THE BLOG
12/17/2013 02:15 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2014

Instant Holiday Chic With Products From the Drugstore

I was sitting next to a friend at a dinner party last weekend when the topic got onto beauty trends and somehow I ended up pulling out the few products I had in my evening bag and giving her a tableside makeover. Not exactly the classiest thing I've ever done -- blush and eyeshadow at the table (!), I even did her hair, pulling out the ponytail elastic, finger-brushing her curls, then bobby-pinning one side back sexily -- but she looked amazing in mere seconds and her husband was thrilled, as were the other women at our end of the very long holiday table who quickly whisked me to the ladies room to learn my beauty secrets. They were pleasantly surprised to learn the two products I was wearing and had used on my friend to give her a complete makeup makeover came from the drugstore. And after I gave them each their own instant mini-makeover using the very same products, they scribbled down the names, went back to dinner and then ordered the products online at home before they even took their makeup off.

I've gotten similar reactions from women across the country when I show them how to look expensive using drugstore products during my recent book talks, and when I recently posted a #selfie with hair that looked shiny and gorgeous, like I'd just come from the blow dry bar when I'd actually just done it myself using an inexpensive at-home hair device, followers ordered it and sent me thank you tweets. But honestly it's not just the product that makes the difference, it's knowing what to do with it, so since I can't get my hands on all of you to work my beauty magic, I'll try to do it justice in words...here's my latest get-glam-for-less product list along with advice on how to use them. If you love these affordable secret weapons as much as I do, tweet me or post a photo on instragram (@andreaplustig). I'd love to know how they work out for you!

First what I had in my evening bag

Kardashian Beauty Double Up Eyeshadow Stick in Black/Diamond (though I like all the colors), $10.99: The Kardashian aesthetic is usually a little over the top for me, but their makeup is awesome. I especially love this cream eyeshadow stick. The darker end can be used as liner and shadow to create a smoky effect (it blends down really well with just a finger); use the lighter end under brows for a light-enhancing glow, in the inner eye corners for a bit of sexy sparkle. You can use it on the tips of your cheeks too as a highlighter.

Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Lip Color Stick in Fresh Papaya, (I love all the colors), $8.49: These give the most beautiful natural lip look (notice I said natural, not nude, read this piece to understand the clarification). This was another of the items in my evening bag that night -- used as cream blush and the 'meat' of my blush sandwich.

The secret tool behind my great hair #selfie:

John Frieda Salon Shape Hot Air Brush, $39.99: A round brush and dryer in one, it frees up one hand so you can roll hair around it with the other while drying. I let my hair air-dry, then use it for a few minutes at the end, wrapping hair away from my face (holding the brush/dryer combo horizontally, not vertically) with the device on hot, then switching it to cool to set the waves. This creates a look that is so perfect it would have previously taken a blow dryer, round brush, curling iron and master stylist to achieve.

More of my Current Drugstore Must-Haves:

NYX Cosmetics Jumbo Eye Pencil, $4.50 and Rimmel Scandal Eyes Eyeshadow Sticks, $4.99: These creamy, ultra-blendable eyeshadow sticks come in amazing shimmery tones that make your eyes look glam but in a more natural way than black liner would. I use a bronze shade from NYX called French Fries, which sounds totally tacky but looks incredibly rich, and is universally gorgeous on any skin tone. I apply it to the top and bottom lash lines and blend a little into the crease.

Revlon Spotlight Eyelash Curler, $8.99: I love the LED light that lets you see your lashes when you look in the mirror as you curl them. It allows you to curl right at the root, lengthening lashes so that once you apply mascara; they look like you've gotten expensive lash extensions.

Physicians Formula Super BB All-In-1 Beauty Balm Cream, $14.95: The prettiest dewy finish I've found in a mass market BB cream, plus SPF 30.

Got2B Volumizing Powder, $5.99: This stuff is magic for plumping up dry hair and giving it a just-styled look. Pour a little into your palms, rub them together and then massage throughout the layers of your roots.

Sonia Kashuk Sheer Luminosity Stick, $10.99 and Sonia Kashuk Crème Blush, $9.79: I use these products to create my blush sandwich. I've demo'd it live on TV and at speaking engagements and the results are remarkable. The blush hues look brighter in the package then on your cheeks -- they blend down into a sheer gorgeous glow.

Physicians Formula Matchmaker pH Powered Lip Gloss, $9.95: This paraben-free, non-sticky lip-gloss automatically adjusts to the perfect lip-enhancing color for you, no matter your skin tone. On me, it gives me a reddish tone that's perfect for the holidays -- sheer and festive, but still natural looking.

Beauty Blender Sponge On A Stick: I'm seeing these knock-off beauty blender-type sponges attached to a brush handle at mass retailers across the country. Mineis by a brand called Prevail. I use it to blend my eye makeup -- tap it, don't swipe it -- it easily gets into the crease and corners.

For more information on the products and where to buy them, please visit my website.