This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Recently, it seems like there’s been a lot of attention paid to certain individuals’ bank accounts. While we’re just as curious as the rest of the world to see what Mitt Romney has in his coffers, we’re far more interested in the spending of the dolla dolla bills in our own — particularly on beauty products.
But, since finding great budget beauty products can be kind of a crapshoot, we did you a solid and scoped out the best of the bunch. And, because we know not every bank account is created equal (what’s up, 1%!), we’ve included some great splurge buys, too. Read on to see the high-end products we stock up on when we’re feeling flush and the wallet-friendly dopplegangers we turn to when our checkbook is running on fumes.
We love Guerlain’s Terracotta for how well it brightens our complexion, but it’s the double-duty power of NYC’s bronzer that gets more use from us. We use one side for all-over color and the other, darker option to sculpt and contour. Well worth the $4.99 if you ask us.
For a face-brightening flush, you just can’t beat Chanel — but you can almost match it with this multi-hued powder from our fave reborn ’90s brand, Hard Candy.
All eyeliners are not created equal, a lesson we unfortunately had to learn the hard way (stupid unintentional raccoon eyes). We turn to Stila when we want long-wear liner that won’t smudge off 5 seconds after applying, but we were psyched to discover that Maybelline’s Master Drama eyeliner delivers the same long-wear benefits and dramatic color that are the hallmark of a quality lid definer — all for half the price.
We’re going to make this one short and sweet: $39 or $3. That should be all the convincing you need.
Benefit’s High Beam is the crème de la crème of liquid highlighters, but unfortunately, a lot of lower-priced versions can sit on the skin oddly. That’s why we suggest a fine-milled powder option instead, to highlight the skin with a translucent, shimmery sheen. We love Wet N Wild’s offering because it also gives us a little touch of color.
MAC’s Studio Fix has been a cult classic for as long as we can remember, but CoverGirl is a close second in the full-coverage, silky powder-foundation category. And, for almost a quarter of the cost of MAC, we think we know which one our wallet prefers.
They’re both owned by the same company — L’Oréal Paris — so it makes sense that some of the magic in the ever-so popular Lancôme Definicils mascara would trickle down to its mass counterpart. Both make our lashes luscious, but one of them costs about half as much as the other.
Sure, we love Dior’s wildly addictive Addict lipsticks (a more apt product name was never coined), but Rimmel’s Lasting Finish also gives us the color we crave and a long-lasting finish. We guess that means we’re in lipstick rehab?
At any given time, you can probably find a MAC Lipglass (or ten) rolling around at the bottom of our purses. But, ever since Neutrogena launched its shiny glosses, there’s been some serious competition amongst the two. Both pack some serious shine and come in an array of colors for every skin tone, but Neutrogena’s does it at almost half the price, so you can afford to stock up on shades.
We (and pretty much everyone, ever) adore Touche Éclat. What we don’t love? The $40 price tag on such a small tube of product. For a more economical brightening pick, look no further than your local Target, which stocks U.K. fave, Boots No7. The Radiant Glow concealer gives YSL a run for its money and seriously brightens our undereyes in the process.
Philosophy hit it out of the park with its now cult-classic Purity cleanser. As much as we love how amazing it makes our skin feel, we have a hard time justifying paying $32 for something that we just wash down the drain. That’s why we love the Burt’s Bees’ Radiance cleanser — it costs less, but still gives you that clean, fresh feeling and softens your skin with royal jelly extract.
When it comes to foundation, we don’t like to skimp on quality — nothing is worse than layering on a low-quality foundation and finding out it gives you that awkward mask effect. Make Up For Ever’s HD Foundation is on our must-buy list because it covers up imperfections without making skin look plastic. Unfortunately, its double-digit price tag makes us wince at the register. Enter: Maybelline Fit Me, which goes on just as smoothly, looks oh-so natural, and lasts just as long.
We’re constantly being asked about lower-priced makeup-brush alternatives that are still as good as our MAC favorites. Look no further than celebrity darling — and makeup artists extraordinaire — Sonia Kashuk’s eponymous line. Her brushes get just as much play from us (sometimes more!) as ones that cost twice as much. And a pretty cool bonus: The synthetic fibers in the lower-priced brushes are actually less likely to shed.
We love the decadence of Yves Saint Laurent’s eyeshadow palette — we don’t, however, love that we have to fork out $58 for it. Luckily, makeup artist Gucci Westman has created a cream eye palette for Revlon that is just as enticing. The best part? You can mix the creams together to make even more colors, and you can use some of the colors on your lips and cheeks, so it truly delivers more bang for your buck.
Every five seconds, another tube of Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer is sold somewhere in the world. And at $43 a pop, that’s a lot of moolah being spent on flawless skin. Garnier’s BB Cream evens skin tone in a similar way, and adds extra moisture to your skin for a quarter of the price of LM’s. Looks like someone has some competition.
We’re firm believers that a defined brow is the ultimate way to frame your face, which is why Anastasia’s Perfect Brow Pencil has a place of honor in our makeup bags. But, when we’re running low on dinero and need something a little less cha-ching to tame our furry brows, we turn to Milani’s all-in-one Brow Fix Kit — it’s got everything we need to turn unruly caterpillars into sleek, shaped arches.
Clinique’s moisturizer was our first foray into prestige skin care and it will forever occupy a fond place in our hearts. But, when we’re looking for a no-fuss moisturizer to quench and protect our parched skin, we find ourselves (and our feeble bank accounts) turning more and more toward Olay’s line of affordable face savers.
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