Check out the must-have items that the pros depend on daily.
Walking around a beauty store can be incredibly daunting, especially when you catch a glimpse of a price tag or two. Luckily, some of the best beauty and skincare products are actually super affordable. If you want to upgrade your look without spending a fortune on ingredients you don’t recognize, you’re in luck. Bustle chatted with beauty experts to learn about their top discount picks and the products they recommend to their clients. 2-(Perfluorooctyl) Ethyl Methacrylate
Jose-Clark Hilery, CEO of Glam Kings and celebrity makeup artist, is a huge fan of these beloved makeup wipes by Neutrogena. Made with plant-based fibers, these will biodegrade in 35 days in your home compost pile, making them a sustainable alternative to many other wipe options. “These are amazing for removing makeup or even cleaning up messes with makeup,” says Hilery.
This black liquid liner is considered a classic for a reason. Its long-lasting formula stays in place all day long, and it’s easy to use, making it a good option for nervous liner users. Hilery loves its versatility, saying, “It has a brush tip and can be manipulated to do both thin and thick lines.”
If you’re looking for a gorgeous glow, keep yourself safe from harmful UV rays and give these tanning drops a try. Celebrity makeup artist Tarryn Feldman agrees: “I’ve been loving the St. Moritz Tan Boosting Face Drops! They always give me that sunkissed look that I love, and adding the tanning drops into my face oil at night makes me wake up looking like I just got back from Boca Raton – it’s amazing!” Plus, they won’t transfer onto sheets or clothes, so you’ll achieve the tan of your dreams without the annoying cleanup process.
Aisha K. Ashi, a certified makeup artist, recommends this gua sha ice roller for its seemingly countless benefits. She shares, “[This] ice roller has numerous benefits. Deals with face puffiness, reduces the visible appearance of pores, and makes skin smooth. It is easy to use and refill. Works best for prepping the skin before makeup,” adding that “it improves the blood circulation and adds a healthy glow.” You can use green tea to reduce inflammation or lemon water for extra brightness.
Ashi loves the iconic and eco-friendly MakeUp Eraser for its effectiveness and sustainability: “Removing makeup is easier with The Original Makeup Eraser. Works for waterproof makeup and eye makeup. It's [an] eco-friendly option to makeup remover wipes. The cloth is gentle and hassle-free. All you need is water. Moreover, it's cruelty-free.” Just add water, and even the toughest mascara will come right off.
If you’re quick to pop your pimples, you can break the routine and reach for these hydrocolloid patches instead. Ashi shares that “popping pimples leads to scars and marks.” She continues, “These patches are here to rescue [you]. For someone who has the habit of popping pimples, these patches are a game changer.” Not only do they help you create an even surface for makeup application, they’re cruelty-free and vegan, so you can feel good about your purchase.
If you’re applying makeup before an event, set it with this portable fan for a look that’ll blow them away. Ashi says, “Works great for drying makeup & make[s] it last somewhat longer. After your makeup is done, fan yourself while traveling or whenever you can. Makeup won't appear patchy or start giving up on you.” With its powerful battery that'll last for up to 13 hours, you won't need to recharge often; simply get glam and get going!
Try these hair clips if you want to achieve a salon-level blowout from the comfort of your home. Ashi loves them because they keep hair out of the way during makeup application: “These Gator clips come in handy while doing skincare and makeup. Getting foundation or expensive skincare on hair while rushing is a common issue. It makes the regular routine hassle-free.”
Ashi recommends this clear lip gloss as a top coat or all on its own: “It is amazing for those who are into lip gloss or just want a change from the matte finish. You can use it as a top coat to get [a] glossy finish on your regular lippie. Can wear it alone or alongside a lip balm to get the natural look. Plus it's cruelty-free.” Its silky smooth finish isn’t sticky at all, so you can kiss the night away.
If you want the smoothest lips of your life, look no further than this scrub stick. Dr. Dylan Alston, a board-certified dermatologist, beauty, and skincare expert, touts its effectiveness: “Just like it says, you can scrub your way to smoother, more beautiful skin. This genius little beauty tool has various bristle lengths which allow you to customize your exfoliation. It especially works well on those dry winter lips.”
Made with ingredients mostly derived from bees, like royal jelly and propolis, this all-purpose skin cream is buzzy for a reason. Just ask Joey Healy, a celebrity eyebrow specialist: "The Egyptian Magic All Purpose Skin Cream is one of my favorite cheaper beauty products on Amazon. The best part about this cream is its versatility – I've seen people use it as an all-over moisturizer, a makeup remover, a shaving cream, even as a hair mask! It also has a simple ingredient list (beeswax, bee pollen, honey, royal jelly, and olive oil) great for all skin types.” Pro tip: a little goes a long way.
Alice Rawling, a hairstylist and chief editor at Hairdo Hairstyle, recommends this healing bentonite clay to everyone, regardless of skin type. She shares, “Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay is a cheap skin product on Amazon for stellar results. It contains apple cider vinegar for clients with acne-prone or oily skin. It is an under-the-radar product.” You can use it for more than just a facial; try it in a body wrap, foot soak, or even as a balm on insect bites.
Soothe your oily skin with this highly effective dead sea mud mask. Formulated with minerals that make your skin happy, it helps remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and improve circulation. Rawling is also a fan, saying, “It contains magnesium and sodium which are vital minerals to draw out blemishes and blackheads, and also has other vital ingredients such as kaolin and sunflower oils. It helps my clients in enhancing skin barrier function, treating skin dryness, and calming the skin.”
Rawling can’t get enough of this Jack Black intense therapy balm, saying that she recommends it to her clients. One of the perks that set this balm apart from the rest is the fact that it’s “packed with crucial hydrating ingredients and the SPF 25 for protection.” Green tea and vitamin E are included in the list of ingredients. But, best of all? “It is not sticky,” Rawling added. You can buy these in a set of three, or individually.
If you’re looking for grease-free hydration, give this hyaluronic acid serum a go. After just a couple of uses, the skin feels softer, smoother, and brighter. Rawlings loves its calming properties, sharing that “This serum has hyaluronic acid to soothe the dry patches and [plump] up the fine lines on the skin. It is a very useful product for skincare.”
Bleaching can cause dullness, breakage, and even hair loss. Avert a catastrophe with this full-service kit that heals damage caused by heat and color. Gina Rivera, a celebrity hairstylist and the founder of Phenix Salon Suites, recommends it as an inexpensive alternative to costlier products. “This my favorite because it’s easy to use and extremely effective — it really helps to repair the hair for a fraction of the price of more expensive brands,” says Rivera.
From restoring hydration to replenishing proteins to protecting against heat, this leave-in keratin treatment is an amazing multipurpose option that’s well worth it. It’s fortified with hair-friendly ingredients like sunflower seed extract, silk amino acids, and Vitamin C. Rivera calls it a “great inexpensive product if you’re looking for a leave-in conditioner that can be easily spritzed onto the hair.”
Give your hair a boost with this sculpting gel that builds body better than a day at the gym. It works well with any texture, but users with fine hair were particularly happy with their results. “This is great for adding volume,” says Rivera, which it does without weighing hair down or causing it to look lifeless.
Rivera is a huge fan of this volumizing spray: “I love this because it’s like a 3-in-1 product — it acts as a root booster, adds volume, and serves as a heat protectant.” It holds your style in place without stiffness and won't yellow or darken color, unlike other sprays that change the shade of your mane. Use it on wet or dry hair for a boost whenever you want or need it.
Rivera recommends this conditioning cream for all the ways it supports hair health. “This leave-in cream provides both moisture and definition and it’s also a heat protectant for up to 450 degrees and doesn’t flake or get crunchy,” she said. Use this cream if you want to put your natural curl pattern on display, sharing your hair’s unique beauty with the world without weighing it down. Plus, it’s made with Manuka honey, which is not only moisturizing but smells unbelievably good.
Dr. Jodi LoGerfo, a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) and family nurse practitioner in dermatology, loves this classic healing ointment, sharing, “This is really helpful in healing dry lips or minor scrapes or scratches and is one of my go-to's!” It was created for the specific purpose of restoring dry skin to health, and it boasts over 58,000 five-star reviews to prove its efficacy. Use it as a lip moisturizer, face cream, hand lotion, or on minor wounds — you’ll be amazed by the results.
According to Dr. LoGerfo, this fashion tape is a staple for clothes that aren’t staying put; it’s “super cooperative when you have that dress or strap that won’t stay in place.” She continues, “I always keep them home because you never know!” They're fabric-friendly, so they won't stain or tear your garments, and their hypoallergenic material is gentle on skin without leaving residue. Each value pack tin holds 36 pieces of double-sided tape, so you'll be covered in case of emergencies.
Step up your ponytail game with these soft ponytail holders that are available in a ton of colors, so you’ll be sure to find one that matches your mane. Dr. LoGerfo shares, “I love these because they don’t snag or pull your hair.” If you have fine hair that sends to break easily when you put it up, these might be just what you’ve been missing.
Foundation that actually benefits your skin? It’s real and cost-effective — for example, this sensitive skin serum foundation. Celebrity makeup artist Mali Thomas is a huge fan: “It's suitable for individuals of all skin types, especially those dealing with skin sensitivities. Since being introduced to this foundation, I have used it religiously! It's a new kit essential item.” Formulated with Vitamin B5, it actually helps you build and maintain your skin's barrier to keep it healthy even after the makeup comes off.
Celebrity hairstylist Glenn Ellis calls this hair treatment a “miracle product,” saying it’s “great for [anyone] who want[s] their hair to look shiny, less frizzy, and hydrated. You can put it in damp or dry hair. The person can also use it as a treatment or a styling product.” Use it on any texture, be it curly or pin-straight, and you'll be tossing your hair like you're the main character in a ‘90s movie.
Ellis recommends this sculpting foam if your mane tends to fall a little flat: “This product is great to build body into fine hair that likes to get limp. I usually like to put it in towel-dried hair, then rough dry [until] the person’s hair is 75% dry,” Ellis says. “Then, go in with rollers or a round brush to style. Remember to not pull the hair too much. You want to put life into the hair, not pull it out.” It's scented with delicious citrus notes, like lemon and neroli, and it’s fully vegan.
Treat dyed and virgin hair alike to this sea salt shampoo and conditioner; they’re sulfate and silicone free, so they’ll help you maintain that fresh blonde. Carla Ricciardone, owner of and master cosmetic artist at the award-winning Sculpted Studios, says, “I have curls and I'm mildly obsessed with their health. I use these products so much they are on auto delivery.” The shampoo stimulates your scalp with its built-in mineral crystals, which exfoliate as they clean, and the conditioner is made with seaweed, which repairs and detangles hair while it moisturizes.
Ricciardone recommends this curl-enhancing cream, which moisturizes hair as it defines for a bouncy look you’ll love. Made with silk protein and neem oil, it actually helps your hair stay healthy without weighing down your curls at all. Just scrunch it in, air-dry or diffuse, and go!
Ricciardone says, “I also do apple cider vinegar rinses twice a week,” and recommended this apple cider vinegar serum as the perfect place to start. It reduces flakiness while you wash away gunk and buildup, so it's perfect for a weekly reset as part of your hair routine. Plus, it's made without animal testing, and the bottle is fully recyclable.
“If you have curls, it's a must,” says Ricciardone of this satin bonnet. Its double-layer fabric design wraps up your hair to prevent bedhead and reduce breakage, and it's made from a hair-friendly silk satin material. Size it to your head with the adjustable strap for a fit that's just as comfy as your favorite blanket.
If you’re looking for a versatile product you can throw in your bag for touch-ups on the go, this monochromatic multi-stick is an amazing option. You can use it on your eyes, lips, and cheeks to create a gorgeous, hassle-free look. Ricciardone shares, “I don't really wear much makeup but when I do, these are my go-to staples for a hit of something extra!”
Continuing her streak of multipurpose products, Ricciardone recommends this palette that conceals, corrects, and contours. Each color has multiple superpowers: the light and medium shades conceal blemishes, the yellow and peach shades brighten shadows, and if you choose the color-correcting palette, the green actually helps cover up unwanted redness. Every shade is blendable and buildable to help you create a look that truly works for you.
The ingredients of this tea tree shampoo and conditioner set them apart from the competition. Ricciardone says, “Giovanni is a salon brand. This set is meant to soothe itchy scalp, but its secondary properties get skipped. The ingredient lists for both products read like hair growth products. Peppermint, sage, coltsfoot... do use this to soothe your scalp, then take note of how it strengthens your hair and helps it grow.” Both products are vegan-friendly and cruelty-free, and they won't mess with your highlights or dye.
If you’re looking to upgrade your beauty game, you might need a reliable eyelash curler, and this one absolutely fits the bill. Ricciardone shares that she loves her eyelash curler, especially when she’s bare-faced: “I don't wear a lot of makeup, so I'm always looking for quick substitutes so that I look put together. An eyelash curler is indispensable and this one has measured action that takes the guesswork out. Click, click, click and you're done.” This one comes with an extra rubber pad for when you've worn down the first one with your gorgeous lashes.
If you’re looking for a mess-free party alternative to glitter that gets everywhere, check out these eye jewels, which come highly recommended by Ricciardone: “You don't have to mess around with single rhinestones and glue to get the attention of a crowd. These come in shapes that match the form of your eyeliner and can sit right on top of your liner. Or you can easily use them in the place of eyeliner.” The next time someone you know throws a Euphoria-themed party, you’ll be more than ready.
Dr. Bertha Baum, a board-certified dermatologist, is a huge fan of this therapeutic moisturizer and how well it replenishes dry skin. She says, “The Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Moisturizing Cream is a great option and bang-for-your-buck product for the quality ingredients.” She continues, “it is formulated with such as Vitamin E and Pro-Vitamin B5, which work to moisturize the skin for 24 hours. Personally, I love how the product is fragrance-free and nongreasy.” Lubriderm is a brand developed by dermatologists, so you know this product is just as effective as it is cheap.
Board-certified dermatologists like Dr. Angelo Landriscina all seem to agree: a good SPF like this invisible sunscreen serum is an indispensable part of your daily skincare routine. Dr. Landriscina shares, “I like how Neutrogena has affordable options that have been created for sunscreens since UV radiation is the primary modifiable risk factor for skin cancer and skin aging.. [this one] has a high SPF rating of 60+, a broad spectrum rating, water resistance to 80 minutes and a super light texture that makes it easy to reapply throughout the day. Not to mention a price point under $15 at most retailers!” It’s non-comedogenic and won’t feel greasy, so it’s basically, well, invisible.
If you're experiencing a major case of chapped lips this winter, try this papaw ointment. According to celebrity makeup artist Sara Talias, it’s a “long-treasured makeup artist secret” that “makes a fantastic lip balm and can be added to the high points of the face for a glossy glow.” You can even use it on cuts, burns, and bug bites for instant relief that soothes and heals.
Talias highly recommends pure argan oil for a multitude of uses, saying “Argan oil is perfect for extra hydration on the body and to use as a deep conditioning treatment in hair.” This particular brand is cruelty-free and USDA organic and the only ingredient in this bottle is — you guessed it — argan oil. It's super lightweight — even though it's technically an oil, it doesn't feel greasy on skin or hair, so you won’t break out or weigh down hair when you use it.
This creamy lip liner makes an amazing alternative to the pricier neutral lip products that are dominating the market right now. Talias calls it “one of the best lip liners on the market,” sharing that “it comes in an array of colors,” so you can step outside your comfort zone without breaking the bank. It features a super-smooth texture that applies easily, and once it's on, it won't budge.
Celebrity hairstylist Nicholas Taylor absolutely swears by this purple shampoo, saying “This is truly THE BEST purple shampoo in the world. It will never turn your hair purple and it also won’t dry your hair out like most other shampoos. You will get the most beautiful icy-toned blonde after using this shampoo and it’s super cheap.” If you struggle to keep your bleached hair moisturized, this might be the best purple shampoo for you, as it won’t strip your hair like many of its competitors.
This leave-in conditioner treads that elusive middle ground between moisture and heaviness, as it replenishes dry curls without weighing them down one bit. Since it’s made with shea butter and extra virgin olive oil, it's not surprising that this product seriously gets the job done. Taylor considers it a holy grail product; all you have to do is “shampoo, condition, towel dry, then scrunch in A.J. Leave in conditioner. Whether you let it air dry or use a diffuser you will have smooth, moisturized, frizz-free waves or curls.”
If you’ve been blending your makeup with harsh brushes or oily fingers, these makeup sponges could be a gentler alternative. They come recommended by celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli, who calls them “so, so soft on the skin.” He elaborates that “they have multiple angles which are great for blending and contouring — and they are affordable. The pricing and quality of these are really important for me because I go through sponges very quickly on clients - so I'm constantly replacing them.” Plus, their anti-microbial qualities keep germs from spreading, which is critical when you’re dealing with products that touch your skin.
From a warm bronze glow to a frosty shimmer, the iconic Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit is world-renowned for its shimmery shades, and for good reason. Brittany Lo, professional makeup artist and founder of Beia, totally understands the hype: “I love the Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit! This kit has four buildable highlighters that help a perfect glow to complete any makeup look!” Choose from color palettes like Sugar, which features two sweet candy pink shades, and Sun Dipped, which is sure to give you that post-vacation glow.
Water Purification This nourishing fragrance mist basically has superpowers: It’ll make you smell absolutely amazing while it hydrates your hair and body, and Lo loves it, too. “I love to spray the Moroccanoil Hair and Body Fragrance Mist on my hair and body before leaving the house to top off any look with shine and a beautiful scent!” she shares. The scent in question? Sweet floral notes topped off with a spicy amber — mmm.