It was on the third quarter of 2015 that I discovered my love for makeup. It was affordable brand Colourpop that got my ball rolling into the liquid lipstick craze and from there. I started watching videos of “beauty gurus” in Youtube. I got hooked with the products they were mentioning, reviewing, and recommending. (Warning: Do not do watch beauty gurus; they will make you want to BUY stuff! Hahaha!) I started amassing a stash of my own and suddenly, my humble collection of makeup just grew! I tried my hardest to stick with the brands that are easily available in Riyadh but there are more brands that are not available here so I resorted to buying online from Colourpop, Drugstore, and iHerb. However, it gets frustrating for my low EQ not to be able to get the products immediately so I still usually go on trips to Whites Pharmacy, Boots Pharmacy and the beauty counters of Centrepoint, Citymax, Woojoh, Debenhams, and Vavavoom to satiate my love for affordable yet good cosmetics that are immediately on-hand.
Here is a list of my top 5 drugstore makeup brands in Riyadh. I considered the effectivity, affordability and availability of the products these brands carry to come up with this list. Comment below if you feel like I might have missed on greater and more affordable brands. Let’s go!
1. Sleek Makeup
I love, love, love Sleek Makeup! Just by looking at their packaging, I can already say how lovely and well-thought of this brand is. Sleek Makeup is a UK brand that is said to be one of the fastest growing brands in the high-street world. I’m not surprised. Their makeup has good quality with superb performance and strong pigmentation. They have different products that cater to every skin tone and skin needs. Their makeup is fun, trendy and they come in a sleek (yes), gorgeous black cases. They’re pretty affordable too with SR 25 up products that are great on the skin and works effectively. The first product I ever bought from them is one of their popular i-Divine eyeshadow palettes. The creamy mix of shimmer and matte eyeshadows in their Oh So Special are great for day to night looks. I expanded to some blushes which are so handy; perfect for kikay kits that’s easy to bring every day. Their Rose Gold is a dupe for Nars Orgasm and their Suede is a warm blush that gives the nicest flush combined with a light bronzer.
Must-Have in your Beauty Kit: Bake Skin Foundation, SR 62 (lightweight with a flawless finish), Face Contour Kit, SR 34 (all you’ll ever need), Blushes (SR 24 each) in Rose Gold (their bestseller) and Suede (a wildcard in your collection), and Matte Me, SR 35 (nice liquid lipstick) | Must-Wait: Solstice Highlighting Palette
2. Essence Cosmetics
If you’re a newbie in the makeup world and just testing the waters, then your go-to makeup line should be Essence. It’s the most affordable brand in this list and for SR 100 or below, you’ll be able to complete a basic kikay kit that will cover you from face, eyes, cheek, and lips. You can even throw in a nail color if you like. Most of the products are below SR 20! Essence started in 2001 and was launched in Germany the following year. Within five years, it has taken Germany by storm and became the number 1 cosmetics in the country. It also became available in over 50 countries. If that’s not a testament to how good this brand is, I don’t know what is. My first foray into the brand was when I was looking at a cheap affordable nail polish in Whites Pharmacy and I saw them at Essences. I ended up with one of their Silky Touch Blush (totally forgot about the nail polish haha!) called Natural Beauty. The following day, I went back for more colors of the blush because it was so good! The blush has a subtle yet beautiful effect on my cheeks. I then went to try their lipsticks and lip glosses. I’m recently in love with their Liquid Lipstick. However, I was disappointed with their Longlasting Lipstick Nude line because the lipstick was dry and patchy on my lips.
Must-Have in your Beauty Kit: Silky Touch Blush, SR 14 (get all colors!), Liquid Lipstick in Colour Party and Almost Real, SR 15 (light lip glosses), and Longlasting Lipstick in Barely There, SR 19 (must-have color) | Must-Wait: Pure Nude Highlighter, Velvets Eyeshadow
3. Nyx Cosmetics
Nyx is the primordial goddess of the night in Greek mythology and just by thinking of her images (she being a shadowy figure that is of such exceptional power and beauty that she is feared by Zeus), it’s not a surprise that a makeup brand is named after her. In the beginning, Nyx has taken the beauty world by storm with their classic round lipsticks and jumbo eye pencils. I can still remember the time I was thinking of getting all shades of their lipstick via eBay because they were just around 3 dollars each. And then thank goodness, Nyx arrived in the desert of Saudi Arabia through Centrepoint. Since then I can easily get my fill of lip creams which are so rich and pigmented I wanted them all. Naming them after cities doesn’t hurt either; it actually made the products more covetable. Nyx has since launched various kinds of products that are overwhelming the beauty community. I, for one, love their Liquid Suede and their Photo-Loving Primer which is a cheap dupe for Smashbox Photo Finish Primer (which I can’t afford right now). I’m still in love with their Xtreme Lip Cream and Soft Matte Cream after all these years!
Must-Have in your Beauty Kit: Angel Veil Primer (Kathleen Light’s fave drugstore primer), Photo-Loving Primer, SR 42 (my personal favorite because of its silicone formula), Nyx Liquid Suede in Sandstorm and Soft-Spoken, SR 55 (dupe for Kat Von D’s Lolita Liquid Lipstick), Extra Creamy Round Lipstick, SR 36 (classics!), Butter Lipstick, SR 36 (smooth AF) and Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk (must-have by all) | Must-Wait: Lid Lingerie, Cosmic Metals Lip Cream
4. Maybelline New York
Maybelline has been in business for the longest time (remember “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline!”). Was there ever a time that the makeup works was without Maybelline New York? Haha! It’s the ultimate makeup brand ever. After all these decades that it’s been here, Maybelline has continued to wow us with their affordable and highly-praised makeup. They continue to innovate and improve their formulas and that’s what make this New York-born brand triumph. They take makeup from catwalk to sidewalk and keeps up on trends. They shot to fame with their mascara when mascara was almost an after thought by most women. Up to now, their mascara plus their Color Sensational lipsticks are still excelling. I found a Maybelline line of face products that really suited me and that is their Fit Me! line. From foundation to compact powder, the Fit Me! line is my favorite Maybelline line to date. I super duper love their Fit Me! liquid foundation and I never run out of it because I think I hoarded. LOL. Maybelline is an American brand sold worldwide but it’s also a subsidiary of the French cosmetics brand L’Oreal. I like how convenient it is to get Maybelline because it’s easily available on all pharmacies and department store beauty counters. It’s more expensive than the first three brands mentioned above but with their formula, colors, and fame, Maybelline is worth it.
Must-Have in your Beauty Kit: Fit Me! Liquid Foundation, SR 62 (the best foundation ever!), Color Sensational Lip Color (so many colors to choose from), Great Lash Washable Mascara (a classic mascara that didn’t lost its popularity over the years), Colossal Volume Mascara (a level up mascara), and Eyestudio Caolortattoo Cream Gel Eye Shadow (Youtube beauty gurus swear by these) | Must-Wait: Color Jolt Intense Lip Paints, ColorTattoo Metals
5. Flormar Makeup
Flormar is not new to Saudi Arabia but it’s only been a few years since the first time I saw this brand open their branch in Riyadh Gallery. Now, they have more brands mushrooming in the city and that’s a good thing because this Italian brand gives affordable and nice makeup options. Flormar was established in Italy but production is in Turkey. According to 2014 data of Euromonitor, world’s leading market research company, Flormar is the number 1 make up brand of Turkey and has a 1/4 share in the country’s colored cosmetics market. Great yeah? So it’s a no-brainer; when you want to start building your makeup collection, visit Flormar. Truthfully, I haven’t have a lot of their products. I first tried its lip liners and I’m quite satisfied. I’ve been reading some reviews online and people are raving about their baked blushes. I got one and I like it because it’s a highlighter and a blush in one! I love the color pay-off too! It’s a bit expensive than the other brands mentioned here but when they go on sale, that’s the time to stock up on this!
Must-Have in your Beauty Kit: Terracotta Blush-On, SR 60 (radiant, gorgeous colors), Fusion Power Foundation Serum (soft and fluid), Twist Up Lipstick (cool neon packaging), Lip Pens, SR 19 (waterproof and goes on effortlessly) | Must-Wait: Smooth On Blush, Color Madness False Eyelashes
Where To Buy: Flormar Stores (see branches HERE)
***BONUS: elf Cosmetics
I know this brand is not available in pharmacies in Riyadh, not even beauty stores but elf Cosmetics (short for Eye, Lips, Face) is such a great brand that offers super affordable makeup. You can either buy from their website and have your items shipped via a third party shipping service (ex. Shop N Ship by Aramex) or buy it from iHerb.com. They usually have sales and items like the lip liners and color stick go for USD 1 each (approx. SR 3.75) and most of their products are USD 3 (approx. SR 12). When you go over SR 150 in iHerb, you can choose the DHL option and just pay SR 31. Amazing yes? Haha! Elf Cosmetics have really good prism eyeshadows and high definition powders.
Must-Have in your Beauty Kit: High-Definition Finishing Powder (makes makeup last longer), Prism Eyeshadows (buttery, shimmery, glowing), All Over Color Stick (great as blush and highlighter) | Must-Wait: Day To Night Lipstick Duo, Highlighting Dewy Drops
I usually wait for the sales of department stores to get my hands on more makeup and cosmetics. One can definitely have too many makeup items at a time. It’s easy to get carried away when shopping for makeup (ohhh pretty! this one too! yasss!). But always remember that these products have expiration dates. Oh well, so many choices and so low EQ, haha! Stay beautiful, Riyadhizens! In and out! 😉