Affordable beauty products are everywhere: drugstores, supermarkets, discount department stores. We’ve been programmed by advertisers to think that affordable beauty products just aren’t good enough, that we deserve the luxuries of the upscale cosmetic counter or hair salon. True, some products are inexpensive for a reason; they really don’t work as well. But other products-ones you’ve seen on store shelves for years, even decades-are still around because they get the job done at a lower price. And some affordable beauty products even offer the same luxurious features that expensive brands do; they just aren’t dressed up in fancy packaging.
If you want to pamper yourself, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in expensive beauty treatments every now and then. But for everyday use, unless you have a specific condition that requires a particular product, affordable beauty products can be just as effective as the pricey stuff.
Here are my top 5 tried-and-true affordable beauty products, all under $5:
Finesse Plus Shampoo & Conditioner
Your stylist will insist that you’re a fool if you opt for affordable beauty products in the hair care aisle of-gasp!-your local drugstore. Every time I’ve been talked into buying “exclusive” salon products, I’ve been disappointed by the results. Now it’s Finesse Plus Shampoo & Conditioner for me. This combo creates a thick, rich lather, leaves hair feeling soft and manageable, and smells nice but not too flowery-what more can you ask for? As with most hair products, I really can’t tell the difference between this Finesse Plus formula and those for other hair types; I tend to grab the first bottle I spot on the shelf. Finesse Plus Shampoo & Conditioner tames my straight, flyaway hair and my boyfriend’s dry, wavy hair-yes, he uses it, too. In fact, he’s hooked on the stuff now and won’t use anything else. This is one of a number of affordable beauty products that are also “gender flexible.”
Pantene Pro-V Extra Fullness Gel
Pantene Extra Fullness Gel claims that it “pumps up thin hair.” I have thin hair, so this is the formula I go for, even though I doubt that there’s any discernible difference among the various Pantene Pro-V hair gel formulas. (I never claimed I was immune to advertising or product labeling!) What really stands out about Pantene Pro-V gel is that if I use it in moderation, it won’t flake off and give the appearance of a nasty case of dandruff. When hunting for affordable beauty products, I’ve found you can’t go lower than four or five dollars for hair gel, or you’ll risk the flaky effect. I’m not looking to get “pumped up”; I use Pantene Pro-V Extra Fullness Gel mainly to sweep my bangs away from my forehead and give the rest of my hair some texture. Given that the ’80s are over, who needs hair gel to do more than this? And why should anyone spend more on a hair product that isn’t being asked to perform miracles?
Dove Beauty Bar
It’s still ¼ moisturizing lotion, so Dove doesn’t want you calling this product “soap.” I don’t care what they call it, so long as they keep making it. Dove Beauty Bar is one of the most affordable beauty products, one that many may have forgotten in this age of “scientifically tested” anti-aging treatments. Once I entered my thirties, I began to wonder about all of those ads for anti-aging creams and cleansers: was it worth spending a fortune on all of those products that promised to prevent wrinkles and preserve skin elasticity? I decided it wasn’t. Dove Beauty Bar keeps my skin sufficiently moisturized so that I don’t have to resort to goopy, expensive creams. This is another of those affordable beauty products which both my boyfriend and I use. We buy the so-called “unscented” formula; it lists “masking fragrance” as one of the ingredients, but the scent is light enough that it’s barely noticeable.
Barbasol Original Shaving Cream
I know you’re thinking: Affordable beauty products? But this is a mens’ product! Well, if my boyfriend can use “my” Dove Beauty Bar and “my” Finesse Plus Shampoo & Conditioner, I figure I can use “his” Barbasol Original Shaving Cream on my legs. Instead of spending three or four times the price on a women’s shaving gel, I can get the same sleek result from the luxuriously thick, clean-scented Barbasol. Affordable beauty products don’t need to be heavily perfumed and packaged in flowery containers; they just need to be effective.
Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
Of all the affordable beauty products listed here, this is my favorite. Forget those fancy lip conditioners-Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm has everything you need. Though it resembles an ordinary tube of Chapstick, this is a natural beauty product that offers your lips some serious pampering. Added to the beeswax base are coconut oil, sunflower oil, vitamin E, lanolin, peppermint oil, comfrey root extract, and rosemary extract. The oils and herbs provide a little aromatherapy, or what used to be known simply as a pleasant scent. I use it as an everyday lip conditioner, a base for lipstick, and my first line of defense against the harsh chapping effects of Vermont winters. All of this for about $2. Affordable beauty products don’t get much more affordable or effective than this.
You’ve now taken the full tour of what passes for my daily beauty routine, made up entirely of affordable beauty products. Your routine may be more involved, and you may have more expensive favorites that you treasure. But if you’d like to trim your budget without feeling deprived, try substituting some of the products you think you can’t live without. You might just find that using affordable beauty products doesn’t have to mean sacrificing quality.