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Thursday, 19 March 2015

Cheap as Chips - bargain beauty buys under £5

I've spent many an hour lusting over high-end beauty products. The number of MAC lipsticks I own is well into double figures. While I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing (MAC lipsticks are gorgeous, after all), there are loads of really great low-cost products out there. While they may not be as heart-poundingly, moan-inducingly beautiful, they get the job done without needing to survive on baked beans for a fortnight. 

Beauty is a lucrative market and over the last few years drugstore brands have really stepped up their game, offering on-trend products at a fraction of the designer brand price. The large amount of brow products on sale in my local Boots is just one example. Cheaper products allow for greater experimentation and expression at less risk of wasting money. Think you'd like to try coloured eyeliner? Barry M has a huge range of colours for £2.99 each. So does MAC, but I'd so much rather spend £3 on a product and then discover it isn't for me than splurge and be disappointed (and broke). If I really like using a particular type of product I'll consider investing in a high-end version. But often I love the budget versions too much to change.

This is a good example of trying out new looks - I'd wanted to try out lining my lips. I'm glad I didn't splash out on a more expensive pencil because I really only use this when I'm going out and want to give my lips a little more definition and my lipstick a little more staying power. Its texture is perfect - firm enough to easily define my lips but not so hard that I need to press to get any colour. 'Sweet Pink' is a cool pale pink, perfect for pale skins, and close enough to my natural lip shade that I can wear it with any lip colour. 

£3.99; available from Boots, Superdrug, and online

It's no secret how much I love the classic Burt's Bees beeswax balm. Over the last few years Burt's Bees have brought out a myriad of different balms, all cruelty-free and containing caring, nourishing natural ingredients like coconut oil and beeswax. I particularly love their Honey lip balm, which smells utterly delicious.

£3.69; available at Boots and online

These single shadows cost only £1. I have Chestnut, a cool matte brown that I can use as a shadow, a liner and a brow powder. It works well as a soft wash of colour on the lids, blends well, and stays where it's put. It's not as buttery or as pigmented as many other shadows, but for the price it's a great option. I'm looking forward to trying Hunter Green and Onyx next time I'm in Superdrug.

£1; available at Superdrug and online

This was an impulse buy when my brow gel started to get gloopy and difficult to use. I'd tried Rimmel brow pencils in the past and been disappointed because I hadn't picked the right shade. I'd picked 'Hazel', a much warmer and lighter shade than I should have gone for, and the sheer oddness of the shade on my brows overpowered how good the formula is. This time around, older, wiser, and much more well informed, I picked 'Black Brown', the darkest shade, and it's perfect. It has the requisite ashiness I want in a brow product, plus it has a stiff, waxy texture needed for filling in brows. I find it better suited to my patchy brows because I can pinpoint the areas I need to fill in, which I find harder to do with a powder or gel. I find it needs a light hand because it is surprisingly well pigmented, but the results last all day. The one nuisance is the stiff bristles on the lid, which are scratchy and useless, but other than that it's wonderful and has become a permanent part of my makeup routine. 

£2.99; available at Boots, Superdrug, and online

The Rimmel Scandaleyes crayons are great for a wash of colour. There are some really beautiful shades. I use 'Bad Girl Bronze', a deep brown with flecks of gold, at least once a week. Although these crayons certainly doesn't have the staying power or pigmentation of, say, the excellent Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon sticks, their softness makes them really easy to blend and they pair well with black eyeliner to create a smoky eye. 

£4.49; available at Boots, Superdrug, and online

These twist-up eyeliners from Rimmel are fantastic. You get an eyeliner, a built in smudger and a sharpener. The liner is smooth and creamy and really lasts. It's really useful to have the little smudger and sharpener all in one neat little pencil. I've tried Rimmel's Soft Kohl liner and for me the Eye Definer is a thousand times better for ease of use, comfort and longevity. 'Rich Brown' is a beautiful soft medium brown that would suit everyone.

£3.99; available at Boots, Superdrug, and online

Coal is a sooty, intense black. It applies easily and has a slight waxiness to it which means it stays put, but it's also pliable enough to be blended into a softer, smokier line. Topshop makeup is generally very good and their kohl liners are among the very best I've tried.

£4; available at Topshop and online

I harp on about Montagne Jeunesse masks all the time. They're so brilliant, so cheap and there's so many to choose from. They're almost always on offer in Boots. Every so often I go to a big branch of Boots on Piccadilly Circus or Bond Street and stock up. The coconut water and shea butter mask [pictured above] is wonderful on stressed-out skin. I also love the new Brazillian Mud fabric mask because it's so cooling and refreshing. Plus because it's fabric it doesn't get in my hair!

From £1 each; available at Boots, Superdrug, and online

An oldie but a goodie. Nivea creme saved my dry, weather-beaten skin during a skiing trip last year and I've kept a pot of it on my bedside table ever since. it's an excellent night cream. I tend to layer it over serum and oil at night to keep in moisture rather than apply it directly because my skin can get a little sensitive to it by itself. I love the little 50ml pots - they're so useful for slipping into bags and pockets for travelling. 

£1.49 for 50ml, £3.39 for 200ml; available at Boots, Superdrug, most supermarkets, and online

This makeup remover is 'duophase' - it's made up of half blue coloured oil and half clear water, and needs to be shaken to combine the two. It has been part of my bedtime routine for ages and I must be on at least my fifth bottle. It gets everything, and I mean everything, off, dissolving the smokiest of eyes in seconds. It is a bit of a pain having to shake it to mix the two liquids together, but the result is worth it. It leaves a conditioning, slightly oily residue, which oilier skins may not get on with. But in the times when I fall asleep without doing a proper cleanse and moisturise (i.e. when I've hit the gin a little too hard) my skin is glad of it.

£3.59; available at Boots, Superdrug, and online

Natural, simple and great for sensitive skin.This is free from parabens, alcohols, glycols and fragrance. And it's not just for babies! It's amazing on adult skin too. I find it particularly good on dry legs and feet. Plus it's clear, so it won't stain your clothes like a white cream can. Unlike many cheaper baby products, this isn't choc-full of chemicals or unpleasantly strongly scented.The gentle vanilla scent is lovely and comforting. Dry skins in particular will love it, as will every bank account. 

£3.09 for 200ml; available Waitrose and online

Max Factor Max Colour Effect Nail Polish

L: Ivory R: Cappuccino

These mini nail polishes are possibly the best bargain nail polish I've tried. The polish go on beautifully and take longer to chip than other drugstore brands I've tried. The dinky bottles are very sweet, and the colours are neither watery not gloopy. The colour range is wide; I particularly like the summer-y pastels and brights, and 'Ivory' [pictured above] is one of the prettiest golds I've ever used. 

£3.99; available at Boots, Superdrug, and online

Thanks for reading!