I'm A Beauty Snob & I'm Obsessed With These 40 Cheap Beauty Products That Work Shockingly Well

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by Sabrina Crews
Originally Published: 

The world’s foremost dermatologists, makeup artists, and hair stylists can all agree that it’s simply a fallacy that the best beauty products need to cost hundreds of dollars. Of course, sometimes a pricey skin care product is absolutely worth it — and sometimes a cheap product does indeed reflect its price tag. In the end, it’s all about doing your research, testing a ton, and listening to the experts who know what’s up. To avoid disappointment, consider this article your guide: I’ve already done the heavy lifting for you, and I can proudly say that, even I, a self-proclaimed beauty snob, am obsessed with these cheap beauty products that work shockingly well.

The list below is rife with affordable beauty products that are destined to revolutionize your hair/skin/makeup routine. Whether for your face, body, or hair, these 40 cheap products range from established cult-favorites to slightly obscure, but what they all have in common is that they work so extremely well. Naturally, you’re bound to find something — or, more likely, a lot of things — that appeal to you. And with super-fast shipping for Prime members (all of these products can be purchased on Amazon), you can make them yours right away. But don’t just take my word for it — go ahead and start scrolling.


This Multi-Use Face Mist Made With Soothing & Nourishing Ingredients

Made with just three ingredients, Heritage Store’s best-selling rosewater mist not only soothes and refreshes your complexion, but also gives it a dewy, radiant glow. The vegetable-derived glycerin in the formula locks in moisture to keep your skin hydrated, while the damask rose oil soothes and softens (and smells amazing). Use the mist when you’re done applying your makeup to set it, then throughout the day as a little refresher (pro tip: you can even use it to dampen your Beauty Blender). Good thing it’s only $11, because you’ll be hooked before long.


An Intensely Pigmented Liquid Highlighter That Makes Your Skin Shimmer

Wet n’ Wild’s Halographic Liquid Highligher gives your skin an intensely pigmented glow — or as one of its 1,800-plus fans on Amazon dubbed it, a “goddess glow.” The creamy, liquid formula contains murumuru seed butter, grapeseed oil, and vitamin E to smooth and nourish your skin and ensure optimal radiance. Mix this buildable, glossy highlighter with your foundation, or apply it over freshly set makeup, focusing on your cheekbones and under-brow area.

  • Available colors: 5


5 Pro-Quality Makeup Brushes For Just $10

A set of high-quality makeup brushes for just $10? Not only is that a deal, but for this particular brush set, it’s a bonafide miracle. Hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin, the soft and densely-packed fibers of these brushes make applying and blending foundation, blush, and concealer a breeze. They also won’t absorb as much of your makeup as other brushes, so you’ll end up wasting less product. Boasting a built-in mirror and extra-wide handle that’s easy to grip, these stunning brushes are sure to deliver the flawless finish you’ve always been after.


The Best-Selling Protein Treatment That Repairs & Softens Damaged Hair

If you haven’t tried — or even heard of — this best-selling protein treatment, you better get on it. Designed for heat-damaged or over-processed hair of all textures, this at-home treatment contains collagen, ceramides, and botanical ingredients that take your hair from spent to shiny. Apply it in the shower after you’re done shampooing, then let it sink into your scalp for up to 20 minutes before rinsing it out. Softer, silkier hair will be yours tout suite. Since the treatment goes for less than $10 on Amazon, you should definitely consider springing for more than one. Oh, and you can’t deny that the wacky packaging has its charm.


This $5 Beauty Sponge That Makes Blending A Breeze

Made with super-soft microfiber, this Real Techniques beauty sponge will give you the most flawless makeup of your life. Use the rounded side to blend — the precision tip gives you better control as you work — and the flat side to contour around your eyes and nose. The velvety sponge can be used over and over again; just be sure to clean it between uses with either water or a sponge-cleaning solution. Despite being a pro-quality tool, this sponge costs just $5 on Amazon.


A Pure Clay Mask That Deep Cleans Your Skin

This mask comprises one simple ingredient — pure bentonite clay — which is one of the most effective natural solutions for deep-cleaning your pores and skin. Once or twice a week, mix the healing clay with apple cider vinegar or warm water, leave for 10 to 20 minutes (no more than 10 if your skin is on the sensitive side), and behold: brighter, cleaner, more refreshed-feeling skin. Responsibly sourced, totally vegan, and cruelty-free, this mask is just as good for the environment as it is your face, and since you only need a spoonful or two of product, this tub will literally last you years. And that’s just too amazing to pass up for $10.


This Clever Cream That Helps Heal Blemishes Faster

Whether or not you should’ve, you did. You popped that zit. So, Mighty Patch Post-Blemish Skin Cream to the rescue it is. Dab a rice-sized amount of this balm onto your freshly popped pimple, repeat one to two times daily as necessary, and revel at how your spot heals quickly without leaving any evidence behind. Of course, you can use this on pimples that haven’t been popped, too, especially if you’ve been using drying lotion or other acne spot treatments to treat your blemish. You can read more about Rescue Balm, here.


One Of The Best Foundations You Can Buy For $5

If you’ve never tried powder foundation (or even if you have), L’Oreal’s Fresh Wear Foundation will have you permanently hooked. It provides you with the same kind of coverage you’d get from a liquid foundation, but settles into a natural-looking matte finish that lasts up to 24 hours. Suitable for all skin types, the waterproof foundation feels completely weightless, and reduces unwanted shine as it evens out your skin tone. How is it just $5?

  • Available colors: 20


This Face Mist/Toner Hybrid That’s Ideal For Oily Skin

It couldn’t be easier to work La Roche-Posay’s Mattifying Face Spray into your routine — and for just $15, you’ll definitely want to give it a try, especially if your skin is on the oilier side. Simply close your eyes and spray the clear, water-like mist onto your skin after cleansing, like you would with toner, or when you’re done applying makeup to set it and take away shine. Let the spray sit for a few minutes, pat your face dry, and voilà: a grease-free, mattified complexion is all yours. Featuring zinc sulfate (a veritable miracle worker for oily skin) and just three ingredients overall, this French spray is perfect for sensitive skin-havers too, as it delivers a soothing and refreshing sensation after each use.


This Chic Tool That Creates Fluffy Facial Cleansers

This marshmallow whip maker creates luxuriously fluffy facial cleansers and also saves you money on your face wash. This champagne pink tool whips up your cleanser into a fluffed lightweight foam. It simply needs water and a drop of your cleanser to create a foamy product that will carry you through your entire cleansing routine.


The Best Over-The-Counter Acne Treatment — Period

It’s called Differin gel because it strives to be, well, different from other acne treatments by targeting two root causes of the common skin condition: clogged pores and inflammation. So, by extending deep into pores and clearing breakouts where they originate — thanks to a retinoid called Adapalene that once required a prescription — the gel prevents new acne from forming and exfoliates your skin for a clean and clear complexion long-term. Oil-free, alcohol-free, and fragrance-free, it’s impossible to find a better acne treatment/retinoid over the counter, at this price point or otherwise.


A Clever Way To Clean Your Makeup Brushes Without Water

This clever cleaning sponge removes the color from your makeup brushes in just three seconds, making it especially handy for when you’re doing your eye makeup. Made of absorbent, activated carbon, the double-sided sponge is specifically designed for you to switch between eyeshadow colors without any water or drying time, and comes in an easy-to-tote metal tin. Simply swipe your brush over the sponge a few times and watch as its pigment appears to magically dissipate. This handy and effective little sponge is also super low-maintenance in that it only needs to be cleaned once a week. For under $10, it’s a must-buy for anyone who uses makeup.


The Cult-Classic Moisturizing Ointment Derms Swear By

Aquaphor may be a classic, but that doesn’t make it any less effective or exciting than other, newer, and more intricately packaged products. Formulated to nourish and restore dry, cracked, or irritated skin, the multi-purpose ointment actually creates a protective barrier over stressed or wounded areas, promoting the flow of oxygen and accelerating healing. Perfect for fresh tattoos, cracked lips, dry hands, and more, the crowd-pleasing protectant has amassed over 17,000 five-star ratings on Amazon and boasts an ultra-high 4.8-star rating overall. Not only that, but it’s a consistent favorite among dermatologists for its effective, no-frills formula. Truly, a tube belongs in every bathroom.


This Does-It-All Serum That Somehow Costs Less Than $20

Apply one to two pea-sized drops of this niacinamide and zinc face serum under your moisturizer every day, and before long, you’ll feel transformed. Made for a wide range of skin types, especially those who veer on the sensitive side, this highly concentrated serum is designed to even out skin tone, balance excess oil production, and clear up congestion, though it’s not at all drying or harsh (that’s thanks to the hyaluronic acid and vitamin E in the formula). It’s a high-performing serum that tackles just about every skin concern imaginable, yet somehow, it costs less than $20 on Amazon.


A Spot Treatment That Restores Rough Patches On Your Skin

Dealing with some rough and flaky patches lately? No worries. For less than $10, Eucerin’s Roughness Relief Spot Treatment simultaneously hydrates, exfoliates, and smooths your skin. Concentrated but gentle, its fast-acting formula contains urea, which is the rare ingredient that both promotes exfoliation and locks in moisture. The spot treatment also comes with a precision tip that allows you to target specific areas and better control how the cream is applied. Quick to absorb and fragrance-free, this is one cream you can use every day, even if you’re sensitive.


2 Double-Sided, Exfoliating Lip Brushes To Prep Your Pout For Lipstick

“What have I been doing without these?” That’s what one fan (and there are over 5,000 and counting) of these double-sided, silicone lip brushes recently wrote on Amazon, and after you try them, you’ll likely find yourself asking the same question. Simple but clever, these matching, pastel-colored wands feature super effective — and super tiny — round bristles that gently exfoliate your lips and promote blood circulation. Not only are they great for prepping your lips so your lipstick goes on more smoothly, but they’re also great for gently shedding chapped, flaky skin. A solid buy for just $7.


A Makeup-Removing Micellar Water Made With Soothing Rosewater

Suitable for all skin types (even sensitive skin), Garnier’s rose-infused micellar water comes highly recommended from over 10,000 shoppers on Amazon. Made with soothing rose water and moisturizing glycerin — but without alcohol, oils, or synthetic fragrances — this lightweight water removes all traces of makeup from your skin, without drying it out; in fact, your skin will feel softer and more hydrated after cleansing with it. It also boasts a light, refreshing scent that smells like spring, but perhaps best of all, it costs just $7 for a big bottle.


The Best Primer You Can Buy For Under $10

It’s right there in the name: e.l.f.’s Poreless Putty Primer is designed to glide right over your skin and under your makeup for a smoothing, poreless effect. Perfect for most skin types, the velvety primer is infused with hydrating squalane and has a satisfying, putty-like texture. Just apply a thin, even amount of the primer to your skin, and let it set for about 30 seconds before applying foundation. You’ll notice a more seamless finish right away, and without even having spent $10.

Hot tip: this also comes in a luminous version and matte version for dry and oily skin, respectively.


A Moisturizing Balm For Babies That Works Just As Well For Adults

Gentle enough for newborns, Mustela’s cult-favorite moisturizing balm works so effectively, it’s officially a favorite among grown-ups, too. Simply glide the nourishing stick — with its unique, soothing formula that includes cold cream, beeswax, and shea butter — along your lips, nose, and cheeks to maintain skin that’s as soft as the babies it’s actually designed for. Consider it your new skin care BFF during the cold winter months (so stash one away in your coat pocket or go-to bag).


This In-Shower Exfoliator That Gently Restores Rough & Bumpy Skin

This is so not your average body wash. Made to treat rough and bumpy skin, CeraVe’s SA body wash contains salicylic acid, which acts as a chemical exfoliant that smooths and clears out clogged skin cells more gently than other exfoliating washes and scrubs. Niacinamide, a known soothing ingredient, helps calm skin, while hyaluronic acid works to keep it hydrated. Plus, all of CeraVe’s products are developed alongside dermatologists and contain ceramides, waxy molecules that help you maintain a strong skin barrier. Bottom line: This is a potent, fast-acting, and very reasonably priced product for dry, rough, and bumpy skin.


15 Spa-Quality Exfoliating Pads For Less Than $20

These Bliss brightening pads promise to be your own hand-held chemical peel. Simply swipe one of the single-use wipes across your face two to three times a week before bed, follow with moisturizer, and overnight, the fast-acting treatment will gradually release glycolic acid onto your face for a smoother, brighter complexion when you wake up. Definitely worth adding to your cart ASAP.


This Pretty Blush That Gives Your Skin A Rosy Glow

How cute is this heart-themed, glow-boosting blush from Physicians Formula? Featuring a mixed palette of bronzes and pinks, the blendable blush contains tiny, multi-reflective pearls that deliver a finish so radiant, no one will believe it only took you $12 to achieve. Infused with manganese violet, this blush also smells just as sweet as it looks.

  • Available colors: 2


A Liner-Shaped Lipstick With A Smooth, Matte Finish

All it takes is one swipe of this lip crayon from Haus Laboratories to achieve a bold (but lightweight-feeling) matte finish. Not that you need to stop there. Layer on as much as you like to build an even more intense, customized shade. The twist-up crayon goes on creamy, then instantly dries down to a comfy matte finish that makes your lips look smooth and full. Boasting an excellent 4.5-star rating on Amazon and an under-$15 price, this is one of those rare beauty products you’ll want to own in multiples.

  • Available colors: 22


This Affordable Marula Oil For Your Skin, Body, & Hair

This cold-pressed marula oil wonder is packed with omegas 6 and 9 as well as antioxidants that work to nourish and protect your face, body, and hair. It’s also lightweight, absorbent, and vegan. Not only that, but it’s a 100% virgin and organic moisturizing oil. The kicker: It rings in at just a mere $10. Now how could you pass that up?


A Lightweight Sunscreen That’s Invisible On All Skin Tones

No excuses for leaving your house without SPF — not when this invisible sunscreen gel exists. The sunscreen’s aloe leaf extract hydrates and soothes your skin, while its sunflower seed oil nourishes and repairs. At the same time, rosehip oil works to even out your skin tone and give your complexion a summery radiance. Thanks to the sunscreen’s weightless, quick-drying gel formula, you won’t even feel it on your skin, making it the perfect sunscreen for people who claim to hate sunscreen.


This Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse That Soothes & Refreshes Your Scalp

If you go hard on the styling products — no judgement, that’s most of us — you’ll definitely want to pick up this apple cider vinegar rinse to give your hair a much-deserved break. Infused with vitamin E, rosewater, and castor oil, the rinse works to remove product buildup and flakes from your scalp and repair damaged follicles without stripping your hair of its natural oils. Formulated for all hair types, but especially great for curly hair, and made by a Black-owned brand, the nourishing rinse works best when used twice a week. Its benefits are so numerous, in fact, you’ll scarcely believe you paid $13 for it.


A Super-Absorbent Microfiber Towel That Dries Your Hair In A Snap

“The design is simple but genius,” one of this microfiber hair towel’s 35,000-plus fans raved on Amazon. And that pretty much sums up why it’s a best-seller. Made from a soft microfiber fabric, this hardworking towel absorbs more than eight times its weight in water, but somehow still feels light and weightless when you’re wearing it. The towel’s unique twist-and-loop system makes it easy to stay in place, and in just 10 minutes, your hair — no matter the texture — should be 75% dry. The turban is also super durable. You can use it every day and wash it hundreds of times without wearing it out. Sold in a pack of two, $12 has never gone so far.

  • Available colors: 9


This Water-Light Sunscreen That’s Hydrating, Not Greasy

Introducing your new SPF BFF. Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost sunscreen works to keep your skin healthy and hydrated for up to eight hours with its lightweight, non-greasy formula that features hyaluronic acid as the main headlining ingredient. It goes on invisibly without any white marks or residue, and it feels oh-so refreshing on dry skin. Part of the brand’s best-selling Hydro Boost line, this oil-free sunscreen can be used on both your face and body.


This Classic Drugstore Mascara That’s (Still) Hard To Beat

When it comes to sky-high lashes for less than $10, you’d be hard-pressed to top Covergirl’s Lash Blast mascara. A popular go-to among beauty lovers, this vegan-friendly drugstore mascara is infused with argan and marula oils that not only leave your lashes looking fuller, but feeling conditioned and soft. The efficient applicator brush separates and defines your lashes for a look you can build up to 10 times the length of your bare ones. Plus, 80% of its packaging is recycled. What’s not to love?

  • Available colors: 4


A Top Coat Polish That Dries Your Mani In Under A Minute

Freshly applied nail polish that dries in less than a minute? For just $9? Believe it, thanks to this top coat polish from essie. The top coat’s super-quick-drying vegan formula preserves every last detail of your mani and delivers a smooth, glossy finish. With an esteemed 4.6-star rating on Amazon and nearly 10,000 five-star reviews, the salon-grade polish is bound to get you hooked, too. “I can’t live without this product,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “One coat of this, [and] my nails look professionally done.”

  • Available colors/variations: 12


A Super-Gentle Face Wash For Super-Sensitive Skin

In case it’s not obvious — okay, the impressive 4.7-star rating makes it pretty obvious — Amazon customers love this gentle face cleanser. “I would give it 10 stars if allowed,” one of the cleanser’s 14,000-plus fans enthused. “Made me realize harsh/abrasive cleansers aren’t necessary to get the job done!” Here, here. Specifically designed for super-sensitive skin, this cleanser was formulated without harsh detergents and other chemical irritants commonly found in other mass-market cleansers. It removes dirt, oil, and makeup without drying out your complexion and leaves you feeling fresh-faced and clean. For less than $10, that’s pretty hard to top.


This Skinny Brow Pencil With Over 25,000 5-Star Amazon Ratings

This brow pencil from NYX gives you such precise control while filling in your eyebrows, and its super-skinny tip allows you to draw on teeny tiny hairs that look natural. Available in eight shades and boasting over 30,000 positive ratings on Amazon, it’s a foolproof purchase and, quite frankly, one of the best brow products on the market — despite costing less than $10.

  • Available colors: 8


5 High-Quality (& Eco-Friendly) Makeup Brushes For Less Than $10

This handy brush kit comes with five eye makeup brushes and a reusable tin storage tray — all for under $10. Handcrafted with eco-friendly materials (as all EcoTools products are), the brushes are designed to feel soft against your eyelids and boast renewable bamboo handles that are super easy to grip. The portable tin even arrives in tree-free paper packaging, making this a purchase that’s easy on both your budget and the planet.


This Organic Cleansing Oil That Gently Removes Makeup & Nourishes Your Skin

For just $20, Badger’s Seabuckthorn Cleansing Oil will leave your face feeling clean, soft, and nourished. USDA organic and made by a family-owned company located in the woods of New Hampshire, this cleanser is one of those special purchases that’ll make you feel just as good as it makes your skin look. It’s one of the rare ways that you can incorporate a truly organic product into your routine for less than $20.


A Blendable Cream Eyeshadow That Lasts All Day Long

Available in 13 stunning colors, Revlon’s Colorstay Eye Shadow is just the thing to shake up your makeup routine. The blendable, creamy shadow goes on smooth and dries down quickly for up to 24 hours of wear time. It even comes with a built-in shadow brush to make application that much easier. For less than $8 a pop, it’s worth collecting them all.

  • Available colors: 13


This Hair-Repairing Leave-In Conditioner From A Pro-Favorite Brand

Spray this leave-in conditioner evenly through your hair every day before styling to restore its softness and shine. Designed to rebuild damaged hair cuticles with a dose of keratin, this revitalizing conditioner also uses jojoba and argan oils to nourish and strengthen your hair. “One week and I’ve noticed my hair is stronger and more lustrous,” one fan raved of the intensely hydrating leave-in product, which boasts an enviable 4.6-star rating on Amazon.


An Easy & Pleasant Way To Exfoliate Your Skin From Neck To Toe

Don’t underestimate this brush by its petite size or price (a mere $9). Made of smooth, polished wood and durable, natural bristles, the small-but-mighty dry brush is expertly designed to exfoliate your skin, encourage circulation, and clear clogged pores — but it also simply feels amazing. It even comes with a non-slip strap for easy handling, as well as a hook and travel bag so you can take it with you wherever you go.


These Best-Selling Razors For Dermplaning, Eyebrow Grooming, & More

Designed with unique and effective micro-guards that help protect your skin, these razors can shape your eyebrows, remove unwanted facial hair, and exfoliate your skin (aka dermaplaning — a technique that involves removing all the peach fuzz from your face so your skin feels softer and your makeup applies more smoothly). Plus, they’re petite and portable, so you can always keep them conveniently within reach. For just $5, you’ll get three of these multitasking razors, so it’s an amazing value.


A Water-Light Eye Serum From A Luxe French Brand

Ideal for all skin types, even if you’re on the sensitive side, this lightweight eye serum from the respected French brand Vichy combines caffeine, hyaluronic acid, and the brand’s own proprietary volcanic water to brighten, hydrate, and perk up that fragile area around and under your eyes. It also hydrates your skin for up to 24 hours and dries down instantly to a grease-free, non-sticky finish. Place a small drop on your finger tips and apply to the clean skin around your eye area twice a day. You’ll start to notice a more refreshed and revitalized appearance in no time.


This Coffee & Coconut Body Scrub That Smooths & Polishes Your Skin

Once you make this OGX body scrub a part of your morning routine, you’ll never look back. With the delicious, rejuvenating smell of coconut and coffee, it exfoliates and polishes your skin so you feel softer and smoother from neck to toe. A number-one best-seller on Amazon priced at less than $6, this scrub boasts over 25,000 five-star ratings thus far. Pair it with a cup of Joe in the morning and you’ll instantly feel perked right up.

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