We find out from 10 of our favourite skin experts, make-up artists & hair stylists about the affordable beauty buys they swear by

Getting your beauty fix these days thankfully needn’t break the bank. Recent years have shown us that quality and high-performance can be delivered at budget-friendly prices – even as little as £2. However, insights from the Boots beauty trends report 2022 revealed that the rise in living costs is playing on many of our minds and we need our products to punch above their price tags more than ever.

If you’re feeling the pinch (sames), you’ve come to the right place. We speak to some of our favourite beauty pros about the affordable beauty products they swear by to provide bags of budget-beauty inspo.

From skincare and make-up to haircare, these expert-approved picks provide results that rival their pricier counterparts, ensuring you don’t compromise on quality, while saving the pennies.

Dr Justine Hextall, consultant dermatologist at Tarrant Street Clinic

Try: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, £10

"For me, the most important step in a skincare regime is cleansing. Get this part wrong and often even the most effective moisturiser won’t compensate for it," says Dr Hextall. "That’s why I love this hydrating cleanser. It’s effective, but incredibly gentle. Plus, it’s suitable for all skin types, and leaves skin looking soft and hydrated with zero tightness thanks to its main ingredient, ceramides, as well as humectants, glycerin and hyaluronic acid, that help draw moisture into the skin."

Credit: photo of Dr Justine Hextall taken by Bede Cummins

Dr Alia Ahmed, aka The Psychodermatologist, consultant dermatologist

Try: The Inkey List Mandelic Acid Treatment, £8.99

"I get asked a lot about hyperpigmentation, especially in skin of colour, and this targeted treatment’s blend of mandelic acid (a type of alpha hydroxy acid) and retinol may help reduce its appearance," says Dr Ahmed. "I’d recommend introducing it gradually into your regime as actives can cause irritation. Start twice a week and build it up slowly, applying it onto affected areas after cleansing and following up with a moisturiser 30 minutes later to help prevent dryness. Ensure to use SPF during the day as retinol can make skin photosensitive and UV exposure can make hyperpigmentation worse. For its price, it’s definitely worth a try!"

Dija Ayodele, skincare expert & author of Black Skin: The Definitive Skincare Guide

Try: Simple Booster Serum 3% Hyaluronic Acid & B5, £7.99

"Most people have some level of dehydration in their skin and you can’t beat hyaluronic acid to help boost your moisture levels," enthuses Dija. "It also helps your skin hold on to more water, which is key to helping it remain looking smooth, supple and radiant. Always apply immediately after cleansing, making sure you apply a lightweight moisturiser over it to lock in the benefits. It can be used morning and night as needed, too."

Dr Shaaira Nasir, consultant dermatologist

Try: Aveeno Moisturising Cream, £7.99

"This body cream is great for helping prevent dry skin as it contains colloidal oatmeal, which is soothing and moisturising," says Dr Nasir. "To get the most out of it (and moisturisers in general), apply after a shower or bath or after hand washing to seal moisture in. Its thicker formula makes it ideal for meeting skin’s changing needs during the winter, but is great used all year round, too. If you’re looking for something more lightweight, Aveeno also does a lotion version, which is perfect for the summer months."

Caroline Barnes, make-up artist

Try: Max Factor Velvet Mattes Lipstick in Sunkiss, £8.99

"This shade looks incredible against a warm, sunny complexion. It’s a perfect retro apricot, which is super flattering," explains Caroline. "The texture’s great – extremely lightweight and hydrating, and the consistency isn’t too slippery, making application and achieving a neat slick of colour easy. Plus, as it’s a matte formula, you don’t need to layer it up too much to make it stay put."

Kenneth Soh, make-up artist

Try: Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, £9

"This is one of my fave brushes! Its beauty lies in its dense fibres that mimic my fingertips and work foundation seamlessly into the skin with minimal effort,’" says Kenneth. "I tend to pump foundation onto the back of my hand and then use the brush to apply tiny amounts on the face using a stippling motion. That way, I can control how much or little I apply. It gives a flawless finish."

Lauren Murphy, make-up artist

Try: e.l.f Putty Blush, £6

"At £6, this is a steal. There’s a range of shades to suit all skin tones and its lightweight texture makes it easy to blend," says Lauren. "For a seamless finish, avoid wearing it with powder foundations, opting for hydrating formulas instead, and skip setting the base on your cheeks with powder to prevent it from going blotchy: cream products won’t blend on top of powder. I also like applying it under foundation for a natural, rosy glow. To achieve this, I use my ring finger or a round, duo fibre, fluffy brush to tap the product on and a Beautyblender to apply base on top, working from the centre of the face outwards. Set the T-zone with powder and let the rest of your skin glow."

Francesca Dixon, colour director at Hari’s

Try: L’Oréal Elvive Colour Protect Anti-Brassiness Purple Shampoo, £6

"This is brilliant for helping get rid of brassy tones on blonde, highlighted and silver hair. Plus, it’s super moisturising," says Francesca. "My clients love it, too. A few have told me how it provides an amazing alternative to more expensive purple shampoos out there. Not only is it good value for money, but it smells great and it helps keep hair from going yellow – an all-round win! Use it every few washes to keep your colour looking fresh."

Ricky Walters, celebrity hairdresser & founder of Salon64

Try: L’Oréal Paris Elnett Hairspray, £6.70

"There are some much-loved classics that have been around since the dawn of time and for great reason! These products have been tried, tested and adapted over years and are, rightfully, industry leaders. Elnett hairspray is definitely one of them," enthuses Ricky. "Although some say the smell reminds them of their parents or even grandparents, I see this as a marker of its multigenerational success. It’s the lightweight “anti-hairspray” that hairdressers are addicted to and that’s become a must-have in any kitbag."

Enitan Agidee, hair educator & trichologist

Try: L’Oréal Elvive Extraordinary Oil More Than Shampoo, £6.99

"Historically, shampoos weren't formulated moisture-rich enough to meet the needs of dry hair, so I’d find some people using conditioners to wash their scalp. The right shampoo should cleanse and leave it feeling soft once rinsed – and this one does just that," says Enitan. "For those with kinky/coily hair, I’d recommend shampooing once a week using round circular motions on the scalp and stroking downwards in one direction. Remember to stroke the shampoo over the ends of the hair – it’s a myth in the kinky/coily natural hair community to avoid the ends. This myth started because there weren’t many shampoos formulated for coily hair historically, but times have thankfully changed."

All prices correct on date of publication

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