From the £7.50 body lotion that actually does something to the hair treatment that works in 8 seconds flat not to mention the new shower gel brand that looks like it should cost triple the price. These are the budget beauty products that start from £5.25 and the team can't get enough of

January is a month of highs and lows. There's the excitement of a new year ahead, a fresh diary to fill with future plans, hopes and dreams. And then crashing realisation that your bank balance isn't quite reflective or sizeable to achieve most of those things. So that is why, dear reader, we present you with a smorgasbord of well-priced but effective beauty products that will help whip your face, body and hair into shape without breaking the bank so if you are on the lookout for something new you don't have to spend more than £21 (the most expensive thing in the list below). To whet your appetite you'll find the £6 mascara from Elf that outperforms a lot of the far pricier ones out there as well as the moisturiser that's ideal for oily skin and from a brand you might not expect.  

The plus-size skin hydrator: The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum new 100ml size, £17.99 

“When it comes to getting skin feeling plump and juicy there is no better ingredient than hyaluronic acid. It’s a very clever molecule that can hold onto 1000 times it’s weight in water, that’s some serious hydrating power. And the good new is, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a great hyaluronic acid serum. The Inkey List have just launched this jumbo-sized bottle that’s three times the size of the original because customers couldn’t get enough of it and I count myself as one of them. It has a super silky consistency and unlike many other hyaluronic acids it goes on perfectly to dry skin without feeling sticky, however because hyaluronic loves water so much it also works really well if you pat it onto very slightly damp skin too. A great price for a lot of a brilliant product.” Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith, GTG Beauty Director

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The calming moisturiser for teens (and everyone): The Elements Skin Balancing Cream, £9

"My teens are all over The Elements, a budget clear skin range from the makers of Q&A skincare and they grab it for themselves and distribute it among friends whenever I need people to test products. What’s great is that it’s within their budget so if they like it they can make it a habit. At least one person has gone on to purchase it – and he’d never used anything other than soap and water before. Teen skin can have a lot in common with breakout-prone menopausal skin and this cream is also handy for people like me who need the calming benefits of azelaic acid – a gentle exfoliator that also helps reduce sensitivity as well as some moisturising oils. It has a  matte finish that makes it suitable for oily skins too and a great base for makeup.” Victoria Woodhall, GTG Editorial Director

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The calming spot dot: Peace Out Acne Dots, £17

"There are dozens of acne stickers, or 'spot dots', out there but take it from someone who has tried pretty much every one, Peace Out are the only ones that do what they're meant to. They're not new, but a welcome new discovery for me. This pack comes with 20 dots but there is also a jumbo pack containing 40 dots. Each is saturated in powerful, blemish-blasting and calming ingredients such as salicylic acid, vitamin E and aloe vera, the perfect combination to help clear a stubborn spot and promote clearer skin. I find they reduce my zits overnight in a way that's protective rather than abrasive. I put them on before bed and keep them on overnight, but if you want to wear them during the day they’re clear and barely noticeable.’’ Christina Callaghan, GTG Commerical Director

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The falsie effect mascara: e.l.f cosmetics Lash N’ Roll Mascara, £6

"​​Mascara isn’t a beauty item I would fork out my cash on. There’s no need when there are stellar products on the market which are just as good (or better in this case) than their luxe counterparts. I’m obsessed with this new member of the e.l.f cosmetics family because it gives my hardly-there lashes an undeniable lift — without a lash curler in sight! The curved silicone brush features a mixture of bristles. The short ones load the long-lasting and flake-resistant vegan formula onto the base of the lashes making them look fuller and the long bristles work to separate and lift each individual lash. The result is an eye-opening false lash effect that maintains its hold all day long." Jemma Thompson, GTG Design and Social Media Manager

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The new cult US brand moisturiser: Naturuim Multi-peptide Moisturizer, £21

"Naturium is a highly sought-after American brand that only arrived in the UK at the end of last year. Skincare obsessives who knew about the brand via YouTube and Instagram begged the brand to the UK and they listened. There are 15 products in the range and prices span from £10.50 to £27. My pick is this lightweight moisturiser that helps strengthen and improve your skin barrier all thanks to a combination of peptides and ceramides. It's lightweight but helps protect skin from colder weather as well we keeping it balanced when inside in the warm. I've been using it for a few weeks and my skin feels more hydrated and  it has evened out my skin tone too thanks to it encapsulated vitamin C. Wallet-friendly and perfect for anyone no matter your age or skin type." Amy Rostas, GTG Beauty and Social Media Assistant

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The mousse to give curls full potential: Only Curls Volumising Curl Mousse, £16

"I rocked my corkscrews well into my twenties, but then I got fed up with their unpredictable behaviour (and inspired by Rachel out of Friends) and straightened the life out of them for years. Today, I like my curls but only when they’re full-on, not when they do that half-arsed frizzy ratty thing. This lovely mousse does a great job of bringing out their full potential, packed as it is with brilliant hydrators plus pea protein and other botanical strengthening agents. It volumises like a good mousse should but doesn’t leave waves and curls crispy or dehydrated, nor does it weigh them down like so many curl products aimed at thicker, coarser hair than mine. It smells lightly fruity but not overwhelmingly so, and can be diffused or simply air-dried." Ingeborg van Lotringen, Beauty editor

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The speedy hair treatment: L’Oreal Paris Elvive Hydra Hyaluronic 8 Second Wonder Water, £11.99

“Earlier this year L’Oreal Paris launched their Hydra Hyaluronic haircare range. A shampoo, conditioner, serum and mask all packed with hyaluronic acid to get dehydrated hair looking swishy again. It is so popular that ten products from the range are sold every minute! So it makes sense to give people more of what they want and it’s in the shape of this Wonder Water (another one of their best-selling products). This is the ultimate hair treatment for people who don’t have time for hair treatments. You simply pour a dose (there are handy measures on the side of the bottle and you get approximately 10 doses from one bottle) onto the mid-lengths and ends of your hair, wait 8 seconds - yes, just 8 seconds - and rinse away. I don’t have particularly dehydrated hair and it left my hair looking really silky so I can only imagine how brilliant the results will be on very parched hair.” SJCS

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The oil-mopping eco blotters: Hayou Beauty Rice Paper Beauty Tissue, £6.95

“If you ever have any oiliness, flushing or shine to mop up - or greasy hair for that matter - these new biodegradable beauty tissues, which are coated on one side with a fine layer of rice powder, are brilliant for your handbag and your bathroom. Simply blot, scrunch and bin. If you like to gua sha your face (which demands that you use the best face oil for your skin type) and want to put your makeup on straight after, a quick blot with these removes excess shine. I find they make a great alternative to dry shampoo - I just rub the tissue along my parting or wherever knowing that I’m not using landfill-generating spray cans or noxious propellants. If I don’t have time to wash my hair these are a lifesaver.” VW

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The body polishing and prepping duo: Frank Body, Scrub and Rub Kit, £11.95

"As an Aussie, it’s considered blasphemy if you haven't tried Frank body. The brand launched back in 2013 with the USP of using used-up coffee grounds to create their now iconic product, Original Coffee Scrub. The brand has expanded so much in the last 9 years but their new kit harks back to the brilliance of the original body scrub, which I use weekly to scrub away dead skin and help with my KP, and its been teamed with a new product, Perky Sculpting Body Hydrator - a super hydrating lotion that's packed with antioxidants, shea butter and, of course, caffeine - which is perfect to use straight after. If you haven't used the coffee scrub before then a slight word of warning: your shower will look a mess afterwards, but nothing that a quick rinse can't sort. Both products have a gorgeous scent and I think this is a bargain price for a duo that will get your skin looking ready for the year ahead." CC

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The skin balancing hydrator: Bondi Sands Light & Dreamy Gel Moisturiser, £8.99 

"You probably wouldn't think of self-tanning brand Bondi Sands as somewhere to turn to for skincare but they took their first foray into the skincare realm last year with a collection of affordable yet hard-working essentials and have just added five new additions to the mix. This lightweight gel moisturiser has been the standout for me as it’s just what my oily skin is calling out for. Firstly, the fragrance-free formula is non-comedogenic which means it won’t clog pores. Secondly, it’s enriched with glycerin, watermelon water and hyaluronic acid — a holy trifecta for deep hydration and a healthy skin barrier. I’ve been using it for just over 2 months now and my complexion is full of bounce and glow. If you have shine-prone skin and struggle to find a moisturiser that doesn't turn it into more of an oil-slick then this is worth a go." JT

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The cool kid shower gel: Sundae Orange Crush Whipped Shower Foam, £12.99

"Shower products are one of those things where you don't want to spend a fortune, as you are quite literally washing it down the drain, but you still want to use a product that sparks some joy and makes your daily shower that bit more exciting and feel more of a ritual. Step in Sundae. An Australian brand of gorgeous looking, highly scented foam shower mousses. Each one comes in a whipped cream style can (the aerosoal element gives the product its lovely lathery consistency) and are in Insta worthy pastel tones that will make even the dullest of bathrooms look a little more chic. They're lovely for cleansing the skin withbut thanks to their mousse texture, great for shaving too. There are currently 9 flavours to choose from. Orange Crush smells exactly like Fanta but I also love Pomegranate Fizz and Juicy Pear. And each variant contains skin-benefitting ingredients such as a brightening vitamin C from Kakadu plum and a gentle exfoliator for smoothing the skin.  Definitely a great pick me up for the long and dark January we have ahead." AR

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The faux brow look: Diego Dalla Palma Microblading Eyebrow Pen, £16.50

"This is not the first ‘microblading’ pen, but it’s a good one. The fork-y tip, infused with brow ink, is a brilliant idea: you can lightly rake it through the fat bit of your brows, then hold it sideways to subtly darken the tail end. It grabs and tints the hairs for a totally natural effect; others I’ve tried deposit so little ink that you’re forced to push the pen onto the underlying skin, which makes for a much less ‘born with it’ finish. It doesn’t fatten your brow hairs like some brow mascaras do, but it makes achieving precision-perfection really quick and easy." IVL

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The 2023 version of soap: The Body Shop Shea Face & Body Slab, £7 

“Put all thoughts of drying soap out of your mind when you look on this product. Not only because it contains uber skin hydrating shea butter but also because The Body Shop have formulated these ‘slabs’ (there are 8 different scents each with slightly different USPs) to only do good things to your skin. I was instantly drawn to this one because I’m very lackadaisical when it comes to using body products so as well as the creamy and nourishing shea butter that left my skin feeling very soft it also contains ground walnut shells for a very gentle exfoliation. It can be used on the face as well, I didn’t, but my husband absolutely loved using it in the shower on his face and body and declared it an ‘absolute winner’ and not drying in the slightest.” SJCS

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The clear skin wash: Altruist Dermatologist Cleansing Foam, 2% Salicyclic Acid, £5.25

"Don’t be put off by the factory-style packaging of this scent-free salicylic acid cleanser for blocked pores and oiliness. Altruist make deliberately functional-looking products so that you never save them for best to make skincare a habit rather than a luxury. They started with excellent budget sun creams and this is their first product outside of that niche. After all, if you’re diligent with your SPF (as we all should be even in winter) you also need to cleanse it off properly every day. If you’re a fan of The Inkey List and The Ordinary, this is low-cost high performance stuff to know about.”

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The budget skin transformer: Vaseline Expert Care Sensitive Skin Relief, £7.50

"I’ll admit I get quite excited about all these new ‘skincare’ body creams packed full of fancy ingredients like vitamin C and niacinamide that promise to transform your body skin; I know this stuff works if you use it consistently. The thing is, with prices as high as £50 (or even more) for a bottle, who can afford swapping out their basic body lotion indefinitely? Not me, to be honest. And I do wonder if I have to, with products as good as this £7.50 one. Very few have managed to soften and plump my limbs more successfully in a matter of days, and it’s even managed to keep the usual winter eczema around my waist (odd place I know) at bay. It has the unbeatable soothing and healing team of colloidal oatmeal and ceramides, all locked in by reliable Vaseline jelly, and it works." IvL

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