Cleaner Clean Face Wash ($6.97)
- Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($13)
- La Roche-Posay Effeclar Facial Cleanser ($15)
Here’s the thing, we think it’s kind of difficult to see efficacious, long-term results via facial cleanser alone. There are some amazing high-end face washes, but if there is a place you can opt to spend less money, this is the skincare category to do so. There are basic, workhorse cleansers at the drugstore that will do just what they’re designed to do: remove makeup and pollutants.
- Weleda Skin Food ($10.24)
- Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF15 ($13.50)
- Cetaphil Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($17.21)
No, we’re not being wishy-washy here. We went back and forth about this and realized there is a bit of nuance that needed to be addressed. If your skin is without any serious dermatological conditions such as cystic acne, rosacea or sensitivity, then a straight-forward, drugstore brand moisturizer should suffice. However, if you’re looking to target a specific or chronic skin condition or are looking for anti-aging products, many of these specialized moisturizers require a little more money.
- Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb ($62.76)
- Charlotte Tilbury Magic Eye Rescue Cream ($69.95)
- Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream ($33.26)
WINNER: DEPARTMENT STORE
We will admit we may be a bit biased, but here at Sunday Forever, well, we’re a group of sensitive humans and the skin around our eyes is no different. It requires super-hydrating but extremely gentle eye cream. We rarely find drugstore versions that work, so we had to award this one to the department store. May you be luckier than us!
- Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970 ($67-$112)
- Tula Dual-Phase Skin Reviving Treatment Pads ($46.99)
- M-61 Powerglow Peel Pads ($62)
WINNER: DEPARTMENT STORE
We’ve tried a lot of chemical exfoliants and the ones that show some serious results are the ones we can’t get at the corner Duane Reade. In fact, up until a few years ago, one of our favorites (Lotion P50 1970) had to be sent from Rescue Spa in Philadelphia, one of the only US retailers to sell this miracle broth.
SERUM & OILS
- Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80)
- PRESTIDGE beauté Ageless Skin Serum ($120)
- Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair ($92)
- Caudalie Vine [Active] Overnight Detox Oil ($50)
- The Ordinary Buffet ($22.79)
- The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($14.06)
- Beauty Pie Japanfusion Deep Treatment Serum ($9)
WINNER: DEPARTMENT STORE
While The Ordinary has been a complete game-changer (also, as of press time, now sold at Sephora...again), we just can’t deny that there is a better selection of serums and oils at the department store. That isn’t to say our drugstore picks are not amazing (they are!), but let’s face it, our favorite affordable brands are not readily available at Target or Wal-Mart either.
- Aztec Secret Healing Clay Mask ($10.95)
- Yes To Coconut Ultra Hydrating Paper Mask ($3.72)
- COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch ($13)
- Innisfree Real Main Squeeze Green Tea Mask ($1.80)
The drugstore offers so many effective options at much lower prices. You can procure mud masks, sheet masks AND pimple patches FOR LESS THAN $20...COMBINED! WHAT?! Yep.
- Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Cucumber and Green Tea ($12)
- Pixi by Petra Hydrating Milky Mask ($15)
- Evian Facial Spray ($13.21)
Why are we not taking a side, once again? Because we love ALL of these mists!! While it’s clear there are so many spectacular drugstore options, we can’t dismiss that our two favorite department store picks are superheros. So, depending on your budget, you really can’t lose.
This is a no-brainer. If you want your skin to look human and not reptilian, you need a body lotion. Why spend more than needed? We can’t think of a reason, so *BOOM* the drugstore wins.
Catherine Spinley is a sometimes-writer and photographer based in New York. When not stalking other people’s dogs or yelling at people who refuse to walk up the left side of the escalator, she works in the beauty industry and practices yoga. You can read more from her at Worepaint.com.