With countless beauty brands making too-good-to-be-true claims and new products popping up weekly (looking at you, Instagram ads), the world of hair, skincare, and makeup can be really overwhelming — and quickly max out your wallet. However, the right products can truly make all the difference to your daily beauty routine, and stand the test of time if you know how to spend your dollars wisely.
When it comes to my daily beauty routine, I need it to be quick, easy, and trustworthy. Don’t get me wrong, I love trying on the occasional new lip shade or moisturizer more than the next gal, but over the years I’ve found that I always go back to the tried and true products that I know work well for my skin and hair.
Spoiler alert: the best beauty products don’t have to break the bank. In fact, most of the ones on my short list are things you can pick up at your local drugstore or with a quickie Amazon search.
Despite these ‘save’ product gems I’ve found, I love treating myself to those items that when used, feel like I’m starting my day with a little spa moment. Although they may come with a hefty price tag, these ‘splurge’ products are ones I look forward to using every day, and have made a huge difference in the tone, texture, and overall health of my skin and hair.
Mixing in these little luxuries with my drugstore products make my beauty routine one I can justify and feel good about every day.
We asked our editors to dish on their favorite makeup and skin-care products, and it turns out there are plenty out there that really are worth the money. Scroll on to see our top splurge-worthy beauty products, and the ‘save’ items we love to pair them with.
Camille Styles, Editor-in-Chief
Every Sunday, I do an at-home facial by cleansing my face with a gentle drugstore cleanser like Cetaphil, exfoliate off all the dead skin and peach fuzz with my at-home dermaplaner (hands-down my MVP beauty tool), then sweep a Goopglow Peel Pad over my entire face and go to bed. The next morning’s glow is unlike anything I’ve experienced – it definitely rivals any in-office facial, which is especially great during these stay-at-home days.
Kat Fluor, Managing Editor
The Biologique P50W exfoliator and toner has transformed my skin, and I believe it is the single most powerful product I’ve added to my beauty routine. It acts as an exfoliator and toner all in one, and I’ve cut out my nighttime exfoliator in the shower since using it. I apply the toner using a cotton pad all over my face, neck, and décolletage after cleansing. Note: there are 7 variations of Lotion P50 – with P50W being the most gentle – if you are interested in adding this to your skincare routine, I would consult with a professional about your specific skincare needs before purchasing… it’s not cheap, but it works!)
To help stomach the hefty price tag that comes along with the Biologique, I love to start my morning skincare routine with Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser. I love the jelly texture of this cleanser and how gentle and fresh it feels on my skin (something that feels especially nice in the morning.) I also love Olay’s Total Effects Face Moisturizer with SPF 30. After applying my toner, I slather this moisturizer all over my face and neck. It lays well under makeup, and I love knowing that my skin is protected from damaging UV rays all day long. To end my skincare routine, I always swipe with some Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm (Rose and Pomegranate are my fave colors) . I carry it with me all day to keep my lips soft and smooth, and love the subtle pink color it leaves without looking like I’m wearing anything.
Suruchi Avasthi, Food Editor
With daily routines looking a little different these days, my product shelf has also shifted a bit. The one product that has kept me feeling put together through these last few months has been my perfume, Radio Bombay from D.S. and Durga. It’s definitely a splurge, but I’ll catch a whiff of the sandalwood scent during another zoom call at home and it’s totally worth it. I like that I can pair something treat-worthy with my go-to everyday basics like Aquaphor for my lip balm which totally helps with any eczema flare ups I’ve had since moving to Minnesota, and my weekly Peach and Lily Drench and Nourish Sheet Mask. It’s the most moisturizing mask I’ve tried and only $6!
Kelly Krause, Wellness Editor
I worked at a makeup counter in undergrad and grad school for 4 years, so I feel a deep attachment to anything beauty related (I miss the employee discount deeply!). During that time we learned which major brands are in the same family as drug store brands, so I feel like I know when to splurge and save. I’m sure much has changed in almost 20 years, but the one thing that hasn’t: my love for Thayer’s Witch Hazel toner. It’s not abrasive, alcohol-free, and makes my skin feel so refreshed.
I also take my foundation choices pretty seriously and used to spend almost $100 on one until I was turned on to Face Atelier from a photo shoot in LA. This makeup artist did everything from Film, TV, and red carpets so I totally trusted her. It was long lasting, provided just enough coverage where it didn’t look overdone, and is Vegan/Cruelty-Free/PETA approved. They offer a variety of tones, too.
But the one splurge I keep coming back to is Cle De Peau’s Beaute UV Protective Lip Treatment. I wear it before I go out for a run, and at night before bed. My lips are so dang soft the next morning. I had yet to find a lip treatment that kept my lips moisturized and this one is a keeper. Their concealer is another good one if you’re ok dropping $73 to look refreshed.
Anne Campbell, Home and Style Editor
Rinse. Lather. Repeat. My shower game has always been pretty hum drum. That was, until I discovered Goop’s G.Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub. With the way it magically transforms from salt to sud as you massage in your scalp and how its fragrance is the perfect pick-me-up on sleepy mornings, I can easily justify the splurge. I balance out the cost with a basic bar of Dove soap (nothing fancy here!) and moisturize post-shower with my favorite coconut-scented Skin Trip lotion, available at most grocery and drug stores.
Hannah Zahner, Wellness Editor
I love a good beauty splurge, but recently have been putting in some extra effort to save where I can, so have been reaching for my “steal” beauty items more than ever. Still, I can’t get enough of this Kypris Beauty Elixir III. My skin loves this stuff and is never as happy as when I’m using it on the daily. Its ultra clean and lux formula is soothing, hydrating, majorly glow inducing and somehow balances my fussy and breakout prone skin. And since I’m splurging on my hydration, I keep my masking simple and cheap by doing a goats milk yogurt mask (love it for the lactic acid) or The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid a couple times a week for a gentle exfoliant.
Michelle Nash, Senior Producer
My roommate has an amazing complexion, so I’m always quick to follow her skincare advice. I was hooked on the Skin Ceuticals Triple Lipid Restore Cream after trying hers out, and it’s now a staple in my routine that is well worth the price tag. It’s an amazing moisturizer and anti-aging cream that’s both lightweight and powerful, and my skin drinks it up immediately when I put it on at night. Plus, it’s got a luxurious, silky texture and refreshing scent that make it an absolute treat to apply. We both alternate between the Skin Ceuticals cream and Weleda’s Skin Food Ultra-Rich Cream for moisturizing at night. The Weleda cream is super affordable and a bit more hydrating, so I’ll use this one especially on nights where my skin feels dry. It has a much thicker feel and texture, so it doesn’t absorb into your skin like the skin ceuticals does, but I always wake up feeling more hydrated and radiant after using it. Also, my siblings and I all tend to wake up with puffy eyes, and the Ordinary caffeine solution comes to the rescue every morning. We’ve got the whole family hooked on it – a few drops alleviate that swollen, sleepy look in just a few minutes and this stuff is a total steal at under $7!
Riley Blanks, Wellness Editor
Summer humidity is tough for us curly girls. The fight to combat dryness and humidity is ever present and thus, I love building a small team of go-to products that cleanse, nourish and lock in moisture without adding build up. Recently, I’ve started finger combing my hair while I shampoo as a prep for conditioning. I feel like my hair absorbs more nutrients after it’s been detangled. With ringlets like mine, the detangle process is a bear and virtually impossible with most shampoos but Kevin Murphy’s Young Again Wash cuts the 10 minute ordeal in half. It leaves my hair feeling slippery and best of all, it’s so concentrated you only need a dime. I always follow my washes with a deep conditioning treatment. My favorite, low budget creamy goodness to reach for is Alikay Honey and Sage Deep Conditioner. It smells incredible and feels like it’s literally feeding my hair. Last but not least, I have finally found a product that reduces frizz and cuts my drying time in half. Can you tell that I like to save time when it comes to my hair? The Doux Mousse Def Texture Foam provides hold, sheen and texture without crunching or flaking and after applying, I can be out the door in less than 30 minutes with a fro I’m proud of.