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12 Affordable Beauty Products We've Recommended To Everyone We Know

For anyone with $15 and a dream of better skin, hair, and makeup. The products in this post were updated in March 2018.

We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

1. This eyelash- and eyebrow-tinting kit for anyone who wishes their brows were a few shades darker.

Gyan Yankovich

For a dark-haired person I have surprisingly light brows. I'm also a huge fan of the ~bold brow~ look, so do everything in my power to take control of my mousy eyebrows. I absolutely swear by Benefit's Brow Zings wax and powder set, but my biggest brow secret is this tinting kit.

When I used to go to the salon to have my brows done (I now shape them myself), I always looked forward to having my brows tinted more so than the actual wax/tweeze. After I started doing my own shaping, I figured there was no reason why I couldn't do my own tinting as well. I go between using the Brown Black and Black tints, and my biggest tip is to leave the product on for around 20 minutes rather than the recommended 10, though you might want to play it safe if you're hoping for a subtle look or it's your first time using the product. I find the tint lasts really well for around two weeks, then starts to fade. The kit is super-easy to use and I highly recommend applying Vaseline on the skin around your brows and using a cotton tip to neaten up your tint and avoid staining. —Gyan Yankovich

Get the kit from Amazon for $15.23+ (available in four colors).

2. A basic but life-changing moisturizer that will literally save your face in winter.

My skin is crankier than a food-competition judge when they see someone try to make risotto in 30 minutes. It dries out the second the temperature drops below 60 degrees, looooves to pop out a zit or two after just one sleepless night, and forcefully reminds me how red it can get when I try out a new product it doesn't like. Needless to say, I've spent countless dollars on dermatologists, pills, and creams over the years trying to just get my epidermis to calm the fuck down. But honestly, I might as well have just tossed all that money into the sea, because the best thing I've ever bought for my skin is a $7 jar of drugstore moisturizer.I don't know how CeraVe (pronounced SER-ah-vee) does it, but it is a goddamn miracle for anyone with dry-to-normal skin with an attitude. Literally all I do is smear a nickel-sized amount all over my face twice a day after washing it, and somehow my skin is coaxed into thinking everything's going to be alright. The lotion is a little thick, but it gets absorbed super fast, making my cheeks feel softer than a new silk shirt. It's fragrance-free (magic words to all my sensitive-skinned brethren), noncomedogenic, and not greasy in the slightest bit. I've been using CeraVe for a good four years now, and I don't know what I was thinking not using it (or any kind of moisturizer, for that matter) before. Now, my skin is more like Padma Lakshmi when a Top Chef contestant nails a spicy dish — really, ridiculously happy and satisfied. —Terri PousGet it from Walmart for $10.13 for 12 oz. or Jet for $15.83 for $16 oz..
Amazon / Via amazon.com

My skin is crankier than a food-competition judge when they see someone try to make risotto in 30 minutes. It dries out the second the temperature drops below 60 degrees, looooves to pop out a zit or two after just one sleepless night, and forcefully reminds me how red it can get when I try out a new product it doesn't like. Needless to say, I've spent countless dollars on dermatologists, pills, and creams over the years trying to just get my epidermis to calm the fuck down. But honestly, I might as well have just tossed all that money into the sea, because the best thing I've ever bought for my skin is a $7 jar of drugstore moisturizer.

I don't know how CeraVe (pronounced SER-ah-vee) does it, but it is a goddamn miracle for anyone with dry-to-normal skin with an attitude. Literally all I do is smear a nickel-sized amount all over my face twice a day after washing it, and somehow my skin is coaxed into thinking everything's going to be alright. The lotion is a little thick, but it gets absorbed super fast, making my cheeks feel softer than a new silk shirt. It's fragrance-free (magic words to all my sensitive-skinned brethren), noncomedogenic, and not greasy in the slightest bit. I've been using CeraVe for a good four years now, and I don't know what I was thinking not using it (or any kind of moisturizer, for that matter) before. Now, my skin is more like Padma Lakshmi when a Top Chef contestant nails a spicy dish — really, ridiculously happy and satisfied. —Terri Pous

Get it from Walmart for $10.13 for 12 oz. or Jet for $15.83 for $16 oz..

3. These ombre hair extensions that help you live out your most magical unicorn dreams.

Amazon / Via amazon.com, Anjali Patel

I’m extremely protective of my curls, which means I’m terrified to bleach my hair. It’s kind of a bummer, though, because I’m secretly a glittering, rainbow unicorn, and I would love to express that through my hair. I’ve tried workarounds like hair chalk, temporary hair dye, and even eyeshadow, but none of those options were something I'd want to do more than once a month.

Enter these ombre braiding hair extensions. I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to think of braiding my hair as the solution to my need for color AND a break from styling my hair every morning, but boy am I glad I did. Now I can get my color fix for a couple of months, and when I get sick of that I just take them out and return to my curls.

My braider was shocked that I found such a great color on Amazon of all places, and the hair is surprisingly soft. Depending on your texture, it can be a little hard to grip the extensions to your natural hair. (My hair is 3C and it works fine, if that helps to know.) You also have three great color options to choose from. Best of all, it’s a protective style, and you don’t have to worry about color upkeep once it’s in! —Anjali Patel

Get a pack of three pieces from Amazon for $21.99.

4. A vegan and aluminum-free deodorant that actually works and doesn't irritate your skin.

Sephora / Via sephora.com

I’ve always had super-sensitive skin and struggled to find products that didn’t irritate me. I’d been on the search for a deodorant that was hypoallergenic and aluminum-free for a while, when a friend recommended this Clean Queen Vegan Deodorant. I’ve been using it for months now and haven’t had a reaction to it! It’s a twist-up deodorant that doesn’t leave any white marks on my clothes and for the most part keeps me feeling pretty dry. It holds up well during the day, but if you’re headed to the gym or out for a long activity, you might want to reapply. The scent is vanilla-y but it’s not too sweet or strong, and it has aloe to soothe the skin. Plus, it’s super cute! What’s not to love? —Sarah Aspler

Get it from Sephora for $14.

5. This lip tint that naturally stains your lips just like a cherry-flavored ice pop.

AnaMaria Glavan

I've often relied on tinted lip balms in the past, because when I don’t use them, my lips look pale and basically seem to blend into my face. Which is why this Etude House Darling Water Gel Lip Tint (the RD301 shade, specifically) has been on my wish list for several months now: It promises a flushed pop of color that'll last all day. I finally decided to try it out — and I'm pretty damn happy I did.

The first thing I noticed was that this lip tint glides on like water; it actually feels like a cold bottle of Poland Spring on my lips (hence the “water gel” name, I guess). After a quick swipe on my bottom lip, my next thought was, Holy cow, this is also really pigmented. A little product seriously goes a long way. Initially my lips had a slightly wet feeling: again, like I'd taken a cold sip of water. But after a minute passed, that feeling subsided and the product seemed to have seeped into my lips. The results? A natural-looking stain that made me look like I had just eaten a cherry ice pop.

Most importantly, this product LASTS. When I apply two layers around 8:30 a.m., it sticks around the entire day. And it smells like pomegranate, so there’s also that. Heart eyes. —AnaMaria Glavan

Get it from Amazon for $7.50.

6. A cheap but effective micellar water that makes taking your makeup off less of a chore.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to an article about micellar water and I. Was. Sold. I wasn’t really feeling the makeup-remover wipes I used every night, and, well…MAGIC WATER that is POPULAR IN FRANCE and COSTS UNDER $10? Count me in.Micellar water is pretty unfussy to use: You put some on a cotton pad and swipe it over your face, and it removes makeup (including eye makeup) along with sweat, oil, etc. And…that’s it! You don’t even have to rinse it off when you’re done. It doesn’t have a strong smell or leave your skin tingling like an astringent does; it really just feels like water. That initially left me skeptical that it was actually working, but after two years of using it, it remains as effective as ever. My current routine consists of swiping with two cotton pads — one to remove makeup and the second to grab remaining bits of makeup and kind of finish things off — and calling it a night, and then doing one cotton pad in the morning when I wake up. It’s also good for people who don’t wear makeup, and who maybe think they don’t need to wash their face every night but live with people who don’t want the sweat and grime one acquires daily as a human being in NYC/the world all over their pillows.I’m a big believer in the “always take your makeup off before bed” rule, and micellar water makes it very easy to ensure I go to bed with a clean face, no matter how lazy I’m feeling. —Rachel W. MillerGet it from Amazon or Walmart for $6.96.
Amazon

A couple years ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to an article about micellar water and I. Was. Sold. I wasn’t really feeling the makeup-remover wipes I used every night, and, well…MAGIC WATER that is POPULAR IN FRANCE and COSTS UNDER $10? Count me in.

Micellar water is pretty unfussy to use: You put some on a cotton pad and swipe it over your face, and it removes makeup (including eye makeup) along with sweat, oil, etc. And…that’s it! You don’t even have to rinse it off when you’re done. It doesn’t have a strong smell or leave your skin tingling like an astringent does; it really just feels like water. That initially left me skeptical that it was actually working, but after two years of using it, it remains as effective as ever. My current routine consists of swiping with two cotton pads — one to remove makeup and the second to grab remaining bits of makeup and kind of finish things off — and calling it a night, and then doing one cotton pad in the morning when I wake up. It’s also good for people who don’t wear makeup, and who maybe think they don’t need to wash their face every night but live with people who don’t want the sweat and grime one acquires daily as a human being in NYC/the world all over their pillows.

I’m a big believer in the “always take your makeup off before bed” rule, and micellar water makes it very easy to ensure I go to bed with a clean face, no matter how lazy I’m feeling. —Rachel W. Miller

Get it from Amazon or Walmart for $6.96.

7. This semi-permanent hair color that has seriously incredible results.

Maitland Quitmeyer

I wanted a little bit of a hair change last summer, but in an I-don't-want-to-spend-money kind of way. Also without bleaching my whole head of hair. So when I stumbled across this L'Oreal Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color, I just had to try it. It's less than $10 on Amazon and comes in seven colors for blonde, light brown, or bleached hair, and four colors for brunette hair! I am, like many people, weirdly obsessed with pink right now, so I went with the "Soft Pink" color.

It comes with a bottle of the color itself, a brush to apply it, and a bunch of gloves so your hands don't turn pink. But the brush is totally not necessary — I just applied it with my gloved hands. I didn't exactly follow the directions and it STILL WORKED. Really well. I didn't shampoo my hair first like they said I should; I thought that would have taken too long. Because I really ~massaged~ it into my hair and left it on longer (45+ minutes) than I "should" have, it faded to the color on the box after two or three washes, which totally works for me because I loved the stronger pink color AND the faded pastel. And that means less reapplying and less product used overall, aka even less $$$. And I have been feeling the finished result — so much so that I'll keep touching it up as it fades. If you have blonde or bleached hair and want some color, definitely try this. If you have brown hair, try one of the four colors designed for brunettes! At under $10 a bottle, it's definitely worth a shot. —Maitland Quitmeyer

Get it from Walmart for $9.94 or Jet for $9.02.

8. A super-cheap hair mask that works its magic in under three minutes.

Elizabeth Lily, Amazon / Via amazon.com

I’ve been using some form of a hair mask off and on for more than a decade, and since I read a Nina Dobrev interview about her hair-mask routine, I’ve been using one about every other time I wash my hair. When I don’t feel like spending a week’s worth of grocery money on a hair mask, I go for my drugstore brands. That’s where my current mainstay, Pantene 3-Minute Miracle, comes into play.

It does what other hair masks promise to do in just three minutes (instead of 10!), so there's less time spent awkwardly standing in the shower passing the time while my hair gets revitalized or whatever. It’s nearly up to par with my fave Kerastase mask. Nearly! My hair is naturally thick, wavy, and kinda coarse. So when I use any kind of conditioner or hair mask, I coat my hair thoroughly and gently use a wide-tooth comb to detangle in the shower while the potion is working its magic. I love a post-shower Wet Brush, but this is the best detangling trick I’ve found to date! (H/T to my childhood best friend Samantha’s mom for teaching me this conditioner-combo trick.)

I used this mask when I went on a family vacation out West and took lots of pics of myself to show my newfound outdoorsy-ness. (Lol, I am very indoorsy.) Exhibit A: This selfie I took in front of a cliff at the Badlands shows my hair looking extremely smooth and shiny in the dry desert heat despite the wind whipping it around in a frenzy. Humidity, my usual nemesis, was basically nonexistent during my weeklong trip, thanks to this mask I used the night before my flight. —Elizabeth Lilly

Get it from Amazon for $3.74 or Jet for $4.18.

9. A hair tie that doesn't damage your hair or leave an annoying post-ponytail kink.

Gyan Yankovich

I'm a hair-up kinda gal. If I'm writing, eating, doing my makeup, commuting, or JUST EXISTING, I absolutely need to have my hair tied back. That said, I also like to wear it down whenever I want to feel like my best self. But as we all know, hair ties leave creases — and that makes it harder to go from hair up to hair down without my straight hair being compromised.

Let me introduce you to the Invisibobble. Thanks to its spiral design, this hair tie doesn't leave any bumps in your hair at all. None! I sleep with my hair wrapped into a bun and in the mornings I unravel and have the same straight hair I got ready for bed with. The Invisibobble is also made of plastic, so keeps your hair in place but somehow (magic? idk?) doesn't ever snag. Basically, it's a wonder product and I can't believe I used regular hair ties for so long. —Gyan Yankovich

Get a three-pack from Amazon for $8.50 or Walmart for $5.40 (available in clear, black, and brown).

10. This gel nail polish that comes in 48 ridiculously good shades and stays chip-free for over a week.

Augusta Falletta, Amazon / Via amazon.com

For my entire adult life, my opinion on Essie nail polish has been "best color selection, ehh quality." So much so that I stopped buying Essie or choosing it at a nail salon because I knew it would chip so quickly. I paint my nails once a week at home and use my hands as much as any millennial — lots of typing, texting, peeling stickers off of new lipsticks, etc. — so I need a polish to last at least seven days without chipping. Recently, I got the Essie Gel Couture line from a PR rep and decided to give it a try. If it was a new ~gel~ formula, it had to last longer than the polish I avoided for years, right?

RIGHT. First of all, the consistency of the polish (I'm wearing "Sit Me in the Front Row") while you're painting it is so good that you could get away with one coat. It's super pigmented and true to bottle color when it's on your nails. Secondly, they changed the brush design so that it's a longer and rounded in the middle, then tapered on the sides. If you paint your nails regularly you know this is the equivalent to bowling with bumpers. No chance of screwing this up! I'd recommend using the Gel Couture with its sister top coat for the best results. Oh, AND it's designed to be used without a base coat, so my at-home manicures take even less time. So far, there hasn't been a chip in sight. —Augusta Falletta

Get the polish from Amazon for $11.49 (available in 48 colors) and the top coat from Amazon for $7.59+.

11. An eyeshadow primer that keeps your makeup clump-free from morning 'til night.

Because I love my eyeshadow too damn much to allow it to crease and smear, I set out on a mission to find the perfect primer. I shopped my way through Sephora, dropping some major $$$ on different products. My search lasted about a decade — and concluded this summer when I discovered Milani's eyeshadow primer at my local drugstore.This lovely thing keeps my eyeshadow from turning into nasty goop on my eyelid crease from sunrise to sunset (and probably until the next sunrise — it's THAT good). I've actually fallen asleep with my makeup on before (yes, I know it's bad, blame the margs), and I've woken up with my makeup looking fine. I don't know how, but this stuff works. —Kayla SuazoGet it from Amazon for $9.50 or Jet for $7.12.
Kayla Suazo

Because I love my eyeshadow too damn much to allow it to crease and smear, I set out on a mission to find the perfect primer. I shopped my way through Sephora, dropping some major $$$ on different products. My search lasted about a decade — and concluded this summer when I discovered Milani's eyeshadow primer at my local drugstore.

This lovely thing keeps my eyeshadow from turning into nasty goop on my eyelid crease from sunrise to sunset (and probably until the next sunrise — it's THAT good). I've actually fallen asleep with my makeup on before (yes, I know it's bad, blame the margs), and I've woken up with my makeup looking fine. I don't know how, but this stuff works. —Kayla Suazo

Get it from Amazon for $9.50 or Jet for $7.12.

12. And a volumizing mascara that doesn't blow your budget but does do a damn good job.

Amazon / Via amazon.com, katy / Via amazon.com

I pretty much only wear makeup on special occasions, so when it comes to products like mascara that expire fairly quickly, I really need a quality product that doesn’t cost too much. At the same time, I don’t want something that’ll make my eyelashes clump together or make my eyes water just so I can save a few bucks. After a few failed tries with different brands of low-cost mascara, I was pleasantly surprised by Covergirl’s LashBlast Volume Mascara, which not only makes my lashes look thicker and longer, but also creates zero clumps, so I don’t have to worry about looking like I’ve attached spider legs to my eyes. Both my pretty eyes and my wallet are thanking me every time I buy this. —Kat Angus

Get it from Amazon for $6.09+ or Walmart for $6.94+.

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