$20 and Under Beauty Favorites.

By: Jen Shoop

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Not all beauty products are a splurge. A few of my absolute favorite beauty and skincare products ring in at $20 and less —

01. A great $18 caffeine eye cream. This has won tons of awards and is one of my favorite under-eye creams. I love the consistency and the way it squeezes out into a tiny line — such a small thing, but the applicator does matter! Prevents me from overusing.

02. Mielle rosemary-mint scalp oil. This has helped strengthen and nourish my hair as I seek to grow it out! I apply a dropper full on mornings I am going to work out / know I will be showering a bit later in the morning so it can soak for awhile. Then I exercise / putz around and shampoo it all out.

03. Tower28 mascara. Truly a fabulous mascara — ties with Armani and Sweed as my favorite mascaras. Inky, separating, lengthening — just a dream. (Stock up while it’s on sale at Sephora!)

04. Kosas AirBrow. The BEST eyebrow gel – fills, tints, holds, shapes. Everything with one tiny wand. Technically $24, but currently included in Sephora’s tiered sale, bringing it down to $20 if you’re a VIB Rouge, and just a smidge over if you’re any other tier of membership.

05. Tangle Teezer palm brush. I use this every single time I get out of the shower! My hair is fine, but I have a lot of it, and it is prone to tangle! This gives you a lot of control.

06. Patchology eye gels. I’m obsessed with these, and they’re very reasonably priced. I have tried a bunch of the varieties and they help combat tired undereyes by hydrating thoroughly. Also make a really cute gift wrapped up for a girlfriend / teacher / favor / etc.

07. Kur Illuminating Nail Concealer. I use this when I need to give my nails a break from polish / manicures, or I’m between manicures and have to remove a chipped polish. This gives the nail a nice sheen / polish without requiring much precision in application. (Trust me, I’m terrible at doing my own nails…)

08. Billie Wonder Wipes. These are my favorite face-cleansing wipes when you need a quick wipe-everything-off situation. They leave skin squeaky clean but also radiant.

09. Origins Rose Clay Mask. Technically a mini size but even the mini size lasts a long while. You only need a small amount of this to cover your face, let dry, and then wipe clean with a warm cloth. Skin is baby bottom soft afterward!

10. Nyx eyeliner. I’ve used this for years and years — I actually have it on auto-delivery so I get a new one every three months without thinking. It’s identical to the more expensive ones from Stila and has an ultra-fine felt tip that applies precisely.

11. Pantene Pro-V shampoo. I used this exclusively for years and years — it’s a really solid, really effective shampoo, and like 1/10th the price of the ones I typically buy. Nice lather and sleek results. Does not lead to build up like other inexpensive shampoos!

12. ELF Multi Sticks. These little $5 color balms come in great shades and apply beautifully. I have a few of these sprinkled throughout my handbags — you just never know when you need a little pick me up! You can apply to cheeks or lips!

13. Farmacy Makeup Melting Balm. Does an excellent job removing all traces of makeup, and slightly drier/crumblier in texture than Elemis. I like to travel with this.

14. Rael Invisible Spot Cover Blemish Patches. How did I live without these?! Apply on top of blemish and it not only shrinks the problem but prevents you from touching it / exacerbating it. I swear by these.

15. Scalp Massager. I love this during the summer months, when I want to really cleanse my scalp. I use this with the Goop Himalayan Salt Scrub and it gets everything — sweat, sand, chlorine, etc! — out!

16. Relax + Refresh Epsom Salt Soak. Love this when feeling under the weather, or after a really rigorous workout.

17. Shiseido Facial Cotton. Trust me, you’ll never use anything else. This is the softest, plushest cotton you can imagine. Highly absorbent. I will never try anything else!

18. Two others that are a little over (but still under $30) that I need to mention: EvanHealy eye balm (great if you are super dry — glides right on like an emollient lip balm) and Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum (the best inexpensive vitamin C product I’ve tried — this ranks highly on my list, and beats several other brands that are 3-4x the price).

Finally, I can’t fully endorse because I just ordered, but honorable mention to this ice roller. I’m very late to the game with this, but have heard tons of people rave about it! It does sound super refreshing when combating a head cold, headache, late night out, etc.

What are your favorite under-$20 finds?

P.S. Similar: European pharmacy favorites.

P.P.S. How do you handle skincare while traveling? (Comments are interesting!)

P.P.P.S. Little household things I love.

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14 thoughts on “$20 and Under Beauty Favorites.

  1. Yesss, I love this topic! The Tower28 mascara is bumping up to the top of my beauty wishlist — you turned me on to Eyes to Kill years ago, so I love hearing that this is similar for a better price! I also love the two other products I’ve tried from Tower28 — their SOS lip balm in clear and their gloss in Magic (clear with subtle gold sparkles).

    I’ve been deep-diving on SPF lately — I swear by a fluid from La Roche Posay (imported from France via cocooncenter). I’ve opted for Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen for years but lately I have been craving something lighter & less sneaky-greasy. Also liking Axis-Y’s no stress physical sunscreen, which is avail on Amazon!

    Finally, I have wanted to try ice rollers for years but could never get past the ugly plastic packaging — ha! I’ve had Doré’s iteration in my “saved for later” cart for MONTHS — need to just take the plunge!!


    1. OO the Dore!! Chic chic! Didn’t know there were more aesthetically pleasing options!

      Thanks for sharing.


  2. The Kur nail concealer is an awesome find – I don’t like doing my nails/getting them done (I’m too used to having them cut short after a decade plus of playing the piano) but I feel like the Kur polish is easy (idiot proof as I say to my friends!) to apply and keeps my nails healthy. They also have a whiter shade that I’ve purchased and like!

    You’ve inspired me to try the Tower28 Mascara and the Kosas airbrow…excited to try!

    1. Thanks for the tip on the whiter shade of Kur! I agree, idiot proof. I love it.

      Can’t wait for you to try those two products — two of my ABSOLUTE favs.


  3. I also wanted to add another use for the ice roller since you have a lot of mama followers. If you are breastfeeding it’s a must! Helps relieve occasional aches and great relief for mastitis and clogged ducts.

    Also anything La Roche Posay. You can get it at CVS and they often have coupons. Double Repair Moisturizer is oil free and a must for my combo skin.

  4. Thanks for reminding me to try Kur! Found an awesome deal on HSN (never shopped with them before), but they have a set of 4 for only $28 with free shipping. What’s even better is as a first time customer there’s a $10 coupon. Excited to finally try! Thought I’d share the deal info in case anyone else is on the fence or need a restock.

  5. It’s an oldie but a goodie – Freeman Natural Skincare Hydrating Cream Mask- quite possibly one of the best hydrating masks I’ve ever used, especially on cuticles (totally an off-label way to use, but it does the trick!) I completely agree with the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum (on sale at Ulta during their Spring Haul!), and really like their vitamin A serum as well.

  6. I have been eyeing Kosas Airbrow since the last Sephora sale…perhaps this is my nudge to finally try it!

    Another vote for Tangle Teezer, here! A tip my hair stylist taught me years ago that’s worked well for my very fine, look at it the wrong way and it will knot before your eyes, hair: brush well just before washing and don’t brush again until it’s mostly dry. After shampooing and conditioning gently squeeze out the excess water (avoiding twisting and wringing!) and loosely wrap in a hair towel. I usually take out after finishing my post-shower routine and let my hair air dry while I go about the rest of my getting ready routine. Then dry my hair and style as normal. It sounds counterintuitive but this has helped my hair tremendously with breakage and I no longer have to coax tangles and knots for my fragile wet hair!

    1. This is SUCH a great tip – going to try at my next shower!! I think we must have similar hair.

      Please try the Kosas! I think you’ll love!


  7. I swear by Tangle Teezers too! I keep one in the shower to massage my scalp and one outside to detangle. I use a different mint scalp thing, a gel:
    And Kur is my one and only since I’m now wayyyy too slammed to get a manicure! Young babies.
    My other staples are this huge Timeless Squalane:

    Wander beauty eye patches, cosRx pimple patches, Caudalie vinoperfect serum, and Byoma spray.

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