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With an overwhelming number of options to choose from, it can be hard to know which cosmetics are actually worth purchasing. As someone who personally doesn’t want to drop $50 on mascara alone, I always appreciate budget-friendly beauty products that work really well — which is why if something comes expert-recommended, I’m more likely to try it.
When it comes to hair and makeup, it turns out you don’t need to spend a ton of cash — you just need to know which products live up to the hype. Everything below — from these eco-friendly, reusable makeup remover pads to this highly rated foundation with a matte finish — is something that the pros actually use. And the same applies to skin care; it all comes down to the actual ingredients. Beauty blogger Jamie Stone recommends this amazing-smelling body wash that’s fortified with moisturizing sea kelp and hyaluronic acid, which binds water to the skin for long-lasting hydration. To achieve a bright, glowing complexion, New York-based makeup artist Lindsay Kastuk suggests adding a dollop of Weleda’s nutrient-rich “Skin Food” cream to your face in the morning.
Below, you’ll find a wide range of cheap, popular beauty products that have one magical thing in common — they all cost less than $10. Keep reading to hear what each beauty expert has to say about these utterly life-changing items.
When the weather gets dry, it’s common for your lips to feel dry and flaky. Kerrin Jackson, Emmy-nominated makeup artist and founder of beauty blog Utter Musings, recommends using a silicone lip brush as a quick fix. “It is the perfect solution to gently exfoliate your lips every time,” she states. The dual-sided head has two slightly different textures for effectively removing dead skin without causing irritation.
While we’re on the subject of lips, Jackson loves this matte crayon lipstick from Maybelline. “Not only does it glide on with ease, but you can create your lip line and lipstick in one go, making it incredibly quick to apply,” she explains. The rich, highly pigmented formula stays put for up to eight hours, so you won’t have to keep touching it up.
A great mascara can really make your eyes pop, and you don’t have to drop a ton of cash to find one that’s quality. Jackson recommends Maybelline’s classic Great Lash mascara — the buildable formula conditions and thickens your lashes at the same time. “It’s reliable, it stays, and you can’t lose it in it’s instantly identifiable pink and lime green casing. A must-have!” she raves. Over 23,000 customers agree with Jackson, giving this product a perfect five-star rating on Amazon.
Defining your eyebrows doesn’t have to be a chore, especially if you’re using this eyebrow pencil from NYX. The super-fine tip allows you to create precise lines, creating a natural-looking finish. “With a convenient brow brush on the other end, this eyebrow pencil makes light work of filling and defining your brows each day,” says Jackson.
Ditch your foundation sponges for this dense Kabuki brush. Covered in soft bristles, the brush has a wide, flat surface that allows you to effectively blend your makeup into your skin. “The best tool for blending and buffing your complexion to perfection, that won’t break the bank,” Jackson sums up. This one even comes with a carrying case, so you can keep it clean while on the go.
Curling your lashes before you apply mascara can make them look even more defined. Designed with an ergonomic handle for total control, this eyelash curler from Japonesque is a winner. “Coming in right on the $10 mark (although my fave rose gold is $11.99!) this is a great all-rounder when it comes to lash curlers,” says Jackson.
Smooth and easy to blend, this cream eyeshadow is designed to stay on your lids for up to 24 hours. Available in shimmery and matte finishes, the waterproof formula is great for creating bold, long-lasting looks. Says Jackson: “For less than $10, this beautiful cream eyeshadow is one of the most affordable ways to achieve a beautiful eye makeup look without having to worry about it for hours.”
Infused with Tahitian gardenia flower and mango, this detangler spray has a delightfully tropical scent. The formula is derived from nearly all natural ingredients — that means no sulfates, parabens, or silicones. According to celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein, the detangler “brushes through easily” and “adds bounce and shine” to curly hair.
While some hairsprays can create overly drying and stiff results, this one has a flexible hold that allows for total styling control. “Tons of bang for your buck. Holds style beautifully without any stiffness or visible product,” says Rubenstein. Enriched with four essential vitamins, the ultra-fine mist keeps hair looking and feeling strong.
Boasting an average rating of 4.8 out of five stars on Amazon after over 21,000 reviews, it’s no wonder why Rubenstein endorses Aquaphor healing ointment. The nourishing formula soothes dry, cracked skin and lips, but you can also use it in a pinch to keep your hair in place. “Use the tiniest amount, rub between palms and use it to calm flyaways or to pull hair into a sleek pony,” suggests Rubenstein.
Celebrity hair artist Kendall Dorsey uses pH Plex 3 Stabilize treatments on her clients with curly hair. Each single-application sachet works to fortify strands and replenish moisture after dyeing, bleaching, or styling with heat. “It actually performs at the molecular level, there’s no shifting of the color or lowering the volume process in any kind of way,” explains Dorsey.
Beauty influencer and owner of the Style Sprinter blog Katya Bychkova suggests using these microfiber pads as an eco-friendly alternative to disposable cotton pads. Just add a touch of Garnier micellar water to the pad and gently swipe it over your eyes. “You buy them once, wash them after every use (machine wash is OK) to eliminate cotton rounds waste and save money,” says Bychkova.
Sometimes, stepping up your makeup game is as simple as investing in a high-quality brush. New York makeup artist Lindsay Kastuk describes this setting brush as being “great” for everything from powder to highlighter, blush, and foundation. With soft, fluffy bristles and a tapered shape for precise application, the small brush will help you achieve a naturally airbrushed look.
Kastuk recommends applying a small dollop of Weleda’s travel-size Skin Food cream onto your face for that “glass skin” look, but you can also apply it to dry elbows, hands, and feet, making this one truly versatile beauty buy. Formulated with moisturizing vitamin E, calming pansy, and soothing rosemary, the gently nourishing cream deeply replenishes your skin with vital nutrients.
When you’re in between hair washes, dry shampoo is a lifesaver, but it’s important to pick one that doesn’t leave behind any powdery residue. “This dry shampoo is one of the best!” says beauty blogger Jamie Stone. “It does a great job of keeping your hair grease-free but doesn’t leave a white cast.” Not to mention, Batiste’s formula boasts a light citrus-floral scent that smells great.
Available in 18 shimmery shades, this hydrating lip gloss creates the appearance of fuller lips with just one swipe. “This is another favorite! It’s very similar to Fenty’s Gloss Bomb,” says Stone. Fortified with hyaluronic acid to upgrade the moisture factor, Maybelline’s gloss applies smoothly and gives your lips a lustrous shine.
Infused with black rice, OGX’s body scrub gently exfoliates and cleanses your skin — without stripping it of its natural moisture. Not to mention, it has a pleasant, refreshing scent with hints of jasmine and sandalwood. “This body wash smells AMAZING and the sea kelp and hyaluronic acid are great for your skin,” Stone raves.
This concealer from e.l.f. evens out your skin tone while also providing moisture to the delicate area under your eyes. The silky formula lasts up to 18 hours, so you don’t have to worry about reapplying throughout the day. Says Beck Wainner, Nashville-based makeup artist: “While lightweight, it’s still long-wearing and full-coverage.”
Cold therapy can work wonders for puffy eyes and red, irritated skin, and this ice roller is a great way to add this ritual to your daily beauty routine. “This is one of my favorite beauty tools to prep the face with before a big event as it reduces puffiness and stress…” says Wainner. The roller is filled with gel beads that freeze when placed in the refrigerator. Simply roll the rotating head in an upwards motion along your cheeks, jawline, and forehead for an instantly cooling sensation.
You can use these makeup sponges to apply foundation, concealer, tinted moisturizer, and more. Made out of high-density foam, the sponge’s unique shape allows you to blend your products into your face as well as get those hard-to-reach spots. “These amazing sponges come in a pack of five and are hands down my favorite blender for makeup,” says Wainner. “They’re so soft and easy to clean and reuse!”
Made with coconut, sweet almond oil, and vitamin E, Handmade Heroes’ sugar-based lip scrub is super moisturizing. “This ultra-luscious lip scrub is great for exfoliating before putting on a lip mask to repair chapped or dry lips,” says Wainner. Plus, it’s made of all-natural ingredients, so you don’t have to worry if a little bit gets in your mouth — it’s actually quite delicious.
Once you’ve exfoliated your lips, the next step is to apply a hydrating mask, like this one. “These super cute lip masks are great for pampering yourself while doing your makeup or getting ready for bed!” says Wainner. “They help with fine lines on the lips as well as softness.” Infused with vitamin E and natural fruit extracts, this pack of 20 masks will have your lips feeling luscious in no time.
Hyaluronic acid is a super effective moisturizer, and it’s the key ingredient in these under-eye patches from R.A.V., combined with soothing oat extract and aloe vera. “Whether you’re relaxing or prepping your skin for makeup, these soothing eye masks will help with discoloration and fine lines, making your skin flawless,” says Wainner. You get 60 individual patches in a pack, making for 30 applications total.
Lori Leib, professional makeup artist and cofounder of Bodyography, recommends this smooth-gliding makeup pencil for lining and filling in your lips. “The lip pencils are so creamy and act as mini lipsticks you can toss in your bag on the go,” she says. Formulated with coconut oil and vitamin E, the moisturizing pencil nourishes your delicate lip area while providing excellent definition.
Lock your eyebrow hairs in place by applying this brow glue from NYX. The non-sticky formula has a strong hold that lasts up to 16 hours, giving your brows a sculpted look. “It’s a tiny little component [that’s] great for traveling, on-the-go wear, and you cannot beat the price!” raves Leib. “It works great for achieving the soap brow look without the flaking!"
Infused with glycolic acid — which acts as a chemical exfoliant — these resurfacing pads are like hitting the refresh button on your face. Plus, an added boost of hyaluronic acid replenishes your skin’s moisture. “I have been using the Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme for years,” says Leib. “The pads work overnight to resurface your skin and truly work to give you glowing and smooth skin when you wake up!” Leib also notes that these pads are a cost-effective alternative to other exfoliating pads on the market.
Made with rich shea butter and hydrating aloe vera, this fragrance-free, multipurpose balm is great for soothing not only dry lips but cuticles, elbows, and faces, too. “This multipurpose balm has saved me on set countless times!” says makeup artist Ashley Webb. “I use on lips, curling iron burns, or any place that needs quick intense hydration.”
NYX’s Butter Gloss glides smoothly on your lips, providing sheer-to-medium coverage in a wide range of hues. Each shade is named after a yummy sweet treat, from tiramisu to angel food cake to blueberry tart. “This gloss in almost every shade is beautiful,” says Webb. Thousands of customers also love this lip gloss, with over 49,000 of them giving it a perfect five-star review on Amazon.
With over 66,000 perfect five-star reviews on Amazon, it’s no wonder that Webb recommends this foundation from Maybelline. The matte formula is fortified with clay, which works to soak up any excess oil on your face. “This foundation is a drugstore champion,” says Webb. “Great range of shades, feels lightweight, and has beautiful buildable coverage.” There are over 40 shades to pick from, so you can find one that matches your skin tone.
Thought it may seem humble, castor oil is a versatile all-star in your medicine cabinet. David Gray, owner of Talking Tan, says, “Not only is it good for your hair health and growth but also for your eyebrows, lashes, and skin as a whole.” He recommends this castor oil kit by Kate Blanc, which comes with an eyelash and eyebrow applicator for foolproof application. He explains: “Just a few drops daily are needed to stimulate hair growth — a little really does go a long way with this one.”
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