Pricier doesn’t always mean better. All these are under $15, can be found at drugstores, and work at least as well as their more expensive counterparts.
Sometimes it’s useful to spend money on beauty products. By and large, if you splash out on a serum from your dermatologist, it has more expensive, effective ingredients than a drugstore variety, and is more concentrated. Aesthetics procedures are another area you don’t want to cut corners: if you can find someone to laser your face for $15, you’d better hope that treatment comes with a free balaclava. It’s also nice to treat yourself once in a while – I’m partial to posh candles and beautiful compacts.
However, you don’t need to spend wads of cash on beauty workhorses like deodorant or soap, and even treats like lipstick can be inexpensive and high quality. These 11 are as good as, or better than the spendy stuff, and you can get them everywhere.
Revlon ColorStay Balm Stain
Lots of makeup brands have launched crayon lip products. They’re easy to use, give a fabulous finish, and won’t leak or break all over your bag. Revlon does them in matte and glossy effects, but I love this balm one. It’s hydrating, long-lasting and retractable, so you don’t need to sharpen it. It’s pictured here in Smitten, a lovely fresh raspberry shade that’s perfect for spring.
L’Oreal Paris La Couleur Infallible eye shadow
I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll keep mentioning it until every woman on the planet owns at least one pot. This stuff is the bees’ knees: intensely pigmented; long-lasting; blendable and easy to use. It came out at roughly the same time as several premium brands launched cream eyeshadows, and is better than all of them. An absolute must-buy. In 11 shades, from subtle silver to intense purple.
Maybelline Dream Wonder Liquid Touch Foundation
It used to be the case that you could economise on lipstick and nail polish, but expensive foundations were just better than cheap ones. That’s no longer true. This is super lightweight, but long-lasting, and gives medium coverage and a natural-looking finish that’s neither dewy nor matte. It has a very runny texture (similar to pricier foundations from Nars, YSL and Giorgio Armani) so is easiest to apply with fingers. In 12 shades.
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat
Paint your nails, leave them for two minutes, then swipe on a coat of this stuff. It will instantly dry your nails to the point where you can type, turn pages or fasten zips and buttons. I wouldn’t recommend anything more manual than that – no kneading dough or gardening – and in my experience, it does make nail polish peel off faster than a regular top coat. But hey, you can go to the loo straight after you paint your nails.
$7.49, at drugstores and mass retailers
Annabelle Zebra Bronzing Pressed Powder Biggy Bronzer
There are so many bronzers available now that it’s quite amazing how difficult it is to find a good one – some make you look unwashed, others are as shiny as a disco ball. This, from Montreal brand Annabelle, ticks all boxes. It comes in one matte shade for contouring and two slightly shimmering, but not glittery ones. Just one swirl makes you look naturally sun-kissed, not grubby, and they last forever.
$11.95, at Annabelle.ca and in pharmacies and mass retail stores
Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser
This works brilliantly on my dry skin, and on oily complexions too. It removes makeup and cleanses. You can use it around your eyes without stinging, though you might need a separate product if you’re wearing lots of heavy eye makeup. When you rinse it away, your skin feels clean, smooth and soft, not tight or dry. It is basically brilliant.
Marcelle Oil-Free Eye Make-Up Remover Lotion
It strips away the smokiest smoky eye in seconds, without dragging or tugging, leaves no residue, doesn’t sting, is free from fragrances and parabens and is recognised by the Canadian Dermatology Association as part of its healthy skin programme. And because it leaves no grease or oil, you can reapply eye makeup immediately – so it’s perfect for cleaning up morning makeup mishaps.
Jergens Mild Soap for Sensitive Skin
Lathering up with a bar of soap seems old-school, compared to shower gels, and then there’s the ick factor of soap gunk on the edge of the bath. But by and large, liquid soaps are less environmentally friendly than bar soaps because producing them uses more energy, we use more every time we shower, and their packaging is often not recyclable. They also cost an enormous amount more. Circumvent the ick factor with a nice soap dish, like this one from L’Occitane, then stock up on a basic soap. Jergens Mild Soap is made from natural ingredients, gets you nice and clean without stripping moisture, is suitable for sensitive skin, smells comfortingly soapy, and is an absolute bargain.
Nivea In-Shower Conditioner
This product has been out in Asia and Europe for a couple of years now and it’s fantastic. You apply it in the shower after you’ve washed with soap or shower gel, then rinse it away. It moisturises just as well as a separate body lotion, and comes in three varieties: Nourishing, with almond oil, for very dry skin; Replenishing, with shea butter, for dry skin, and Hydrating, with minerals, for normal skin. The only person happier than me about its launch is my mum – she no longer has to jam half-a-dozen bottles in her suitcase every time she flies over from Ireland.
Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant
No more doing bird impressions waiting for deodorant to dry, or white streaks on your clothes. This dries in a split second, has one-quarter moisturising ingredients, leaves no residue, and keeps you smelling fresh for up to 48 hours – it even withstands sweaty workouts. It comes in four subtle, pretty fragrances.
Tresemmé Perfectly (Un)Done Weightless Silicone Free Shampoo and Conditioner
This season, we’re seeing a move away from geometric bobs and set-square-measured bangs, in favour of freer styles with natural movement and texture. This shampoo thoroughly cleanses and the conditioner smoothens, without weighing down locks. The salon-standard range also has styling foam and sea-salt spray, plus strong-hold non-sticky hairspray that brushes out easily.
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