Affordable, high-quality beauty products
do exist, but the reality is: those are the exceptions, not the rule. So the next time you’re looking to indulge in a little beauty-focused retail therapy, use this article as your guide. It features 43 of the best and cheapest beauty products that work just as well as their much-pricier cousins — and since each one is so affordable, you can buy a treat for your hair, skin, and nails and still have money leftover in your budget for a facial.
In the case of skin care, the key to making sure you’re choosing products that aren’t total duds is to consider your skin type and goals, so before buying anything new, think about what it is exactly that you’re hoping to achieve. Try to familiarize yourself with ingredients that your skin loves (or, just as important, doesn’t love), and then examine the formula as a whole. The same goes for hair products, in that you’ll want to choose products that were designed for
your hair type, not just because they worked for somebody else. With makeup, there’s a lot more freedom to play around — so if you’re shopping for a new lipstick or eyeshadow palette, don’t feel pressured to do as much research.
Whatever it is you’re looking for — or maybe you’re not looking for anything at all, but just feel the urge to shop — you can’t go wrong with any of the beauty products featured ahead. They all come highly recommended by The Zoe Report editors and consumers alike, and every single one rings up at less than $20 on Amazon.
A Popular Serum That Covers All Your Skin Care Bases
Niacinamide is one of those skin care ingredients that kind of does everything. It has antioxidant benefits; it helps strengthen and protect skin; it promotes a more-even looking complexion; and it can even help soothe redness and irritation. That’s the hero ingredient in
this Naturium serum, though the formula also contains three other skin car superstars: hydrating hyaluronic acid, nourishing vitamin E, and zinc PCA, which works to both moisturize skin and help control excess sebum production. It’s the perfect daily serum for pretty much any skin type, and it costs less than $20. What’s not to love?
A Prescription-Strength Acne Treatment That You Can Get OTC
If you’re looking for a prescription-strength acne treatment but can’t get to the derm,
Differin Gel is the next best thing. The key ingredient, Adapalene, which is a retinoid, was the first prescription-strength acne treatment approved for over-the-counter use by the FDA. It works to both keep your pores clear so they’re less likely to become congested and form pimples, and it also helps quell the redness and inflammation that’s usually associated with breakouts. And it costs just $13, despite being one of the best and most powerful acne treatments you could buy.
This Liquid Illuminator That Can Be Used Countless Ways
Use this creamy,
liquid illuminator as a base for your foundation, or go makeup-free and wear it alone — either way, your skin will glow. You can also dab this onto the high points of your face like highlighter, mix it in with face cream or body lotion to dilute the shimmer a bit, or apply it to your shoulders and collar bone for a radiant, sun-kissed look. Would look gorgeous on your eyelids, too.
A Sunscreen Essence That Feels Like Nothing On Your Skin
Unlike sunscreen lotions and creams, this is a sun
essence — which means it has a lightweight, barely perceptible texture that sinks into your skin instantly without leaving behind a residue. Formulated with SPF 45, this milky sunscreen is resistant to sweat and water, and should work nicely on all skin tones as long as it’s properly blended in.
The Cult-Favorite Liquid Exfoliant For Clear, Blackhead-Free Skin
If you’ve always wanted to try the
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, start out with this travel-sized bottle — it’ll last you longer than you think. The miracle liquid helps clear out your pores (which, in turn, helps prevent breakouts and blackheads) while also promoting clearer, smoother, and more even skin overall. If you, like 30,000 other Amazon shoppers, wind up loving the results, you can graduate to the 4-ounce bottle.
A Soothing & Hydrating Aloe Gel That Feels Amazing On Dry Skin
Whether you got a sunburn or just have dry, red, irritated skin, this
Babo Botanicals aloe vera gel is sure to come in handy. Designed to be gentle enough to use on babies, this cooling gel is formulated with other hydrating heroes, like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, as well as soothing botanicals like chamomile and meadowsweet. It’s great for using after a long day in the sun, but you’ll be surprised by how often you wind up breaking it out on other occasions, too. Store in in the fridge for the ultimate refreshing treat.
An Amazing Vitamin C Serum At A Truly Unbelievable Price
vitamin C serum for less than $10? If it sounds too good to be true, that’s understandable, but — it’s not. This Dr. Song serum has a cult-like following both on Amazon and beyond, having been awarded over 1,700 five-star Amazon ratings and well over 800 five-star reviews. In addition to vitamin C to brighten your skin, it contains vitamin E — another powerhouse antioxidant — and hyaluronic acid to attract and retain moisture. In other words, it’s the perfect serum to layer under sunscreen in the morning.
This $5 Kit For Instagram-Worthy Brows
If you love the look of fluffy, brushed-up brows like you see on Instagram, buy this soap brow kit (and you can
read more about the soap brow trend, here). It comes with styling soap to shape and set your brows, and an angled brush to comb them and fluff them up. The soap dries totally transparent, and the whole process couldn’t be any easier.
This Game-Changing Treatment That Gives You Silky Hair In Seconds
It’s not an exaggeration:
L’Oreal’s 8 Second Wonder Water will give you silky-soft hair in just eight seconds. Though it works similarly to a hair mask or deep-conditioning treatment, it’s as light as water — so unlike a hair mask or deep-conditioning treatment, it won’t weigh your hair down (and therefore can be used on even thin, fine hair). For best results, avoid your scalp and follow up with a quick blow dry.
The French Lip Balm That Repairs & Softens Dry, Cracked Lips
A French girl beauty staple, this
Bioderma Lip Conditioner is just the cure for your dry, cracked lips. It soothes, softens, protects, and moisturizes, though it won’t mess with your lipstick application since it sinks in, rather than sits on top of your lips. It smells great, feels great, looks great, and costs just $5 on Amazon — why not give it a shot?
An Airy Gel Cream That’s Great For Dry, Sensitive, Or Irritated Skin
A’PIEU Madecassoside Moisture Gel Cream is a must-have for anyone with weakened, damaged skin. It uses tiger grass — aka madecassoside — to heal and repair skin that’s become irritated, inflamed, or just plain dry. This is loaded with other sensitive-skin saviors as well, like hydrating hyaluronic acid, strengthening and moisturizing panthenol, and soothing allantoin and centella leaf extract. The gel-cream formula feels refreshing and airy, not greasy and rich.
This Japanese Eyelash Tonic For Stronger, Softer Lashes
Strengthen and nourish your lashes using the
DHC Eyelash Tonic. It can be used with or without mascara to condition and soften your lashes so they’re less likely to become brittle or dry. Especially ideal for anyone who gets eyelash extensions regularly.
A Hydrating Face Mask That’s A True Delight To Put On
Unlike a lot of face masks that dry out your face, this does the opposite. It’s a
moisturizing face mask with a delightfully airy texture — think marshmallow whipped cream — that helps soften, brighten, and hydrate your skin after just 15 minutes (though you can leave it on longer if you want). The Instagrammable pink color is just the icing on the cake.
A Pack Of 96 Pimple Patches For Less Than $20
Rael pimple patches are the gold standard of pimple patches — but despite this, you can buy a pack of 96 for less than $20 on Amazon. Best used on pimples with a visible “head,” they work to soak up the gunk and speed up the healing process while also preventing you from picking at your blemishes, which can obviously make them worse. And since they’re totally transparent, you can wear them on Zoom calls without anyone noticing.
This Lip Plumping Oil That Comes In The Cutest Packaging
Housed in an adorable pill-shaped tube,
this lip oil helps plump up your lips while smoothing and softening them — kind of like a lip gloss/lip balm hybrid, but with pout-enhancing benefits. You can use this on top of lipstick to give the color a glossy finish, or on its own for a shiny, hydrated, no-makeup look. That said, like with any lip plumper, you should expect a slight tingling sensation.
The French-Pharmacy Staple That Anyone Who Wears Makeup Should Own
Despite being one of the best beauty products on the planet, you can buy an 8-ounce bottle of
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water for less than $10. The water-light fluid takes off even the most stubborn of makeup with ease — even waterproof mascara — and it neither leaves behind a residue nor irritates sensitive eyes or skin. In fact, unlike most makeup removers, it leaves your skin soft — but not at all greasy. A true must-have for anyone who wears makeup.
This Soothing Balm To Help Heal Popped Pimples
Even though we know we shouldn’t, we all pop our own pimples. So, you may as well invest in the right aftercare tools — starting with
Hero Cosmetics Rescue Balm. It helps hydrate and soothe freshly popped pimples so they heal faster and don’t leave behind as noticeable of a scar. Use up to twice a day for best results.
This 100% Pure Marula Oil For Just Over $10
You don’t have to spend $50 on marula oil — not when you can buy this
100% pure marula oil for just $11 from Acure. It contains cold-pressed marula oil (and nothing else), which is one of the best and most nourishing things you could put on your skin. Apply it anywhere that’s feeling dehydrated — your face, your elbows, your cuticles, your knees… If you have split or dry ends, you can even put some on the ends of your hair.
A Vitamin C Night Cream To Wake Up To Brighter, Glowier Skin
Slather on this Shea Moisture night cream, and wake up to clearer, more refreshed-looking skin. Formulated with papaya, yuzu, and vitamin C, it has a rich, decadent texture and genuinely makes you look
glowy — that’s thanks to the enzymes in the papaya, the brightening powers of the vitamin C, and the incorporation of lactic acid, a gentle exfoliant and skin-smoother, in the formula. It smells amazing, too.
A $5 Shower Gel That Helps Treat Body Breakouts
Salicylic acid is one of the most effective ingredients for treating acne, whether you tend to get breakouts on your face or body. That’s the main ingredient in this
Solimo body wash — so it’s great for anyone who has bumpy skin or regularly breaks out on their back, butt, and chest. The refreshing grapefruit scent is just an added bonus (as is its delightful pink color).
This Nourishing Oil For Curly, Coily Hair
If you have curly hair that easily gets dry, pick up this
oil treatment from Gabrielle Union’s hair care line, Flawless. It’s made with over 10 rich, nourishing oils to soften and hydrate dry, thirsty hair, so your curls look and feel amazing all day long. There’s even Brazilian bacuri butter in the formula for even more nourishment — and it helps prevent damage from things like heat styling and protective styles, too.
A Face Oil/Primer Hybrid That Makes Your Skin Glow
This oil/serum hybrid is your one-step hack to glowy skin. Made by Drew Barrymore’s beauty line, Flower Beauty, it’s a
shimmering face oil that works to prime, blur, and nourish your skin so it feels amazing and looks radiant. Despite appearing lilac, it applies invisibly on any skin tone and leaves behind more of a dewy glow — not a sparkly shimmer.
This Self-Tanning Moisturizer That’s A Classic For A Reason
There’s a reason
Jergens Natural Glow has remained the top-selling drugstore tanner over the years. Sold in three shades, it helps firm and nourish your skin while also leaving behind a natural-looking (not orange) glow, and it doesn’t look streaky or patchy. It’s as easy to use as body lotion — just be sure to wash your hands after applying it, and wait 15 minutes or so before putting any clothes on.
A Purifying Charcoal Mask That Won’t Dry Out Your Skin
A lot of charcoal masks can dry out your skin — but because
this one is formulated with aloe juice, glycerin, and allantoin, it’ll leave your face feeling smooth and soft (and purified, of course) rather than tight and flaky. Charcoal powder and kaolin clay do the pore-clearing work, so after washing this off, your skin looks and feels amazing.
This Lightweight Gel Sunscreen That Feels So Refreshing On Dry Skin
If you hate the feeling of thick, greasy sunscreens, bring this
from Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost line on your next beach trip. It feels like a refreshing, watery lotion — cloud-like, airy, and soft — rather than an oily, heavy cream. And it sinks into skin quickly without leaving behind a greasy residue. Note that this is a body sunscreen, though, not a face sunscreen. gel sunscreen
These Sheet Mask-Like Gloves To Nourish Dry, Cracked Hands
For your next at-home spa day, wrap your hands in these
Aveeno hand masks. They come with two gloves that are enriched with healing and moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, glycerin, and oat kernel oil, so after you take them off, your hands feel impossibly soft. “I have awful hands from washing them so much,” one Amazon reviewwr wrote. “This ten minute hand mask does wonders!! My hands look like they belong on a different person after using these!”
A Water-Light Mist That Works For Every Hair Type
If most leave-in conditioners and serums leave your hair feeling heavy and weighed down, try this
hair mist from celebrity hairstylist Vernon Francois. It’s a water-light treatment that helps nourish, hydrate, and detangle hair, all while imparting a lovely fragrance, a boost of vitamins, and shine. Apply this after showering, before styling, or any other time your hair could use some added hydration.
A Set Of 6 Silicone Products For Your Lips & Skin
For less than $10, you can get
six surprisingly useful skin care tools you may have never heard of before. First up is a set of two lip exfoliators to soften and smooth your lips (a must-try for anyone who has chapped, flaky lips and hasn’t yet been able to find a cure); two silicone brushes to apply face masks, body butters, and other skin care treatments (a game-changer for clay masks in particular); and two face scrubbers to help amp up your cleansing routine (these can be used with any type of cleanser). Every tool is made of silicone, which is both easy to clean and fast to dry.
A Hydrating Gel Cream To Soothe & Plump Your Under-Eye Area
If you don’t like putting rich, heavy creams around your eyes, try this
Cetaphil Hydrating Eye Gel Cream instead. It’s a refreshing gel-cream that helps smooth, plump, and hydrate your eye contour area using hyaluronic acid. Other good-for-skin ingredients, like glycerin, licorice extract, and niacinamide also show up in the formula. It’s a number-one best-seller on Amazon with over 8,000 five-star ratings, too.
This Overnight Peel That Gently Resurfaces Your Skin As You Sleep
Apply a thin layer of this
Derma E peel before you go to sleep, and wake up with smoother, glowier skin. Those are the immediate benefits — but over time, you may notice a more even skin tone as well. This works its magic using the gentle exfoliant lactic acid, as well as vitamin C, green tea, and jojoba oil. One Amazon reviewer raved, “I woke up with baby soft skin after using this ONE time! I have some hyper pigmentation (red scars from acne) on my left cheek and it was noticeably different with just one use. I am speechless! Love this product so much!”
A Decadent Body Scrub That Makes Your Skin Feel Impossibly Soft
Get baby-soft skin from your neck to your toes with this
Dove exfoliating body scrub. Made with crushed macadamia shells to physically exfoliate and the brand’s signature moisturizing cream to promote smooth, soft, nourished skin, this $6 scrub will transform your next shower into a truly decadent treat.
The Damage-Repairing Hair Mask With A Cult-Like Following
Korean hair treatment is one of Amazon’s best, most under-the-radar finds. It helps strengthen and repair dry, damaged hair after being left on for just five to 20 minutes, thanks to powerhouse ingredients like collagen and ceramide-3. A true must-try for hair that’s been bleached, dyed, or processed in any other way (or simply exposed to a lot of heat).
A Hand Cream That Smells Good Enough To Eat
Like an indulgent treat for your hands, this
hand cream from Cake beauty smells just like a delicious dessert. But it also happens to be super effective at healing dry, cracked hands and cuticles — just ask the 1,000+ Amazon reviewers who awarded it a five-star rating. Plus, any excuse to wash your hands more often is a good one, right?
This Powder Highlighter For The Ultimate Glow
For an Instagram-level glow, you need this
powder highlighter from Maybelline Facestudio. It’ll give your cheekbones (or wherever else you apply it) an intense, molten glow, whether you wear it alone with moisturizer or go for a full-on contour. It’d look equally gorgeous as eyeshadow, too — and the best part is, it costs just $6 on Amazon.
A $3 Hair Cream That’s Been A Fan-Favorite For Years
There’s a reason
Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine cream has remained such a drugstore staple over the years. Not only does it come at a truly unbeatable price (especially considering how long the 10-ounce bottle will last you), but it also smells amazing and does a fantastic job at softening and moisturizing dry, damaged hair. For less than $3, you truly can’t beat it.
This Best-Selling Cleanser For Skin Prone To Acne & Blackheads
A lot of salicylic acid cleansers can wind up drying out your skin. But thoughtfully, CeraVe incorporated hydrating hyaluronic acid and skin-strengthening ceramides into their formula, because even skin that’s prone to breakouts and blackheads needs moisture. The brand’s best-selling
SA cleanser is one of their most popular products, and it can be used to treat acne and/or bumpy skin on both your face and body (so it’s great for keratosis pilaris as well). The 8-ounce bottle will last you months, too.
This Gentle Sunscreen Stick For Easy, Midday Touchups
If you’re out in the sun,
it’s important to reapply sunscreen every two hours. Sunscreen sticks make doing so much, much easier — and this sunscreen stick from Mustela is a particularly amazing formula. It’s a mineral sunscreen, so it’s a safe choice for sensitive skin, and it’s free of fragrance, parabens, and other common irritants. It’s even been approved by the National Eczema Association, and it’s water resistant for up 80 minutes. What more could you want from a sunscreen?
A Clever Spatula To Get All The Product Out Of Your Bottles & Jars
To maximize how much use you get out of your beauty products, invest in
this clever spatula. It’s a slim, teeny tiny spatula with a long, 8-inch handle that fits into narrow tubes and bottles, so you never have to waste a drop of product again. A $6 very well spent for any skin care lover.
The Safest & Most Effective Moisturizer For Dry, Sensitive Skin
Vanicream moisturizing cream is an essential if you have dry, sensitive skin or a condition like eczema. But even if you don’t have either of those things, it’s a great all-over moisturizer to keep on hand. It’s free of pretty much anything that could be irritating, it can be used on your face and body, and it comes in a massive, pump-top bottle (you get a whopping 1 pound of product!) for under $15. Over 20,000 Amazon reviewers gave it a five-star rating or review after buying it.
The Iconic Drugstore Primer That Makes Your Skin Look Photoshopped
Just as its name says, Maybelline’s iconic
Baby Skin primer will give you skin as smooth and plump as a baby’s. How does it accomplish such a feat, one might ask? Well, the silicone-based formula helps blur your pores so your skin looks softer and more even — and less shiny, too (making it a great primer for oily skin). Your makeup will glide on top of it like a dream, but it also works wonderfully when worn without makeup, as well.
A Stamp-On Eyeliner For Those That Struggle With Wings
eyeliner stamps work so well at creating flawless, cat-eye style wings every time. All you do is stamp on the wing, then use the other end (the liner is double-sided) to connect the wing to your lid. What could be easier? And if you’re skeptical, just check out the stamp’s 20,000+ five-star Amazon reviews.
This Nutrient-Rich Oil That Transforms Damaged Nails
It’s rare that a nail product deserves so much hype, but the
JASON Tea Tree Nail Saver truly helps transform damaged, dried out nails (and toenails), whether you’re dealing with cracked cuticles, run-of-the-mill dryness, or even bruising. It isn’t the sexiest product one can buy, but it really works — and you’ll get so much use out of this little bottle, since a tiny amount of product goes a long way.
A Set Of 5 Jumbo Makeup Sponges For Flawless Makeup Application
makeup sponges work just as well (if not better) than their pricier, name-brand counterparts. Ideal for applying cream and liquid makeup, the big sponges have a rounded shape, pointed tip, and flat bottom, so you can use them to do an entire face’s worth of makeup without switching sponges. Perhaps most impressively, they’ve garnered over 50,000 five-star Amazing ratings/reviews thus far.