I’m A Beauty Editor & These Are The Cheap Beauty Products That Work As Well As Expensive Ones

It’s no secret that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on an effective skin care routine. But while there are plenty of cheap beauty products that perform just as impressively as their luxury counterparts, there are just as many cheap products that aren’t worth your money. So, how do you sort out the worthy from the unworthy? You consult someone who’s devoted their career to interviewing dermatologists, peeking into the kits of makeup artists, and testing out products, both luxury and low-cost, from around the world. Ready to dive in? I’m a beauty editor, and these are the cheap products that work just as well as the expensive ones.

Ahead, you’ll find 40 under-$25 beauty products for every part of your routine: elegantly formulated serums, cult-favorite mascaras, hair-smoothing oils, and a handful of makeup tools that everyone should own. Though they won’t put a major dent in your wallet, they will make you suspicious of their surprisingly reasonable price tags because of how well they work. Don’t be wary, though: I — as well as thousands of Amazon shoppers and countless other beauty professionals — have tested out these products and can vouch for their quality, effectiveness, and luxurious feel. So in other words? You won’t regret trying them out for yourself.


A Tried-And-True Drugstore Primer That Hydrates With Squalane

Okay, don’t overthink the ‘putty’ in this product’s name — there’s nothing silly about it. This poreless putty primer from e.l.f. features powerhouse ingredient squalane, so not only does it keep your makeup in place with a velvety finish, but it’ll moisturize your skin, too. One buyer raved, “This instantly melted my textured skin into a satin matte smooth surface.” Yes, please.


These Resurfacing Pads For Gentle & Effective Exfoliation In A Single Step

A spa-quality peel from the comfort of your home with results promised after just one use? Somebody pinch me. These resurfacing pads feature 10% glycolic acid, a gentle AHA that exfoliates skin and brightens complexion. To keep your skin from drying out, these pads also contain moisturizing vitamin E, glycerin, and calendula flower extract, and they couldn’t be easier to use: just swipe across your face, no rinsing necessary.


A Pack Of Hydrocolloid Patches That Treat Blemishes In Just Hours

If you haven’t tried hydrocolloid patches yet, you’re missing out on an easy and quick way to treat blemishes. Like stickers, they peel and adhere to your skin, adding a barrier to protect against further irritation while the hydrocolloid pulls out the gunk. In about six hours — or ideally, overnight — that spot will look a lot better; you’ll know because the transparent sticker will turn white. And that’s why these have over 16,000 five-star ratings.


A 10-Piece Brush Set For Smoothly Blending Makeup

These makeup brushes can be used with nearly any makeup texture, from loose or pressed powders to liquids and creams. The toothbrush-style ergonomic handles are comfortable to use, and they’re chic enough that you’ll want to display them, too. Choose an all black set or black with rose gold accents; either way you’ll love using the super soft bristles.


A Cleansing Balm That Brightens With Japanese Pearl Barley

Clean 10 cleansing balm removes waterproof makeup, oils, and SPF while Japanese pearl barley can brighten complexion and reduce hyperpigmentation. All this, and it’s still gentle enough for daily use. And the balm has a silky texture reviewers love.


This Daily Vitamin C Serum For All Skin Types

Use this vitamin C serum regularly for protection against environmental stressors, and enjoy a host of restorative benefits. It contains 20% vitamin C that’s stabilized by ferulic acid, an antioxidant, and the airtight, opaque container protects those active ingredients. It’s lightweight, doesn’t feel greasy, and enthusiastic reviewers call it “the bomb” and “nectar of the gods.”


A Bottle Of Lightweight Marula Oil To Nourish & Moisturize Skin — For Under $20

If you’re looking for an antioxidant-rich face oil that hydrates and absorbs quickly, consider this face oil from Naturium. Marula oil is high in vitamin C, and this pick is lightweight and boasts a silky texture that absorbs easily into skin. Reviewers report it works just as well as a pricier marula oil that cost four times as much as this one.


This Korean Rice Powder Wash That Cleanses & Exfoliates Your Skin

Remember that old-school powder hand soap at your elementary school? This rice bran powder wash is kinda like that only wayyy better. Just add a bit of water to the powder and lather into a foam, or use the powder on already-damp skin as an exfoliator, and enjoy soothing, anti-inflammatory, and cooling benefits.


This Bentonite Clay Mask For A Deep Pore-Cleansing Treatment That Draws Out Impurities

Mix this bentonite clay with apple cider vinegar or water for a DIY mud mask that deeply cleanses pores. You’ll quickly feel the tightening sensation it’s known for, and after at about 10 minutes wash it off for skin that feels smoother and clearer.


These Cult Favorite Blender Sponges That Pass For That One Name Brand

You can use these beauty sponges at almost any step of your routine — wet them to blend and dab liquid products or use them dry with powders. Plus, you can wash and reuse them, and you get five in each set, so you’ll always have one on hand. Reviewers are enthusiastic about this set, giving them over 59,000 five-star ratings.


This Pumpkin Honey Mask For Brightening Skin Tone

With ingredients like pumpkin and honey (as the name implies), plus sunflower oil and aloe vera, this glycolic mask is designed to clean, exfoliate, and improve tone and texture. The resurfacing mask works to brighten skin tone, and reviewers report noticing a difference quickly.


A Fan Favorite Brow Pencil With A Built-In Spoolie

This brow pencil with a micro tip and spoolie on the other end lets you draw in and brush your brows with precision. It’s a favorite with 30,000 five-star ratings. Just choose your best match from eight shades in a matte finish.


This Long-Wearing Metallic Eyeshadow That Comes With An Applicator

The rich sheen and luxe jewel tones of this liquid metallic eyeshadow will have you reaching for it regularly — but not too regularly since it promises to last all day, which many buyers attest to. It’s also quick drying, so once it’s set, you’ll be good to go — and glow.


A Stainless Steel Lash Curler With A Carrying Bag

For a sturdy lash curler that does the job without pinching or tugging, this stainless steel curler is a favorite backed by over 23,000 five-star ratings. It’s designed with a 48-degree angle to comfortably fit most eye shapes while curling, and one customer raved, “I LOVE this curler. I get the perfect curl EVERY time”.


A Nighttime Serum With 10 Probiotics To Strengthen & Hydrate Skin

The probiotics in this repair serum work to strengthen and hydrate your skin overnight. It’s designed for you to wake up to more resilient and moisturized skin that over time looks brighter and smoother, thanks in part to the formula’s purple fruits and vegetables (yep, purple carrot, plum cabbage, eggplant, beet, and blueberry).


The Retinoid Gel That Reviewers Swear By For Clearing Up Acne

If you have acne-prone skin, Differin retinoid gel is a favorite backed by 52,000 enthusiastic reviews from fellow buyers encouraging patience for clear skin. The water-based adapalene formula clears clogged pores and reduces inflammation. Reviewers note that if you stick with this products for a few weeks or months, your skin will be cleared of pimples and redness. It comes in a tube or a pump bottle.


A Versatile Shadow & Blush Balm That Can Also Work As A Highlighter

Do you have multiple blush compacts and eyeshadow palettes cluttering up your makeup bag or bathroom counter? Consider this shadow and blush from the Balm, which can even moonlight as a highlighter, too. The versatile peachy pink shade works with lots of skin tones, and note that many reviewers compare it to more pricier brands and — spoiler alert! — this one wins out.


This Shampoo & Conditioner Set That Strengthens Hair Bonds

Why is finding the right shampoo and conditioner combo so tricky? Enter this kit from L’Oreal Paris, which features — you guessed it — shampoo and conditioner formulated to work together and repair weakened hair bonds (along with cleansing and conditioning too, of course). Plus, it’s sulfate-free.


A Niacinamide Serum For Fading Dark Spots

In addition to all-star ingredient niacinamide, which works to fade dark spots and improve skin’s overall texture, this face serum from Naturium features a slew of skincare MVPs, like zinc, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid to quell excess oil production without drying out skin. Plus, it’s lightweight and silky, so you’ll enjoy using it from start to finish.


This Keratin And Argan Oil Treatment For Softer, Smoother Hair

For less than $10, this lightweight hair serum calls on keratin and argan oil to hydrate hair. It has a smoothing effect that also adds shine, so it’s no surprise this is an Allure Best Of Beauty award winner.


A Full Coverage CC Cream With SPF 30

This CC cream from e.l.f. promises medium to full coverage, along with SPF 30 protection, and some benefits you’d expect from a skincare product. It contains hyaluronic acid for hydrating and peptides and niacinamide to even out skin tone. It comes in 21 different shades, giving you tons of options for that perfect match.


The $6 Lightweight Setting Powder Nearly 90,000 Shoppers Vouch For

You don’t need to keep multiple powders in your bag. This lightweight, loose face powder can be worn as a foundation or as a setting powder that masterfully holds the rest of your makeup in place. Reviewers love that it’s lightweight and long-lasting.


An MVP Mascara You’ll Wear Day & Night

The wavy fiber brush on this fan favorite Lash Paradise mascara help coat every lash to add volume and length to your lashes. With over 55,000 five-star ratings, shoppers love its effect with a soft finish. Choose between washable and waterproof options, and various shades of black and brown-black.


A Waterproof Eye Primer That Will Hold Your Shadow In Place All Day

We’ve all been there — a new favorite eye look creases or fades before the end of the day. With this popular eye primer, oil and smudges will be a thing of the past. It goes on clear, and it’s lightweight, waterproof and cruelty-free, too.


A Liquid Lipstick With A Matte Finish That Stays Put For Up To 16 Hours

How does highly pigmented, long-lasting, and a matte finish sound? This liquid lipstick promises all of the above, and it comes in 36 rich shades. Pick a favorite or grab a few, and pop them in your makeup bag for on-the-go touch-ups — the precision point applicator makes it easy. More than 44,000 shoppers give it five stars.


A Hyaluronic Acid Water Gel That Your Skin Will Drink Up

If your skin has been feeling uncomfortably dry, try this cult favorite Hydrating Water Gel from Neutrogena. It’s clinically proven to hydrate skin for up to 48 hours, non-comedogenic, and lightweight — with nearly 70,000 shoppers giving it five stars for its results.


This Liquid Illuminator For Easy & Lightweight Highlighting

This liquid illuminator gives a subtle shimmer that can be used all over your face and décolletage or just to highlight or on key parts of your face for highlighting. One buyer attested, “This product lights up my best features as if I had a natural glow.”


A High-Coverage Concealer That Has Earned Its Eraser Name

This concealer wand may not technically be magic, but tell that to more than 90,000 shoppers who give five stars to this $7 pick. Reviewers rave for its concealing properties when it comes to redness, blemishes, dark circles, and even scars (take a look at the pictures shared by reviewers, they’re impressive). With 15 hues, users also like this product for easy highlighting and contouring. Oh, and did I mention it promises up to 12 hours of coverage?


This Root Touch-Up Powder To Save You From Extra Trips To The Salon

If you dye your hair, you’ll appreciate this touch-up powder that can help you stretch the time between salon visits. It’s easy to brush on, and you’ll appreciate that it’s even water-resistant. Choose between five shades for a perfect match.


A Highly Concentrated Hyaluronic Acid Serum For Pumped-Up Hydration

What’s better than a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum? A quadruple hydrating hyaluronic acid serum. This serum contains hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights to reach multiple layers of your skin, giving you deep hydration. One shopper reports, “I am really happy with this product. I have been using for almost a year now, nightly, and have noticed a HUGE difference in my skin. I am getting asked all the time about my skincare routine. it gives a great glow.”


A Lightweight Oil With Soothing Blue Tansy That Replaces Night Cream

If you’re not a fan of overly creamy textures, then this night oil with rose and blue tansy might be your new jam. You can use it in place of a cream when you’re looking for added hydration. One buyer raved, “Amazing! When my skin is really dry, itchy, and irritated and every moisturizer stings and other oils aren’t enough, this gets my skin back on track like nothing else. Really soothing and calming”.


This All-Purpose Lotion You Can Apply From Head To Toe

An intensely moisturizing cream that can soothe cracked heels and dry elbows and work as a facial mask or remove makeup? Say no more. Even better, the classic tin container makes it easy to use every last drop (which you will definitely want to do).


This Clay Mask That Uses Literal Volcanic Clusters To Clear Your Pores

What is volcanic cluster and why put it in a face mask, you ask? Per the brand, it’s hardened lava turned into a fine powder, and it works to deeply cleanse and absorb oil and impurities from pores. So, if you want soft and clean skin, this multitasking choice may be your next favorite purchase.


A Lightweight Primer For Smooth-Looking Skin

You can wear this pore-erasing primer underneath makeup, or on its own for a subtly smooth matte look. Oh, and did I mention it’s also lightweight and breathable? The reviews are full of buyers who agree that it lives up to its “baby skin” name, and that it’s a great surpasses more expensive brands on the market.


An Exfoliating Toner With Both AHA & BHA

There are toners, and then there are toners. This 30-Day Miracle Toner is the latter. Thanks to a slew of known skincare MVPs for their exfoliating properties, like tea tree oil, niacinamide, AHA/BHA/PHA, and witch hazel, it does a little bit of everything, including: exfoliate, hydrate, fight acne, brighten, and calm.


An Organic Lip Scrub In Yummy Vanilla

This certified-organic lip scrub exfoliates with sugar and moisturizes with coconut oil and beeswax, leaving lips silky and smooth. Use it on its own or as a primer before gloss or color. Be warned, you’ll be tempted to try all three flavors (vanilla, berry, and mint).


An All-In-One Hairbrush You Can Use For Styling & Detangling

With a blend of natural quills and nylon bristles, this hairbrush will be your new go-to. It works with wet or dry hair, and it’s lightweight and compact enough to be great for travel or on-the-go use, too. One buyer gushed, “It leaves my hair softer, shinier, and feeling cleaner & looking fluffier on days I don’t wash my hair. It’s fantastic.”


This All-Day Eyeliner With A Precision Point

Goodbye, smudgey eyeliner — hello, smooth and sleek lines. This Epic Link Liner has an ultra precise tip, plus it’s flexible too, giving you ultimate control (yep, you can even count on it for winged looks). It’s waterproof and matte once dry, and it promises to be long-lasting, too. Choose from black or brown shades.


A $10 Organic Rosehip Seed Oil To Hydrate & Soften Skin

This ultra-versatile organic rosehip seed oil can be used in multiple ways. Containing antioxidants and vitamins A and C, on skin it works to moisturize, brighten, and tighten pores, and in hair it softens. Use it on the rest of your body as a moisturizer, too.


This 4-Piece Tweezer Set For Your Precise Tweezing Needs

Each of these four pairs of stainless steel tweezers has a unique tip ranging from flat to pointed, and they come in a carrying case, so no more digging around your bathroom cupboard for that lone dull pair you got ages ago. With this set, you’ll be covered for everything from shaping your brows to treating your splinters.

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