Of All The Cheap Beauty Products Out There, Experts Say These Work The Best

Robert Hundley

Table of Contents

For the last few years I’ve done most of my shopping online, so it’s with a tad bit of experience that I can say shopping this way for beauty products can be tricky. You’re not able to test or sample things, and returns aren’t as simple as just popping back by the store where you got something. And sure, while some of the fun of beauty products is trying and buying to build your collection, at a certain point, the search for just the right item can be exhausting (just ask the dusty collection of mauve lip glosses that somehow appeared under my bathroom sink). That’s where this expert-curated list of cheap beauty products that really work comes in handy.

Sometimes we don’t want to experiment; we want to know that we’re getting something that does the job well. Regardless of price point, spending time or money on something that’s not a fit is not fun, and can feel wasteful. Each item below comes recommended by a bonafide beauty expert. And not only that, they’re all relatively inexpensive, and readily available from Amazon. Whether you’re building up your beauty stash or looking to update a few key products, prefer a full face or low-key natural look, you’ll find plenty of ideas here.

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.

1

This Easy Eyeliner & Stamp Set To Elevate Your Cat Eye

Elena Duque, esthetician, influencer, and national on-air beauty expert, recommends these winged eyeliner stamps, noting, “If you struggle with getting that perfect winged effect, this eyeliner is for you! Just stamp your eye where you want the wing, and then use the other side of the pen to add a little liner. It’s so easy and foolproof.”

2

These Affordable Makeup Sponges You Can Use For Blending, Blotting, & More

This set of best-selling makeup sponges is “just as good as leading brands, and are a fraction of the price. You can use them to apply skincare, foundation, concealer, and more,” according to Duque. She adds, “your makeup looks airbrushed when you use them.” If you need more convincing, they have more than 68,000 ratings and a 4.7-star average.

3

This Organic Rosehip Seed Oil With A Variety Of Skin Benefits

“As an esthetician,” Duque raves, “I can’t say enough good things about this miracle oil. No matter your skin type you should be using rosehip seed oil. It reduces fine lines, plumps skin, helps reduce inflammation, assists in reducing breakouts, and leaves you glowing!” Plus, it’s a best-selling hair relaxer, and the brand is climate-pledge friendly, too.

4

A Tried & True Concealer That You’ll Keep Going Back To

Emma Norton, who you may recognize if you’re one of the 9 million+ fans of her beauty-focused TikTok, says about this multi-use concealer: “This has been a staple in my container of concealers — it’s affordable, and the pigmentation removes any dark spots on my skin. I always look for a very full coverage concealer and this one is a keeper!” The tube even includes a cushioned applicator for ease.

5

The Liquid Eyeliner That Stays Put For Hours

Norton says she’s been using this Maybelline liquid eyeliner, which comes in four colors, for years. “The felt fine tip allows for artistry and precision like no other product,” she explains. “Eyeliner is so easily messed up, and without a fine tip, it’s really hard to work with. Love this one!”

6

A Shimmery Eyeshadow That Doubles As Highlighter

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to experiment with a glammed-up look — or you already know you like to sparkle — this liquid glitter eyeshadow from e.l.f. may be the next staple in your makeup bag. “I love rhinestones, glitter, and highlighter in my makeup routine,” Norton shares. “This liquid eyeshadow is not only extremely affordable, but it is versatile as both a highlighter and an eyeshadow.”

7

A Hyaluronic Acid Serum Made For All Skin Types

Licensed esthetician and beauty influencer Lacy Nicole, who also hosts self-improvement & beauty podcast Like Minded, believes in hyaluronic acid serum. “The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is a super affordable but highly effective hyaluronic acid,” she says. “This anti-aging serum can be applied after cleansing and even mixed with acne cream. I highly recommend my oily skin friends skip moisturizer altogether and apply this serum in place of it to prevent clogged pores.”

8

The Australian Tanning Lotion For A Hydrating, Customizable Glow

“Orange spray tans are a thing of the past,” says Nicole. “For a natural glow, I highly recommend the Bondi Sands Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk. This product deposits the perfect amount of color and is entirely customizable.” Even better, the lotion promises to show visible tan results after as few as one to three applications, and it can moisturize for up to 24 hours.

9

This Retinol Serum That Helps Smooth & Brighten Skin

Annita, lifestyle, beauty, and fashion blogger at Sequins In My Salad, loves this retinol serum from trusted drugstore brand CeraVe. “Hands down, my favorite beauty product on Amazon is the CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum! I have combination, acne-prone skin, and I am obsessed with this product. It helps minimize my pores and evens out my skin after any annoying post-acne dark spots. Plus, it’s lightweight and fragrance free.”

10

This Calming Daily Face Wash That Will Be A Skin Care Staple

“When I was in my early twenties a dermatologist told me that if I started using Retin-A that I would still look 25 when I was 40,” says beauty and fashion influencer and blogger Cristin Cooper, who loves this Aveeno cleanser. “He also said that all I needed was a good cleanser, a Retin-A, and an SPF. The jury is still out on the looking 25 in my late thirties but I can attest to this staying power of this drugstore face wash!”

11

A Silky Smooth Lip Gloss That Comes In Over 30 Colors

Another favorite of Cooper’s is the best-selling NYX butter gloss. “My obsession with lip gloss goes way back. I cannot stand anything that is drying or that is sticky. I want it to not taste or smell weird, have a beautiful natural color and stay on well. My favorite is this $5 NYX Butter Gloss.” In particular, she loves the Vanilla Cream Pie and Creme Brulée shades.

12

A Best-Selling Set Of Facial Razors For All Your Dermaplaning Needs

Whether you’re new to dermaplaning or it’s a regular part of your routine, a reliable facial razor tool is key. Cooper says, “my go-to tool for dermaplaning are these Tinkle razors that I get monthly on Amazon. I haven’t found a better one out there.” Based on the 80,000+ reviews and 4.6-star average, many happy buyers agree.

13

These Stick-On Patches That Treat Pimples Overnight

This pimple patch recommendation from Austen Tosone, beauty and fashion content creator at Keep Calm and Chiffon, is for anyone who’s ever had a blemish appear at an inopportune time (so, all of us). She shares, “I used to stress out when I’d get zits, but not anymore. I pop one of these on overnight and the size of my pimple is always significantly reduced when I wake up. I will never not be a fan of these.”

14

A Fragrance-Free, Non-Greasy Sunscreen For Face & Body

Tosone also appreciates this SPF 50 sunscreen from Paula’s Choice. She says, “the fact that this sunscreen is under $20 is insane because it works so well. It’s non-greasy and I’ve never once burned while wearing it. Everything PC makes is amazing.” To boot, it has a matte finish and is water-resistant for full-blown beach days.

15

This Multi-Tasking Lip Balm & Healing Ointment

This Australian papaw (or papaya) ointment can be used in countless ways, including to deeply moisturize lips, and as a salve for minor cuts and burns, insect bites, and diaper rash. But Lindsay Kastuk, NYC-based commercial & editorial makeup artist, endorses is as “a lip balm that’s a MUA favorite.” Reviewers describe it as “awesome” and “a miracle.”

16

These False Lash Clusters For A Variety of Looks

Whether you’re a false eyelash aficionado or you’ve been curious to give them a try, these lashes from Ardell will be a welcome addition to your makeup bag. Kastuk describes them as “Lashes for everyday and natural glam looks.” With each cluster holding ten lash strands, you can create a customized look, and the best part? You can reuse them, too.

17

A Professional-Caliber Brush For Foundation & Concealer

For a trusted make-up brush, Kastuk recommends this setting brush from Real Techniques, bestowing it with the title of “my actual holy grail brush.” Based on the 4.7-star average from 11,000+ happy brushers, many agree. It has a small, tapered head that’s made for setting powders and both cream and powder highlighters, and a lightweight aluminum handle that makes it easy to use.

18

This Brush Set That Gets You Through Every Step Of Your Routine (And Then Some)

Beauty influencer (and singer!) Megan Mace McKay says that this 12-piece makeup brush set is great. Each of the 10 brushes is made with cruelty-free synthetic hair, and has a unique shape and a specific purpose for your routine. A makeup sponge and handy brush cleaner are included. The set is a steal at 10 bucks, and 27,000 people rate it five stars.

19

A Trusted Bottle Of Micellar Water With Added Vitamin C

What happens when you take much-loved micellar water and boost it with Vitamin C? Good things, it appears. According to Mace McKay, “I started using this Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water with Vitamin C about a year ago, and I’ll never go back. The added Vitamin C will have you waking up with a beautiful glow, not to mention a more even skin texture.”

20

A No-Color Powder That Gives A Light, Matte Finish

Crystal Gossman, makeup artist & esthetician, raves about RCMA’s No-Color Powder. “This will last you a lifetime and every skin tone can use this.” A host of buyers agree with her, and they’ve given it especially high ratings for sheerness and ease of use. The brand is climate-pledge friendly, too.

21

The Buildable Stick Eyeshadow That Doesn’t Crease

Another favorite of Gossman’s is this creamy stick eyeshadow from Kiko, which promises to last for up to eight hours with no smudging or smearing — and it’s easy to pop into your purse or pocket for touch-ups on the go. It’s blendable and once it sets, it’s water-resistant, too. It comes in six shimmery colors.

22

A Fan-Favorite Eyelash Curler From Kevyn Aucoin

This professional-caliber eyelash curler, another recommendation of Gossman’s, is a makeup bag staple that you’ll find yourself always reaching for. You can use it on top or bottom lashes, and the contrasting red silicone pad helps with precision, while keeping lashes safe and protected. A replacement pad is included, too.

23

An Eyeshadow Palette That Offers A Buildable Collection Of Neutrals

For an eyeshadow collection that works with all skin tones, Gossman suggests Juvia’s The Nubian Palette, which offers 12 powder shades. Both matte and shimmery hues are included, and they’re easily mixed and matched for a variety of day or evening looks. Enthusiastic buyers also raved about the pigmentation and the rich colors, rating this palette a striking 4.7 stars.

24

This Delightful Sugar Scrub For All-Over Exfoliation

For effective exfoliation, holistic esthetician and makeup artist Catie Wiggy recommends this Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Sugar Scrub. “For under $20, you can get the most delightful scrub from Spinster Sisters Co.,” she shares. “This scrub smells delicious and leaves your skin feeling silky smooth with a hydrated glow.” Even better, the brand is all-natural and products are handcrafted.

25

An Eye-Catching Nail Polish That’s Non-Toxic & Vegan-Friendly

For a salon-quality mani look at home, Wiggy endorses Lauren B. Beauty nail polishes, deeming them “high-end nail care that doesn’t cost a fortune.” The brand carries a range of colors, but Wiggy likes House of Blues, pictured here. She also adds, “The polishes provide vibrant colors, super shine finishes and are chip-resistant.” Win-win-win.

26

This Palette With 30 Coordinating Eyeshadows For An Abundance Of Looks

Another favorite of Wiggy’s is this 30-color eyeshadow palette. “A brand new line that just launched called Rachel Couture Cosmetics is incredible and affordable. Their shadow palettes are made with the safest, natural ingredients, making them non-toxic and paraben-free… The colors are stunning, and your looks will last all day!”

27

An Ice Roller For Cool, Calming Facial Massages & Depuffing

Jamie Stone, beauty writer and blogger at Honestly Jamie, recommends this ice roller, which offers a number of beauty (and self-care) benefits. “This is one of my all-time favorite beauty steals. I keep it in my freezer 24/7 and use it pretty much every morning to de-puff my face. It also helps with headaches and hangovers as a bonus!”

28

The MVP Mascara That Will Last You All Day

“I’m a huge advocate for drugstore mascara,” NYC-based makeup artist & creative consultant Kacey Spickard divulges. “I find that they tend to dry out so you typically won’t even get through all that luxury mascara. One of my absolute favorites is L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise. This is a fantastic mascara for creating both volume and length and is a standard in my kit. For all day, all night wear for my TV clients I love the waterproof formula.”

29

This Glycerin Soap That Keeps Brows In Place (Yes, You Read That Correctly)

Did you know that glycerin soap can be a great brow staple? Spickard explains, “We all know the current brow trend is all about fluffy brows. Instead of spending a ton of money on brow freeze products, I love to use Pear’s Soap. This soap is high in glycerin (the key ingredient in those other products). I wet with a setting spray and make a paste using a spoolie and brush the brows up. You’ll get all-day long-lasting, fluffy brows!”

30

An Almond Oil That Nourishes Skin & Promotes Healing

Holistic esthetician and founder of plant-based feminine & skincare company Aloe Curves, I’sha Gaines, uses sweet almond oil daily and says it “has healing and moisturizing properties containing vitamins A and E which are essential for scar repair, cell turnover and smoothing fine lines. It’s my best kept beauty secret!”

31

A Liquid Foundation That’s Lightweight & High Coverage

According to Yasmin Maya, beauty/lifestyle influencer and founder of BirdyLashes, “One of the best foundations that’s affordable, gives great coverage and is incredibly comfortable to wear all day is Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation. It has great ingredients, it’s vegan, cruelty-free and only $11. Not to mention it photographs beautifully.” If you’re looking to improve your selfie game, you may want to take a look.

32

An MVP Serum That Hydrates Skin & Boosts Collagen

Erica Jabali, lifestyle and beauty blogger at I Spy Fabulous, loves this hyaluronic acid serum by Timeless Skin Care. “This cruelty-free serum includes vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and Matrixyl 3000, which promotes collagen production, for smoother, plumper and more even skin.” Even better, it suits all skin types, and can be used day or night in your routine.

33

This Waterproof Mascara With A Cone Brush To Reach Individual Lashes

34

A Matte Lip-Liner That Works On Its Own & With Matching Lipstick

Lovello also loves this lip liner pencil from NYX. “Soft Spoken is my go to shade right now. Also try Cape Town for a light peachy nude & San Diego.” It comes in 20 different matte shades that match their line of lipsticks, and also boasts a cruelty-free, vegan formula — all for $4.

35

This Matte Liquid Foundation That Comes In Over 40 Shades

For a liquid foundation, Lovello recommends Revlon’s Colorstay, sharing, “This is my favorite drugstore foundation. It’s buildable and provides full coverage. I didn’t know how much I was going to love it until I saw how it photographed.” It also offers SPF 15 protection, and an oil-free formula that reviewers with oily skin rave over.

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