Guess what?

Sometimes the drugstore makeup that you read fantastic reviews of in fashion magazines actually sucks and the writer raving about it didn't love it at all -- or even try it!

It's on that magazine page because it's a new launch from the company who "bought" the back cover, being endorsed by the actress with the symmetrical face and the squeaky-clean reputation.

(FACT: Beauty companies rarely go with an edgy spokeswoman no matter how huge her celebrity, because it hurts the brand when she's inevitably photographed looking puffy and hung over with a cigarette in her mouth, then ridiculed accordingly by Perez Hilton.)

In a recent past life, I was one of those magazine editors.

Sometimes I lied. That cheap, crappy, pressed powder wasn't "instantly transformative" or "an absolute makeup-bag essential" like I claimed; in truth, it smelled like crayons. I am seriously, seriously sorry. And this is why you need to take your beauty tips not from the glossies, but from us truth-telling bloggers.

But at least now I get to disclose the drugstore makeup I really, actually love -- the stuff I use every day and know to be outstanding. I may never work in publishing again, but you'll look pretty, and I owe you one. Trust me.

Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Inspired by Carmindy All-Over Brightener Concealer

I didn't know what the hell this was all about when I first tried it -- a lavender-ish pink cream that you wear on your dark circles? What? But it WORKS. And it's $2! I dab it on under my regular, flesh-toned undereye concealer, and it makes a HUGE difference. One warning: It is easy to go overboard with this product because it's so lovable, and then the effect is very pink-eyed lab rabbit. Don't do that. Just dab it on with, say, your ring finger. The instructions also say to use it OVER your undereye concealer, which I disagree with, despite knowing Carmindy is one hell of a makeup artist. But that's because I'm all Sid Vicious and do it MY WAY.

Maybelline New York Pulse Perfection Vibrating Mascara in Blackest Black
I was using a $30 French beauté-esque mascara religiously until this one came out, and then I was converted forever. It's inky-dark and super-lengthening, it vibrates ("oscillates," in less sexy beauty-copy-speak), it makes your eyes look Bambi huge, and it is AWESOME. Every person I've recommended it to winds up a convert. My technique, designed to negate the need for an eyelash curler: Hold it at the base of your lashes, let it pulse there for a second -- this lets the mascara build up a little, which makes your lashes look thicker -- and then swoop it out, more or less horizontally, as in more toward your ear than toward your mirror. Then keep layering. You can use it all day and night and it just keeps looking better. I keep one in every handbag, so I have like nine.


Wet n' Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder in Catwalk Pink

Let me begin by saying I am a huge, HUGE fan of Wet n' Wild, even though Googling them always gives me porny results and a few water parks. Always go check their stuff out at CVS or wherever. Okay, so here's my deal with this: My natural skin tone is meh (as opposed to, say, radiant), so I will load on anything that promises to "illuminate" me like until I look like a glittery little Olympic gymnast. The amazing thing about this particular bronzer/highlighter powder is that no matter how much I apply (with a massively fluffy brush), and though it technically has a little shimmer to it, it does not make me shimmery whatsoever -- it makes me GLOW. And "glow" is the goal. (Another FACT: You might think you want to shimmer, but you probably don't. It's very "Bad Girls Club: Miami." But no judgment!)


Prestige Cosmetics Total Intensity Eyeliner in Deepest Black
Ummm, OK. Best. Eyeliner. Ever. Even though the name of the brand has always reminded me of a goofy gentlemen's club (I know, I know; I'm weird), and you may have never even heard of it, Prestige makes the most killer eye pencils possible. Yeah, I know what brand of black eyeliner you use. I used to use that one too. This one, I think, is better. And it's $5.50! This eyeliner is designed to go on intensely BLACK-black and doesn't smudge unless you want it to; and then -- if, like me, you do choose to smudge the line out (particularly pretty at the outer corners and under the lower lashes, I always say) -- it gets smoky-pretty exactly like it should. it's also an amazing pencil for the slimy-but-sensitive inner rims of your eyes, which I know a lot of people are scared of lining: it's soft and just greasy enough to be gentle, and the color stays there.


Revlon Just Bitten Stain + Balm in Passion

Let me just say this: a lip stain on one end and a lip balm on the other. A lip stain on one end and a lip balm on the other! $9! Genius! How can you even resist that? The stain part is a really easy-to-use, felt-tipped little wonder which you can also use to frantically scribble down your online bill-payment confirmation number from Time Warner (not that that just happened). On the other side, a sheer, creamy balm that's as hydrating as anything you'd wear to go skiing (do people still go skiing? I'm out of it.) that somehow manages to be hugely curative for chapped lips and totally glossy and lovely at the same time. I wear this bright pink shade, Passion (I mean, I will say that beauty company names are getting old, but anyway) because I personally happen to be a washed-out blond that the shade flatters; YOU choose the shade you know to look good on you. One of these babies lasts like four months, and we all live happily ever after.


Now it's your turn to nominate the best drugstore makeup -- in the comments section!


Cat Marnell was a beauty editor at a big-name magazine before becoming a blogger, though it is now officially doubtful that she will ever be one again. Luckily, she already owns unimaginable amounts of makeup.