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The 12 Best Budget Beauty Brands

Our beauty editor selects the no-frills products from brands we love

Lucy Adams

“Is it worth the price?” is one of the most common beauty questions I’m asked. When it comes to Diptyque candles, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair or a Chanel fragrance, the answer is “Yes”.

But it’s also increasingly true that you don’t need to spend a fortune to buy the best beauty products. Technological advancements and improved formulations mean that some of the most hard-working serums, on-trend lipstick shades and best SPFs are actually found in the aisles of your supermarket or local chemist.

Just like fashion, it’s all about balance. In every make-up artist’s kit there’s a mix of high-end and more affordable products. And while it’s good to know the expensive products worth splashing out on, you should also know the great-quality budget buys. Here’s my pick.



1. Best All-Rounder: Lanolips

Contains Australian lanolin (a deeply moisturising oil found in sheep’s wool) that’s sourced locally by sheep farmers, and helps hydrate and heal the driest skin.

Hero Product: Lanolips 101 ointment (Runner-up: the recently launched Lano Everywhere Cream). Deemed the world’s best lip balm by The Times UK – and it doubles as a highlighter, cuticle softener and on-the-run frizz tamer, too.

2. The Perfect Primer: Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees has been offering a range of earth-friendly, natural health and beauty products for over 30 years. Their range is comprehensive – covering everything from baby products to cuticle cream and their cult lip balms – and all packaging is designed to have the lowest possible impact on the environment.

Hero Product: Burt’s Bees Ultra Conditioning Balm is the perfect lipstick primer.

3. Great For Glow: Revlon

American beauty icon Revlon (owed by Elizabeth Arden), started selling nail enamels in 1932. Since then, it’s grown to become a beauty behemoth with a vast skin and make-up range.

Hero product: Revlon Skin Lights Illuminator. This legendary tube of glowy goodness was a cult favourite of beauty editors and make-up artists for years until it vanished from shelves during the mid-noughties, only to be brought back earlier this year. TIP: For a subtle glow try it as highlighter on the high points of the face, underneath foundation as an illuminating primer or mixed in with base products for a subtle all-over glow.

4. The Spot-Free-Skin Saviour: Mario Badescu

The Romanian born, New York based Mario Badescu opened his salon in NYC over 40 years ago, and since them has earned a cult following for his line of simple, spot-solving skincare suitable for all skin types. Celebrities such as Bella Hadid, Gwyneth Paltrow and Zoe Foster Blake have all raved about it on Instagram.

Hero Product: Mario Badescu Drying Cream. One dab of this magical cream clears spots up overnight. Seriously! Thanks to sulphur, zinc and niacinamide, the skin-coloured, thick zinc-like paste conceals and treats, while also stopping the spread of bacteria. Apply it sparingly at night as a treatment or to clean skin underneath make-up for day.


Lip balm


Ultra Conditioning Balm


Skin Lights Illuminator


Drying Cream

5. For Rich Colour: Bourjois

Fun, bold and affordable, Bourjois has built a cosmetics empire out of colour and wearability. From its second-skin like foundations to the glide-on and budge-proof lipsticks and stains, if you want to try a make-up trend that won’t set you back, Bourjois is up there.

Hero Product:  Bourjois Rouge Velvet Ink Liquid Matte Lipstick. This easy-to-apply liquid formula makes wearing bold lips low maintenance.

6. To Fix Your Skin Fast: L’Oreal Paris

Earlier this year, the French beauty powerhouse pledged €150 million globally to address urgent social and environmental issues, and promised that by 2030 100 per cent of the plastics used in L’Oréal’s products’ packaging will be either from recycled or bio-based sources.

Hero Products: Was there ever a time that we needed instant gratification from our beauty products more? L’Oreal Paris Magic Retouch disguises dark roots, while L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Lifting Sheet Mask instantly brightens your complexion.


7. The Unbeatable Serum Brand: The Ordinary

At $12.70 serums don’t get much cheaper. By focusing simply on the ingredients that work, without frills or fancy packaging, The Ordinary sell its products for a fraction of the price of their competitors.

Hero Product: Foundation Serum was the brand’s first foray into the world of make-up. This lightweight serum foundation offers medium coverage with a very natural finish. Runner up: Retinol 1% in Squalane.

8. Fuss-Free Results: Paula’s Choice

Beauty guru and industry veteran Paula Begoun (known as the ‘Cosmetics Cop’) has built a career promoting scientifically-backed beauty research, so as you’d expect her own skincare line is honest and effective.

Hero Product: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting BHA Liquid Exfoliant. Leave it on overnight for smooth, radiant skin come morning.


Rouge Velvet Ink Liquid Matte Lipstick


Magic Retouch 2 Dark Brown


Foundation Serum


2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

9. For Polished Nails: Sally Hansen

A household name in innovative, affordable and non-toxic nail polishes and care products. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better range of colours that stay chip-free and keep your nails in tip-top condition for such a good price.

Hero Product: Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil. Keep cuticles soft and nails strong (and ready for colour) with a daily coat of this magic oil.

10. For A Fashion Fix: Mecca Max

Mecca Max is the Mecca’s signature in-house make-up range, with fun colours and great finishes at an affordable price (from $5-$45).

Hero Products: The zoom meeting quick-fix MECCA MAX Gloss Boss Lip Gloss and the simply glide on and smudge everyday neutral MECCA MAX Zoom Shadow Stick.


11. To Disguise Dark Circles: Covergirl

Vegan. Large, easy to use applicator. Matt Finish. Creamy all-day wear. Ticks all the concealer boxes.

Hero Product: Covergirl Trublend Undercover Concealer

12. Modern Make-up Remover: Bioderma 

Bioderma Sensibio H2O is the OG micellar water on the market. One sweep of a Bioderma-soaked cotton round picks up all visible traces of my makeup, as well as invisible skincare residue and general oil and bacteria. The formula is simple, gentle and pared back, in line with the French Pharmacie skincare ethos.

Hero Product: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water 500ml


Vitamin E Nail & Cuticle Oil


Gloss Boss Lip Gloss


Trublend Undercover Concealer


Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution

Photography: Georgina Egan

Styling: Jack Milenkovic

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BY Lucy Adams

Lucy is PRIMER's beauty editor

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