The 20 Best Beauty Products Under $20, According to the People Who Love Them
When you’ve got a limited budget, the last thing you want to do it spend it all on one bottle of fancy-schmancy serum. Instead, stretch those dollars with these 20 all-time hands-down stranded-on-a-desert-island best beauty products available now, all under $20.
1. CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara
This award-winning mascara features a large brush head with stubby orange bristles to help keep you clump-free all day and all night, and the waterproof formula means you won’t worry about it migrating underneath your eyes after a long day. One PureWow editor said, “It’s hands down the best mascara. I’ve tried more expensive brands and nothing comes close to this one. The formula glides on and the brush perfectly fans out my lashes. With a few coats, I can even get my lashes to skim the bottom of my eyebrows.” Oh, and the brand is 100 percent cruelty free.
2. Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner
This all-natural toner is alcohol-free, meaning it won’t dry out your skin. It also comes in an easy-to-use spray bottle (no more dumping out half on your cotton pad) and is made with calming rose water and aloe vera, plus Thayers’ own homegrown witch hazel for tighter pores and smoother skin. One editor said she’s never used another toner she liked more. “The rose scent is minimal but fresh, and the product leaves my skin feeling soft and refreshed.” Oh, and did we mention it’s a dollar cheaper at your neighborhood Walmart? Hey, every buck counts.
3. Revlon Photoready Insta-fix Foundation Sick
An on-the-go foundation stick is a dream come true for the lady who’s busy burning the candle at both ends. This one is super blendable and “very forgiving…this stuff does a great job of filling in pores” wrote one reviewer. Suitable for all skin types (yes, even oily and combination skin), it has SPF 20 built in and works as a concealer or as allover face makeup.
4. Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment
We’ve never met a more versatile product, and one PureWow editor said it’s “magic for dry patches and chapped lips… It makes me feel alive again!” Perfect for a peeling pout, dry feet and hands, cracked cuticles, irritated skin, minor cuts, scrapes and burns, and even as an on-the-go highlighter, there’s really nothing this $5 tube can’t do.
5. Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow
If glitter per square millimeter were a thing, this sparkly tube would rule them all. Just one swipe of the water-based, easy-to-glide-on formula and you’re ready for a party or date night. In fact, we’d hate to be caught without it, especially in cold-weather months when just a bit of sparkle immediately adds the right amount of oomph to your look. One reviewer gave a handy tip for best use: “Roll the container in between your hands well before applying” to avoid separation from the glitter and the liquid.
6. Mario Badescu Flower & Tonic Mask
It’s not just the delicious-sounding name that makes us want to stock up on this clay mask scented with gardenia and evening primrose. “Mario Badescu has never done me wrong, this mask included. It’s mild yet deep-cleaning, which is perfect for my sensitive yet acne-prone skin. Plus, it smells lovely,” PureWow’s managing editor said. Reviewers also say that it’s mild enough for sensitive skin, yet thorough enough to cleanse and refine pores. Plus, the gardenia extract contains ferulic acid, which aids in collagen production in cells for gorgeously smooth skin.
7. Winky Lux Uni-brow Universal Eyebrow Pencil
On one side, a custom spoolie for brushing and combing brow hairs into place. On the other, an angled brow pencil that can be used for both dark and light brows depending on the pressure applied. The chisel-ended pencil lets you sketch small hairs, while the wider end lets you shade in sparse patches for a fuller look. One reviewer said they “would definitely recommend to anyone who wants fuller but still natural-looking eyebrows.”
8. Glossier Lip Gloss
One of the Instagram-forward brand’s top-rated products, this lip gloss is a purse staple. It adds a nice level of shine that lasts all day, with the subtlest hint of red tint (it also comes in clear and holographic shades for zero tint, all shine). “This is the only gloss I’ve ever found that doesn’t make my lips feel sticky or get my hair stuck to it,” one PureWow editor said. And with vitamin E and jojoba oil, lips feel soft and nourished after each use.
9. CeraVe Ultra Lightweight Night Cream
A quality moisturizer doesn’t have to break the bank. We’re not ashamed to admit that this CeraVe night cream has a coveted spot in our bathroom vanity due to its ability to calm skin (thanks to a form of vitamin B3 called niacinamide) and leave it feeling rejuvenated and restored (thanks to hyaluronic acid) by morning. One of our own PureWow editors has combination skin and said this night cream is “unlike any other because it’s so lightweight yet super hydrating. And it absorbs almost immediately, so it doesn’t feel suffocating.”
10. Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm
One editor’s daily staple (she won’t leave the house without it), this lightly tinted lip balm can be used as a moisturizing base for lipstick, as a shine-adding topper to color or all on its own for the perfect amount of daytime sheen.
11. NYX Slim Lip Pencil
This best-selling lip pencil has a cult following for its hydrating and creamy formula, super-slim and glide-able tip, and ability to last all day without bleeding. One reviewer said she was a fan because it “gives your lips the shape you want without being overly drying.” Oh, and did we mention it comes in 40 different shades?
12. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Poured Crème Highlighter
This highlighter strikes the perfect balance between too shimmery and barely there, and “can be built up if desired, but for a subtle glow, a little goes a long way,” one reviewer noted. With a slight glitter and an even pigmentation, just one swipe of this creamy powder onto the tops of your cheekbones is all you need for an instant lift and glow.
13. Benefit Benetint
We’d be remiss not to mention this all-time best seller. Formulated in the 1970s for exotic dancers, this cheek and lip stain has withstood the test of time for its kiss-proof color, easy application and sheer, natural-looking finish. One PureWow editor who’s used it for years on both her cheeks and lips said “the color is equal parts timeless and flattering. Word of advice: It dries really quickly, so blend it in right after dabbing it on.”
14. Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Paper
A sweaty girl’s secret weapon, these oil-absorbing sheets come in a handy lipstick-tube-shaped container with a mirror on one side, because whoever decided blotting papers should come stacked in a tiny little cardboard sheath was severely mistaken. The five-star reviews don’t lie: “The paper is so absorbent and takes away the oil without taking away the makeup. It’s so cute and compact so I can take it anywhere in any purse.”
15. Tarteist PRO Glow to Go Highlight & Contour Palette
For less than $20, you get three products for the price of one: two buildable highlighters and a contouring matte bronzer for on-the-go definition. The micro-shimmery shades of the two highlighters play off one another and add multidimensional strobing, while the matte contour made of Amazonian clay defines the cheekbones and jawline. One of our editors said this was one of her best makeup purchases ever: “It’s helpful to have everything in one place, and it’s the perfect on-the-go compact.”
16. Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer
This dupe for Benefit’s Porefessional has some star qualities of its own: It’s silicon-based, meaning it glides on smooth and leaves skin feeling moisturized. It can also be worn under foundation or all by itself thanks to its ability to erase the appearance of pores and dry to a matte finish. One reviewer who said she has “huge pores” applies it after washing her face in the morning: “The difference is incredible and it lasts all day. My pores are virtually invisible.”
17. Essie Grow Stronger Base Coat
Whether you got one too many gel manicures or your nails are simply prone to peeling, they need some TLC once in a while. “This is the only base coat I use,” one of our own editors said. “My nails tend to peel, and this formula helps nourish and strengthen under polish, helping them grow.” This base coat is made with ginkgo biloba, vitamin E and minerals that leave nails restored to their (admit it: pre–gel mani) glory days. Plus, it comes in a soft pink hue that works well on its own as a stand-alone color.
18. Fenty Beauty Flyliner Longwear Liquid Eyeliner
A felt-tip pen doesn’t have as much precision as this super-saturated liquid eyeliner with “beautiful black pigmentation,” as one reviewer mentioned. The waterproof formula dries fast, lasts all day without smudging and glides on thick or thin with just a slight adjustment of angle and pressure.
19. Fresh Sugar Lip Caramel Hydrating Lip Balm
You’ll be tempted to lick this stuff right off your lips the moment you apply it. But leave it on long enough and you’ll realize the warm caramel scent (which “smells delicious,” one reviewer wrote) isn’t even the best part of this ultra-nourishing balm. Chapped and dry lips will receive a 24-hour moisture lock using a blend of sugar and emollient oils (including apricot and black currant) that add plump and shine to your pout in the process.
20. Bare Minerals Loose Powder Concealer
We’re big fans of powder concealers. For one, it feels like you have a bit more layering and building control with a brush than with a makeup blender or fingers. Second, powders blend more seamlessly with the rest of our complexion, making it easier to mask dark circles, scars and other imperfections. Third, they don’t feel too heavy on whatever blemishes they’re hiding. This BareMinerals version, which one editor has sworn by for the past three years, also comes with SPF 20 and a dermatologist-tested mineral formula for lightweight, non-clogging coverage.