You’re a pro at finding style for less from Target to flea markets and garage sales. Getting a Prada dress marked down 80% rates a tweet from you. When it comes to beauty, nothing makes you happier than getting away with drugstore brands that mimic high-end luxury products. But let’s be honest – even skin care at your local Walmart, CVS, or Walgreen’s has gotten a lot more expensive. Some de-agers from Olay now sell for more than $45, and a RoC night cream with retinol is $25.
Still, that’s fairly cheap compared to the $500 or $1,000 some luxury brands charge for skin care!
Here’s some great news: Some bargain beauty products are pure quality – not because they mimic high-end brands, but simply because the science and technology are state-of-the-art perfect. Deservedly, some of these products have become legends. Below are the top ten you should know about. (Each costs less than a pedicure!)
10 superstar skincare and beauty products under $20
This is a thick, highly emollient balm that does everything. It comes in a fat jar, too, but the tube is indispensable. Dermatologists suggest it to treat all kinds of skin issues from scaly eczema to post-peel healing, and it’s ideal on chapped lips, cuticles, rough elbows, heels, and lines around the eye area.
Lips are vulnerable to sun and age, too. The combination of moisture-binding hyaluronic acid and coenzyme Q10 plumps up lip lines and softens them, restoring a healthy full look while protecting them from further sun damage. Slide this on as a primer to make lip pencil and lipstick application easy.
This is simply a very nourishing, repairing, and hydrating moisturizer with all the good stuff like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide (Vitamin B3), and ceramides. This new product is currently a hush-hush word-of-mouth bargain that is about to boom—get it before it sells out of stock.
I have yet to meet a dermatologist who didn’t suggest this pH-balanced, low-lather face wash. Whenever I am faced with irritation, redness, or dermatitis (a definite con side effect of being a beauty editor and trying hundreds of products a week), this comes out of the cupboard.It’s great for vulnerable, dry, sun-damaged irritated skin, especially in the morning. You’ll have to add a warm, wet, clean washcloth to gently remove makeup though in the evening.
Formulated with Olay Regenerist Serum, this is a breakthrough in drugstore foundation. It’s build-able, so you can layer more where coverage is needed but look and feel like real skin. The texture and performance on mature skin is super — so super that I bet those ads with fabulous spokes-model Ellen DeGeneres aren’t even retouched. You may even be tempted to switch from a high-end department store brand. (Formerly coupled with CoverGirl & Olay Simply Ageless Eye Concealer (Discontinued product – vote to bring it back here!))
Lycopene, an antioxidant derived from tomatoes, jumped onto the de-aging scene a few years ago due to its ability to help protect skin from sun damage. This vitamin C- bolstered daily moisturizer also contains lycopene to reinforce the skin’s barrier and magnesium for extra hydration. It works to improve everything from excess pigmentation to wrinkles and loss of firmness.
This product actually says it’s for mature, thinning skin right on the label. It claims to help skin that’s become more fragile due to calcium and collagen loss, and it does the job as a superb moisturizer. Let it work a few weeks and that crepey onion-paper skin will feel and gleam like Duchesse satin.
The same familiar blue may stir feelings for the classic tin of Nivea Creme. This rich cream uses almond and calendula oil to enhance the lipid barrier of the skin. Don’t look for it in stores though; it’s only available online.
(about $8.75 for 25 cloths)
Don’t get nostalgic about using the updated Noxzema Original Deep Cleansing Cream unless your skin is oily. Opt instead for these alcohol-free, pre-saturated wipes with soothing vitamin E that are safe for the eye area. They even remove the most stubborn waterproof mascara easily along with all your face makeup and leave no residue just a soft, fresh face.
This cream has a huge, loyal following despite the fabulousness of the Olay Professional Pro-X line, which is also fantastic and suggested in this guide. Its success is due to an amino peptide complex that really does noticeably firm your face with continued use.
Updated from March 2011.