Privilege Blog

Cheap Thrills At The Corner Store, Or, Walgreens Is My Friend

(Thanks to Walgreens for underwriting this post. I was paid as a member of the Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all mine. Visit

Back in the lean years, I loved nothing so much as a trip to the corner drugstore. The grey-linoleumed aisles, irregular stacks of transparent inflated swim toys on high shelves, and the beauty products. Oh the products of beauty dreams.

Let me admit, I’m a makeup and beauty product junkie. A jar of facial unguents, foot beautifier, or new mascara cheer me up like foil butterflies in mobiles. Sparkle, turn, glint, turn. And summertime, when faces are best left neutral and toes best turned up high, is the best season for drugstore trolling.


So here’s my summer strategy:

  1. Apply super light foundation with a sponge, and mix colors to get exactly the shade you want. Fight back against the orange-ing of America. While I loathe sunscreen,  I’m about to try a mineral-based product in hopes of comfort. Because you just can’t go SPF-less in good conscience.
  2. Good mascara and lots of it. My daughter wore new mascara recently and I asked her if she’d started using Latisse. Under-appreciated truth? Any new tube is better than the most expensive and exclusive old one.
  3. Lip balm and lip liner. Sure color is important in the world of mouths, but you can experiment for such a low cost.
  4. Not to forget, set your feet free from sordid calluses, and add dark coral polish for that louche Miami glamour. Also spell glamour with a “U.” Always makes me feel sophisticated.

On to full summer everyone. Toes first.

Note: This was my first sponsored post ever. I wasn’t sure I as I wrote that I was fitting their guidelines, that’s why I’m only adding the logo and sponsor language now, an hour after publishing, having heard from the Clever Girls rep. BTW, they didn’t ask me to call it “Walgreens Is My Friend.” That was my own idea. We will deconstruct this experience another day.

33 Responses

  1. I have coral polish on my toes right now, and I’m originally from Miami! Ha.

    I always try to wear sunscreen in the summer, but almost everything makes me break out. Mychelle (from Vitacost) does the least, but if I exercise in it, I do break out. I might need to try mineral foundation, too.

  2. I use Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. Light coverage and SPF 20 together. Has no “sunscreen” feeling at all.

  3. I use Eminence mineral sunscreen, it smells lovely and looks sheer.

    You make drug store shopping very appealing and it’s been ages since I felt this way about a drug store…
    I thought I might need to go to Paris to find one that sounds great.

    Will check out Walgreens when Mother and I go to Seattle next month…
    who doesn’t love cheap thrills!

  4. Actually, you can’t *use* sunscreen with good conscience – there’s mounting evidence via clinical studies that the use of sunscreen can be more carcinogenic on the skin than going bare under the sun. To avoid burns (and melanoma), gradually lengthen your time in the sun, or merely keep covered. Also, sunscreen prevents the conversion of vitamin D in the skin.

    As for Walgreens, once you become a grandparent, the drug store becomes appealing again for a different reason – we’ve gone in for batteries and come out with 30 dollars worth of toys on more than one occasion. :)

    1. I am concerned by your statement, as it goes against much of the clinical literature WRT skin cancers. Perhaps you could refer us to the studies you mention?

    2. I too am concerned about your comments. Physical sunblocks (titanium dioxide, zinc oxide) are safe. There is some evidence that chemical sunblocks may do some damage but NO ONE should venture into the sun without sun protection.

      I am a very fair skinned redhead. If I use a physical sunblock I am fine. If I use nothing, I will get skin cancer. There is no choice.

      Building up sun exposure is nonsense. A tan is damaged skin.

      If you want good sunscreen recommendations, go to the EWG site or check out Dr. Oz’s choices.

  5. Well then, if that’s the case I’d love if you tried out Cowgirl Dirt Cosmetics. It’s a lovely line of mineral based, 100% natural, organic cosmetics that I represent. Samples can be purchased online @

    By the way, I just had my mani/pedi done and I chose a beautiful Coral from Barielle.

    I’ve been enjoying your blog!

  6. I tend to shop department stores for my beauty fix but after reading about the cover girl tinted moisturizer in magazine after magazine two summers ago, I had to try it. Nice light even coverage, and it wears well in warm weather.

  7. As for calloused feet, I love Burt’s Bees coconut foot cream, also found at Walgreens.

  8. i respectfully and completely disagree, jan; i’m a research chief who works with dermatologists and academics and am tasked with digging through those very same studies on a regular basis, and i’ve found that there are perfectly viable non-carcinogenic SPF options (and that the sun remains and is in fact increasingly deadly). gradually lengthening one’s time in the sun may prevent burns in some cases, but it in no way forestalls damage or one’s chances of developing melanoma (and it should never be done without protection). covering up is best, but sunscreen remains vastly preferable to unmitigated exposure. it’s also been demonstrated that one needs a mere 15 minutes in the sun to get all the D one needs.

    1. Lauren, I’d love if you’d elaborate on good sunscreen options or else point me in the right direction! Thanks.

  9. Summer beauty routines are often the most fun. Tinted moisturizer and a translucent powder, blushes that are brighter than I can get away with the rest of the year, and suddenly glossy lips don’t seem overdone.

    Also, shout-out to the use of the spelling “glamour”. Those “u”s are important.

  10. Of course, we Canadians always spell “glamour” with a “u.” As we do “colour,” “neighbour,” “favour,” . . . well, you get the idea. We’re so sophisticated. . .

  11. Lisa, you if anyone will be able to help me here. Is wildly expensive moisturizer better than merely expensive moisturizer, and is that better than cheap corner store moisturizer? Me, I suspect that they are much of a muchness, although I am suspicious of Very Cheap Moisturizer, but I defer entirely to your greater insight into the matter. Will I pay the price for this belief when I am 94 with no dewy youthful looks? My frugal nature won’t allow me to pay for a brand for the sake of brand-propagation alone, you see.

  12. You did a great job Lisa and if you hadn’t have said so, I would never have known this was sponsored.

    I was “in the business” as they say and I’ve always believed in the best you can afford in quality cosmetics for your face & eyes and that it makes a big difference in how your skin ages. However, I’ve discovered Berts Bee’s tinted lip balm and have fallen in love with a drug store product for the first time in my life. Their tinted lip balm is “almost” as good as Clinique’s best selling lipstick/gloss product – Black Honey.

  13. Love your ideas here. I remember when I first read that I am supposed to buy a new mascara tube every 6 mos and it made me realize why I had started to have issues between mascara and my contact lenses! Such good tips.

  14. I remember buying the LaMer pitch, hook line and sinker, this was LaMer at pre-Lauder takeover. I was absolutely CERTAIN it would hasten my good-enough face to traffic-stopping status. So earnest was I in following the instructions, so sure of the promise within the seaweed or kelp or whatever it was, so I kept dreaming, and then I got divorced, and then I went into panic mode about money, and then I got Clinique’s yellow moisturizer, which is what I still use today because that moisturizer is a darn good little product at a dandy price. But I DO LOVE to browse product at Walgreens for the precise reason Lisa states: where else can you experiment so freely and at such a fair price?

  15. I’m not a fan of mineral foundations. Everyone claims they’re fab, but I find them drying.

    I go with a conventional SPF from a name brand maker and rarely have problems. If I have any kind of breakout or irritation I skip the sunscreen and wear my big hat because they will bother irritated skin.

    As my partners in debauchery from college used to say – better living through chemistry.

  16. I am a big fan of the Paula’s Choice SPF foundations… They are mineral based, and not sticky like most sunscreen. Also available at drug store/grad student prices. ;)

    You’ve pretty much nailed my quotidian beauty routine… I like a very minimal look, although I have been known to get sassy and have pearl gray or even olive green toes. SPF foundation, Covergirl Outlast lip color in a pinkish nude, and MAC waterproof mascara. It makes me feel put together but not over-done for my very casual research lab.

  17. A good pedicurist (such a word?) is worth their weight in gold! I add an acid peel to my heels once a week – it’s amazing how dry my feet get in the summer! I will try your pretty coral on my toes this time! Thank you!

  18. Darling post. Filling me with fond memories of weekly visits to Woolworth’s with Mom and getting lost amongst a million shades of blue frost eye shadow. And finding comfort in the next aisle over where the tea cup sets were located. An early introduction at age seven can not be over looked :)

    1. WOOLWORTHS! Thinking of my first Ponds compact from Woolworths. In “Blushing.”

      And you “finding comfort” one aisle over in the teacups! That is so perfect….

  19. I use La Roche-Posay very high protection 50+ tinted cream which is light, and gives the skin a natural look I highly recommend it for sun intolerant skin. Ida

  20. I love Walgreens! I love all drugstores, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Honestly, I like the comfort of being able to go in and browse without being accosted by sales people. And you can get so much for so little. There are a few cosmetic products I’ve purchased from department stores (well, really, online, to avoid dealing with the sales women) but I firmly believe that many over-the-counter drugstore products are as good as or better than department store counterparts.

    I agree with your list, too. If I may recommend a specific mascara… I love CoverGirl LashBlast, waterproof (black brown is my color.) It has an unusual brush – it’s rubbery with little rubbery bristles rather than nylong bristles. It does wonders for applying the mascara – I’ve never had such long-looking lashes.

    I like your tip about spelling glamour with a ‘u’. I lived in Montréal for two years while in grad school, and came home spelling words with an extra ‘u’ and saying “zed” instead of “zee.” Honestly I legitimately picked up these habits – profs would call me on my American spelling and pronunciation. But everyone considered my new habits pretentious, and I reverted to my old ways!

  21. Being European I think I can speak for all my friends, high and lower income, that drugstores are the places to go and dawdle over beauty products. There are some excellent brands both in skincare and cosmetics, even organic, so no need to go to department stores.

    I remember once going to Galeries Lafayette in Paris in full-on war paint not to look like a slob and the saleswoman looked at me and said: “Madame …. so you … don’t wear make-up?” Back to the drugstore it was.

  22. Why lots of mascara? What´s the idea?
    Many wear sunglasses on summer, so it does not even show.
    I use mascara only ” on special events “, which are scarce. And even then, only moderately.
    Lots of it – yak!

Comments are closed.