Beauty Experts Swear By These Cheap Things That Make You Look So Much Better

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Just in case you didn’t know, you don’t always have to invest a ton of money to achieve a professional-quality beauty regimen. True, there’s nothing like the occasional luxury beauty purchase, but there are a plethora of excellent and affordable products that beauty experts absolutely swear by. The Zoe Report tapped some of the best makeup artists, hairstylists, estheticians, and dermatologists in the industry for insight on some of their favorite tried-and-true products they use on their clients that give the best results.

Below, you’ll find cult-favorite mascaras that cost less than $10 and can hold their own against higher-end options, salon-quality hair products for under $20, and more. Beauty experts swear by these cheap things that make you look so much better — and you’ll love them, too.


A Multitasking Moisturizer With Endless Uses

“I use [Weleda Skin Food] for everything,” says celebrity hair stylist Clariss Rubenstein. “[I use it for] super dry hands, cuticles, a dry patch on my face, a natural highlight on the cheek, and when I get off a plane, and [if] my skin is super thirsty, I use it as a face mask.” Rubenstein is in good company — this German skin care product is a favorite among celebrities like Victoria Beckham and Stella Maxwell, too.


This Drugstore Lip Gloss That’s Also Super Hydrating

L’Oreal Glow Paradise Lip Balm-in-Gloss [is] one of my favorite glosses at any price,” Rubenstein shares. “The texture, wear, feel, and look are incredible.” It’s infused with hyaluronic acid and pomegranate extract, so your lips will feel the same amount of hydration and softness as when you use your favorite lip balm, but with a pretty glossy hue.

  • Available shades: 12


A Volumizing Hair Spray That Won’t Leave Your Hair Hard & Stiff

As a celebrity hair stylist, it’s fair to say that Rubenstein knows a thing or two about quality hairspray, and one of her all-time faves is Nexxus Comb Thru Finishing Spray. “[It’s my] favorite light hairspray. [It has] incredible hold, [while staying] totally touchable. Unrivaled.” The salon-quality hair mist is made with the brand's signature Fluid-Fix Technology for the most flexible hold, and has refreshing notes of rose and jasmine that’ll leave your hair smelling nice and fresh all day long.


This Massive Pack Of Beauty Sponges That’ll Last You Forever

“I’m always using powder puffs in my kit, as well as for myself, dry for powders, or wet for liquids and powders,” shares celebrity makeup artist Nicole Bueno. “I can’t stand round [ones]; I prefer the triangle shape — it really helps to get a more precise application and get in all the nooks and crannies. I like to keep one in my personal powder compact for touch-ups on the go. These also last through multiple washes. Only $15.99 for a whopping pack of 48!”

  • Available shades: 3


A Matte & Shimmer Eyeshadow Palette That Rivals High-End Brands

“When I first tried these eyeshadows, I was in complete shock,” Bueno raves. “They are so smooth, buttery, and pigmented! To put it simply, they work better than some high-end and luxury shadows I’ve tried. The mattes are great; the shimmers are gorgeous — no chunky cheap shimmer particles here. Wet N Wild really came through with this one. Honestly, I could take only these palettes in my kit and not need any other shadows.”

  • Available shades: 4


These Cheap Beauty Sponges That Several MUAs Recommend

Paw Paw beauty blenders are my new go-to sponge,” celebrity makeup artist Dominique Della tells TZR. “Not only do you get six sponges for under $10, but they are extremely soft, giving the face a smoother finish. I also love how you can use this sponge with liquid and powder products.” Bueno also recommends these sponges, saying that “they’re extremely durable and last even after MANY washes without any rips or tears.”


A Moisturizing Face Cream That’s Been A Classic For Years

NIVEA Creme is the perfect lotion to prep skin before your makeup routine,” Della advises. “[It] keeps your face moisturized for a long period of time and seamlessly marries the foundation into your skin.” NIVEA creme has been a tried-and-true product for generations. This multitasking cream can be used almost anywhere on the body, from your feet, joints, chest, and face — you can even use it as a makeup remover or face mask. It’s formulated with provitamin B5 to help hydrate dry skin.


These Precision Face Razors With A Near-Perfect Rating On Amazon

If you’re after some quick hair removal on and around your face, Della recommends this pack of Tinkle Eyebrow Razors. “[It] removes fine hairs from anywhere on the face making it perfect for shaping brows, dermaplaning, or quick touch-ups,” she says. With a 4.7-star rating on Amazon after over 35,000 shoppers weighed in, they’re a fan-favorite, too.


A Portable LED Light That’s Perfect For Doing Makeup On The Go

Whether you’re doing makeup or need fab lighting for selfies when you’re out and about, you have to snag a portable LED light. Della recommends this under-$40 option. “[It’s] a great addition to any makeup kit,” she says. “The light is great for both the application process and [taking] photos after.” You can clip it onto your phone or laptop for Zoom calls, too.


A Hydrating Milky Cleanser That’s Great For Sensitive Skin

“[The AVYA Hydroveda Essentials Daily Milk Cleanser] combines medical-grade ingredients along with the potent ancient healing properties of ginger root, chamomile, sunflower, and safflower to help minimize redness and soothe irritation for a healthy, radiant glow,” shares Dr. Tanuj Nakra, a double board-certified plastic surgeon. “The balancing formula has argan and coconut oil to reduce excess oil while preserving the skin’s natural barrier and stimulating natural healthy collagen production. Plus, it’s free from GMOs, toxins, fillers, artificial colors, cruelty-free, hypoallergenic, physician-tested, and ideal for all melanin levels.”


This Brightening Toning Exfoliant That’s Gentle On Sensitive Skin

“For a quick face ‘glow up,’ exfoliating is important because dead skin cells building up inside hair follicles and on the skin surface cause congested and dull appearing skin,” advises board-certified dermatologist Dr. Nava Greenfield. “I recommend a chemical exfoliator to remove the top layer of dead skin cells to combat breakouts and reveal a brighter, more even complexion. I like the REN Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic, which will both leave your skin well exfoliated but isn’t too harsh to damage your stratum corneum, the first layer of cells. I carry this around with me when I travel!”


This Compact Multitasking Stick That’s Great For On-The-Go Touch Ups

“This multi-use stick is great for on-the-go touch-ups because it can be used on your lips, cheeks, and [eyes],” says Rachel Lee Lozina, owner and licensed esthetician at Blue Water Spa in Oyster Bay, New York. “It’s non-greasy and lightweight for easy application and buildable color.” All seven shades on offer have a dewy finish for a natural-looking effect.

  • Available shades: 7


A Pretty Gua Sha Tool That’s Made From Authentic Rose Quartz

If you want to upgrade your at-home facial routine, Lozina recommends using this 100% authentic rose quartz gua sha tool by Grace & Stella. “It’s a great facial massage tool to help relieve tension, increase blood circulation, contour and define cheekbones and the jawline, and encourage lymphatic drainage,” she shares. For your most chiseled and radiant skin ever, slather on some face oil before going in with this tool.


These Cult-Favorite Pimple Patches With Over 125,000 Ratings

According to Lozina, it’s time to say goodbye to zit cream and hello to the Mighty Patch Pimple Patches by Hero Cosmetics. “This promises to reduce pimples with powerhouse ingredients such as hydrocolloid, a gummy-like gel that heals wounds. Typically found in surgical dressings, it heals the underlying cyst and flattens the lesion by morning so you can wake up with a pimple-free face,” she says. With almost 125,000 ratings, they’re a hit among Amazon shoppers, too.


This Shimmery Body Oil That’s Great For Melanin-Rich Skin

Lozina also suggests snagging the Vaseline Illuminate Me Shimmering Body Oil — specifically formulated for melanin-rich skin — for an instant all-over body glow. “I love this body [oil] because it absorbs quickly and adds a touch of shimmer using responsibly sourced mica. The shimmer in this formulation is subtle but the hydration is epic, and it smells really good with a light cocoa butter scent. If you’re looking for a more natural glow, this is your best bet, and you can’t beat the cost of $10!”


A Quality Kabuki Brush That Costs Less Than $5

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on brushes for a fantastic makeup look, as this best-selling kabuki brush proves. Lozina always “keeps several on hand at all times,” she tells TZR, continuing that they’re “fantastic for blending foundation or applying creamy bronzers and cream blushes.” Over 8,000 Amazon shoppers have awarded this brush a perfect five-star rating, too.


An Smooth & Creamy Eyeliner That Doesn’t Smudge

“This mechanical pencil draws like a liquid eyeliner, stays put all day, is smudge-proof, and [doesn’t] need to sharpen,” shares Lozina. It has a retractable design, so all you have to do is twist just enough to create the perfect lines you need. And since it has a smudge-proof formula, it’s one of the best beginner-friendly eyeliners any makeup novice can use.

  • Available shades: 3


This Multitasking Hair Mask That’s Actually Worth The Hype

“This is worth the hype for sure!” Lozina swears. “This multitasking hair mask/deep conditioner battles frizzy damaged hair, leaving hair silky smooth — and it smells great. It reverts chemically processed hair to its former glory with hydrating argan, grapeseed, and avocado oils.” This is also one of the most popular hair masks on Amazon, with over 35,000 five-star ratings to date (it also boasts “Amazon best-seller” status).


A Kit That Comes With Everything You Need For Easy Updos

As a top colorist, Mane Addicts Artist and owner of The Gregory Salon, Shelley Gregory, has plenty of tips and tricks up her sleeve for super-easy hairstyles. She recommends this hair bun shaper set as her “go-to easy updo kit.” “It includes most everything you would need to make a simple bun, updo, or a perfect ponytail all packed into one kit,” she shares. It includes three soft mesh donuts, two bun makers, two braiding hoops, a hair curler, a rat tooth comp, two hair elastics, and 10 open bobby pins.


These Individual Hair Treatments That Remove Hard Water Build-Up

“These little packets help remove hard water build-up,” explains Gregory. “They’re great to travel with and use at home because most showers have mineral and metal build-up that gets trapped in our hair, making it brittle, dull, and dryer long term. You can use these packets [one to two] times monthly for best results.” The best way to use them is after shampooing; mix the powder substance with water and apply it to your hair for up to five minutes — afterward, rinse it out and continue your wash routine as usual.


These Redness-Relief Eye Drops For Brighter, Clearer Eyes

“This may not sound like the typical beauty product, but it’s an absolute kit must-have,” explains makeup artist Emily Gray. “These eyedrops whiten quickly and add such brightness to the eyes. You don’t realize how much clear eyes really enhance your face and beauty until you try these!"


This Pot Of Eyeliner Gel That’s Super Pigmented

For Gray, the Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel in the shade 77 is the “absolute best, blackest, most smooth gel liner on the market.” She adds that “[it] will add great dimension to anyone’s eyes, and that [it’s extremely long-lasting once it dries.” Use it with a slim, angled brush like this one for your most impressive cat eye ever.


A Huge Eyeliner Pencil That Can Create Tons Of Cool Eye Looks

If you want to create brighter eyes or have that “Barbie eye effect,” Gray suggests trying the NYX Professional Makeup Jumbo Eye Pencil in the shade Milk, as she claims it’s the “perfect white to put in your lower waterline.” She explains, “It opens the eyes and makes you look more alert and awake, and the formula is super smooth and stays all day.” It comes in 14 more shades, which can all be put to work as either eyeliners or eyeshadows (or even highlighters, depending on the shade you choose).

  • Available shades: 15


This Hydrating Luminous Lotion That Makes You Look Oh-So Glowy

“Love this lotion for makeup or no makeup days,” shares Gray. “This luminous lotion adds a natural glow to the skin like you do yoga and drink eight glasses of water a day. Plus, they have multiple shades to work with anyone’s skin tone.” You can wear it as a base by itself, mixed with your favorite foundation, or as a highlighter. It’s formulated with glycerin and shea butter, so it offers a bit of hydration without leaving your skin or makeup looking dry.

  • Available shades: 4


This Honey-Infused Apple Cider Vinegar That Promotes Shiny Hair

“Occasionally rinsing with Wedderspoon Apple Cider Vinegar With Monofloral Manuka Honey & The Mother can be a very effective way to rejuvenate color-treated hair by closing the cuticles and hair shaft,” suggests Sharon Dorram, celebrity colorist and owner of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon. “Add 1/4 cup of diluted apple cider vinegar to clarify oil build-up and mineral deposits from the water. Apply once a week to achieve vibrant and sparkly hair!”


A Bottle Of Organic Argan Oil That’s Packed With Hair Benefits

To keep your hair hydrated and healthy (for less than $10), Dorram recommends adding this Cliganic Organic Argan Oil to your hair regimen. “Argan oil works to lock in moisture, stimulate hair growth and neutralize hair damage such as breakage and splitting,” she explains. “Argan oil is also a source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a game-changing antioxidant that can transform frizzy, damaged hair into shiny, nourished locks. By reducing oxidative stress, vitamin E builds a strong base for hair to grow and preserve the lipid barrier.” She suggests using it as a leave-in conditioner or hair mask, and mentions that after consistent use for one to three times a week, you’ll notice a difference in how “silky and hydrated your hair” will be.


This Mattifying Setting Spray That’ll Keep Your Makeup In Place For Hours

Yetty Bames is a top makeup artist and brow specialist at Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon and has over 10 years of experience, so you know any beauty advice she offers is worth noting. She uses a setting spray to ensure her makeup stays put all day and night, like the Maybelline New York Facestudio Lasting Fix Makeup Setting Spray. At less than $10 a bottle, spraying this all over your makeup look is a “huge time and money saver” and will stop any need for reapplying throughout the day, she says.


A Best-Selling Mascara That Costs Less Than $10

“Inexpensive mascaras are not to be underestimated,” Bames says. And she’s right: You don’t have to shell out a ton of cash for quality mascara. L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Makeup Lash Paradise Mascara can stand against some of the more expensive options for a fraction of the price. The hourglass-shaped applicator helps comb through your lashes to give a bigger and bolder look with no clumps — plus, the new formula is now infused with a floral oil to help lashes feel light and soft, never hard and crunchy. It’s a best-seller and pro-favorite for a reason.


This Light & Moisturizing Lip Gloss Worth Buying In Multiples

For those of us who love a good lip gloss and like to keep multiple on hand (like this beauty writer), Bames recommends adding a few of Revlon’s Super Lustrous Lip Glosses to your collection. She says, “It’s comparable to higher-end brands in terms of texture and longevity.” Plus, for $6 a pop, you can collect as many pretty shades as your heart desires.

  • Available shades: 12


The French Face Cream MUAs Swear By

Your beauty routine needs a multitasking moisturizer, no matter what. Bames recommends considering adding the much-loved Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré to the mix. It’s a face cream and primer all in one, so you won't need to use multiple products to get your skin glowy and prepped for makeup application. “A great moisturizer provides the skin with hydration and balance while also strengthening the skin,” she explains. “[This moisturizer is] multifunctional with added priming capabilities. Talk about a bang for your buck. [It’s] also plant-based and free of parabens.”


This Dual-Ended Brow Pencil For Less Than $10

“A great brow pencil’s colors are exact, goes on seamlessly, doesn’t oxidize, and stays put on the brows for as long as you need,” Bames advises — and she recommends this drugstore brow pencil, complete with a little spoolie at the other end, so you don’t need to spend more than $10 to find it. She also offers some great tips, like ensuring there is “very little product on the face” so your brow hairs aren’t oily and the product stays put.

  • Available shades: 7


This Super Pigmented Lip Tint That Doesn’t Transfer

As a celebrity and editorial makeup artist, Hinako knows a thing or two about the best long-lasting makeup. One product she raves about is the Peripera Ink Velvet Lip Tint, a K-beauty favorite. “This lip tint stays all day,” she raves, adding that “it’s very lightweight, and the lips don’t get too dry or clumpy.” Take your pick between 30 gorgeous colors in assorted shades of pink, red, berry, mauve, coral, and brown.

  • Available shades: 30


A Classic Water-Resistant Mascara That Doesn’t Clump

Most of the time, makeup artists have access to all of the higher-end makeup products out there, and yet still, Hinako has been using COVERGIRL Clump Crusher Water Resistant LashBlast Mascara for over 10 years. So you know, this $9 beauty steal is totally worth it. “This mascara gives great volume AND NO CLUMP. It lasts all day and is great to use with any false lashes as well,” she shares with TZR.


This Dewy Tinted Balm Infused With Good-For-Skin Ingredients

If you’re after that glowy look all year round, Hinako recommends using Tower 28 BeachPlease Luminous Tinted Balm, as it “instantly gives you a beautiful sun-kissed look.” It’s a multitasking product that can be used on your lips, cheeks, and even eyes if you’d like. It’s formulated with castor seed oil, aloe vera, and green tea extract, which are soothing ingredients that work well for sensitive skin.

  • Available shades: 6


This Purple Shampoo & Conditioner Duo That Restores Brightness To Color-Treated Hair

“This [PURA D’OR Purple] Shampoo and Conditioner help maintain the color and brightness in color-treated hair by reversing the damage done by color treatments with an intense blend of essential vitamins and nutrients,” says Clyde Haygood, celebrity hair stylist and PURA D’OR partner. “It also helps keep blondes toned and bright and rids silver/gray hair of unwanted dullness or brassy tones, adding sparkle & shine.”