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Drugstores Have Prescription for Cheap Makeup


Women who couldn't live without their $18 Chanel lipsticks are discovering the beauty of brands that sell for under $5 at the corner drugstore.

"The upscaling of the caliber and quality of mass-marketed products is really changing what we see in drugstores, from the packaging to the marketing," says Susan Babinsky, director of the consumer consulting group at Kline & Co., a New Jersey-based international business consulting firm.

"Consumers have a lot of options at the mass level, and many are even adding the higher end of skin care to their shelves, though the names don't mean as much as they once did," she says.

A dramatic change in the merchandising is partially responsible.

Many women were willing to pay more for prestige brands in department stores because testers are available. But as the drugstore cosmetic market grows, more outlets are offering testers of mass-marketed product lines. And some of the larger chains of drugstores are beginning to offer the services of trained cosmeticians.

What customers might miss in terms of marbleized ambience they make up in the charm and expert service of an old fashioned pharmacy or--in larger chain stores--bottom-line savings.

Though it's important to note that cosmetics prices are fairly universal throughout the industry, counter personnel in drugstores are not on commission like department store help often is. Customers don't feel any pressure to buy multiple items or spend more to get a "free" gift.

There are a number of drugstores with a wide selection, testers and personal counter service in Orange County. Some even offer home delivery.


At the Druggist in Huntington Beach, the cosmetics counter runs the length of the store and features several adjacent aisles for self-serve customers. The counter stocks several prestige women's fragrances, including Lauren, Bill Blass, Norell and designer fragrances by Yves St. Laurent and Chanel. Men can choose from Ted Lapidus Pour Homme, Polo and others by the Guerlain fragrance house. More affordable, mass-marketed women's fragrances include Jean Nate, Skin by Bonne Bell, Charlie and Tatiana.

Cosmetic lines carried in the store include Ultima II, Elizabeth Arden, Bonne Bell, L'oreal, Almay, Physicians Formula, Revlon and the Dermablend line of corrective cosmetics, among others. Testers are on hand for many of these items.

The store also stocks the Neutrogena and Perlier bath lines, as well as an extensive collection of imported French soaps. Traveling makeup mavens will appreciate the assortment of compact makeup bags. There is also a wide assortment of Lucite organizers, makeup applicators and hair-grooming implements. The Claire Burke collection of scented products (rarely found in pharmacies) is also prominently featured here.

Delivery is available for a $2 fee, but a prescription must be included among the items delivered. 21421 Brookhurst St., Huntington Beach, (714) 963-4552.


At Newport Beach's Eastbluff Pharmacy, shoppers may be surprised by the large counter stocked with everything from elegant grooming tools to prestige cosmetic lines. Real animal horn combs and clothes brushes start at $13.75. Among the cosmetic lines are available at Eastbluff, including Germaine Monteil, Revlon, L'oreal and Allercreme.

There are a number of domestic and imported fragrances available too, including 4711, Obsession, Chloe, Opium, Vanderbilt, Norell, Joy, Paloma Picasso and several by Chanel and Givenchy. The store also carries the Petite Nate line for girls, a subsidiary of Jean Nate. Neutrogena and Vitabath products are also available. Delivery is free for cosmetics and other items. 2521 Eastbluff Drive, Newport Beach, (714) 644-2111.


Attention Laguna Beach Clarins users: Bushard's Pharmacy carries the prestigious skin care and color cosmetic line (rarely found in drugstores and almost exclusively limited to department store distribution). The pharmacy's cosmetic counter is also stocked with Christian Dior and Lancome products. There are several testers available for customers on top or behind the counter for cosmetics and fragrances.

This pharmacy showcases several popular scents--Fendi, Chloe, Liz Claiborne, Pavlova, Shalimar and some by Chanel and Givenchy. There are hard-to-find fragrances too, such as Royall Bay Rhum and Secret of Venus.

Another fragrance the store couldn't resist carrying: Salvador Dali's Laguna. The tiny pillboxes and compacts by Shatton of London are among the store's attractive gift items. Delivery is free of charge with purchases of more than $5. 244 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, (714) 494-1059.


PayLess Drug may lack the atmospheric charm of the old-time drugstores, but not the service. Free home delivery is available and catalogues are dispensed in the stores.

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