The best beauty products for EVERY budget
Skimp: Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash
This oil-free cleanser clears away dirt and oil without sucking all of the moisture from your skin in the process.
Split: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser
A favorite amongst aestheticians, this extra-gentle gel cleanser works wonders to remove even the most stubborn makeup, but leaves your face feeling soft and supple.
Splurge: Tata Harper Refreshing Cleanser
All-natural and non-foaming, this luxe cleanser babies sensitive skin with a gentle botanical formula that removes makeup and cleanses without drying out your complexion.
$5.79, available at Walgreens; $38, available at Fresh; $75, available at Tata Harper.
Skimp: Yes To Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15
This back-to-basics moisturizer gives you everything your skin needs — sunscreen, nourishing ingredients, and lightweight hydration — without the hefty price tag.
Split: Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream
The proverbial work horse of the moisturizer world, this unisex hydrator is a perennial favorite around the R29 offices for its skin-smoothing and hydrating benefits.
Splurge: Tatcha Supple Moisture Rich Silk Cream
Featuring a gorgeous gel-cream texture and a host of skin-fortifying extracts, this light-as-air moisturizer gives skin a smooth, radiant, and yes, supple appearance while it invigorates and replenishes.
$14, available at Target; $26.50, available at Kiehl's; $150, available at Barneys New York.
Skimp: Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10
Featuring 10% benzoyl peroxide, this on-the-spot breakout banisher means serious business.
Split: Sonya Dakar Blemish Buster
Apply this salicylic-and-probiotics fluid at bedtime and watch it pull a disappearing act as it shrinks your worst blemishes and speeds up healing time.
Splurge: Philosophy Help Me Retinol Night Treatment
After multiple commenters sang the praises of this retinol-based treatment, we knew we had to try it out for ourselves. While it's billed as an anti-ager, it does indeed work wonders on any breakouts, making pimples look a lot less angry after just one overnight use.
$5.99, available at Drugstore.com; $29, available at Sonya Dakar; $47, available at Nordstrom.
Skimp: Olay Regenerist Lifting Serum Eye Daily Treatment
A little goes a long way with this serum, which gets our vote for its ability to make our droopy, tired gaze look refreshed and energized.
Split: Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment With Avocado
Another standout from our favorite East Village-born brand, this creamy treatment moisturizes without feeling greasy.
Splurge: Darphin Wrinkle Corrective Eye Contour Cream
Apply this super-luxe cream to your eye area at night and wake up the next morning to a firmer, brighter, smoother, less sleep-deprived gaze.
$18.69, available at Ulta; $47, available at Neiman Marcus; $78, available at Darphin.
Skimp: Burt's Bees Intense Hydration Treatment Mask
Dry skin is suddenly transformed into a supple and dewy complexion with this clary sage-infused mask.
Split: Clinique Turnaround Instant Facial
Instant is the key word here — in just five minutes, this super-exfoliator dissolves dead skin cells and leaves your skin radiant and soft.
Splurge: May Lindstrom The Problem Solver Correcting Masque
This mask literally does it all: detoxifies the skin, tightens pores, minimizes inflammation, heals blemishes, and promotes a gorgeous radiance by stimulating circulation. We'd be jealous of its overachieving if it didn't make our skin look so damn good.
$17.90, available at Soap.com; $37.50, available at Macy's; $90, available at May Lindstrom.
Skimp: RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream
It's not just coconut oil — well, okay, technically it is — it's absolute magic for your skin. Use this organic "cream" as a nighttime moisturizer and be ready to wake up to the most hydrated, glowy complexion you've ever seen looking back at you from the mirror.
Split: Neal's Yard Remedies Beauty Sleep Concentrate
We're always wary of clever marketing gimmicks, but this organic serum lives up to its hyped-up name — we swear we wake up looking five years younger whenever we use it.
Splurge: DDF Restoring Night Serum
Strengthen your skin and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with the dermatologist-formulated, anti-aging serum.
$18, available at RMS Beauty; $53, available at Neal's Yard Remedies; $98, available at DDF.
Skimp: Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water
Spritz some of this fancy French water to add lightweight hydration, soothe redness, and strengthen your skin's moisture barrier.
Split: Caudalie Beauty Elixir
Billed as "part toner and part serum-mist," (yeah, we don't know either), you'll find a bottle of this skin-smoothing, radiance-enhancing elixir on multiple desks around the R29 office.
Splurge: Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist
A blend of orange blossom, rose, sage water, and apple pectin gives this toner mist its skin-softening and refreshing powers.
$12, available at Dermstore; $49, available at Sephora; $86, available at Nordstrom.
Skimp: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair
We dig this wrinkle-correcting serum because it features anti-aging powerhouse retinol, but in a gentle formula that won't irritate or dry out sensitive skin.
Split: Renée Rouleau Skin Correcting Serum
Never has a product name been more fitting — one use of this does-it-all serum and our skin immediately felt softer and looked more even, plus our blemishes were suddenly much less noticeable.
Splurge: Joanna Vargas Daily Serum
Like a "green juice for your face," this everyday serum from the famed celebrity aesthetician features all the essential nutrients your skin needs to look soft, smooth, and glowy.
$19.99, available at Target; $40.50, available at Renée Rouleau; $85, available at Beauty.com.
Skimp: Smith's Rosebud Salve
We're hard-pressed to find a girl that doesn't swear by this cheapie hydrator. While it works well on everything from dehydrated cuticles to chapped skin, we like to slather this multitasker on dry lips to help un-parch our puckers in a flash.
Split: Bite Beauty Superfruit Butter
Made with a nourishing blend of superfruits — açai, blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate — this heavy-duty butter is the one we turn to when our lips have passed the point of no return. Pile it on, rub it in, let it sit for a few minutes, and be amazed at how quickly your pout goes from cracked to crazy-soft.
Splurge: Eminence Organic Skin Care Citrus Lip Balm
We never thought a lip balm could be life-changing, but that was until our pouts came in contact with this little wonder. Petroleum-free and made with organic shea butter and sunflower-seed oil, it soothes flaky, cracked lips on contact, adding a sexy sheen and subtle plumping effect in the process.
$3.89, available at Amazon; $18, available at Sephora; $24, available at Eminence Organic Skin Care.
Skimp: Love + Toast Gin Blossom Handcreme
Proof positive that pretty and cheap really can go hand in hand (har har), this beautifully packaged hand hydrator is vegan and packed with natural moisturizers like shea butter and a blend of natural oils. The gin-blossom fragrance is intoxicating without being cloying, and the cream itself leaves hands soft, not greasy.
Split: Diptyque Velvet Hand Lotion
When a manicurist applied this gorgeous skin softener to our mitts, we almost hugged her — that's how amazing this hand lotion felt on our chapped, red, and dried-out paws. True to its name, it instantly soothed, hydrated, and left our hands feeling, you guessed it, velvety.
Splurge: Rodin Crema
A ritzy hand cream may seem superfluous, but try as we might, we just can't quit this fabulous one from girl-crush/life-inspiration Linda Rodin. The combination of antioxidants, moisturizers, healing agents, and that intoxicating aroma makes it downright impossible to resist.
$9, available at Love + Toast; $42, available at Diptyque; $80, available at Beautyhabit.
Skimp: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 30
Waterproof, sweatproof, non-greasy, and it won't leave behind a chalky white residue means this drugstore skin protector is tops in our books.
Split: Supergoop! Sunscreen Mist With Vitamin C SPF 50
We were initially drawn to this spray-on sunscreen for its easy-peasy application, but it clinched a spot in our regular SPF rotation thanks to its grease-free finish and skin-softening effects.
Splurge: Hampton Sun SPF 30 Lotion
More like a skin treatment than a sunscreen, this SPF lotion softens, rejuvenates, and protects your skin all at once.
$9.15, available at Soap.com; $19, available at C.O. Bigelow; $35, available at BeautyBar.
Skimp: Curel Ultra Healing Lotion for Extra Dry Skin
One bottle of this budget moisturizer will get you through the entire winter with nary a dry flake nor scaly patch to be seen.
Split: Red Flower Spanish Gardenia Moisturizing Body Lotion
The lush, floral scent alone is enough to earn this lotion a place in our hydrator hall of fame, but its deep-moisturizing powers are what makes it a true must-have for those with dry skin.
Splurge: Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede Body Crème
Conditioning oils of jojoba seed, cocoa seed, and sweet almond nourish, while the luxurious scent of peonies and soft suede make for a truly decadent experience.
$8.99, available at Walgreens; $26, available at Red Flower; $75, available at Jo Malone.
Skimp: Lumene Vitamin C+ Illuminating Anti-Age BB Cream
We've had our struggles with drugstore BB creams — most of the ones we've tried in the past have had some pretty abysmal textures, caused us to break out, or just had shades that looked really weird on human skin. We encountered none of those issues with this BB, which left our skin looking and feeling fantastic.
Split: Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm
This was the BB that started it all for us. It was the first one we tried, and after just one application, we were ready to throw our tinted moisturizers to the curb — it's that good.
Splurge: Dior Hydra Life BB Creme
While many BBs can feel too thick and hard to spread, this moisturizing one blends like a dream and makes our complexions look out of this world. Our only complaint — as with the other BBs in this category and most BBs in general — is that we wish they all came with a more diverse range of shades. Let's work on that, okay, guys?
$11.99, available at CVS; $36, available at Sephora; $56, available at Dior.
Skimp: Nyx Cosmetics Matte Lipstick in Perfect Red
This matte lipstick glides on like butter, stays in place for hours on end, and delivers the most vibrant pigments we've seen this side of a drugstore aisle.
Split: MAC Lipstick in Lady Danger
Our love of Lady Danger runs deep — it's the absolute most perfect orange-red that, like all of MAC's lipsticks, is insanely pigmented with color that lasts for days (or, at least it feels that way).
Splurge: Tom Ford Beauty Lip Color in Wild Ginger
We always gets endless amounts of rants and price-shaming whenever we recommend it, but we don't care: Tom Ford's exorbitantly priced lipsticks really are the categorical best. They never fail to get us compliments, come in the most amazing colors, and feel like heaven on our lips. So, sticker-shock be damned, we will continue to love and proudly recommend these luxe lipsticks to anyone in earshot.
$5.99, available at Ulta; $18, available at MAC; $49, available at Neiman Marcus.
Skimp: L'Oréal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara
We've tried to love other drugstore mascaras as much as we adore this one, but no dice. There's just no comparison to its plumping power and true obsidian hue.
Split: Kevyn Aucoin The Curling Mascara
Long, flirty lashes are just a swipe of this magic wand away. It has special proteins which lock lashes into a curl, plus nylon fibers to build up thickness.
Splurge: Chantecaille Faux Cils Mascara
If you like your lashes long and lush (um, who doesn't?), then this fringe-enhancer is for you. Two coats of this and you will be giving Zooey Deschanel a run for her doe-eyed money.
$6.39, available at Drugstore.com; $28, available at B-Glowing; $42, available at Chantecaille.
Skimp: Revlon Nail Enamel
A bajillion (that's an exact number) colors to choose from, a nice and spreadable formula, and decent wear time are just a few reasons why we love this cheapie lacquer.
Split: Sephora Formula X
With over 200 different shades and 12 unique and innovative finishes, Sephora's new lineup of polishes truly offers the best bang for your buck — not to mention some of the most jaw-droppingly rad hues we've ever laid eyes on.
Splurge: Rescue Beauty Lounge Nail Polish
When it comes to gorgeous colors that have traffic-stopping potential, Rescue Beauty Lounge has it on lockdown. Whenever we wear one of Ji Baek's out-of-the-box hues, we get everyone from our deskmates to random girls on the subway commenting on how much they love our manis.
$4.99, available at Ulta; $10.50-$12.50, available at Sephora; $20, available at Rescue Beauty Lounge.
Skimp: E.L.F. HD Lifting Concealer
Unlike other budget cover-ups, this soft and silky concealer won't cake into fine lines or dry out your skin. It works gangbusters at covering up everything from redness to hyperpigmentation and blemishes, and at that price it's worth it to stock up on a few, so you're never without its concealing magic.
Split: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
We saw the incredible powers of this makeup artist-beloved concealer backstage at NYFW, and ever since then we've been hooked. It glides on skin like satin, provides a luminous finish, and has buildable coverage that all but guarantees a flawless visage.
Splurge: Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer
After hearing the umpteenth makeup artist rave about this concealer, we finally decided to try it. Not only were their claims of concealing superiority not exaggerated, we think they might have even undersold it. The stick applicator makes it easy to apply, it goes on beyond smooth, will not cake, and we're pretty confident it can erase practically any skin imperfection we throw at it.
$3, available at E.L.F.; $28, available at NARS; $70, available at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Skimp: Nyx Cosmetics Stick Blush
While it's not quite on par with our beloved, discontinued Bobbi Brown Sheer Color Cheek Tint (#neverforget), this is the next best thing. Easy to apply, super-blendable, and providing a dewy flush, this is our blush placeholder until Bobbi comes to her senses and brings the Cheek Tints back.
Split: Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush
We usually prefer cream blushes to powder (see above), but this long-wearing version is the exception — it feels so soft and silky and is beyond easy to blend, not to mention its longwear capability.
Splurge: By Terry Rose de Rose
This sheer liquid blush is the ultimate complexion perker-upper — it gives your skin a soft, radiant, lit-from-within glow that erases dullness and any signs of fatigue.
$5.99, available at Ulta; $26, available at Tarte; $58, available at Bloomingdale's.
Skimp: Maybelline Color Tattoo by EyeStudio 24 Hr Eyeshadow
Tattoo is not an exaggeration: These creamy, pigmented shadows will. Not. Budge. We don't know why we'd need a shadow to last 24 hours, but we feel better knowing we have the option.
Split: Stila Eye Shadow
With fabulous color payoff, an ultra-blendable formula, and the versatility to wear wet or dry, it's no wonder Stila's cult-classic shadows have won every beauty award under the sun. Add another accolade to the pile...
Splurge: Dior Diorshow Fusion Mono
We don't know what a gel-foam texture actually is, but after trying these shadows, we're not sure how we lived without it. It feels weightless on the skin, but provides breathtaking color and multi-dimensional shine that makes our whole eye area look brightened and refreshed.
$5.94, available at Target, $18, available at Stila; $30, available at Dior.
Skimp: Maybelline Fit Me Foundation
With 18 shades, medium coverage, and a lightweight feel, this skin-perfecting fluid also boasts a finish that blends seamlessly into your skin for a flawless, natural complexion.
Split: Estée Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup
This satiny-skin foundation achieves the heretofore impossible feat of being both full coverage with a light-as-air feel.
Splurge: Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation
The great cosmic joke for blemish-prone ladies is that they usually rely on foundation the most, yet most makeup can exacerbate pimples or greasiness. Not this baby: Its liquid-to-powder formula actually absorbs oils as it seamlessly covers up skin discolorations, without looking flat or dull.
$5.94, available at Walmart; $36, available at Estée Lauder; $55, available at Sephora.
Skimp: Maybelline EyeStudio Master Duo Glossy Liquid Liner
Props to Maybelline for yet another makeup standout in the drugstore category. This dual-tipped liner allows you to create thick or thin lines with unerring precision, while the glossy finish and smudge-proof formula ensure your handiwork will stay in place as long as you need it to.
Split: Ardency Inn Punker World's Baddest Eyeliner
Our makeup artist BFF James Vincent adores this easy-draw liner pencil. 'Nuff said.
Splurge: Lancôme Artliner
The tug-free foam tip, the amazing array of hues, the smooth application — there are plenty of reasons to love this new liquid liner from Lancôme.
$7.99, available at Drugstore.com; $19, available at Sephora; $30, available at Lancôme.
Skimp: Sonia Kashuk Blusher Brush
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Sonia Kashuk hands down has the best, most affordably priced makeup brushes of all time. OF ALL TIME!
Split: Urban Decay Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush
UD had at us Optical Blurring. This vegan brush is the makeup-tool equivalent of Vaseline on a lens — use it to apply your foundation and it will help "blur" out any uneven tone or texture. Barbara Walters would approve.
Splurge: NARS Yachiyo Kabuki Brush
This kabuki-theater-inspired brush is a work of art in and of itself — it's almost too pretty to use. If you do manage to get past the pretty factor, it's quite versatile, great for everything from blending out blush to highlighting cheekbones and diffusing eyeshadow.
$10.99, available at Target; $25, available at Urban Decay; $50, available at NARS.
Skimp: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain
This balm-stain is the ultimate two-for-one as it hydrates your lips as it imparts glossy color. It's also way easier to apply than many of the more pigmented liquids, making it an ideal choice for stain novices.
Split: Sephora Cream Lip Stain
We've sung the praises of this amazing liquid lipstick so many times that we really don't have anything left to say, other than: It's a makeup unicorn, buy it immediately in every color under the sun.
Splurge: Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro Matte Lacquer
We're not quite sure how those wizards over at Armani did it, but they've managed to transform velvet into a matte lip stain. We must learn their secret — but in the meantime, we'll satisfy ourselves with obsessively applying this heavenly lippie to our pouts.
$6.49, available at Target; $13, available at Sephora; $32, available at Nordstrom.
Skimp: Acure Organics Shampoo Moroccan Argan Oil + Argan Stem Cell
Dry, damaged hair gets a much-needed shot of moisture with this au naturel coiff cleanser. Made with CoQ10, and organic sea buckthorn, argan, and pumpkin seed oil, the omega-rich formula provides lasting moisture, shine, and manageability.
Split: John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructing Shampoo
Besides smelling like the most amazing thing known to man, this repairing shampoo helps renew, restore, and strengthen damaged strands.
Splurge: Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Cleansing Oil Shampoo
While "oil" is a bit of a misnomer here, the concept behind this luxe cleanser is similar to that of the brand's iconic facial cleansing oil — it gently removes dirt, oil, and build-up without stripping your scalp or hair of its natural moisture, leaving behind improbably soft, supple, well-behaved strands.
$9.99, available at Spirit Beauty Lounge; $26, available at John Masters Organics; $57, available at Shu Uemura Art Of Hair.
Skimp: Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner
For the amount of deep conditioning this coconut-and-orchid hair softener provides, you'd expect it to feel heavy, but it's just the opposite — even our most fine-haired testers said their hair felt soft and airy after using this.
Split: Lather Yuzu Bergamot Crème Rinse
Avocado oil gives this natural conditioner its softening powers, while vitamin B5 and wheat protein help protect the hair and scalp.
Splurge: Christophe Robin Antioxidant Conditioner with 4 Oils and Blueberry
Bold statement warning: Christophe Robin's luxe line of hair care has completely changed our manes. The celebrity colorist knows a thing or two about color-treated hair, and this nourishing conditioner is proof of that. It instantly detangles and rejuvenates dyed or sensitized strands, giving them the extra TLC they need to look healthy, strong, and vibrant.
$3.49, available at Soap.com; $18, available at Valencia Home; $40, available at Beautyhabit.
Skimp: Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle Deeeeep Conditioner
Kooky name aside, this drugstore treatment is a cult classic for a reason: Give it three minutes and it will take your dry, frazzled, straw-like strands and transform them into a silky smooth 'do.
Split: Evo The Great Hydrator Moisture Mask
At first glance, we were a little put off by this mask — it has the consistency of petroleum jelly, which can be disconcerting when you are about to slather it all over your hair. We're glad we got over our initial hesitation because this moisturizing treatment is amazing. The "jelly" actually absorbs right into the hair, hydrating it from the inside out without leaving behind any sort of heaviness or residue. Our locks have never looked better, or been more manageable, healthy, and strong.
Splurge: Leonor Greyl Masque Fleurs de Jasmin
Chock-full of amino acids, this creamy hair mask is unmatched at imparting a glossy, mirror-like shine on even the most parched, damaged manes.
$3.99, available at Drugstore.com; $21.25, available at Sleek Hair; $60, available at Birchbox.
Skimp: Pssssst! Instant Dry Shampoo
You've probably heard or read about this bad boy ad nauseum, so we won't bore you with a long, drawn-out gushfest. It's cheap, it works, end of story.
Split: Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo With Oat Extract
We quite literally have a bottle of this stuff stashed in every bag, drawer, and cabinet in both our homes and office. It's kind of a necessity for those days when you "forget" (a.k.a. hit the snooze button for the fourth time) to wash your hair.
Splurge: Kérastase Powder Bluff
We thought we didn't have room for another dry shampoo in our lives, but then we saw this versatile spray in action at NYFW and realized our foolishness. It builds volume, sucks up oil, and won't leave behind a color residue, making it the new MVP of our styling line-up.
$6.99, available at Drugstore.com; $15.95, available at Folica; $36, available at Kérastase.
Skimp: John Frieda Full Volume Hair Dryer
We're usually pretty wary of cheapie hot tools — we've been burned before, literally — but this one from John Frieda left us pleasantly surprised. It dried our hair lickety-split without burning it, leaving our locks shiny and full.
Split: T3 Veloce Hair Dryer
Always wanted a T3 but not willing to drop the big bucks? This entry-priced version features the brand's much-loved tourmaline technology at half the price. So, you can get the same frizz-busting, fast-drying perks without having to drop a week's paycheck to get them.
Splurge: Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Dryer 2000
Speaking of a week's paycheck...if you're going to drop a lot of dough, you definitely want to feel like you are getting your money's worth. With a powerful motor that cuts drying time in half, a lightweight body that won't give you arm cramps, and completely customizable settings that actually make sense, this high-priced dryer definitely delivers on its cha-ching price tag.
$39.99, available at Macy's; $99, available at T3; $250, available at Hair Envy.
Skimp: L'Oréal Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold
Because, duh. Also, every single celebrity and editorial hairstylist on the planet can't be wrong.
Split: Bumble and bumble Does It All Styling Spray
There pretty much isn't anything this versatile styler can't do. Use it to lock updos in place, or spray it on hair sections prior to heat styling to give hair grip and hold your style.
Splurge: Oribe Superfine Strong Hair Spray
Lock in even the most gravity-defying styles with this strong-hold spray. It holds strands in place without looking dull or sticky, imparting a lustrous shine to your coif as it controls it.
$12.99, available at Target; $27, available at bumble and bumble; $36, available at Oribe.
Skimp: Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie
Minimize frizz and enhance your curls with this natural coil enhancer. It uses coconut and neem oils, plus silk protein to protect hair from damage, hydrate, smooth, and add shine.
Split: DevaCurl Styling Cream
This styler is a must-have for curly girls — it hydrates, defines, minimizes frizz, and helps shield your curls from 'do-wrecking humidity.
Splurge: Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream
Perfect for wavy and curly hair alike, this luxe styler has heat-activated technology that activates a "curl memory factor" to keep curls bouncy and free of frizz for hours on end.
$9.99, available at Walgreens; $24.95, available at DevaCurl; $33.60, available at Moroccanoil.
Just as beauty is not one size fits all, so are spending habits unique to each girl. Maybe your skin does just fine with a drugstore moisturizer, but your lashes revolt if you give them anything but that expensive department-store mascara. There's no "right" category to splurge on because everyone values something different in the beauty realm. Nor is every girl working with the same bank balance - what seems exorbitant to one is a justifiable expense to another.
With that in mind, we've gathered up a whopping90 of the best beauty products for literally every budget. In the following slides, you'll find our picks for the best of the best in each product category, sorted out into the low-, mid-, and luxury-price ranges. What you won't find is us shaming you into using a less fancy shampoo because "you're just washing your cash down the drain." You worked hard for your money, so spend it on whatever makes you happiest.
Click through the gallery above to see our picks!
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