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    If You’re Currently Living Out Your Thrifty Era, Here Are 48 Cheap Things That Work Just As Well As Expensive Brands

    Reviewers are thrilled about these swaps for items like Crest Whitestrips, Lululemon leggings, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers — and you will be too.

    1. A pack of two Venus Visage teeth whitening pens, minty fresh without the weird aftertaste and completely painless — no discomfort for sensitive teeth and gums! But most importantly, it leaves your teeth noticeably whiter, and at a fraction of the cost of the dentist (and Crest Whitestrips). 

    before and after of reviewer's yellow teeth, then cleaner whiter teeth after use
    reviewer holding the two teeth whitening pens

    Promising reviews: "Throw your expensive Crest Whitestrips away! Being the son of a dental hygienist, clean bright white teeth have always been important to me. Though I had my reservations about the whitening pen, it certainly didn't disappoint and works far better than the Whitestrips I've been using for the last several years, not to mention it's a much better deal for your money. I'm a total coffee connoisseur, which has always made having a bright white smile all the more challenging, but the Pen is giving me the upper hand." —Franknsd

    "We like these better than Crest Whitestrips and for a fraction of the price! The Crest Whitestrips make my teeth way too sensitive, these work JUST AS WELL and no tooth sensitivity." —Travis Sheveland

    Get a pack of two pens from Amazon for $18.95.

    2. And a "flossing toothbrush" expertly designed with two layers of bristles, including the regular firm kind for brushing and ultra-thin ones designed to clean deeeep within the grooves of your teeth — almost like you were actually flossing. As one reviewer puts it, this leaves you feeling "just home from the hygienist"–level clean; others say it even feels comparable to their fancy electric toothbrush (sorry, Oral-B)!

    A toothbrush with two layers of bristles, one long and thin and one shorter and thicker
    Emma Lord / BuzzFeed

    Mouthwatchers is a small business established by Ronald Plotka, DDS, that specializes in antimicrobial toothbrushes designed to get deeper cleans even patients with "great" dental hygiene might miss with traditional brush and floss routines. 

    BuzzFeed Shopping writer Emma Lord says, "I personally bought this and love it! I use an electric toothbrush usually, but I feel like I'm getting a much more satisfying clean from these?? Especially because I tend to get yellow stains between my teeth no matter *how* much I floss, and these bristles seem to actually target that a lot more effectively."

    Promising review: "I’m a dental hygienist of 16 years and typically use and recommend electric toothbrushes; however, this manual toothbrush is great! My teeth feel very clean after brushing for two minutes, similar to the way they would feel after using my Oral-B or Sonicare electric toothbrush. I’ll definitely purchase again!" —Beth

    Get a two-pack from Amazon for $9.90

    3. A bottle of Elizavecca Hair Treatment formulated to deeply repair and hydrate your hair thanks to restorative ingredients like collagen and ceramide 3. You just apply it after shampooing, wait as little as five minutes, then rinse it out for hair that looks *and* feels silky soft. Some reviewers say it's even BETTER than Olaplex, which is over three times the price!

    Reviewer with curly hair holding a strand of it out
    Reviewer with straight blow dried hair

    Reviewers with everything from thin, fine hair to 4c curls have reported positive results from this moisturizing formula, which is particularly recommended for folks whose hair is damaged from using hot tools, bleach, and the like.

    Promising review: "Like many others, I tried this as a replacement for Olaplex. Honestly, Olaplex never had a great effect on my hair and certainly wasn’t worth the price. This did an unreal job on my hair!! I was skeptical (tried a little bit first because I was petrified it would burn off my hair and I would end up bald!) but, lo and behold, it was magic! My hair is so strong, silky, and healthy looking after just one use. Plus you can’t beat the price! Have already ordered another box. I should also add I have curly/wavy hair that’s been colored to a light brown. Buy it!!" —BB

    Get it from Amazon for $8.50.

    4. Cosrx Snail Mucin 96% Power Repairing Essence, a hydrating holy grail for many people with dry, sensitive skin and a gentler, cheaper alternative to many name-brand moisturizers and serums. It's effective on all skin types, and reviewers report seeing improvement after just a few uses! Acne scars, dark spots, and fine lines are about to meet their match. 

    Reviewer before and after picture with redness healed from their face
    The bottle of serum

    Promising review: "My skin dries out severely during the winter all the time, and I have to constantly use Vaseline to keep it moisturized (normal cream doesn't work on me). Imagine my surprise when my SO tried to put snail goo on me, eww!! I resisted for weeks refusing to use this product as she constantly vouched for its abilities. After a month I finally gave in, and boy it is amazing! My hands feel more moisturized than ever for longer and it doesn't leave a disgusting greasy feel as Vaseline. Take it from a once non-believer, you have to try this. Even if it doesn't work for you, you paid a fraction of what you would've paid for any other name-brand moisturizers." —Kyoko Ozaki

    Get it from Amazon for $14.59

    5. Essence's Lash Princess Mascara beloved for its ability to give you bold, dramatic lashes while also separating them to prevent clumping — and for its $5 price tag. People *rave* about this bestselling tube as a swap for more expensive mascaras like Too Faced Better Than Sex, L'Oreal Telescopic Lift, and many, many more.

    Before shot of a Buzzfeed editor without mascara
    After shot of BuzzFeed editor with long lashes
    Emma Lord / BuzzFeed

    Promising reviews: "The best I’ve tried so far and I used Dior, Tarte, Two Faced, you name it. I always have a problem with brand-new mascara because they have too much product on the brush, especially first few uses, and my lashes stick together. I didn’t have this problem with this one. I could layer it without any product starting to fall off or my lashes sticking together. And I love that they don’t test on animals." —Detti

    "This product is fantastic; the best I've used in years! And the price can't be beat. It's [leagues] ahead of the well-known brand names that sell for five times as much and more!. Just one or two coats gives me length and volume. With the gloppy other brands, I'd given up wearing makeup at all. I have sensitive blue eyes — and did I say I'm old, which adds another layer of sensitivity — and this mascara don't bother my eyes at all, no redness or irritability." —Antonia Albany

    Get it from Amazon for $4.99.

    6. A Simple Modern tumbler as a swap for the popular (and more expensive) Stanley cup. This minimalist travel cup comes in some seriously ~aesthetic~ shades, but more importantly, it'll keep your iced drinks cold for *hours* thanks to its double-wall insulation, and the leak-resistant straw lid might just save you from an accident or two. 

    editor holding up the light green tumbler
    the simple modern tumblr in a car drink holder
    Jenae Sitzes / BuzzFeed, www.amazon.com

    Many reviewers said they find themselves drinking more water when they have a straw, and the fact that it's so dang cute doesn't hurt either! Get a closer look at it on TikTok.

    I finally decided to hop on board the hype train for these big tumblers and am already obsessed with my Simple Modern one! I opted for the mint green color and it's as pretty as I'd hoped in person. The fact that this has both a straw and a handle means I end up carrying it around with me and drinking WAY more water than I did before. BTW! I highly recommend getting straw covers to protect against dust and germs — as pictured above, I got these cute cloud ones and they work perfectly! 

    Promising review: "If you have been wanting a Stanley cup, believe me, save yourself some money and get this cup! You will end up with a better cup than the Stanley! I have dropped/tipped over this cup a couple of times and only a couple of drops of water come out. If I did that to my Stanley, water got everywhere! And this cup keeps the water so cold. And if you purchase silicone straw toppers, it keeps the water even colder! Also, it fits in my car cup holder and my Stanley really didn’t. Love this cup!" —Amazon Customer

    Get it from Amazon for $29.99 (available in 34 colors). Also available in a style without the handle!

    7. A popular checkerboard throw blanket — I'm absolutely *living* for the sage green shade, but it comes in other beautiful colors as well. Reviewers consider it a great alternative to the popular Barefoot Dreams throw (which is p-r-i-c-e-y) and say it's extremely soft. 

    the sage green checked blanket on a bed
    reviewer with the black and white throw blanket

    Promising review: "This blanket beats others because it is softer (a buttery and fluffy feeling), it is long enough for a 5'10" tall person, it is not too light and not too heavy (works year-round in Virginia), and it has a stretch to the material that I haven’t experienced with other soft blankets. The design is just so-so, but the colors are nice, and the price is right. If they updated the designs with more colors, patterns, then these would be absolutely perfect. I like this as much as my much more expensive Barefoot Dreams blanket and Williams Sonoma faux-fur blanket." —JH

    Get it from Amazon for $29.99+ (available in seven colors and four sizes). 

    8. A 20-pack (!) of extra thick magic cleaning pads most reviewers agree is a great swap for the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. They're extra durable, so you can put them to work on your toughest cleaning jobs and watch the mess just ✨ disappear ✨.

    A customer review photo of their door before using the pads
    A customer review photo of their door after using the pads

    Promising reviews: "These are the best. Sooo much better than Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Won't buy those anymore and these will last me a very long time. I scrubbed and they got everything clean and didn't break apart!!! Can even reuse if I wanted." —miguel mendez

    "I own a cleaning business and have spent a small fortune on the name brand. I clean everything from condo rentals to long-term lease/residential rentals and I have had to clean unimaginable NASTY, I mean 'pics or it didn't happen' kind of nasty, and these cut right through it. These work just as well as the name brand, if not better, and they seem to last a little longer!" —Keisha Marie

    Get a pack of 20 from Amazon for $13.95.

    9. Buttery soft high-waisted leggings giving Lululemon a run for their money, according to (*checks notes*) over 300 reviewers drawing comparisons between the two. They're squat-proof, stretchy, and so soft that many pregnant people say they basically live in these!

    reviewer in the gray leopard print leggings
    A different reviewer wearing the leggings in green camo

    Promising reviews: "AMAZING. I bought these to test against my Lululemon leggings ($100+) and I think I love these more. I wish there were more sizes in stock right now but its a fad on TikTok so I understand and will be patient to buy more. 😇" —Reina

    "Currently 20 weeks pregnant and these are all I wear, I basically live in these leggings. They’re so stretchy and comfy, definitely recommend for pregnancy!" —Alba siviero

    Get them from Amazon for $20.99+ (available in women's sizes XS–XL, with 25" or 28" inseam, and in 30 colors/patterns).

    10. L’Oreal Paris rinse-out lamellar water treatment that'll transform your hair in just eight seconds (!) to leave your hair shiny, silky, and ultra-hydrated, no matter your hair type! Psst — they might reach for Redken at your local salon, but this has the same ingredients as that brand's lamellar treatment for way less. 

    reviewer's curly hair looking damaged and dry
    the same reviewer's hair looking soft and moisturized after treatment

    Promising reviews: "Wow! I have waist-length 3c curly color-treated hair that’s usually a nightmare to deal with in the summer and this stuff is a game changer. My hair is silky, my curls are defined, it dried in like half the usual time…seriously impressed!" —Stavana Jubinsky

    "I'm a professional hairstylist and Matrix, Redken, and L’Oreal are all owned by L’Oreal, and each line has a lamellar water in it at different prices. I am here to tell you that they are all the exact same ingredients in different bottles. So buy the cheapest and save yourself some cash. Your hair will love you for it. I love this stuff." —anonymous87

    Get it from Amazon for $9.97.

    11. A tube of Elizabeth Mott Thank Me Later eyeshadow primer because if you're applying eyeshadow without a base, you're not getting its full effect. Not only will it make your eyeshadow look bolder and extra pigmented, but it'll also combat oil and creasing so your smoky eye looks flawless all night long. Mac Paint Pot, it was nice knowin' ya.

    A customer review photo of their eye makeup done at 8:30 a.m.
    The same customer with a review photo showing their eye makeup at 6:30 p.m.

    Promising review: "This eye primer is amazing!!! I have super oily eyelids and was getting to the point that I would rarely bother with eyeshadow because even with expensive primers it would be smudged and creased within an hour. So glad I don't need to shell out for Urban Decay or Mac Paint Pot anymore; they don't hold a candle to this and it's so much cheaper." —Chloe

    Get it from Amazon for $13.99.

    12. And a rainbow-inspired eyeshadow palette with 40 matte, shimmer, and metallic shades so you can play with pretty much any color to paint the ~canvas~ that is your lovely face. Loved by amateurs and professional makeup artists alike, this is a great all-in-one palette for anyone who's not afraid to dabble with bright colors.