Drugstores are the best. I have the fondest memories of traipsing up and down the aisles of my hometown Rite-Aid, buying all the bad nail polish and tween magazines my little heart desired. As a kid, I loved them because I could afford to pay for my loot, unlike, say, our local Nordstrom, where I had to visit the Bank of Dad and/or Mom to buy pretty much anything. As an adult, I love drugstores because no one asks you if you need help! Seriously, every time I walk into a Sephora, at least four people greet me, and then two of them proceed to follow me around the store the entire time I shop. So much pressure. It’s a nightmare. Not at Rite-Aid, though! There, I just wander the store freely, admiring every single product for however long I wish, and no one so much as looks at me. It’s blissful.

There are two Los Angeles Rite-Aid’s in particular that are phenomenal insofar as beauty products go: the one on Canon in Beverly Hills (also has free one-hour parking and an ice cream bar!), and the one in Larchmont Village, which happens to have Larchmont Beauty right next store that is also a treasure trove of beauty goods. On the West Coast, I’m preferential to Rite-Aid mostly because it’s nostalgic, but they also do a mean job with product curation. If you’re lucky enough to be somewhere where they have Duane Reade, though, go there. Don’t even question it.

I never go into drugstores looking for luxury beauty dupes. It’s the #1 mistake people make and an easy way to be disappointed. Drugstore is a unique category, and that’s not to say many Drugstore products aren’t competitive versions of their luxury beauty counterparts, but they’re just apples and oranges in so many ways, so I treat them as such, measuring them on their own merit, not against another tier. To that end, products, especially some of your garden-variety hair versions, don’t have to be high-end or expensive to be good. There is a time and place for the Christophe Robin Masque’s of the world- we all need a little luxury now and then- but other times, a great shampoo is just a great shampoo no matter how you slice it. This is good news because it means you can do a one-stop-shop situation and pick up your whole lot. Here’s your shopping list for when a late-night, PJ-clad beauty spree at your local drugstore just feels like the right thing to do…

For a Budget-Friendly Restorative Shampoo:

Look no further than Dove Oxygen Moisture, the HG for anyone who has fine hair that’s dry on the ends but oily at the roots. This applies to practically everyone whose hair is color treated and who is also at all active, but especially my fellow Blondies, who are almost always looking to add some non-greasy moisture into their routines. It cleanses thoroughly enough to go at least two days without washing, and any broken/fried ends will feel noticeably less damaged.

For Dry Shampoo That Means Business:

It’s hard to find a hard-core dry shampoo that doesn’t also leave 1) chalky residue or 2) cakey texture. The idea behind L’Oreal’s Extraordinary Clay Dry Shampoo is to use the namesake ingredient- clay- to absorb the oil our hair produces, which, when you think about how we use clay masks to do the same for our faces, makes a lot of sense. So much so that you might start to wonder why no one thought of it sooner? But I digress. The spray manages to be heavy duty, as in, revitalizes drenched post-workout hair, but still feels light and adds some volume and texture, all without building up. I’m partial to the smell, but it’s not overpowering if you’re not a scent person.

For a “Better Than Head ’n Shoulders” Dandruff Buster:

No one likes to talk about dandruff. I get it! It’s awkward. Even when you’ve got Sofia Vergara, arguably one of the most attractive women in the world as the face of a dandruff brand, everyone still avoids the topic like the plague. But we’re going to talk about dandruff today because that’s what we do here at Highbrow- face the hard stuff, head on. And if there were one dandruff shampoo/conditioner combo I’d feel comfortable showing off in my shower, it’d be Dove Pure Daily Care Anti-Dandruff 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner. My hair has never felt cleaner than when I use this stuff, and my hair gets dirty fast, like, the day after I wash it. I went three whole days before I finally felt like I should just give in and wash, just because… cleanliness. But I could have easily gone more!

A $7 Hair Oil That Works (Really!):

Pantene is SO cheesy. Everything about them, from their ringlet-curled Selena Gomez and Priyanka Chopra ads to the dated packaging, is just painful. If you can get past both of these things, though, they have a few stand-out products, like their Pro-V Overnight Miracle. I got it during a random Amazon sale for literally $1, and after my first time using it, went back and ordered four more before the sale ended. I can’t speak to the level of protection it claims to offer, but after sleeping with it as a hair mask at night and rinsing off the next day, my hair is markedly smoother and the frizz much more manageable, to the point where I haven’t needed to burn the sh*t out of my hair with hot tools in the morning before leaving my house. And this is all coming from someone who doesn’t really like the brand- that’s when you know it’s real.


Greyson Tarantino