Look Good

22 cheap beauty buys that work

We’ll let you in on our affordable faves…

Written by Jenny Brownlees
Published 06.01.2022

Fact: performance-delivering beauty products don’t have to cost the earth.

The following brands have nailed affordable buys across skincare, makeup and haircare – proving that quality doesn’t always mean spending big. Here at HLN, we’re lucky enough to try the latest drops from luxury beauty brands the world over, yet the following bargain buys have impressed us so much, we just had to let you in on the action…

The Ordinary – Squalane Cleanser – £5.50

The Ordinary is the OG when it comes to premium skincare at a bargain price. We love their ultra-gentle soap-free cleanser, which washes away makeup and impurities, all while retaining your skin’s natural moisture (you can thank skin-quenching squalene for that). To use, rub the balm-like cleanser in your palms until it melts into oil. Massage onto dry skin, before rinsing with warm water.



Dr.Jart+ – Ceramidin Travel Kit – £12.00

Korean skincare brand Dr.Jart+ have nailed it once again with these three deeply nourishing hero buys, and all for under £15. Your skin will be treated to a surge of moisture, powered by the brand’s patented 5-Cera complex. The set’s serum, liquid and cream formulas help skin maintain a plump, dewy complexion all day long – much needed when the cold snap of winter is setting in.



The Inkey List – Caffeine Eye Serum – £8.99

We rate the entire The Inkey List range here at HLN – particularly its salicylic acid cleanser – but the caffeine eye serum in particular is always on our re-purchase list. Why, you ask? Well, this mighty lil’ tube is packed with all the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits derived from coffee which, in turn, helps to reduce puffiness and prevent skin damage from free radicals, (which can make dark circles more pronounced). At under a tenner, we recommend this bargain buy to all our friends.



Revolution Skincare – 2% Salicylic Acid BHA Anti Blemish Liquid Exfoliant Toner – £10.00

If, like us, you hoped your teenage acne would wave goodbye at 18 but find it’s still making an unwanted appearance, we couldn’t rate this affordable anti-blemish toner highly enough.

Revolution’s Skincare’s Salicylic Acid toner penetrates deep into pores, breaking up trapped dirt and sebum and helping prevent the formation of new blemishes. Apply on a cotton pad after cleansing, and always apply SPF in the days after use.



The Body Shop – Drops of Youth™ Youth Cream – £25.00

Knocking luxe and spendy skincare brands out of the arena, this award-winning anti-aging cream is a real game changer. Tired and dehydrated skin is no match for Drops of Youth’s three plant stem cells: edelweiss, criste marine and sea holly, each adding bounce back into the skin.

Rather than feeling heavy like other super-moisturing creams, this formula is air-light and sinks in like a dream. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog up pores.



Boots Glow – Banana Brightening Mask – £5.00

If you haven’t tried Boot’s own-line skincare yet, run – don’t walk – to your nearest store. We love their glow-giving banana mask, perfect for minimising the appearance of pores and smoothing out unwanted texture. This vegan formula, left on for 10 minutes at a time, will help reduce excess oils and give skin back its summer radiance. Dull skin? None here, thanks.



Lacura – Vitamin C Serum – £5.99

Aldi aren’t messing around with their latest premium skincare launches, which have rivalled products we’ve tried that are 10 times the price. Our must-have pick from their range is this Vitamin C Serum; you only need one pump to help skin look plumper and feel smooth and soft. Whilst it’ll suit dry, normal and oily skin, if you have sensitive skin, this isn’t the one for you – try their peptide moisturiser instead.



L’Oréal Paris – Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation Powder – £12.99

There’s a reason Gen Z beauty obsessives have been going crazy for this affordable foundation over on Tik Tok (causing a sell-out in the process) — this blurring powder hides a multitude of skin sins. Pores? We don’t know them with one swipe of this wonder product.



e.l.f – Putty Bronzer and Blush – £6.00 (each)

The almighty power of these putty-to-powder bronzer and blushers is something you truly have to see to believe. Seamless colour swipes across the skin offer a pigmented glow that’s both buildable and long-lasting. Argan oil and Vitamin E are to thank for the lightweight feel and skin-loving softness both these buys provide. Cheek products that smooth, as well as warm the complexion? Consider us sold.



Milani – Colour Fetish Lipstick – £11.00

Another Tik Tok fave that’s gone viral, this bargain lippy has been praised for its balm-like texture, which adds a lustrous pop of colour. While you wear, the formula’s moisturising oils will help nourish your pout.



Maybelline – Eraser Eye Concealer – £8.99

Think of this Maybelline Eraser Eye Concealer as an Insta-filter in a tube. It delivers on all fronts – brightening without being cakey and offering full-coverage without creasing. It’s ideal for hiding everything from redness, blemishes or dark circles, or even to add contouring highlights onto the nose, chin or forehead.



 Sleek – I-Divine Eyeshadow Palette – £8.99

A best seller for a reason, we challenge you to find a better suit-all, highly pigmented palette with change from £10. Divine indeed.



BEAUTY BAY – Hydrating Lip Sos Mask With Castor Oil And Borage Seed Oil – £3.95 

Winter = dry lip season. So, why not pop Beauty Bay’s Vegan SOS Mask into your handbag for the cold weather ahead. It’ll deeply soften and moisturise your lips thanks to high-dose castor oil, borage seed oil and squalene, and won’t break the bank at under £5. You can even use it to add a dewy glow to your cheeks or brow bones. Genius.



Maybelline – Colossal Volum’ Mascara – £7.99

Maybelline weren’t joking when they named this mascara – Colossal is exactly the effect this has on even the shortest of lashes. The mega brush (and the infusion of collagen) means 9x the volume is given in just one coat.



MUA – Brow Define Eyebrow Pencil – £2.79 

A secret among beauty industry insiders in the know, MUA’s clever brow pencils give big-name brands a run for their money. Their ultra-fine tips are oh-so precise and shades super long-lasting. You can thank us later.



3INA – The 24h Cream Eyeshadow in 306 – £14.95

These super-creamy, beautifully iridescent shadows look well beyond their price point, and last all day and night without creasing. Whilst there’s an abundance of colours to choose from, we have a soft spot for suit-all shades 306 and 575.




West Barn Co. – Soap Brows Tinted – £15.00

North East-based, eco-conscious brand West Barn Co. are loved the world over for their iconic Soap Brow products. Now, they’ve hit the ball out of the park once again with the limited edition tinted version. Say hello to perfectly fluffy, nourished brows in one sweep.



3INA – The Longwear Lipstick 250 – £14.95

Lasting all night long, with pigments that pop, this is our ultimate recommend-to-every-friend lippy.



MONDAY – Shampoo and Conditioner – £5.50 (each)

Available in Smooth, Volume, Moisture and Gentle formulas, this salon-esque haircare range is a repeat sell out. Despite costing just over a fiver, you’d never know it. The range is vegan, free from SLS and parabens, and is basically our new haircare BFF.



L’Oreal Paris – Elvive Wonder Water – £9.99

If you haven’t tried this 8-second wonder yet, make it top of your beauty to-do list. Feeling like an in-salon treatment from the comfort of your own home, hair feels up to 10 times smoother, with glass-like shine. Wondrous indeed.



Essie – Original Nail Polish 726 Berry Naughty Dark Red – £7.99

We’ve tried polishes triple this price, but always come back to Essie’s long-lasting colours ­– with a shade range that always nails the latest mani trends. We’ll still be rocking this festive red, even though it’s after the holiday season.



Sanctuary Spa – Ultimate Salt Scrub – £14.00

We buy this super-softening scrub on repeat. Featuring a sumptuous blend of Dead Sea salts suspended in nourishing oils, there’s nothing better to combat dry winter skin.




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