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Paula’s Choice!

In M-Teen Tips on September 4, 2009 at 6:45 pm

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The Absolute Best Products for Your Money:
Smart Shopping in a Challenging Economy

A special report by Paula Begoun and Bryan Barron

Without question, many consumers are either experiencing or are concerned about the effects of recent economic conditions in the world. With headlines and financial markets fluctuating wildly many of us have to deal with some tough choices regarding budgets. People are making decisions about what they need to scrimp on and what they can do without. Proceeding cautiously is the logic many consumers are opting to let prevail.

Interestingly, despite spending concerns in many areas, lots of women freely admit that they won’t curb their spending on cosmetics, especially if they are using something that they believe will provide the positive changes they want to see on their face (whether they actually see results or not). Depending on your point of view, that’s understandable because in the broad economic scheme of things, splurging on skin care or makeup product is a minor indulgence compared to buying a new car, new wardrobe, or taking a vacation. From my point of view, wasting money on expensive makeup and skin care quickly adds up in a short period of time and there are many ways to put that money to better use and take brilliant care of your face and body.

Still, lots of women easily rationalize and justify these overpriced purchases based on fervent beliefs and attitudes. I’ve heard women adamantly profess: “I just love that product,” “Doesn’t [insert celebrity name] use this too,” “A magazine I read rated it as fantastic.” They could care less about the facts, i.e. you can love something that isn’t good for you (think sun tanning); celebrities sell their endorsements and they can and do use bad products, and magazines are in the business of advertising cosmetics, not reporting accurate information about them (in many cases doing so would mean the magazine would lose advertising revenue they count on to survive).

Not surprisingly, the cosmetics industry knows how women can fall for false promises and they readily pander to their misguided hopes. Prices for “luxury” brands have spiraled out of control and all too frequently the quality has certainly not improved or a far less expensive product would have produced equal or better results.

Of course expensive never means better in the world of skin care and wasting money is never beautiful and never wise for your budget regardless of economic conditions. I would never encourage anyone, regardless of their financial capacity to waste money on overpriced makeup and skin care, but it is even that much more significant for someone who needs to be careful with how they spend their money. A moisturizer, anti-aging, anti-wrinkle, specialty treatment, or serum isn’t automatically going to improve your skin just because it has a $100-plus price tag. Even $20 and up for a mascara or lipstick is spending more than you need to, a fact that becomes even more important when you consider the glut of excellent mascaras and lipsticks selling for less than half of that price.

In this report our aim was to help show you the way to the best products for those looking to spend wisely, whether they need to or not.

Every product included was chosen as a best value for the money without sacrificing quality or efficacy for a lower price. You will find low-budget options from a variety of longstanding companies, many of which also own pricier brands sold at the department store. There are also some top inexpensive options from smaller companies you may not be familiar with, but should definitely take the time to explore what they offer.

One word of caution: if you do find yourself lured by the “free gift” with purchase many cosmetic companies offer at different times of the year at least select a product I’ve rated as a Paula’s Pick or with a big happy face. At the very least if you are going to spend a lot of money, you should at least get your money’s worth by waiting until a free gift promotion is happening.

In addition to the succinct lists below, you’ll find thousands more product recommendations on my subscription-based Web site, www.Beautypedia.com, and a limited but certainly helpful selection of free product reviews on my www.Cosmeticscop.com Web site.

I encourage you to explore both sites; Beautypedia is a one-of-a-kind cosmetic database that gives you all the information you need to shop wisely and beautifully for cosmetics and www.Cosmeticscop.com is filled with articles explaining how to take the best care of your skin so you will know what products from either my line or other lines you should be considering.

Note: every product on the lists below received a happy face rating or better. Many of these items are readily available at your local drug or mass market (Target, Wal-Mart) stores. All major retailers also routinely discount these items, either with sale prices or buy 1, get 1 free offers. I encourage you to shop around, pay attention to online coupons or free shipping promotions, and check out weekly sales circulars to find the best deals on cosmetics of interest. You can have great skin and a beautifully made-up face regardless of your budget!

Cleansers

Regardless of skin type cleansers were held to the same standard of excellence: they had to be gentle, not irritate or burn the eye area, and clean the face well without leaving it feeling greasy or dry. These products listed, along with many others are, at the very least, as good, if not better then cleansers priced 10 to 20 times as much.

Best Inexpensive Cleansers for Normal to Dry Skin

Olay Gentle Foaming Face Wash, for Sensitive Skin ($5.99 for 7 ounces)

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($6.99 for 8 ounces)

Neutrogena One Step Gentle Cleanser ($6.49 for 5.2 ounces)

Best Inexpensive Cleansers for Normal to Oily Skin

Dove Cool Moisture Foaming Facial Cleanser ($5.99 for 6.76 ounces)

pHisoderm Deep Cleaning Cleanser, for Normal to Oily Skin ($4.49 for 6 ounces)

Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser, Sensitive Skin ($4.39 for 8 ounces)

Toners

I wish I had better news about toners but this is the one area where the skin care industry fails miserably. The good news is that it really doesn’t matter the price category, with very few exceptions they are either boring, ordinary, dated formulas or they are an irritating concoction with ingredients that are damaging on skin. For some unknown reason this category of product has not progressed to a level of excellence as many other areas of the cosmetics industry.

The expectation is that toners should be loaded with the great ingredients skin needs to function at its best, make healthier cells, and feel and look beautifully smooth. Even a small amount of antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-identical ingredients would have been enough to get a good rating but that wasn’t the case overall. The one toner from Clinique listed below is the best in the bunch for the price, and given the number of products available in this category that is just pathetic. I also included my toners because, for reasons unknown (and surprising) to me, I am the only cosmetics company offering affordable toners with state-of-the-art formulas.

Best Inexpensive Toners for All Skin Types

Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion ($11 for 6.7 ounces) (This is the only inexpensive toner from Clinique I recommend; their other Clarifying Lotions are alcohol laden and absolutely not recommended while their Moisture Surge spray-on toner is good but pricey)

Paula’s Choice Healthy Skin Refreshing Toner for Normal to Oily/Combination Skin ($14.95 for 6 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Moisture Boost Hydrating Toner for Normal to Dry Skin ($14.95 for 6 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Toner for Normal to Oily/Combination Skin ($14.95 for 6 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Toner for Normal to Very Dry Skin ($14.95 for 6 ounces)

Exfoliants

Exfoliating skin on a regular basis can make a huge difference in its appearance. Whether you have oily, dry, sun-damaged or blemish-prone skin, it will absolutely benefit from the use of an exfoliant. Removing built-up, unhealthy dead skin cells can reduce wrinkles, unclog pores, reduce blemishes, and make skin look and feel noticeably smoother and more even.

Based on published research effective exfoliants were rated excellent when they contained glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acid in a base that had a pH of 3 -4. Gel or liquids were considered best for normal to oily skin and lotions and creams preferred for normal to dry skin. Use of an AHA or BHA product requires daily use of a sunscreen rated SPF 15 or greater to protect the new skin from sun damage and further encourage healthy skin cell formation.

Best Inexpensive AHA Products (best for normal to dry/sun-damaged skin)

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion, Night ($12.59 for 2.5 ounces)

Alpha Hydrox Enhanced Lotion ($10.89 for 6 ounces)

Alpha Hydroxy Enhance Creme ($10.89 for 2 ounces)

Paula’s Choice 8% Alpha Hydroxy Acid Gel ($17.95 for 4 ounces)

Best Inexpensive BHA Products (best for normal to oily/blemish-prone skin)

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control 3-In-1 Hydrating Acne Treatment ($7.99 for 2 ounces)

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Defense Face Lotion ($8.49 for 2.7 ounces)

Note: Neutrogena is the only company besides mine that is offering effective BHA products at an affordable price. All of the other BHA products I recommend are effective but also expensive for what you get. Subscribers to www.Beautypedia.com can access my complete list of Best BHA products on this site.

Paula’s Choice 1% Beta Hydroxy Acid Lotion or Gel ($17.95 for 4 ounces)

Paula’s Choice 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid Lotion or Gel ($17.95 for 4 ounces)

Paula’s Choice 2% Beta Hydroxy Acid Liquid ($17.95 for 4ounces)

Acne

A study appearing in both The Lancet and the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology established that benzoyl peroxide is the first line of defense to eliminate the bacteria that causes blemishes. To make sure these products could achieve the best results only the ones not containing extraneous irritating or drying ingredients were included (irritating skin hurts the skin’s healing process, causes bacteria to proliferate, and can add dry, inflamed skin to the list of your skin care woes).

Best Inexpensive Topical Disinfectant Products for Acne-Prone Skin

Note: All of the products on the list below contain benzoyl peroxide as the active ingredient

Mary Kay Acne Treatment Gel ($7 for 1 ounce)

Oxy Lotion, Vanishing Acne Medication ($5.69 for 1 ounce)

Stridex Power Pads ($6.99 for 28 pads)

Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10 Maximum Strength ($4.99 for 1 ounce)

Clearasil Vanishing Acne Treatment Cream ($5.99 for 1 ounce)

Moisturizers (including anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, anti-gravity, treatment, hydrating, fortifying, nourishing, etc. products)

Although the cosmetic industry would love for you to believe there are numerous critical differences amongst products based on the name or price on the label for this vastly overloaded category of creams, lotions, serums, and gels, there isn’t. Regardless of the name on the label, what all of these products should contain are ingredients that help skin look and act younger and keep the skin hydrated (not greasy). There are dozens and dozens of these great ingredients and they are grouped in four categories: antioxidants, skin identical ingredients, cell communicating ingredients, and anti-irritants. When you give your skin these substances it will be the best it can be. There isn’t one miracle ingredient for skin. Think of it like your diet, pomegranates may be a great healthy fruit to eat but if that was all you ate you would become malnourished. The same is true for skin. It takes a complex group of substances to keep it young and healthy and that is what should be in your moisturizer (wrinkle cream, anti aging, or whatever name the cosmetics company calls it).

All skin types need these ingredients and that was the fundamental aspect of rating this category of skin care products. It was also essential that they be in air-tight packaging (meaning no jar containers) because many of these precious ingredients deteriorate in the presence of air. Lotions and creams were recommended for normal to dry skin and gels and serums for normal to oily/combination.

Best Inexpensive Moisturizers for Normal to Dry Skin

Jason Natural Ester-C Lotion Anti-Oxidant Regenerating Moisturizer ($16 for 4 ounces)

Olay Total Effects 7-In-1 Anti-Aging Moisturizer, Mature Skin Therapy ($17.49 for 1.7 ounces)

Aloette Nutri-C Moisture Crème ($17.25 for 3 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Hydrating Treatment Cream for Normal to Dry Skin ($16.95 for 2 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Moisturizer for Normal to Dry Skin ($16.95 for 2 ounces)

Best Inexpensive Moisturizers for Normal to Oily/Combination Skin

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel ($11.50 for 1.7 ounces) Note: please do not confuse this with Clinique’s original Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion which has been, and still is, an antiquated mess of a formula.

Avon Anew Retroactive+ Skin Optimizer ($22 for 1 ounce)

Good Skin All Right Oil-Free Lotion ($17.50 for 1.7 ounces)

Good Skin All Firm Rebuilding Serum ($26 for 1 ounce)

Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Daily Regenerating Serum ($12.99 for 1.7 ounces)

Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum, Fragrance-Free ($18.99 for 1.7 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Moisture Gel ($16.95 for 2 ounces)

Sunscreen: Face & Body

I have spent much of my career nagging, cajoling, encouraging, sweet-talking, persuading, and begging women to use sunscreen. There is no area of skin care that is of more vital importance. Most of the problems we associate with aging on the face are related to sun damage. Wrinkles, loss of firmness, skin discolorations, and loss of elasticity are part and parcel of not protecting your face from the sun (or doing so sporadically or seasonally rather than daily). On a more serious level, sun damage can cause skin cancer. Wearing a well-formulated sunscreen 365 days a year is essential. Preventing skin from tanning is key because when skin is tan (or gets burned) the color change is a damage response and not a good thing. A tan may look good to you or others, but there is no refuting it signifies skin has been damaged.

Basically well-formulated sunscreens require an SPF 15 or greater with UVA protecting ingredients of either titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone (butyl dibenzylmethylethane), Tinosorb, or Mexoryl SX (ecamsule). Sunscreens were considered excellent when they also included antioxidants, cell communicating ingredients, and skin identical ingredients.

Best Inexpensive Daytime Moisturizers with Sunscreen for Normal to Dry Skin

Almay Daily Moisturizer for Dry Skin with Cucumber SPF 15 ($12.99 for 4 ounces)

Aveeno Positively Ageless Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 ($19.99 for 2.5 ounces)

Alba Botanica Sea Moss Moisturizer with Antioxidants and SPF 15 ($14.95 for 2 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion with SPF 15 & Antioxidants ($18.95 for 2 ounces)

Best Inexpensive Daytime Moisturizers with Sunscreen for Normal to Oily/Combination Skin

Almay Daily Moisturizer for Normal/Combo Skin with Grape Seed SPF 15 ($12.99 for 4 ounces)

Avon Ageless Results Renewing Day Cream SPF 15 ($15 for 1.7 ounces)

Olay Regenerist UV Defense Regenerating Lotion SPF 15 ($18.99 for 2.5 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Daily Mattifying Lotion with SPF 15 & Antioxidants ($18.95 for 2 ounces)

Best Inexpensive Sunscreens for the Body

Avon Moisture Therapy Mineral Sunscreen Cream With SPF 28 ($9.99 for 3.4 ounces)

Jason Natural Sunbrellas Complete Sunblock SPF 26 ($11 for 4 ounces)

Neutrogena Age Shield Sunblock SPF 30 ($9.99 for 4 ounces)

Almay Sun Protector for Body SPF 30 ($8.99 for 4.2 ounces)

Coppertone Oil Free Quick Cover Lotion Spray SPF 30 ($9.99 for 6 ounces)

Banana Boat Sport Performance Dri-Blok Continuous Spray Sunblock SPF 30 ($9.99 for 6 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Extra Care Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 30+ With Antioxidants ($12.95 for 6 ounces)

Blotting Papers

This category speaks for itself. Dab these papers on the face and they absorb oil quickly while minimally effecting makeup. That’s all it took to get a big happy face and the ones included in this list were as good as any with a higher price tag.

Best Inexpensive Oil-Blotting Papers

e.l.f. Professional Shine Eraser ($1 for 50 sheets)

Sonia Kashuk Oil-Blotting Papers ($6.99 for 100 sheets)

Sephora Roll-Up Blotting Papers ($8 per roll)

Paula’s Choice Oil-Blotting Papers ($6.95 for 100 sheets)

Facial Masks

Facial masks are an extra, optional step in any skin-care routine. What you do to your face on a regular basis is far more important then what you do once a week or once a month. Think of it like your diet, if you only ate healthy food once a week it would not be anywhere near as beneficial if you ate healthy every day. Skin care is the same way. Still some women enjoy the relaxing experience of using a mask and the temporary improvement they often see in their skin therefore makes them worthwhile.

Masks for normal to dry skin that contained emollients, antioxidants and skin identical were rated the highest. Masks for normal to oily skin needed to have absorbent properties in order to receive a big happy face. All masks with irritating ingredients or in jar packaging received a poor rating.

Best Inexpensive Facial Masks for Normal to Dry Skin

Sephora FACE Exfoliator & Mask, for Normal Skin ($12 for 1.69 ounces)

American Beauty Spare Moment Moisture Mask ($14 for 3.4 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask ($12.95 for 4 ounces)

Best Inexpensive Facial Masks for Normal to Oily Skin

Boots Botanics Conditioning Clay Mask ($8.99 for 4.2 ounces)

Biore Self-Heating Mask ($5.99 for 2 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Carbon Mask ($12.95 for 4 ounces)

Body Washes

Just like the face, skin from the neck down needs to be treated gently and thoroughly cleansed without feeling greasy or dry. These body washes work beautifully and are a great start to keeping skin from ever being dry and flaky again. Those dealing with dry to very dry body skin should consider the washes from Olay, Eucerin, and Dove; they’re a bit more expensive, but do an excellent job of cleansing and conditioning dry, itchy skin.

Best Inexpensive Body Washes

Ivory Simplement Body Wash, Fresh Snow ($4.49 for 24 ounces)

St. Ives Body Wash, Collagen Elastin ($4.49 for 18 ounces)

Lever 2000 Body Wash Energize ($5.99 for 18 ounces)

Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash ($8.99 for 23.6 ounces)

Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Body Wash ($8.69 for 24 ounces)

Eucerin Calming Body Wash Daily Shower Oil ($6.29 for 8.4 ounces)

Body Moisturizers

Skin from the neck up or neck down need the same ingredients to keep it healthy: antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, anti-irritants, and cell-communicating ingredients. Body products are generally not as elegantly formulated as those for the face, but some come close and those are the ones included in this list (and there aren’t any expensive body products that were better formulated then these).

Best Inexpensive Body Moisturizers

CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion ($12.99 for 12 ounces)

Olay Quench Body Lotion Normal to Dry Skin with Green Tea ($9.99 for 20.2 ounces)

Vaseline Intensive Rescue Moisture Locking Body Butter ($6.99 for 8 ounces)

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion Original ($10.99 for 12 ounces)

Paula’s Choice Slip Into Silk Body Lotion ($15.95 for 8 ounces)

Foundations

As the first step in a beautiful makeup application, it is a must that foundation looks good and matches your skin color as closely as possible. The foundations chosen below are not only excellent values but have smooth textures, natural-looking finishes, provide light to moderate coverage, and blend well. Those with sunscreen contain one or more of the right UVA-protecting active ingredients while those without sunscreen should be paired with a daytime moisturizer rated SPF 15 or greater. Since almost all of the foundations on this list are available at drugstores (which means testers are scarce) be sure you purchase from a retailer with a good return policy in case the color is wrong or you simply do not care for the foundation.

Best Inexpensive Foundation With Sunscreen for Normal to Dry Skin

Revlon ColorStay Makeup with Softflex for Normal to Dry Skin SPF 15 ($12.99)

Clinique Dewy Smooth Anti-Aging Makeup SPF 15 ($21.50)

Almay Line Smoothing Compact Makeup SPF 15 ($13.99)

Paula’s Choice All Bases Covered Foundation SPF 15 ($14.95)

Best Inexpensive Foundation with Sunscreen for Normal to Oily/Combination Skin

Revlon Beyond Natural Skin Matching Makeup SPF 15 ($12.99)

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup SPF 20 ($10.99)

L’Oreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Makeup SPF 17 ($9.99)

Paula’s Choice Best Face Forward Foundation SPF 15 ($14.95)

Best Inexpensive Foundation without Sunscreen for Normal to Dry Skin

Cover Girl TruBlend Liquid Makeup ($9.49)

Sonia Kashuk Perfecting Liquid Foundation ($10.49)

Rimmel Recover Illuminating Anti-Fatigue Foundation ($7.99)

Best Inexpensive Foundation without Sunscreen for Normal to Oily/Combination Skin

L’Oreal Paris Ideal Balance Balancing Foundation for Combination Skin ($12.49)

Maybelline New York Pure.Makeup ($5.99)

Prestige Cosmetics MultiTask Wet/Dry Powder Foundation ($7.49)

Concealers

The concealers chosen are among my favorites at the drugstore. All of these do what a concealer should do, provide coverage, look relatively natural, not crease into lines, stay put throughout the day, and feel great on skin. These live up to that standard and surpass it and truly prove that expensive is not better in the world of skin care or makeup.

Best Inexpensive Concealers

L’Oreal Paris True Match Concealer ($7.39)

Revlon Age Defying Concealer SPF 20 ($8.99)

Boots Botanics Totally Concealed ($7.99)

Maybelline Age Rewind Double Face Perfector ($8.99)

Face Powders

A sheer, silky texture and lightweight, non-drying finish are the main attributes I look for in a loose or pressed powder. You’ll find all of the options below have those traits along with a price that is almost too good to be true, yet it is. There are somewhat better powders from some drug and department stores lines, but you’ll spend a lot more for a slight to modest difference (depending on personal preference and how often you powder).

Best Inexpensive Loose Powders

Jane Translucent Loose Staying Powder ($3.79)

NYC (New York Color) Smooth Skin Loose Face Powder ($2.99)

Maybelline New York Shine Free Oil-Control Loose Powder ($5.99)

Best Inexpensive Pressed Powders

Cover Girl Advanced Radiance Age-Defying Pressed Powder ($6.99)

NYC (New York Color) Smooth Skin Pressed Face Powder ($1.99)

e.l.f. Cosmetics Clarifying Pressed Powder ($1)

Blush

Two of the three blush picks below are powders while Maybelline’s option is a sponge-like mousse that is easy to apply and blend. All come in an enticing range of shades that produce a translucent flush to perk up your complexion. Remember, if you’re doing a full makeup, blush is a must. Even those preferring minimal makeup should not leave blush by the wayside because it is so essential for enhancing your cheeks and giving skin a soft, healthy glow and that’s what these blushes will all provide.

Best Inexpensive Blushes

Jane Blushing Cheeks Blush ($3.79)

Wet ‘n’ Wild Silk Finish Blush ($2.99)

Maybelline New York Dream Mousse Blush ($7.49)

Eyeshadows

If you’re on a budget and want to do a full eye design, you can’t go wrong selecting a well-coordinated set of eyeshadows, but only if the colors are harmonized and not all over the color spectrum. For the most part, finding this blend of flattering colors can be a tricky endeavor. The way some cosmetic companies (both inexpensive and luxury brands) put colors together can only be described as strange and contrasting in a way that is glaring and distracting. Vivid disparate colors may look fun in the compact, but good luck using them in any semblance of order to do what eyeshadow is designed for, which is to shape and shade the eye (just look at most models or celebrities on a fashion magazine cover and you’ll see what I mean).

All of the eyeshadows sets below offer a good selection of shades that put the spotlight on your eyes rather than on the wild color-by-numbers look that competes with rather than enhances what many women believe is their most attractive feature.

Best Inexpensive Eyeshadows

Note: All of the eyeshadows recommended below have a smooth powder texture and provide multiple, well-coordinated colors for one low price.

Physician’s Formula Matte Collection Quad Eye Shadow ($6.79)

Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Shadow & Liner ($9.95)

Revlon ColorStay 12 Hour Eye Shadow Quad ($6.99)

Eye Liners, Brow Shapers, and Mascaras

Finding a good eye pencil that doesn’t need sharpening and lasts most (if not all) of the day used to be a challenge, but not anymore. The fact that such formidable pencils are available at a great price further sweetens this good news. The same is true for brow pencils and powders, of which there are more very good yet inexpensive options than ever before (thankfully the waxy brow pencils that produce a severe look a la Joan Crawford in the ‘40s are few and far between).

As for mascaras, I have reported for years that some of the most impressive options are available from drugstore lines such as those listed below, along with L’Oreal (though theirs did not make the cut for this report due to a higher price point). All of the regular and waterproof mascaras below produce impressive results with a good balance of length, definition and some thickness (in the case of Rimmel and Max Factor’s mascaras, lots of thickness). Those fond of mascaras from Lancome should know that parent company L’Oreal also owns Maybelline New York, whose latest mascara formulas perform as well or better than those from Lancome.

Best Inexpensive Eye Liners

Cover Girl Liquid Pencil Felt Tip Eyeliner ($5.69)

Rimmel Exaggerate Full Colour Eye Definer ($5.79)

Wet ‘n’ Wild Perfect Pair Eye Wand ($3.99)

Best Inexpensive Brow Shapers/Liners

NYC (New York Color) Browblender Brow & Liner Pencil ($4.99)

NYC (New York Color) Browser Brush-On Brow Powder with Grooming Wax & Tweezers ($3.99)

Maybelline New York Ultra Brow Brush-On Brow Color ($5.79)

Best Inexpensive Regular Mascaras

NYC (New York Color) Curling Mascara ($2.99)

Rimmel Volume Flash Instant Thickening Mascara ($6.29)

Max Factor Volume Couture Mascara ($5.99)

Best Inexpensive Waterproof Mascaras

Maybelline New York Define-A-Lash Lengthening Mascara Waterproof ($5.99)

Jane Max Lash² Waterproof ($4.99)

Cover Girl Professional Waterproof Mascara ($4.99)

Lipsticks, Lip Gloss, and Lip Liner

Cream lipsticks and sheer lip glosses tend to be favored by many women, and for the most part those are well-represented and excel where it counts for the budget-conscious cosmetics consumer. Don’t let the teen appeal of lines such as Jane and Wet ‘n’ Wild dissuade you from trying their lipsticks—they don’t offer fancy or opulent packaging a la Dior or Chanel, but the performance will surprise you. When it comes to long-wearing lip colors, you can spend twice as much if you choose to but you won’t get better results than from the inexpensive long-wearing lip colors listed below.

The lipliners included in this list don’t need sharpening, come in a satisfactory range of shades and have a soft glide texture that goes the distance once set.

Best Inexpensive Lipsticks

*Note: All of the lipsticks recommended below have a creamy texture and soft gloss finish.

Jane Lipkick Rich Color Lipstick ($4.49)

Wet ‘n’ Wild Wild Shine Lip Lacquer ($2.99)

NYC (New York Color) Ultra Moist Lip Wear ($0.99)

Best Inexpensive Long-Wearing Lip Color

Cover Girl Outlast All-Day Lipcolor ($9.99)

Maybelline New York Superstay Lipcolor ($9.9)

Wet ‘n’ Wild MegaLast Long-Lasting Lipcolor ($3.99)

Best Inexpensive Lip Glosses

elf Super Glossy Lip Shine SPF 15 ($1)

Rimmel Vinyl Lip ($5.50)

Avon Lip Swirls Gloss ($3.99)

Best Inexpensive Lip Liners

Prestige Cosmetics Waterproof Automatic Lip Liner ($4.79)

Almay Ideal Lipliner Pencil ($7.49)

Wet ‘n’ Wild MegaSlicks Lip Color Retractable Pencil ($2.99)

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