The votes are in – 20 inexpensive beauty buys that should be on every fashionista’s shopping list. Find out which cleansers, lotions, mascara and lip products are both high-quality and affordable.
A common misconception about beauty products is that cost equals quality. But, as Beverly Hills dermatologist Stuart H. Kaplan tells Real Simple: “A lot of times, much of the cost is hype – the marketing, the packaging. Most expensive doesn't always mean better.”
Smart women know that beauty isn’t about how much you can spend – it’s about knowing how to find those good buys. Fashion, beauty and skincare experts alike each have their go-to drugstore beauty items; this articles showcases products that are all under $10. Some are classic formulas that never go out of style, while others offer new shades for the season.
Healthy skin is the perfect start to any makeup look this season, whether you’re going for sultry and sexy or sweet and demure. Your cleanser, moisturizer and sun protection are the core elements of any skincare regimen.
- Garnier Nutritioniste Moisture Rescue Fresh Cleansing Foam. Cleanse and help skin lock in moisture with this gentle daily formula. Allure raves that this drugstore product can keep up in the big leagues: “Many foaming washes leave skin feeling arid. This one babies it as well as a big-ticket cleanser that shall remain nameless.”
- Olay Complete All Day UV Skin Shield Moisturizer Lotion SPF 15. Olay has been a staple in the beauty world, and the Olay Complete moisturizer lives up to the name. This non-greasy SPF lotion is rich with antioxidants and vitamins E, B3 and C.
If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with perfect skin, you might not need much in the way of foundations or powders. But for the rest of us, here are some items to help fake a flawless complexion.
- L'Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Makeup. Neutralize redness and balance your skin tone with this lightweight makeup. The wide array of shades makes choosing a complementary color pretty simple.
- Neutrogena 3-in-1 Concealer for Eyes. This smooth formula blends well and won’t settle into fine lines. Say the experts at Allure: “There are lots of adjectives to describe this cover-up, but one that doesn't apply? Cakey.” Plus, it provides sun protection.
- Coty Airspun Face Powder. The right powder will erase the look of enlarged pores, discoloration and flawed skin. And according to Real Simple, this particular powder “has been making movie stars’ complexions flawless since 1935.”
The eyes are one of the top features to highlight, and luckily, you can create a stunning look without spending a bundle on makeup items – especially when it comes to choosing a rich mascara. "There is very little difference in mascara formulas from luxury to drugstore brands," Tom Winarick tells Real Simple.
- Almay One Coat Get Up & Grow Mascara. Self Magazine Editor in Chief Lucy Danziger recommended this mascara on “The Early Show.” For less than $10, it creates luscious lashes and contains vitamins that’ll help strengthen the lashes.
- Eco Tools Bamboo 6 Piece Eye Brush Set. A set of quality brushes is a staple in creating sultry eye makeup. This brush set from Eco Tools is sturdy yet soft, and “gently delivers loads of color,” makeup expert Dahlia Warner tells Elle.
- e.l.f. Studio Eyeshadow "C" Brush. If you can only have one brush in your bag, this Taklon e.l.f. brush is a steal at just $3. Use it wet or dry for a flawless finish.
- Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Instant Definition Eye Shadow Palette. Three silky, long-wearing shades in one small compact make application simple. Each Sally Hansen palette contains lid, contour and highlight shades, making it easy (and cheap) to create a professional look.
Lips and cheeks
Play up the lips and cheeks by adding some color and shimmer to your look. Stunning glosses and believable cheek colors are very affordable once you’ve found the right product lines. Just don’t be afraid to experiment until you find shades that best complement your skin tone.
- Aquaphor Lip Repair, Immediate Relief. Chapped lips simply don’t do your favorite lipstick justice. Smooth on a rich balm like Aquaphor, which was recommended on “The Early Show.” Says Danziger, "My children know, I don't leave home without Aquaphor for and I put it in every pocket…This is the greatest stuff on earth.”
- L'Oreal Colour Juice Sheer Juicy Lip Gloss. Real Simple suggests saving money and opting for drugstore glosses rather than pricier brands. “Save on lip gloss that you're using for shine, since the depth of color is not crucial…L’Oréal Paris Color Juice Sheer Juicy Lip Gloss ($8.50 at drugstores) adds plenty of shine.”
- Bonne Bell Lip Lites Lip Gloss. This gloss comes in 19 different shades, from softer neutrals to brighter pinks and reds – and the price is so good you can afford to have a few in your beauty bag.
- CoverGirl Cheekers Blush. Here’s another beauty staple voted as a cult classic by Real Simple. Women have been using this blush since it hit the stores in the 80s, and it now comes in 17 shades for any and every skin tone.
Make a fashion statement with clean, well-shaped nails in a hot fall shade like burgundy or bronze – no salon appointment needed.
- Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Crème. This soothing cuticle crème is a favorite, even if you’ve never opted for natural beauty products. Nourishing ingredients like vitamin E will heal those ragged cuticles for good.
- Trind Nail Magic. Buff, file and smooth with one tool, which will save you room in your purse too.
- Revlon Nail Enamel, Revlon Red. If you’re looking for a classic red, this is it. According to Real Simple, Revlon’s shade is “the quintessential red: not too orange, not too blue.”
- Sally Hansen Double Duty Base & Top Coat. Don’t skimp on your nails – use this double-duty product to help your manicure look better and last longer.
While it’s wise to let a salon handle your highlights, many daily haircare products can be picked up for a third of the price at a drugstore, such as hairspray, lightweight gel and basic shampoos and conditioners.
- TRESemme FreshStart Dry Shampoo. When there’s no time to wash after you hit the snooze too many times before work, dry shampoo will do the trick. For $5, this product works right at the roots to dry up excess oil and grime. Danziger raves, “A dry shampoo is great. You don't have to do a whole wash. You spray this into your roots and this is the TRESemme $5, it's very light."
- Suave Professionals Touchable Finish Hairspray. Hairspray should never be an item that breaks the bank. Gone are the days of “helmet head” products; this hairspray by Suave won’t leave you feeling weighed down. Allure says that it’s “a superfine mist that you (or someone else) can rake fingers through without crunchiness or flakes.”
- Aussie 3 Minute Miracle, Sydney Smooth Treatment. Got thick, dry, coarse or curly hair? This deep conditioning treatment really can work miracles, and at less than $5 too.
Ultimately, budget is only one part of the beauty equation; smart shopping means choosing wisely rather than stocking up on items you’ll only use once. Real Simple advises: “All those inexpensive tubes, pencils, and cases at the bottom of your handbag do add up. Sometimes it's better to invest in staple colors that are integral to your look and avoid impulse buys.” So do your research and take your time choosing budget buys, even if the price looks right.
Ways to Green Your Wardrobe
10 Daring Fashion and Beauty Trends To Try This Summer
Beauty on a Budget Handbook
Budget Beauty for the Office: 15 Affordable Finds