From the elf skin finisher that performs better than its designer double, the Lush face mask that revives skin and boosts your mood and the Sanctuary Spa body butter that smells like a designer fragrance - our pick of the best budget beauty buys prove good products shouldn't cost a fortune.
We're all feeling the pinch more than ever before and whilst beauty products are in no way a necessity, if your regular shampoo or cleanser has run out and you need a new one, or you simply want to treat yourself to something new without breaking the budget then there are amazing options out there that will give you change from £15. So this week we wanted to concentrate on our favourite beauty buys from the high street. From the Foamie soap-on-a-rope that has completely changed our Beauty Director's opinion on eco beauty bars, the new CeraVe cleanser that will make you question why you spend anything more than a tenner on face wash to the new John Frieda colour protector that stands up to professional shampoos for a fraction of the price. Price-conscious beauty shopping has never been so good.
The high-street designer dupe skin finisher: E.l.f Halo Glow Liquid Filter, £14
"This complexion booster (a sort of cross between a skin tint and very good lighting) went viral on TikTok when it launched recently as a great dupe for Charlotte Tilbury’s much-lauded (and much more expensive) Flawless Filter. It comes in eight ‘stretchy’ shades from fair to deep and adds a ‘lit' feel to your complexion without making you look like you face planted in a gold highlighter. For dry mature skin like mine, that can so easily look overly done, the key is to achieve a (younger) skin-like finish that reflects light in a subtle way. People with oilier skins might find it too shiny for daytime but I can’t get enough. I can either wear this alone with just a few dabs of concealer or under my skin tint. If you want to look fresh-faced E.l.f (which I have just learned stands for 'eyes, lips, face’) has absolutely nailed the glow in a bottle." Victoria Woodhall, GTG Editorial Director
The eco soap on a rope: Foamie Shower Body Bar, £5.99
"I was a bit slow to the solid beauty bars game. They were always a bit too hippy-dippy for me, and more importantly, not that effective compared with their liquid counterparts. However, I have had a complete 180 as there are more and more smashing it out of the park. And when there are budget-friendly bars like this available you really start to question why you’re continually buying shower gel in plastic bottles when this equates to a 250ml bottle with zero waste. There are lots of different 'flavours' to choose from but I’m very much enjoying the freshness of this cherry blossom version and for those that are worried about the drying nature of soap as you think of it, this is pH balanced so it will leave your skin feeling great." Sarah Jane Corfield Smith, Beauty Director
The dewy base: Max Factor Miracle Pure Skin Improving Foundation, £13.99
"I’ll admit I haven’t used a Max Factor base product for a good few years but wow have the brand’s formulations come along. I’m a skin tint convert, choosing lighter, dewier finishes over full coverage (even in the colder months), and am really impressed with this formula, which, even though is called a ‘foundation,’ falls firmly in the former territory. It’s infused with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and brighten the complexion it sits on and my shade Warm Almond leaves me with that your-skin-but-better glow, with the option to build in more coverage where you want it. In fact, I’d say the sheer finish gives my Rose Inc Tinted Serum a run for its money - at under half the price. " Rosie Fitzmaurice, Health and Wellness Editor
The better than ever curl tamer: Frizz Ease All-In-1 Lightweight Serum, £7.99
"Throughout my whole life my mother has sung the praises of the Frizz Ease Curl Reviver Mousse, £6.99 as the only product that can define her curls and I’ve now inherited my mum’s love for the range thanks to this smoothing serum. You’ve probably seen it before, after all, it’s been around since the nighties, but it’s had a refresh and two new editions. The cult classic has been reformulated from an oil to a serum-like texture using lightweight silicones, silk proteins and oils including argan, coconut and moringa. I like to use it on both wet and dry hair whether I’m styling or airdrying. As it leaves my hair feeling hydrated, and shiny plus it protects against heat and no matter what helps to fight frizz and humidity. You can now also pick a serum formulated for your hair type, from a lightweight version for fine hair, the original serum for medium to thick hair and extra strength serum (which is what I use) for thick to coarse hair. Plus, the reformulated packaging uses 50% less plastic which is always a bonus!" Jemma Thomspon, GTG Design and Social Media Manager
From the 3rd October to 23rd October 2022, for every John Frieda product purchased on Boots.com a donation will be made to support Crisis.
The lip enhancer: Lottie London Plumped AF Sheer Plumping Lip Gloss, £5.95
"I love lip gloss, especially ones that promise to give me plump juicy lips. This wallet-friendly one from Lottie London is, in my opinion, perfect. It doesn't tingle or burn like many can and whilst it doesn't leave me with overly plumped pout a la Kylie Jenner, my lips do look and feel fuller than usual. It offers a very opaque coverage and there are four shades to choose from ranging from a clear, a sheer pink, a soft apricot tone and a darker nude tone that I think would suit all skin tones. Extra points are awarded for the big dofer applicator as it covers your lips in one swipe and its shiny but not sticky finish." Amy Rostas, GTG Beauty and Social Media Assistant
The eye brightener: Beauty Pie Under-Eye Genius, £10 for members (£24 non members)
"Confession, this isn’t new but it’s one of the things I repeatedly use my Beauty Pie Annual membership for and fell compelled to shout about. Remember YSL’s Touche Eclat and how we all went wild for this light-reflecting dark-circle ‘nuker' in the 90s and noughties (maybe you were still in nappies)? Well, this is miles better because it not only lightens the under-eye instantly but has a bit of coverage, filling in lines, as well. It comes in two shades; I use Light (above, right) underneath my foundation - over it if I’m feeling particularly deathly - and it’s like switching from a downlighter to an uplighter. Dark circles are gone. I know makeup artists love this too and for good reason, it’s genius." VW
Use code GTGSENTME to get £10 off Beauty Pie annual membership when you sign up.
The face scrub to make you happy: Lush Bright and Beautiful Vitamin C Exfoliating Facial Scrub, £14
"This looks like no other face exfoliator I’ve seen before. The top layer is covered in purple glitter which serves no other purpose than to bring a smile to your face and in these tricky times, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The rest of the product is not gimmicky and can be used in two ways either combined with a little water, massaged and rinsed off the skin as a cleanser or you can leave it on dry skin for a few minutes and treat it more like a mask. It contains 10% vitamin C so you may find it tingles on your skin a little, but I really liked that. The smell is also worth mentioning; slightly clove and cinnamon-ey, which made me feel like Christmas is coming and also brought a smile to my face. All in all, this is a face scrub pot of absolute joy." SJCS
The decongesting cleanser: CeraVe Blemish Control Face Cleanser with 2% Salicylic Acid & Niacinamide for Blemish-Prone Skin, £10
"I’ve been using this in the shower on my face, back, arms and chest - the gel-to-foam formula contains salicylic acid in a slightly higher concentration than Cerave’s Smoothing Cleanser with Salicylic Acid (2% compared to 0.5%) - another go-to product of mine - to help decongest and slough off dead skin cells. This contains the brand’s signature ceramides complex, with added barrier-nourishing niacinamide, is alcohol free and pH balanced so won’t disrupt the skin’s natural environment. If blemishes are a concern, then this is a bargain facial cleanser that will last you a long time." RF
The budget busting serum: Simple Vitamin C+E+F Booster Serum, £7.99
"I love a vitamin c serum, even more so when it’s under a tenner! So, this new booster from Simple was a warm welcome. It’s super lightweight and gives you a glowing complexion. I like to apply in the morning after cleansing and before moisturising as it always gives my lacklustre morning skin a much-needed kick. It’s formulated with three main ingredients: vitamin c for brightening skin and providing antioxidant protection. Nourishing vitamin e that works to boost the effectiveness of vitamin c and finally vitamin f, which helps to strengthen the skin barrier. I love how quickly it absorbs into my skin without feeling greasy and is designed with all skin types in mind." JT
The clarifying shampoo: Beauty Pie Detox Shampoo, £9
"Beauty Pie is an online beauty membership platform that cuts out the middle man meaning you get top quality products at a fraction of the price. The whole GTG team are big fans of Beauty Pie as clearly shown in Victoria's review above. I am particularly obsessed with this charcoal and apple cider vinegar detox shampoo that helps clarify the scalp and hair of excess oils and product build-up. It also contains moringa seed peptides to increase the strength and condition of the hair as well as maximising shine. My hair feels particularly fresh and clean after using it and I also have a lot more volume at the root which is usually very flat!" AR
Use code GTGSENTME to get £10 off Beauty Pie annual membership when you sign up.
The truly inclusive foundation: L’Oreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Foundation, £9.99
"Finding the best foundation to work with your skin tone can be a bit traumatic, especially if you have extremely pale, olive or black skin. Thankfully L’Oreal has seriously upped their game and has added two colour pigments that have never been used in foundation before; green and blue (the existing pigments used are white, yellow, red and black). By doing this they have added 9 new shades to the already extensive range and that means that this brilliant foundation perfectly matches 99.5% of women in the world. And not only will you be able to find your perfect shade but it’s really nice to use too. It buffs in easily, delivers brilliant coverage without feeling heavy or looking cakey and is infused with hyaluronic acid which keeps skin hydrated as you wear it. Bravo, L’Oreal. Bravo." SJCS
The sulphate-free shampoo: John Frieda Vibrant Shine Colour Shine Shampoo, £6.99
"There was a time not so long ago when you had to pay a pretty penny for sulphate-free shampoos, even though these merely substitute one type of cleansing agent (sulphates) for less aggressive ones. But those days are over, and John Frieda is the latest high street brand to launch a no-sulphate option. Lush-smelling and creamy-bubbled, this one won’t fade your precious colour in a few washes like harsher shampoos can, and it’s gentler on your scalp as well, helping to stave off itchy, conditions. Silicones, meanwhile, are replaced with weightless shine enhancers and rosehip oil, so your hair ends up glossy and nourished but not lank, even if it’s naturally fine." Inge van Lotringen, GTG Beauty Editor
The 'feels luxe' body butter: Sanctuary Spa Ruby Oud Natural Oils Melting Pearl Body Butter, £10
"There are many who stock up on Sanctuary Spa's classic body products just for the scent and so the arrival of a new Ruby Oud scented collection is a cause for great excitement. The Melting Pearls Body Butter is the standout buy and punches way above its price tag. No need to buy a new perfume this season, this gloriously hydrating butter (not as heavy as it sounds, it’s actually quite watery but dotted with tiny organ oil pearls) is your new scent. It’s slightly sweet and floral (rose, orange blossom) but not so much that it’s cloying. There’s just enough patchouli and amber for it to be earthy and grounding. Expect this to become a cult ‘I can’t believe it’s Sanctuary Spa’ hit among fragrance lovers. One to earmark for gifting this season too." VW