20 Best Budget Makeup Products I’d Pay Double For

2018 Edition

The Best in Budget Beauty

While there are absolutely, high-quality luxury products that are worth the splurge, there are also more budget-friendly makeup and beauty favorites that are excellent that someone could have said they were mid-end or high-end, and I’d never question it (hence the “pay double for”).  These are some of my favorite cheaper makeup products that perform well, period–not “good for the price” or “good if you prep in 10 ways first”–just fantastic products that won’t break the bank.

What are your top three, budget-friendly beauty finds?


03. Reserve Your Cabana Wet 'n' Wild

Wet 'n' Wild

PPermanent. $4.99/0.38 oz.


Wet 'n' Wild Reserve Your Cabana Bronzer ($3.99 for 0.46 oz.) is a soft, golden beige with a luminous sheen. Illamasqua Aurora (P, $24.00) is more...

Wet 'n' Wild Reserve Your Cabana Bronzer ($3.99 for 0.46 oz.) is a soft, golden beige with a luminous sheen. Illamasqua Aurora (P, $24.00) is more...


10. Yes, Please! Colour Pop

Colour Pop

PPermanent. $16.00/0.36 oz.


ColourPop Yes, Please! Pressed Powder Shadow Palette ($16.00 for 0.36 oz.) is a new, limited edition palette filled with twelve shades of warm...

ColourPop Yes, Please! Pressed Powder Shadow Palette ($16.00 for 0.36 oz.) is a new, limited edition palette filled with twelve shades of warm...

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About the Reviewer

Christine has normal-to-dry skin with areas of dryness (cheeks, nose, and under the eyes). She has a light-medium skintone with subtle, warmer yellow undertones. Her best foundation matches include: Tarte Rainforest of the Sea in Light-Medium Neutral (best match), Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup in Desert Beige 2N1, Giorgio Armani Maestro Glow in 4.0, Hourglass Warm Ivory Vanish Seamless Finish, Laura Mercier Candleglow Soft Luminous in Dusk, MAC NC20/NC25, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Liquid in Y305 (140). (For more information, please check the FAQ.)

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Top 3 for me would be:

L’Oreal Infallible 24 Hour (not all the shades but quite a few; I prefer them over the Maybelline ones in pots simply because they don’t dry out as the Maybelline ones can do)

Essence All About Matt compact powder

Annabelle or Essence or Rimmel eyeshadow stick pencils (the chubby crayon style ones)

and for a 4th – I just have to include the original Wet n Wild Comfort Zone palette. It is/was amazing and it’s a shame the new one isn’t as good.

Thought i’d see if U had Reserve Your Cabana. A Classic with the type of shade name other cos should emulate. Was SHOCKED to see this product has both oxybenzone and octinoxate. I certainly hope that in the wake of the Reef Safe movement, many companies will begin to acknowledge the possible, scratch that, probable, scratch that DEFINITE harm from chem sunscreen and move to something less environmentally disruptive. Probably most readers have no problem with these, but for me, the temp drops to 93 and I feel as if I might die. No exaggeration. It took me a summer to figure it out. Read up on these things on EWG, Cosdna. I wasn’t allergic to them, until I was…meaning, it could happen to you, too. And this triggered myriad other reactions. Can you imagine the environmental impact? No, but i’ll bet you live to see it.

Wow, thank you for this post, kjh. I was surprised to find out that some of those chemicals may affect estrogen, which is something I should have been aware of, as a breast cancer survivor. I’ve got a lot of research to do…

Seraphine. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has a database called Skin Deep that has a pretty comprehensive list of hormone disruptors that appear in cosmetics! Might be a good resource for you, best of luck. =)

Maybelline Creamy Matte lipsticks (faves: Touch of Spice, Clay Crush, Siren in Scarlet);
Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid Lipstick in Nude Thrill;
Wet N Wild Flat Top Brush;
Real Techniques Expert Face Brush;
ELF Angled Blush Brush;
Rimmel Hide the Blemish Concealer – the peachy toned one is great for undereye correcting;
NYX Butter Gloss in Praline and Gingersnap;
NYX Intense Butter Gloss in Toasted Marshmallow

I’m a little hesitant to answer this because I don’t really want to pay more for any of these products!!! But if I have to pick a top three favorite budget products that perform like higher end products, it would be:

1. NYX Proof It Waterproof Eyeshadow Primer
2. RCMA No Color Powder
3. Wet n Wild Megaglo Highligher in Precious Petals

Honorable mentions to Colourpop Lux and Ultra Satin Liquid Lipstick, Colourpop Fame Eyeshadow Palette, Cover Girl Clump Crusher Mascara, and Sephora Lipstories.

I cannot believe I forgot to add my new HD setting powder that you turned me ONTO, Seraphine! That RCMA No-Color Powder never looks dry, never emphasizes my fine lines, never darkens my concealer. It’s great stuff!

I do want to thank you for all you do on the budget end, which we s.t. overlook, when scoping out the latest mid to high end releases. I’ve scored so many from this list, that would not have been on my radar without your blog. Flashback ~15 or so, cruising Sephora and the dept store counters, with nary a thought to any DS level gems. ‘Course, DS has come a mighty long way in that time frame.

1. Physician’s Formula Butter Blush in Plum Rose

2. BH Cosmetics Waterproof Lip Liners

3. (Tie) E.l.f. Flawless Finish Foundation and BH Cosmetics Naturally Flawless Foundation

1. Colourpop Wolfie lip gloss (lovely rosy pink color)
2. Physician’s Formula blush in Plum Rose
3. Rimmels Stay Matte Powder in Translucent

This is a tough one! I feel like drugstore/budget brands have come out with some fantastic products in the last few years. Even if the prices were doubled, I would still buy:

1. Colourpop Blotted Lips – I prefer a more natural look most days and these are perfect for adding a hint of color. As long as I put a little chapstick on underneath, they never aggravate my perpetually chapped lips. They seem similar to the Glossier Generation G lipsticks, but are much cheaper (even at double the price!) and have a better color selection imo.

2. EcoTools Precision Blush Brush – the only blush brush I use anymore. Super soft and doesn’t shed despite many, many washings. It ensures that blush goes only where I want it to go.

3. Nyx Soft Matte Lip Creams – I personally am willing to trade longevity for more hydration in a liquid lipstick (due to perpetually chapped lips mentioned above). For me, these strike a perfect balance between the two while still having a very matte finish. Rome is my HG fall/winter muted red. I also love Cannes and São Paulo for spring and summer.

Honorable Mentions: Colourpop Super Shock Shadows, Essence Lash and Brow Gel Mascara, Coty Airspun Loose Powder.

Well then, I now know that I have fabulous taste even when I buy lower priced, but excellent cosmetics! Most of the above are repped in my stash quite nicely. I’ve got quite a few Sephora Contour Pencil liners, ColourPop products galore, Maybelline Color Sensational lipsticks, etc. The CP Yes, Please Palette definitely duping that ND Sunset palette almost 100% color and quality wise. I also have some other products that I would pay double (or more!) for: Essence Midnight In Paris Gel Eye Liner, plus the brush they made for it, and Satin Love Blush, Nyx Slide-on Waterproof Pencil Liners, Faux Black Liners, Matte Lipstick line, Slim Lip Pencils (known dupes for MAC lip pencils), Proof It! Waterproofing Eyeshadow Primer, and both blush lines: OG quilted squares and new HD ones. I would also add in MAC Pro Pan eyeshadows (only $6!) They aren’t HE at all in price, but look, feel and apply like it!

…it’s funny how a lot of us had a hard time stopping at 3 and ended up slipping in an honourable mention or 2 (or 5). Like you, I absolutely adore the Sephora Contour Pencil Liners (and live in fear that they’ll discontinue them, just as they did their earlier pan eyeshadows) and you are so right about the MAC Pro Pans, although folks like us (those who hang out here and have an “excessive” amount of makeup) have probably maxed out on Pro Pan shades that we like and that suit us (since it’s only permanent shadows, for the most part, that are available as pro pans). It is so much fun and so interesting (and enabling, in a way) to read others’ lists (this applies generally, not just to this particular question).

WnW’s eyeshadow primer is excellent.
It’s not quite drugstore prices but in general I have had very good luck with Sephora’s house brand.
The RT setting brush (pink handle) is great, and not just for the price.

I also ordered the Charlotte palette and the lipset. Am still considering the LM illuminator trio but I just got the Dior quad although they are different( rationalizing!)
My daughter ordered a few Top Shop items and a cute pair of loafers. Still, a bit of damage. I am also considering the scalloped edge sweater so please post your thoughts when it arrives and how the sizing is.

Maybelline Super Stay Better Skin Pressed Powder. I swear you could put this in a fancy compact, charge 30-40 dollars and no one would be the wiser. Really impressed w this powder. Now if they could downsize the compact it would be perfect!

Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer. It’s clique at this point to mention it as a favorite BUT I do. Costs 10 to 12 dollars depend on where you buy it but I’d spend $30 in a heartbeat

Also love my Colourpop Yes Please Eyeshadow Palette or my super shock shadows

Essence Pure Nude Highlighter in Be My Highlight

Sephora Lipstories Lipsticks

Rimmel Scandaleyes Eyeliners

Yes, all of these!

Other budget friendly options I recommend are…

Zoeva Graphic Eyes pencil liners – Glance and Rock N Roll Bride are favourites and Taupe is also a beauty if you like cooler tones.

The BH Cosmetics Spotlight Highlight 6 colour palette has gorgeous shades with a nice, soft, blendable texture and it’s super affordable.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams and Butter Glosses

The Ordinary foundations – I like the coverage one but my BFF swears by the serum one.

RCMA powder

Rimmel Color Rush balm stains – EXCELLENT staying power!

Jordana nail polish

Sephora Lipstories Lipstick. So far I have Matinee, Spring Break and Labyrinth City. SO good at any price. For $8 it’s crazy.

I think your choices are fantastic Christine and I would second that – especially the lipsticks and the Colour Pop eyeshadows.
I would add –
Milani Colour Statement lipsticks
Original Wet n’ Wild Comfort Zone eyeshadow palette
Rimmel Scandeleyes Mascara
Rimmel’s Stay Matte powder in Translucent (just as good as Laura Mercier’s)
And in Australia, I would add –
Natio Blush/highlighting palette in Sunkissed
Designer Brands foundation – Velvet Matte. I am going to try some of the others too.

I second a lot of these, such as the L’Oreal Infallible Shadows, and the ColourPop Super Shock Shadows, Pressed Powder Shadows, Super Shock Cheeks, and Ultra Satin Lips. Now, my top three budget friendly beauty finds that are not mentioned here are, in no particular order:

1. Wet n Wild MegaLiner
2. NYX Butter Gloss (my favorite shades are Tiramisu and Devil’s Food Cake)
3. Wet n Wild PhotoFocus Concealer

Honorable Mentions go to the Milani Color Statement Lipsticks (particularly the shades Rose Femme and Tuscan Toast), NYX Matte Lipsticks, Milani Supreme Kohl Kajal Eyeliner Pencil (the best black pencil eyeliner I have ever used) and the NYX Slide On Eye Pencil (Golden Bronze is my favorite for my green/hazel eyes).

Products for which my value is at least double the price:
LA Girl HD concealer
Bedak Marcks
NYX slide on eyeliner pencil, soft matte lips cream, and eyebrow pencil in taupe.

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