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    If You Have Really High Expectations, These 48 Affordable Beauty Products Will Live Up To Them

    You can stop looking for cheaper versions of high performing products — these are the ones to get.

    1. The cult-famous Essence Lash Princess mascara that gives truly dramatic length without clumping or flaking. It's less than $5, has over *200,000* five-star ratings, plus professional makeup artists swear by it. What more could a mascara devotee want?

    Reviewer's lashes after applying the mascara looking incredibly long as if they were falsies
    Reviewer holding their Essence Lash Princess mascara

    It's also cruelty-free!

    Promising review: "I am a makeup artist. This mascara outperforms nearly every other mascara I have used, and I am 55 and have purchased and used an innumerable amount of drugstore and specialty mascaras. All the high priced ones are SUPPOSED to do what this very quiet, low marketed very black mascara does; coats every lash, thickens, and lengthens every time and for this price?!?! Sssshhh, don't tell anyone, lol." —Laura Price

    Get it from Amazon for $4.99.

    And check out our full Essence Lash Princess Mascara review for more details.

    2. A prescription-strength Differin retinoid gel to promote cell turnover, reduce inflammation, and help clear breakouts at an over-the-counter price. Retinoids are the gold standard of skincare, so this is a no-brainer for folks with dull skin or who are prone to acne — or who're looking for that holy grail product to step up their skincare routine. 

    Different reviewer's results of using Differin gel after five weeks, with the before picture showing breakouts and hyperpigmentation on their cheek and the after photo showing their face noticeably clearer without breakouts or hyperpigmentation
    Reviewer's results of using Differin gel after three weeks, with the before picture showing breakouts all over their face and the after photo showing their face noticeably clearer with breakouts mostly healed

    Promising reviews: "Has completely transformed my skin. I used to get hormonal acne every single month, I still get it now but far less often and severely. Differin has really made a big difference on my quality of life. I have sensitive skin, so I only use it a couple of times a week and always over a light layer of lotion. When I first started using it, my acne did get worse for about a month, and then magically one day, my skin looked amazing. It's worth a try for sure!" —Britt

    "I have literally struggled with acne since I was in fourth grade. Often I'd get really deep painful cystic acne which left terrible scars, but other times, I'd get tons of smaller pimples that left their mark long after the pimple was gone. It was nonstop, and I tried nearly everything. I’ve had one blemish appear in the five months since I started Differin, and amazingly, it was gone in a day, and didn’t leave a scar!! FYI, I have sensitive, combination skin that likes to alternate between being brittle dry and baby oil slick." —Angelique

    Get it from Amazon for $13.47 (available as a tube or pump, and in 30-, 60-, 90-, and 180-day supplies).

    3. A bestselling lip-plumping gloss set that'll make your lips so luscious and full, you'll feel like you got fillers — for a literal fraction of the price and without actually injecting anything into your bod.

    reviewer's lips before and after using lip plumper
    reviewer holding lip plumpers

    You'll get one lip plumper and one minty sleeping mask for your lips.

    Promising reviews: "I loved this stuff, it was magic. The evening moisturizer was fabulous. It is the first plumper that actually works for me. Will be buying more for gifts!!!!!" —Alexandra

    "I love this duo!!! I am a makeup artist so I've tried almost every lip plumper on the market! This is a great value since you get two different products for lower than the cost of one tube by other brands. Keeps my lips hydrated as I live in dry Arizona. I'm so excited I came across this!" —Mandy Burden

    Get it from Amazon for $12.99.

    4. A vegan, pro-approved Maybelline Dark Circles treatment concealer for when you were up all night catching up on Succession but need to look like a ~well-adjusted and rested human~ at work. It's medium coverage and wears for up to 12 hours (while simultaneously moisturizing your skin).

    It has an antimicrobial cushion applicator so you can dispense concealer and immediately apply it without a mess.

    Promising review: "As a makeup artist using everything under the sun product-wise, I am extremely impressed by this concealer! I use this personally on myself and don't even have to touch the product with my fingers! Blends like a dream and is very light, does not cake in the creases AT ALL, and wears all day perfectly. Totally recommend this to everyone!" —Bioya Shopper

    Get it from Amazon for $8.80 (available in 14 shades).

    5. An oil-free, microfine Urban Decay makeup setting spray that'll have your makeup looking as perfect at the end of the day as when you applied it that morning. It promises to extend makeup wear to 16 hours, though reviewers say it works for even longer — and lasts through sleep, sobbing, swimming, and more.

    A reviewer's makeup at Comic Con after using the Urban Decay setting spray
    Reviewer holding their Urban Decay setting spray

    Promising review: "I fell face first into ocean water, and my makeup still looked amazing. Literally expected my makeup to be completely gone by the time I got to my car because of how completely soaked I was. NOPE! And I still got my makeup complimented after! Lives up to the hype! Ocean: 0, Urban Decay Finishing Spray: 1." —Darlyn

    Get it from Amazon for $16+ (available in two sizes).

    6. A pack of multipurpose dermaplaning razors for shaping eyebrows and removing peach fuzz on cheeks and the upper lip area. It'll also help make sure your foundation and blush applies *extra* smoothly.

    reviewer showing hair on their cheek, and same reviewer showing cheek hairless and smooth after using the touch-up tool
    Reviewer holding razor after using it to remove hair from face

    Promising review: "I'm a makeup artist and kept hearing from others about how face shaving (derma-planing) makes makeup look better and makes skin glowy, and decided why not, let's try it! And I'm so impressed! I wish I had a picture of how much white peach fuzz came off in small strokes as I was using this! I loved it as an eyebrow tool, too. It's important to properly cleanse before using as you will be opening up your pores in the process for exfoliating, some of the reviews said they broke out and I imagine it's because they didn't properly cleanse. From research, they recommend not wearing makeup the day you use this and applying moisturizer after. I dipped the blade in rubbing alcohol to sanitize after using, too. I don't know how some reviews said they cut theirselves with this tool, I was nervous to try this because of those reviews but honestly no. Hold the tool at a 45 degree angle, make small strokes downward and hold the skin taut on the area you are shaving, and you'll be fine. Give it a try!" —dl

    Get a three-count from Amazon for $5.94 (also available as a pack of nine).

    7. A pack of reusable and DEEPLY satisfying exfoliating washcloths to scrub the dead skin off your body and reveal the ~baby-soft~ skin underneath. Reviewers attest: this product does not come to play.

    A reviewer holding an exfoliating bath washcloth in green
    A reviewer's arm with bits of exfoliated skin removed with the exfoliating washcloth

    I use these about once a week, and they are *chef's kiss*. Stay in the shower or bath for five or 10 minutes with moderately hot water before using, which will soften up your skin so that when you start scrubbing; dead skin will basically roll straight off your body. Your skin will look and feel as good as new after, and SUPER soft. One of my favorite shower products, and worth every penny.

    Promising reviews: "I stumbled upon these from watching a TikTok and I’m so glad I did! Definitely look into how to use them before you start so you do it efficiently and find what works best for you. I use them after being in a hot shower for at least five minutes then I start with long strokes in one direction. These got lots of gunk off my body and left my skin feeling so soft and smooth!" —Mariah C.

    "Okay, these things are AWESOME! I watched a TikTok about this gal using them and I figured why not try them. They weren’t expensive and I spend $5 on useless crap all the time. This, my friends, is NOT useless crap. This gets so much gunk off my body it’s disgusting. How can I have so much dead skin on my body!? I don’t know, but this gets it all off and leaves my skin so soft! Just throw some baby oil on your skin after using it and you are good to go!" —Emilee Brinker

    Get a pack of eight from Amazon for $8.

    8. A bottle of TikTok-famous Elizavecca hair treatment that's packed with collagen and soy protein to revive damaged, dull, or brittle hair in five minutes, revealing soft, nourished strands. This is salon-level haircare for under 10 bucks, folks!!

    Reviewer showing healthy-looking curly hair
    Reviewer's hair before and after treatment

    Promising reviews: "I have tried everything on the market to fix my damaged, bleached hair that keeps breaking off. I stumbled across this hair treatment on TikTok. I had never heard of it before but decided to give it a try. I used it for the first time yesterday and I couldn't believe how amazing it made my hair feel and look. It's sooo soft, shiny, bouncy and nourished. My bleached rats nest now looks and feels like virgin hair again. Even my boyfriend noticed a huge difference in my hair and you know it's a GOOD product when the boyfriend notices :D I’ve been really frustrated about my hair for years now because of all the damage; now I can finally relax and enjoy my new hair. <3" —Eline

    "I was skeptical. I’ll admit it. I wasn’t sure this would work on my 4c hair but it made my hair so soft! And I didn’t need to use a tremendous amount of product. It made it easy to comb out and blow dry my hair. It even made it smoother after the flatiron. You can’t beat it for the price." —Niki D.

    Check out BuzzFeed's Elizavecca Cer-100 Protein Treatment review for more deets!

    Get it from Amazon for $7.42.

    9. An eyelash curler with over 11,000 five-star ratings that'll gently curl your lashes and is designed not to pinch skin. (Literally: The company reports it ran hundreds of experiments before deciding on this curler model because it fits most human eyes without pinching.) That's science to me!!

    A reviewer's eyelash curler
    A reviewer with one eye's lashes uncurled, labeled

    The curler has soft silicone pads that enhance your ability to shape your lashes with minimal pressure so it is easier on lashes. It comes with five extra replacement silicone pads and can be used on both top and bottom lashes!

    To curl, clean lashes, look downward, place lashes in eyelash holder, and lightly press down on curler for several seconds. For best usage, curl your lashes before applying mascara as this will prevent the curler from sticking to the mascara.

    Promising review: "I have long, full, but straight lashes. Nothing has worked. They just won't hold a curl. I have no idea what is different about this item, but my lashes look great! Gets all the lashes from outer to inner in one easy–squeezy. I FINALLY have found something that holds the curl ALL DAY! 100% recommend!!!" —Tangie4242

    Get it from Amazon for $9.95.

    If you are an eyelash curler ~devotee,~ check out this highly rated mini travel curler.

    10. ~Uber-satisfying~ and mega-affordable hydrocolloid pimple patches to suck the gunk out of acne that has come to a head. Plus, (crucially) they protect deep, under-the-skin pimples from wandering or picking fingers, which can inadvertently inflame blemishes more by adding dirt and bacteria to irritated skin. These are one of the best skincare purchases I've ever made, and reviewers agree.

    Reviewer holding their pimple patches showing all the gunk they've pulled out of their skin
    Reviewer showing their clear skin after removing their pimple patches

    I have used these for years, and I literally buy them in bulk so that I'm never caught without them. I really can't sing the praises of these enough — they make my cystic acne heal faster, whether by sucking puss out of active breakouts or by curbing the beginning of pimples through keeping my hands the heck off them. I like to keep them on overnight, and they're clear and unobtrusive enough that I'll usually use them during the day when needed, too. Different sizes are included so you can customize to different blemish sizes, or simply use smaller patches during the daytime and larger ones at night, lol. This is the product I'm constantly raving to my friends about, and TL;DR: It's my desert island item. You cannot go wrong with these. Plus, they're super affordable for the amount you get, and especially for the benefit they provide.

    Promising review: "I’m a (now) 37-year-old who still gets breakouts, including painful cystic acne at times. I sleep with these babies on, and in the morning, the size and redness is usually 50%–75% better. If it’s a larger breakout or a cyst, I repeat the process and have been known to wear these to work — depending on location of the pimple. They really are great and makes having acne in your mid-late thirties less stressful. They’re usually gone in one to two days with these patches! Highly recommend!" —Lauren Kerley

    Get a pack of three (72 pimple patches total) from Amazon for $13.50.

    11. Plus, some XL acne cover patches for those full T-zone breakouts that are too big for regular-size patches to treat. Made with hydrocolloid to help pull out pus and gunk from pimples, the patches also contain tea tree oil and calendula to aid in soothing inflamed skin and redness.

    Reviewers say they're also lifesavers for calming painful, itchy chemo rashes. You can use them on the face or body.

    Promising review: "I've had acne for probably close to 20 years, since my preteens. So rather than stick a ton of little circles on my face that are meant for individual zits I figured I'd try these extra large patches. Wow. They work absolutely amazingly. The adhesion was fantastic and when it came time to remove the patches it didn't feel like I was ripping off my flesh. I could see all the gross and yet satisfying little white blobs on the patch from where it had absorbed my excessive sebum and bacteria while I slept. My pores looked so much smaller because all of that gross stuff that was clogging them had been removed. Seriously, this stuff is great and did way better than any pore strips I have ever used. Go buy these if you want to have baby-soft poreless skin and are tired of it looking like Neil Armstrong should be planting a flag on your face." —Christina Smith

    Avarelle is a small business that aims to make the best skincare that's also honest and affordable. All their products are vegan and cruelty-free! 

    Get 8 extra-large patches from Amazon for $8.49.

    Our deep dive on the Avarelle acne patches gets into the nitty-gritty — why they work, how to use them, and why they've earned tens of thousands of 5-star reviews.

    12. Maybelline Lip Lifter gloss to give your lips tinted, glossy shine without any annoying stickiness, while simultaneously nourishing with mega-hydrating hyaluronic acid. It's like a perfectly colored lip gloss–lip balm hybrid.

    another reviewer wearing the stone gloss
    reviewer wearing the stone colored gloss

    Promising review: "As a pro makeup artist I find myself reaching for these more than any of my lux brand lip products. Literally every shade is gorgeous. The large applicator applies the product smoothly and quickly. I cannot say enough good things about this product. An amazing value. Every client I have introduced these to has reached out to me and told me how much they loved the gloss and immediately purchased additional shades. You will not be disappointed." —Justin Case

    Get it from Amazon for $6.98+ (available in 18 shades).