Beauty Experts Say You Could Look So Much Better If You Do Any Of These Simple, Cheap Things

Feel like a million bucks for a lot less than a million bucks.

Written by Erin Celletti
Originally Published: 
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If you’re feeling like you need a little pick-me-up, it can be easy to make spur-of-the-moment splurges on expensive products that promise miracles but don’t always deliver. (Been there, done that.) So this time, I tapped beauty experts from across the country and asked for their favorite simple and cheap products you can start using ASAP to look and feel so much better (not that you don’t look amazing already, of course). From illuminating skin-care products to blowout-preserving silk pillowcases, Amazon has some of the best cheap beauty finds. Here’s what the experts recommend.


Dab On This Under-Eye Brightener That Can Help You Fake 8 Hours Of Sleep

Celebrity makeup artist Emily Gray says, “I think we’ve all had some of those mornings [...] You tossed and turned all night and you wake up with dark circles under your eyes.” To remedy those circles, she recommends the Catrice under-eye brightener, advising to “simply take a little product on a small concealer brush, and blend it only on the areas of darkness (usually that is the inner corner of the eye and the outer corner).” She explains this trick “will cancel out the discoloration and make you look instantly more awake and bright.” The cruelty-free formula uses shea butter and hyaluronic acid for deep hydration, while the luminous pink pigment works to balance out any blue or gray tones.


Whiten Your Teeth On The Regular With These Pens That Make It Easy

Patty Bell, award-winning film and television makeup artist says, “The cheapest and fastest way to improve your appearance [...] is whitening your teeth!” This best-selling kit streamlines the process; instead of using strips, just brush the tips of these whitening pens onto your your teeth and smile for 30 seconds as the gentle formula sinks in. It’s easy and mess free, and especially ideal for those on the go.


Use An Illuminating Primer For A Glowing-From-Within Vibe

Makeup artist Nicole Moleti says, “The number one beauty tip I have for people who say they just feel like they aren’t happy with how they look is to add glow! I always suggest an illuminating primer to give the skin an all-over, soft radiance, which will make a world of difference with you how look and feel.” This illuminating primer by Laura Geller does just that while also creating a super smooth canvas for your makeup. Offering a hint of subtle gold, this skin-loving formula is infused with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and brightening marine fennel and rice extract. It’s a multitasking base that gives you an amazing luminosity while ensuring makeup stays put.

  • Available shades: 8


Gently Exfoliate Your Skin With Glycolic & Lactic Acids

Bell says, “Exfoliate your skin! Removing all of the dry skin will really help your skin glow and your skin-care products [to] work better.” She’s a fan of these exfoliating pads by First Aid Beauty, which are infused with lactic and glycolic acids to promote cell turnover. Just swipe them across your face, and with regular use, you’ll see improved texture and a brighter complexion — no harsh scrubbing involved.


Hydrate & Protect Lips With A Tinted Balm

Velve says that following up a lip scrub with a “tinted lip balm will keep lips hydrated, protected, and give a beautiful color to the lips.” This hydrating lip shine balm by e.l.f will do just that, and comes in eight gorgeous shades. It features heart-shaped core of nourishing, melting balm and an outer shell that deposits a hint of pigment on the lips for a sheer wash of color.

  • Available colors: 8


Prevent Collagen Breakdown With A Sunscreen — Like This Award-Winning K-Beauty Option

Ginille Brown, aesthetic nurse practitioner and founder of Ginille Beauty Aesthetics in Los Angeles, stresses the importance of sunscreen, saying, “If I can only get my patients to do one thing, it’ll be to wear sunscreen daily and reapply.” She notes that too much sun exposure increases the risk for skin cancer, as well as dark spots and collagen breakdown. This award-winning K-beauty sunscreen defends your skin with a light, water-based formula that doesn’t leave a white cast behind. It’s also blended with green tea, cica, and sunflower seed oils to soothe and hydrate your skin, while giving it a nice glow.


Slather On This Hair Mask For Increased Shine, Reduced Frizz & UV Protection

Celebrity hairstylist Annagjid "Kee" Taylor recommends using a hair mask once a week: “When used properly, hair masks have the ability to make your hair shine, feel hydrated, reduce frizz, and provide you with a healthier scalp. In the long run, this will make your hair easier to style and protect from damage and breakage.” Her favorite is the NatureLab Perfect Repair Treatment Masque — a color-safe option that also contains vegan keratin, strengthening bamboo extract, moisturizing coconut, and prickly pear oil to protect against UV damage. The best part? The green tea and cypress scent is inspired by Japanese bamboo forests.


Use A Heated Eyelash Curler To Open The Eyes

Bell is a big fan of using an eyelash curler to “instantly open the eyes.” She recommends using heated options as “they are more gentle on the eyes and lashes and really lock the hold and curl.” She prefers this heated curler by Grande Lash that creates a nice upward curve, without any crimping or pinching. It’s rechargeable and features two settings: one for a natural curl and one for a little more drama. It’s a breeze to use: Just brush it through your lashes like a mascara wand.


Apply Individual Faux Lashes, Just Like The Celebs Do

If your lashes need a lift (literally), Bell recommends Ardell individual lashes, calling them the “secret sauce to fuller-looking lashes used by celebrities worldwide.” A single pack contains 112 individual lash flares that you can place directly on top of your own lashes for an “undetectable, longer-looking lash line,” according to Bell. Just use a bit of eyelash glue (remember — less is more) and voilà.


Promote Circulation & Tone Skin With A Gua Sha

An essential to any skin-care routine, Bell is a fan of using a gua sha to gently massage the face, saying, “It helps boost your circulation, tones the skin, gives you a glowing complexion, [and] helps with puffiness by draining the lymphatic system.” This gua sha stone is made from 100% jade which is also known for promoting balance and energy. Its unique shape targets facial tension, resulting in a more sculpted, defined look. It feels pretty amazing on the skin, too.

  • Available colors: 4


Use Retinol To Improve Texture & Promote Collagen Production

Brown encourages incorporating retinol into your skin-care routine, noting that it “promotes skin renewal, reducing fine lines, minimizing pores, and addressing acne and scarring.” But that’s not all — Brown says, “Its collagen-stimulating properties contribute to a smoother complexion.” This retinol cream contains 0.1% of the must-have ingredient, plus soothing vitamin E — and a pea-size amount is all you’ll need when you apply it at night. It’s a dermatologist-tested formula that’s hypoallergenic and cruelty free.


Get Adequate Hydration To Keep Skin Quenched From The Inside Out

When it comes to your complexion, what you put on the inside is just as important as what you put on the outside. “Hydration is key for vibrant skin,” Brown explains. “Drinking an adequate amount of water helps maintain skin elasticity, reducing dryness and the appearance of fine lines.” If you have trouble hydrating throughout the day, this 1-gallon water bottle might help. It comes complete with time and measurement markings down the side, so you can make sure you get all your ounces in... and then some.

  • Available colors: 30+


Use A Dry Shampoo To Absorb Oil & Prolong Your Hairstyle

Celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons says that one of his favorite hacks to better-looking (and smelling) hair is dry shampoo. He says, “Dry shampoo can prolong hair color, help repair and protect your hair, absorb oil so your hair doesn’t look greasy, and can make any blowout last longer —the key is to spray after you wash your tresses to help prolong your style.” His pick is the NatureLab Tokyo Perfect Clean dry shampoo, which is a non-aerosol spray that uses rice protein to absorb excess oil. The formula is made with clean, eco-friendly ingredients to deliver a total refresh to hair in need. Just pump it into the roots and massage it in. You’ll love the light floral scent with hints of Japanese almond flower and violet.


Clip An On-Trend Bow To Your Hair To Elevate Any Look

Raven Hurtado, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago points out that bows are making a comeback, noting that they “add a touch of glam” and “look good on any hairstyle,” whether it’s short or long, or you’re creating a ponytail or bun. Coming in a pack of two, these hair bows are made from silky satin for a classic look and are affixed to to sturdy alligator claw clips for secure placement on ponytails, updos, and more. Choose from 13 color combos to perfectly accessorize any look.

  • Available colors: 13


Brush On Some Brow Wax To Frame The Face & Add Lift

Nina Vitsala is the CEO and founder of Kauneuspiste Freesia, a Finnish beauty salon, and she preaches the power of the brows, saying, “A well-defined brow frames your face and elevates your entire look.” She recommends focusing on “subtle lifting techniques,” like a “slight arch adjustment [that] can brighten up your face.” To achieve an at-home brow-lifting effect, she advises looking for a brow soap. This e.l.f. brow wax fits the bill, working to create fluffy, sculpted brows. Just dampen the spoolie, then use the wax to create lift exactly where you want it.


Apply An Eyelash Serum To Encourage Growth & Strength

For regular maintenance, Vitsala says to use a nourishing lash serum to “keep your lashes fabulous longer — forget clumpy mascara and expensive extensions!” This serum is formulated with amino acids to encourage growth while being fragrance-free and safe for sensitive skin. In just two to four weeks, you’ll see results — just use the brush tip to apply it to your lash line.


Rebalance Skin & Keep Pores Happy With This Organic Facial Toner

Dendy Engleman, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, and she advises using a toner since it can “rebalance the skin while removing excess makeup and oil which may be clogging your pores.” She recommends using Humphreys clarifying witch hazel toner to refresh the skin at the end of the day. The 8-ounce bottle contains certified-organic, wild-crop witch hazel that’s undiluted for maximum cleansing power. It’s free of fragrances and dyes, making it a great option for sensitive skin.


Use Your Tinted Skin Products In The Morning For A Warm Glow

Maria Velve, Toronto-based makeup artist and green beauty expert, recommends that you opt for naturally pigmented oils (from amber to dark orange) for your morning routine, as they’ll “give a beautiful, radiant glow to the skin with or without makeup.” These natural pigments — which can be found in sea buckthorn and rose hip oils — also indicate the presence of protective carotenoids. This 1-ounce bottle of sea buckthorn oil boasts high ratings on Amazon, and is unrefined and cold pressed for maximum efficacy. This versatile oil works all kinds of wonders, from reducing red spots to minimizing hyperpigmentation to adding moisture to skin.


Use A BB Cream As A One-Step Solution For Both Makeup & Skin Care

Velve calls BB cream “definitely a must-have, fuss-free makeup-skin care hybrid that can benefit all skin types.” She adds that it can “even out hyperpigmentation, redness, and discoloration while achieving a healthy glow.” This K-beauty BB cream provides light, flawless coverage, instead of the thick look of foundation. As for the skin-care part of things, the formula includes moisturizers and irritation-soothing cica, for an all-around beauty powerhouse.

  • Available shades: 6


Exfoliate Your Lips With A Sugar Scrub

To prevent a “lackluster” look, Velve says, “Use a lip scrub or a bit of oil mixed with sugar to remove dead skin from the lips.” This sugar lip scrub by Hanalei is made with Hawaiian cane sugar and pure kukui oil that work together to slough off dead skin while restoring hydration. Plus, it’s cruelty-free, vegan-friendly, and formulated with natural ingredients.


Slip On These Classic Hoops For Instant Style

Velve says, “I truly believe that jewelry instantly makes us look put together. [...] Classic hoops of all sizes are in and look amazing with everything.” These hoops are a versatile pick that you can reach for every morning, without even thinking. They’re available in two sizes, in your choice of white, yellow, or rose gold. Plus, you can opt for either 14-karat or 18-karat gold — if you have sensitive skin, opt for the latter.


Or Try These Chunky Hoop Earrings For A Modern Upgrade

Another option? This modern twist on the classic hoop earring — a shorter, chunkier silhouette, with a huggie-style fit. They’re lead and nickel free, so can work with sensitive skin, and are available in 11 different options including black, silver, and gold finishes.

  • Available options: 11


Adorn Yourself With A Simple Necklace That Still Makes A Statement

Velve says, “If earrings are not your thing, a necklace or chain can help complement and elevate any look.” This oversized chain-link necklace can be worn as a sole statement piece, but it also looks great layered with a few of your favorites (try a delicate pendant to offset the bolder design of this pick). It has an extension chain, so you can adjust the length and is made with 14-karat gold-plated material that’s nickel, lead, and cadmium free.

  • Available colors: 2


Stack Some Delicate Bracelets On Your Wrist

Keeping with the theme of jewelry, don’t neglect your wrists. A proper wrist stack can instantly add a hint of glam to any look — from sweats to evening wear and everything in between. This set includes six chain bracelets, each with a unique design. They’re plated in sterling silver and close with lobster clasps for peace of mind. As a bonus, they come in a cute gift box if you’re feeling generous.

  • Available styles: 3


Hold Your Hair Taut With A V-Shaped Comb While Straightening

When it comes to styling curly hair or coils, Ghanima Abdullah, cosmetologist at The Right Hairstyles says, “Chances are you have to use a comb underneath your flat iron while smoothing so that your hair doesn't tangle. But they slip! For a more even finish when you flat iron, try [these] V-combs to keep your hair in place.” The unique design of this comb smooths out knots, then holds your hair taut as you run a straightener through it. You can also use it to section and hold hair when blow drying.


Create Intricate, Neat-Looking Braids With These Parting Tools

Braiding hair is a true form of art, and artists need the right tools to perfect their results. Abdullah says, “Get beautiful, professional-looking fishtail braids with a braiding tool. Forget sitting there trying to learn the process with a video.” This eight-piece set of hair parting tools will help you achieve the precision you’re after, whether you’re creating one big chunky braid, smaller braids, twists, or updos.


Minimize Under-Eye Puffiness With Caffeine Hydrogels

Valerie Aparovich is a certified cosmetologist-aesthetician at OnSkin, an app that scans cosmetic ingredients for safety. Her top beauty tip? “Try caffeine-infused hydrogel eye patches to reduce under-eye puffiness. Caffeine possesses vasoconstrictive properties, meaning it makes capillaries constrict, thus decreasing blood supply to the puffy area and reducing swelling.” This pack includes 30 caffeine-infused hydrogel eye patches — just apply and wait 10 to 15 minutes as they plump skin and brighten your under-eye area. They’re also infused with other nourishing ingredients like licorice extract and hyaluronic acid.


Get Fast Skin-Care Results With Quality Sheet Masks

Aparovich is a fan of “well-formulated sheet masks” as they “provide speedy skin-care solutions, with their effects occurring immediately.” This set of sheet masks has earned an impressive 4.6-star overall rating on Amazon, and includes a variety of formulations with active ingredients, like charcoal to purify pores, honey to soothe redness and improve acne, and milk to quench dry skin. If you have one skin-care concern you’d like to zero in on, however, you can also opt for a single-variety pack.

  • Available multipacks: 16


Add Moisture To Lips With An Easy-To-Absorb Lip Oil

For hydration, Aparovich recommends lip oils, as they’re usually more easily absorbed by skin than glosses, thanks to their liquid consistency. “Thus, they can deeply nourish the lips and provide a longer-lasting hydrating effect, strengthening the lips’ moisture barrier and soothing dry and chapped lips,” she explains. This Korean lip oil comes in 15 different color and scent combos, with each targeting a different concern. It’s smooth and non-sticky, and offers just a hint of color for a subtle, natural look.

  • Available options: 16


Use An Enzymatic Peel For Deep Exfoliation That’s Gentle On Skin

If you’re looking to do a facial peel but are a bit hesitant about the risk of irritation, Aparovich says, “Enzyme peels are the mildest and gentlest of all chemical peels. Their active components are enzymes, such as papain (found in papaya) and bromelain (found in pineapple) enzymes.” She explains that these ingredients “help to deep-cleanse and renew the skin, removing dead cells, freeing up pores, and promoting smoother texture and a healthy glow without the risk of dryness and irritation.” Suitable for all skin types, this enzymatic Jelly Glow peel includes both pineapple and papaya to encourage cell turnover. The formula is further enriched with coconut fruit extract to soothe and moisturize skin.


Apply Aloe Vera To Prevent Moisture Loss & Promote Skin Regeneration

Looking for soothing moisture? Aparovich recommends antioxidant-packed aloe vera: “It promotes skin regeneration and replenishes moisture levels, preventing trans-epidermal water loss.” This USDA-organic aloe vera gel is bottled within 12 hours of harvest for freshness and purity — and it boasts a 4.6-star overall rating. Besides its traditional use of soothing sunburns, it also relieves irritated skin, helps improve acne, and gives skin a hydrated, refreshed appearance.


Use Rose Hip Oil As A Gentler Alternative To Retinol

Another powerful skin-care ingredient Aparovich recommends is rose hip oil, saying, “A source of plant-derived vitamin A, [it] can be a gentler retinol alternative, better tolerated by sensitive skin.” She explains that rose hip oil is “packed with natural skin-beneficial vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids that help generously moisturize the skin and soothe inflammation.” This USDA-certified organic rose hip oil is a great option, as it’s cold-pressed and made with no additives. You can use it on your face and body for its combination of cell-regenerating and hydrating powers. The formula is lightweight and fast-absorbing, and comes with a dropper for easy application.


Protect Hair With A Thermal Spray — Like This One Infused With Shimmery Rock Crystal Extract

Nikia Londy, founder of Intriguing Hair hair extensions says that if you want to keep your hair sleek and shiny, “Always use a heat protectant spray before styling with hot tools.” This game-changing thermal spray not only protects from high heat temperatures, but also infuses hair with shimmer and shine, thanks to the addition of rock crystal extract. The lightly conditioning formula also adds body while smoothing strands.


Minimize Heat Exposure Time With These Absorbent Microfiber Towel Wraps

Another way to keep heat exposure to a minimum is making sure you get all you can out of a towel dry before cranking up the heat. These Turbie Twist microfiber hair wraps come in a pack of four and are made with super absorbent microfiber that not only soaks up excess water but helps to minimize frizz and split ends, too. They stay in place with secure twist-and-loop closures, so you can comfortably wear them while you put on makeup or do your skin-care routine.


Sleep On A Silk Pillowcase To Fend Off Frizz & Breakage

You can also care for your hair with no effort at all. Londy says, “Invest in a silk pillowcase or bonnet to reduce friction and prevent frizz and breakage while you sleep.” This set of two pillowcases is made of 100% mulberry silk and comes in five colorways. And they’re not only good for your hair, but for your skin, too. Unlike cotton, which saps your face of hydration, silk keeps your skin’s moisture barrier intact.

  • Available colors: 5
  • Available sizes: 3


“Overdirect” Your Hair With A Round Brush When Blow Drying

Cosmetologist Hollee Wood offers advice for amazing home blowouts: “For extra volume and movement, you can overdirect your hair while drying it with a round brush. This method involves lifting the roots upward and directing the mid-lengths and ends in the opposite direction.” The Salon Sleek blowout brush is a great tool to have on hand while achieving this method, and it comes in a range of barrel sizes, from 0.75 inch to 2.5 inches, so you can get the look you’re after. Made from ion-infused ceramic, it also helps to speed up drying time, while creating shine and shape.

  • Available sizes: 6


Lock In Volume By Using Self-Grip Rollers On Recently Dried Hair

Done drying? Wood says, “While the hair is still warm from the blow dryer, try wrapping the sections in Velcro rollers to help set the shape as the hair cools.” This locks in extra volume and bounce that’s pretty much guaranteed to last for hours (or all day). This six-pack of self-grip hair rollers by Drybar keeps strands in place without the use of clips or pins. The set comes with three small and three large rollers, and they won’t snag or pull on hair.


Use A Vitamin C Serum To Brighten Skin & Prevent Damage

Marina Sominksy, RN, and owner of Capital Aesthetics in Ontario, Canada says, “Adding vitamin C serum to your skin-care routine can brighten skin tone and neutralize free radicals from the sun that are known to cause photodamage to the skin and accelerate visible signs of aging.” This K-beauty vitamin C serum is packed with other potent active ingredients, like ferulic acid to help fade dark spots and hyaluronic acid for hydration. When used daily, you can see results within about three weeks. The best part? It’s much easier on the wallet than competitors.


Use A Peptide Oil To Improve Hair Texture & Strengthen Strands

Yoram Harth, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and Medical Director of MDhair. He recommends peptide oils if you’re looking for softer, shinier hair. “These oils penetrate the hair shaft to repair, strengthen, and moisturize, leading to visibly improved hair texture and resilience against damage.” A great option is this peptide hair serum. Formulated with over 30 multitasking ingredients including four types of peptides, biotin, collagen, and grape seed oil, it nourishes and hydrates strands while stimulating the scalp. It may even help encourage growth and hair density for a fuller, thicker appearance.


Add A Skin-Soothing Organic Castor Oil To Your Gua Sha Routine

This USDA-certified organic castor oil pairs perfectly with an at-home gua sha treatment, serving as a smooth and soothing barrier between your skin and the tool. The pure, cold-pressed oil has received high praise for its natural ability to stimulate hair growth, promoting lush eyelashes, brows, and hair. It’s also touted for moisturizing facial skin and helping reduce acne. Multitaskers will love that you can also use it as an eye makeup remover and an overnight moisturizer, too.

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