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    If Saving Money Is Smart, These 36 Better-Than-The-Brand-Name Beauty Products Are Genius

    And you'll be the genius who spent less money and got the same (or better) results.

    1. CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is  — surprise! — designed to gently resurface your skin, smooth out texture, and reduce the appearance of post-acne hyperpigmentation and scarring. If you're new to retinoids but hear everyone say you must have 'em in your routine, rest assured that this formula has sensitive skin in mind. And reviewers rave that it's better than $$$ brands like Clinique, Drunk Elephant, and Murad. 

    If this is your first time using retinol, start off slowly with this product; apply it a few times a week/every other day and work your way up to daily use. You'll also want to apply sunscreen during the day, as vitamin A can make you more sensitive to the sun.

    Promising reviews: "I absolutely love this stuff! I saw a dermatologist on TikTok rave about this product and tried it out — it's been the most amazing stuff! It's helped my face clear up very quickly, removing all of the blemish spots and dark spots around my face. It's been one of the best products I've added to my face routine. This would be great for all ages/stages and any weather type. It doesn't moisturize much, but that's not its intention, and there is no scent, so I'd imagine it's great for all skin types and hypoallergenic." —Successful Solo

    "I bought this for my teenager to use for his acne scars, but he ended up not using it. I ran out of my Murad retinol serum, so I gave this a try. I actually like it better than the Murad! It absorbs quickly, with zero smell or irritation." —C. Munsterman

    Get it from Amazon for $13.55.

    2. E.l.f. Halo Glow Liquid Filter gives the Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter a run for its money, reviewers say. This skincare-makeup hybrid product will give your skin a luminous, soft-filter look, and is formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid and squalane. (Love that for your skin!) Wear it as a base, add a few drops to your moisturizer or foundation, or dab it over makeup for a super stunning and natural-looking highlighter.

    A reviewer with a glowy makeup look
    Another reviewer with a glowy face

    Promising reviews: "This stuff is so legit I’ve gone through three bottles. Adds the perfect glow to your skin! Sometimes, I use it under foundation, and sometimes, I use it solo with a bit of concealer. I will never not repurchase it for the price and how beautifully it sits on the skin. This stuff is viral for a reason!!" —mapagill

    "If you like Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter, this is leaps and bounds better! Just buy it. The coverage is better and gives my skin the most amazing natural glow! The colors run with a more warm/yellow undertone, which worked great for me! Spend a fraction of the price and just get it; you will be happy you did!" —Amazonreview

    Get it from Amazon for $11.90+ (available in 12 shades).

    3. You'll also wanna add their Halo Glow Beauty Wand to your cart for a glow so radiant the sun would be jealous. This easy-to-apply liquid highlighter is hydrating, buildable, and way cheaper — like wayyyyy cheaper — than the Charlotte Tilbury highlighter blush wands.

    the three shades swatched on arms with different skin tones
    the tip of the wind with the rose quartz shade flowing out
    Amazon

    One reviewer says it's an alternative to the Charlotte Tilbury highlighters!

    Promising review: "We saw this highlighter in a makeup tutorial video online and thought we would try it. It was an easy decision to purchase it because the price was relatively low compared to other highlighters. It is worth every penny and more! I've seen this shade applied to different skin tones, and it looks beautiful on everyone! Just the right shimmer, not glitter. It's gorgeous!" —Joyinmyheart

    Get it from Amazon for $9 (available in three shades). E.l.f. also has reviewer-loved blush and contour shades in the same wand design! 

    4. Shea Moisture Intensive Hydration Hair Masque packs a hydrating punch thanks to a deeply conditioning blend of shea butter, honey, mafura and baobab oils, and African rock fig. There are many reasons to love this stuff, namely that it'll soften, smooth, and add shine to your locks. Oh! And reviewers like it over K18 and Olaplex.

    container of the mask
    Reviewer with hair in a high puff style
    Shea Moisture, www.amazon.com

    Plus, one cosmetologist reviewer says it's comparable to salon deep conditioners!

    Promising reviews: "Better than the expensive K18 and Olaplex. I recently spent $70 on a hair mask because my hair has been in need of some love. I won't name it because I don't think I can, but I thought, 'It's 70 bucks, so it must be good.' It was NOT. I didn't hate it, but it didn't do much for me. So I thought, 'Screw it, let me try something more natural and drugstore.' I saw the good reviews on this, so I thought, 'Why not?' And now I have my new favorite hair mask. So moisturizing. Makes my hair so soft. It’s VERY thick. But that's what I wanted. If you're looking for deep hydration, look no further." —Kirstin

    "I don't usually leave reviews, but I had to because I love this conditioner so much. I have EXTREMELY dry 4c hair. It's very picky with products. After getting to know my hair, I noticed that my hair only likes products that get absorbed into the hair right away. If it leaves a coating over it, then my hair is not going to like it. It might even feel super soft for a day, but then it gets extremely dry after. Even though this product is super thick (so thick that the cream stays in the jar when you flip it upside down), my hair absorbs everything, and it stays super moisturized for 2–3 days afterward. I used this on my hair about two days ago. Today, I touched my hair, expecting it to feel dry like always, but it felt like I just moisturized it. MIND BLOWN. It also smells AMAZING. It smells more like a fruity, sweet, and creamy perfume fragrance rather than a hair conditioner. It almost reminds me of Mon Guerlain. Literally, the nicest-smelling hair product I've ever used. 10/10" —Khady Ndiaye

    Get it from Amazon for $10.05.

    5. Similarly, Elizavecca CER-100 collagen-coating hair treatment intensely nourishes dry, damaged, and overprocessed strands. This reparative five-minute hair mask will revive your mane and leave it soft, silky, and smooth. Some reviewers prefer it over Olaplex, which is not surprising, given that this Elizavecca mask is one-third of the price.

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

    This product is beloved by folks with hair types from thin, fine hair to 4c curls.

    Promising reviews: "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 (I tried a little bit at 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

    "I have 4c hair and was looking for a protein treatment for my thin and fragile. I had recently used a product in my hair that had so much alcohol in it that it wreaked havoc on my hair, leaving it pretty damaged. I was very skeptical about this product because I had never seen anyone with my hair type use it. Boy, was I wrong to doubt this product; it left my hair looking and feeling beautiful. I highly recommend it to anyone natural or with curly hair." —Therese-Claire

    Get it from Amazon for $7.15.

    6. NYX Fat Oil Lip Drip hydrates for up to 12 hours with a vegan squalane-infused formula — and without the dreaded stickiness. Dior Lip Oil, who? This product hasn't been on the market for very long, but reviewers are already obsessed with the sheer finish and camera flash levels of shine.

    Three models with the light pink oil on their lips
    Reviewer wearing the shade

    I have two shades and have already ordered a third!

    Promising review: "The lip oil trend has fully saturated my TikTok feed. So, I was anxious to test and compare. I also own the Dior Lip Oil, and tbh NYX is giving them a run for their money. This lip oil does its job for a fraction of the price. The formula isn't as thick as the Dior product, but the color options and leak-proof packing make up for it. I'd definitely recommend picking this up to try!" —Courtney Calestiini

    Get it from Amazon for $8.97 (available in seven shades plus clear).

    7. For a more pigmented lippie, NYX's Fat Oil Slick Click provides an enviable 12 hours of hydration, a high-shine finish, and a non-sticky feel in a convenient click-to-dispense pen. Some reviewers prefer this over similar products by Tarte, Makeup by Mario, Dior, and YSL.

    Close-up of lips with various shades of lip gloss, and a NYX lip product shown
    Lipstick collection with various shades, labeled
    Amazon

    Promising review: "This is an [alternative] for Tarte Maracuja lip gloss. My lips always feel a little dry. I rarely use lipstick but favor a lip crayon with a layer of lip gloss on top. This product is amazing. My lips feel hydrated and comfortable, the color payoff is better than expected, and it's fun to use (click, click!). The color does transfer a little bit (hello, lip marks on my coffee cup!), so I need to reapply frequently, but that doesn't bother me. I bought it in four colors and am so happy with it." —Lisa Mancuso

    Get it from Amazon for $10.97 (available in 11 shades).

    8. Elizabeth Mott Thank Me Later eyeshadow primer locks in your flawless smokey eye look. Because the lights coming on at the club at 4 a.m., and you realizing that your shadow has cracked, creased, and flaked off is a jump scare you'd rather not experience. Many reviewers compare this favorably to Urban Decay's Primer Potion.

    A reviewer showing their completed eye makeup at 8:30am
    The same reviewer with the eye makeup looking the same at 6:30 pm

    Promising review: "For a long time, my go-to primer was the All-Nighter by Urban Decay, but in recent times I could no longer afford it. I struggled to find [something] comparable from the drugstore; none of them were at the level I wanted or was used to until I found this one! I tried this one, and it's so excellent. It truly is a [alternative] for Urban Decay. It's a mousse texture but dries down quickly. It is so easy to spread, and it lasts SUCH a long time. I have oily lids, so this is truly a lifesaver. And the tube has so much product! A little goes a long way, and a pea size is perfect to cover the entire lid area. Truly love this product I don't think I'll ever switch. 10/10." —Marissa Olmedo

    Get it from Amazon for $13.99.

    9. Maybelline's Cheek Heat gel-cream blush takes the cake for easy-to-use blush. It's easy to build color; adding a few dabs will give you a natural-looking flush, or add a few more if you love the bold blush trend. If you like Glossier Cloud Paint, you'll be thrilled that reviewers say this is similar — and a fraction of the price.

    BuzzFeed writer holding pink tube of Cheek Heat with it applied to cheeks
    Emma Lord / BuzzFeed

    BuzzFeed Shopping writer Emma Lord says, "I'm a Glossier Cloud Paint stan, so I'll continue to buy it, but I love this affordable alternative, too! It spreads on super easily and can either go on sheer or build for a bolder effect. I got the Rose Flush shade and enjoy it for ~everyday wear~ since it's so easy to squirt a bit on my fingers, swirl it into my cheeks, and be on my merry way. It lasts all day and looks super natural to boot!" 

    Promising review: "Throw all your other blushes away. This one is creamy, not greasy, takes just a dab, and lasts all day. What more could you want? The only thing that would make it better is if it were free or they sold in like beer in the six-pack. Knowing makeup companies like I do, I will order several more because they will soon discontinue the BEST blush ever made, regardless of how well it sells. Am I not right? Clinique had an excellent crème blush similar to this one for YEARS, and then one day....POOF!! GONE!!! So try it and then buy some extras 'cause you know tomorrow it'll be gone." —Velma Martin

    Get it from Amazon for $5.98+ (available in six shades). 

    10. And if you love liquid blush but can't stomach the price of Saie or Rare Beauty, try the E.l.f. Camo liquid blush. It's buildable, blendable, super pigmented, easy to apply (thanks to the doe-foot applicator), and leaves behind a glowy, dewy finish.

    Three-step makeup application guide showing a person applying liquid blush to cheeks
    Reviewer wearing a coral-colored blush

    Promising reviews: "I'm a big fan of blush, even more of liquid blushes, and I can say this is the best one I've tried yet. The Rare Beauty liquid blush tends to disappear during the day, and sometimes it won't blend very well. I’ve had no problem with this one. I'd definitely buy it again!!" —Estrella

    "For the price?? Best blush I've tried. It lasts all day and has such a pretty color; a little bit goes a veryyyy long way; you really only need a dot for a natural look." —Leah

    Get it from Amazon for $7 (available in nine shades).