Experts Are Obsessed With These 40 Cheap Beauty Products Because They Work So Damn Well

Major results for minor cash.

Written by Natalie Gale
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

When shopping for beauty products, it's hard to know which ones hit that sweet spot of being both affordable and effective. Some products cost an arm and a leg, and some just don't live up to the hype. That's why our shopping team has tapped a handful of beauty experts to chat about some of their favorite products that can be snagged for less than $35 on Amazon. The following makeup artists, dermatologists, estheticians, and hair stylists have rounded up the products they’re obsessed with — ones that are both cheap and work so damn well. From favorites that have been around for decades to drugstore holy grails to clever hair and makeup hacks, you're about to discover some of the best and more affordable beauty products ever.


This Classic Healing Ointment Derms Swear By...

A tried-and-true drugstore staple that’s under $15, Aquaphor healing ointment remains one of the most soothing, healing skin care products of all time, and the ultra-affordable product is recommended by derm after derm as a skin protectant. “It is an excellent choice for most skin types including those with sensitive or eczema prone skin,” says Dr. Blair Murphy-Rose, a board-certified dermatologist. Use it on your lips, on your face to slug before bed, and on dry, cracked hands. “It even doubles well as an eye makeup remover in a pinch and makes an excellent under-eye moisturizer to apply at bedtime,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose.


...& A Version Made Especially For Your Lips

Big on using Aquaphor for your lips? Consider snagging this Aquaphor Lip Repair value pack, so you can keep one in your bag and one on your bedside table. They come out to less than $5 each, and they’ll make sure your pout stays protected during the day and soothed at night. “Excellent for all skin types, including the most sensitive, the Aquaphor lip ointment is highly occlusive to powerfully lock in moisture,” explains Dr. Murphy-Rose.


This Snail Mucin Essense The Internet Can’t Get Enough Of

You’ve probably heard enough good things about Cosrx’s snail mucin essence to last a lifetime. But if not, allow me to detail a few more. It contains 96% snail mucin (which is chock full of hyaluronic acid), it’s less than $20, and it’s recommended by Dr. Murphy-Rose. “This lightweight, hypoallergenic ‘goop,’ if you will, packs a punch for skin hydration while soothing and providing a glow,” she says.


This Exfoliating Body Lotion For Keratosis Pilaris

Dr. Murphy-Rose loves First Aid Beauty’s KP Smoothing Body Lotion for its exfoliating yet soothing formulation. “FAB KP Smoothing Body Lotion boasts 10% lactic acid plus urea to exfoliate the outer skin cells that may be trapping hair follicles (and causing bumps like in keratosis pilaris), plus colloidal oatmeal, glycerin and ceramides to moisturize and soothe,” she says. And six ounces of the product goes for less than $30.


This Dermatologist-Loved Moisturizing Cream That’s Simple Yet Effective

Dr. Murphy-Rose’s last pick is another drugstore darling — CeraVe’s moisturizing cream, which goes for less than $20 for a whopping 19 ounces of product. “Cerave Moisturizing Cream is an excellent body moisturizer for normal to dry skin and is particularly good for sensitive skin,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “It is rich in ceramides and emollients to hydrate and replenish the skin barrier and contains hypoallergenic ingredients. Well-loved and frequently recommended by dermatologists!”


The Gold Standard In Heatless Curling

Jennifer Korab, celebrity and editorial hair stylist, love’s Kitsch’s satin heatless curling set for its easy, damage-free curling ability. “One of my favorites!” she says. “Also easiest to use with maximum results. Saves your hair on the heat exposure.” The entire set, including satin scrunchies to secure your hair, goes for less than $20, and it’s Amazon’s number-one best-selling hair curling set.


These Silicone Scalp Scrubbers That Are Affordable & Effective

Heeta’s scalp scrubber is another favorite,” says Korab. “Love to use this to massage and cleanse my scalp. Helps with product buildup, and prevents dandruff. Great on wet or dry hair.” These soft silicone brushes help get shampoo all the way down to your scalp, gently exfoliating and removing dead skin in the process. They support healthy hair growth, they come out to less than five dollars each, and they just feel good — you can’t go wrong.


These Hot Rollers That Heat Up In Less Than 2 Minutes

Korab calls these Conair ceramic hot rollers “another favorite.” Unlike the heatless rollers, they style your hair immediately, giving you a bouncy blowout look whenever. “These rollers are easy to use and give you a voluminous look in minutes. Great way to style your hair for a night out,” she says. This set comes with 12 rollers and corresponding clips for less than $30. And they’re gentle on your hair, too — each roller has a velvety covering to protect hair from heat damage.


This Liquid Lipstick With Professional Pigmentation & Drugstore Pricing

Emmy-nominated makeup artist Gabrielle Devine loves Maybelline’s SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick, saying that the drugstore product “has some staying power. That, mixed with the vibrant colors and comfortable wear, make this a beautiful option for anybody’s makeup kit,” she says. Amazon buyers agree, giving it over 85,000 five-star ratings and making it Amazon’s number-one best-selling lipstick. The best part? It’s under $10.


This Pressed Powder That Hydrates Instead Of Drying Out Your Skin

Another drugstore product Devine signs off on? Covergirl’s Simply Ageless pressed powder. “I don’t know what I enjoy most, the fact that the product provides great coverage or that the price is almost too good to be true,” she says. “[It] provides hydration for your skin and a dewy finish.” Pretty impressive for a powder that’s less than $15 — it’s infused with hydrating hyaluronic acid to give it that creamy yet mattifying feel.


This Ultra-Affordable Liquid Lip Color Two-Pack

Another lip product Devine loves: this Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Color. “This lip color is worth every penny,” she says, though those pennies don’t amount to much — each tube in this two-pack comes out to less than $3 each. “This vibrant and long-lasting formula is perfect whether you are on a budget or not,” says Devine. It has a velvety matte finish that won’t dry out your lips, along with a staying power of up to 12 hours.


This Derm-Approved Hydrating Drugstore Lipgloss

Prefer a glossy look to a matte one? This Neutrogena Hydroboost Moisturizing Lip Gloss is just the ticket, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Lauren Penzi, and it’s less than $10 a pop. “[It’s] an amazing lip gloss that comes in a great variety of tinted colors,” she says. “Unlike most lip glosses, this product instantly quenches, conditions, and soothes even dry lips, leaving them feeling and looking hydrated for a full 24 hours while also improving the softness and condition of your lips over time.”


This Quick-Drying Vegan Nail Polish That Lasts

Dr. Penzi also loves this Essie Expressie nail polish — it’s much easier and more affordable than running to the salon, and it’ll still yield great results. “If you're like me and are always crunched for time, definitely consider this nail polish. This polish dries in [one] minute and is long lasting,” she says. “It comes in a ton of cute colors, too.” The polish is eight-free and vegan, and it’s another less-than-$10 find.


An Ointment That Works Wonders On Dry Skin Or Chapped Lips

For keeping skin nourished, Dr. Penzi suggests this CeraVe Healing Ointment, calling it “an amazing all-in-one product that keeps your skin supple and hydrated.” She recommends using the affordable product as the last step in your nighttime skin care routine, noting that it’s a “great product for those with dry skin to use for slugging a few times a week, and also an excellent everyday ointment for lips to keep them looking smooth, plump, and hydrated.”


These Interdental Brushes For Hard-To-Clean Areas

Looking to up your dental hygiene game? Dr. Aalam Samsavar, DDS, PS, a cosmetic dentist, recommends these TePe interdental brushes, calling them a “game changer” for deeply cleaning hard-to-reach areas between teeth — and this mult-pack is less than $10 on Amazon. “Unlike traditional toothbrushes, TePe brushes offer a unique solution for those hard-to-reach spots, ensuring comprehensive cleaning,” he says. “They are not just brushes; they are the key to maintaining a healthier mouth and preventing dental issues before they start.”


This Tongue Cleaner That Removes Bacteria Toothbrushes Can’t

Dr. Samsavar also “highly recommends” a tongue cleaner. “Our tongue harbors bacteria and food particles that not only affect oral health but also dull our taste sensations. This specially designed tongue cleaner effectively removes these deposits, offering a deeper level of cleanliness,” he says, making this tongue cleaner another $10 investment that’ll dramatically improve your oral health. “Unlike toothbrushes, which can redistribute bacteria across the teeth, this tool efficiently eliminates them from the mouth,” he says.


This Affordable, Effective Drugstore Cream For Sensitive Or Dry Skin

Irritated, itchy, or just plain dry skin? Reach for this La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm B5, says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick, that only goes for around $15. “This multipurpose balm contains shea butter and glycerin and is soothing on the skin as it contains panthenol and La Roche Posay thermal spring water. This makes it a great option for those with sensitive skin, even those with rosacea,” she says. “I especially love that it can be used by the whole family.”


This Super Gentle, Hydrating Cleanser

And when it comes to affordable cleansers for sensitive skin, Dr. Garshick has you covered, too, recommending the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser. “This cleanser effectively gets rid of dirt and buildup without leaving the skin feeling dry,” she explains. “It contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin as well as ceramides to support and strengthen the skin barrier.” The product goes for less than $15, and it’s racked up over 80,000 five-star Amazon ratings, too.


This Lightweight Yet Nourishing Daily Moisturizer

For a fuss-free daily moisturizer that’s under $15 and great for even the most sensitive of skin, Dr. Garshick turns to Vanicream’s Daily Facial Moisturizer. “This nourishing but lightweight lotion uses key ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides to support the skin barrier, but still absorbs easily,” she says. “It is fragrance-free, paraben-free, lanolin-free, and sulfate-free, making it especially good for those with sensitive skin,” she confirms.


This French Beauty Staple That’s One Of The Most Gentle & Effective Makeup Removers

Bioderma’s Sensibio H2O micellar water, a French cult classic-turned drugstore staple, “works to gently but effectively remove makeup and impurities without drying out the skin,” says Dr. Garshick. “It also works to soothe the skin and won’t leave the skin feeling dry or stripped,” she says, noting that it’s “especially good for someone with dry skin and can be used as a first step in a double cleanse process.” And at $19 for almost 17 ounces of product, it only goes for about a dollar an ounce.


This Lightweight Moisturizer That Also Includes UV Protection

“This moisturizer provides SPF 50 coverage while also hydrating the skin using humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin,” says Dr. Garshick of Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost moisturizer with SPF — which kills two birds with one stone for less than $20. “It’s oil-free so it won’t clog the pores, and fragrance-free, making it good even for those with sensitive skin,” she says. “It rubs in easily without leaving a greasy finish, while still hydrating the skin.”


This Beloved Vitamin C Serum That Gets The Job Done For Just $20

One of the internet’s most beloved vitamin C serums, TruSkin’s vitamin C has racked up over 90,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. And according to Dr. Garshick, it’s for good reason: “This vitamin C is combined with vitamin E as well as hyaluronic acid to help brighten the skin while also hydrating and nourishing the skin,” she says. “It works to fight free radicals damage while helping to even skin tone,” while it’s lightweight texture won’t leave your face feeling greasy or sticky.


This K-Beauty Lip Oil That Stains & Hydrates

“Get ready for some lip action with Appleberry Lip Oil,” says Kristin Gunn, a cosmetic injection specialist, of this Nooni lip oil that’ll run you less than $15, calling it a “must-have in your purse arsenal.” She says that “it's not just hydrating; it's the marathon runner of lip tints, promising you long-lasting color that's here to stay.”


This Cult-Classic Toner That’s Balancing, Soothing, & Cheap

Thayer’s Cucumber Witch Hazel is so good for so many things,” says Gunn. “This isn’t your run-of-the-mill toner; it’s the dynamic duo your face has been waiting for. Cucumber and witch hazel are like a power couple battling blemishes and telling pores to behave.” Gunn calls the toner refreshing and rejuvenating, noting that it’s “perfect to use after shaving to help alleviate razor burn.” And at around $10 for 12 ounces, it’s incredibly affordable.


These Wipes That Are Like A “Spa Day For Your Eyes”

Gunn also loves these lesser-known tea tree oil eyelid and lash wipes since they’re “packed with [hydrating ingredients]” she says, and you can snag a whopping 60 wipes for less than $20. “Think of these wipes as your sidekick for makeup removal and skin TLC,” she adds. “They’ve got tea tree oil to tackle that stubborn mascara, hyaluronic acid for a hydration boost, green tea to chill things out, and chamomile to soothe your tired eyes — it’s like a spa day for your lids!”


These Affordable Pimple Patches That Come In Different Sizes

Pimple patches are a must in anyone’s acne treatment lineup, which work by “drawing moisture out of a pimple and shrinking it” overnight, explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Brendan Camp. He recommends these COSRX pimple patches, which only go for around $10 for a 24-pack. Dr. Camp likes these ones because they “come in a variety of sizes to address [acne] large and small.”


This Hangnail Tweezer That Gets Your Nails Into Shape

Recommended by Dr. Camp, “This clipper helps remove hangnails before they lead to painful sores,” he says, explaining how “hangnails form when cuticle skin dries and separates from the nail fold.” It’s a solid tool to have in any nail care arsenal, and it’ll set you back less than $15.


This Cheap Spot Treatment That Exfoliates While It Nourishes

Bust rough patches of skin, “common on the elbows, knees, and tops of the toes,” with this Eucerin Roughness Relief Spot Treatment, says Dr. Camp. “This targeted moisturizer contains urea, which acts as both a keratolytic agent to facilitate exfoliation and moisturizer to help hydrate skin.” It also contains exfoliating lactic acid and nourishing ceramides, and will only run you around $10.


This Super Rich Cream Formulated For Hands & Feet

Don’t forget about hand and foot care, especially during the winter months when your skin is extra dry. For combatting dry feet, brittle cuticles, and frequently washed hands for under $20, Dr. Camp recommends this Cutemol emollient cream. “This cream offers intense hydration for the hands and feet,” he says. “Natural beeswax in the formulation creates a strong protective barrier to help manage the skin’s water loss,” and it also soothes and nourishes with lanolin and allantoin.


This UV Lip Balm From A Derm-Favorite Sunscreen Brand

You probably already know EltaMD for their wildly popular face and body sunscreens. But your lips need sun protection, too, and Dr. Camp recommends EltaMD’s UV lip balm, which is water-resistant and has SPF 36 to protect lips from UV radiation. “It also contains antioxidants like vitamins C and E that protect lips from damaging free radicals,” he says, and it’ll run you less than $15.


This Foot Peel Mask That Works Wonders On Dry & Dead Skin

Amazon reviewers and beauty editors, like Bustle’s very own Adeline Duff, are obsessed with these foot peel masks that actually provide a solution to chronically callused feet. This Dermora foot peel mask comes with two pairs for less than $20. Just slip them on for an hour, then watch your dry, callused soles peel off in the coming week.


This Drugstore Highlighter That’s Flying Off The Shelves

L’Oreal’s Lumi Glotion is Amazon’s best-seller in face highlighters for a reason, according to Duff. It’s super versatile — wear it in place of primer or foundation, as a targeted highlighter on your cheekbones, as a bronzer in a deeper shade, or on your body for an all-over glow (Duff likes to mix it in with her face and body lotions). It’s less than $15, and it comes in four different shades.


This Multipurpose Skin Tint That Performs Like A Prestige Product

Duff swears by e.l.f’s Halo Glow Liquid Filter to “brighten and even out my skin while giving it a radiant glow and slightly dewy finish — just the way I like it.” It can be used as foundation or under-eye concealer, or mixed in with another foundation if you prefer a fuller-coverage effect. You can even mix it in with your moisturizer to sheer it out a bit — its versatility is practically endless. “It performs like a $40 skin tint, but it costs just $15,” Duff adds.


This Five-Pack Of Hydrogel Face Masks That Target Different Concerns

“I’ve recently gotten on the LOOPS train, and now I understand what all the hype is about,” says Duff of these sheet masks that have been trending on social media. “I love that they’re made of hydrogel, so they don’t slide off your face easily, and the hydrogel allows for a more cooling effect when you store them in the fridge.” This sampler pack allows you to discover five of LOOPS’ most popular masks, each of which feature a targeted blend of ingredients to treat different skin concerns.


This Effective Silicone Scar Gel That Both Treats & Prevents

Dr. Stacey Tull, a board-certified dermatologist, recommends this Murasaki Beauty silicone scar gel for both preventing new scars and treating old ones. “Silicone gel is great for new AND old scars: surgical scars, as wells as scrapes and burns,” she explains. This medical-grade gel softens and flattens unwanted scars, is regularly recommended by pharmacists, and goes for less than $30.


The 2-in-1 Exfoliator & Moisturizer That’s Stood The Test Of Time

“This has been around since I was in training 20 years ago,” says Dr. Tull of Amlactin’s Rapid Relief lotion, a testament to its effectiveness. The intensive healing cream contains 15% lactic acid along with ceramides to exfoliate while nourishing to rapidly heal and soften rough skin. It’s “great for dry, flaky skin,” says Dr. Tull, and an 8-ounce bottle goes for around $15.


This Prescription-Strength Retinoid For Treating Acne Without An Actual Prescription

Another formulation that’s been around for decades, Differin Adapalene gel is an ideal treatment for acne, says Dr. Tull. “This was prescription only in the past,” she explains. It was finally approved for over-the-counter sale by the FDA in 2016, so it delivers a prescription-strength retinoid to the skin with OTC pricing and convenience. Users rave about its effectiveness for acne — just make sure to start slow if you have sensitive skin.


This No-Frills Retinol Serum That Really Works

For those who want a gentler retinol formulation, check out CeraVe’s retinol serum. Dr. Tull says it helps with more than just active acne, also proving effective against unwanted acne scars, sun damage, and more. The multipurpose product also nourishes with CeraVe’s signature blend of three ceramides, and brightens and reduces inflammation with the addition of niacinamide — all for less than $20.


This Multi-Purpose Oil That’s Effective & Cheap

Bio-Oil has been around forever and is a great all-around skin care product,” says Dr. Tull. And it’s Amazon’s number-one best-selling body oil for a reason. The oil works to promote firmer, smoother, and more even-looking skin — and it’s even great as a cuticle and hair oil, too. The multi-use product is full of skin-loving ingredients like rosemary oil, vitamin E, and vitamin A, and it only goes for around $10.


This Three-Step Acne System That’s Under $35

Dr. Tull also recommends La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar three-step system for acne, calling it a “fantastic system for gently preventing and treating acne.” Step one, the medicated gel cleanser, removes excess oil with both salicylic acid and lipohydroxy acid. Then, the clarifying toner targets clogged pores with more salicylic acid as well as glycolic acid. Finally, the Effaclar Duo is an acne spot treatment with benzoyl peroxide to target acne-causing bacteria — the whole kit can clear up to 60% of acne in just 10 days, and it costs less than $35 for all three products.