Style/ Beauty

I’m a beauty editor and these are the luxe beauty buys I swear by that all cost less than £20

Great beauty doesn’t have to be expensive. Fact. But, then again, not all affordable beauty is worth even the couple of quid on the price tag. The trick is to know where to spend and where to save in order to get the smug pay-off of exceptional performance and plenty of change left over from a £20 note.

Case in point: Collection’s Fast Stroke Liner. It’s an unassuming little pot of liquid liner that’ll set you back £2.99 in Boots. But the formula, and the quill-nib applicator, rival every single high-end alternative I’ve tried (and I’ve tried dozens). Then there’s veteran brands like M.A.C. The formulas are reliable, exceptional and reasonably priced for the performance pay-off. An eyeshadow from M.A.C. may cost double what you might pay in the drugstore but for £15 you can treat yourself to a buttery-soft, beautifully blendable shade that’ll last you up to a year of regular use.

Smart initiatives like Beauty Pie offer high end products (made in the same factories as iconic high end brands) but at transparent and fair prices, thanks to cutting out the middle man and the mark-ups created by expensive advertising and ritzy stores (the cost of which, historically, falls firmly on customers’ shoulders).

Imported brands like Italy’s KIKO and French Pharmacy brand, Klorane, are worthy of attention. The former’s crayon eye sticks glide on like a dream with impressive pigmentation that stacks up against more expensive luxury brands, while the latter’s gentle but effective hair care serves up the je ne sais quoi (aka results) you’d expect from chic Parisian beauty. The Aquatic Mint shampoo deeply cleans hair and the environment(!) thanks to detoxifying ingredients that neutralise toxins in our hair… and then our waterways via the shower plughole. 

Drugstore brands like Maybelline know their way around a triple threat mascara (length, volume and definition), the Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara simply can’t be beaten – a fact that’s backed up by the countless five star reviews and 490 million views on TikTok. Me? I’d have to agree. I’d happily pass-up my high-end mascaras for the game-changing wand and formula.

Meanwhile, mid-to-higher-end brands like Glossier, Nuxe and The White Company offer up products that span from as little as £7 (in the case of Nuxe’s deliciously nourishing Reve De Miel lip balm), or £13 (for a fancy hand wash in The White Company’s pretty scents), or £15 (for Glossier’s cult Cloud Paint Blushers).

Beauty’s whole point is to boost mood, so it’s important to have on our radar little pick-me-ups that really do the job. These are the under £20 beauty heroes I keep in my stash. Not because they’re cheap, but because they out-perform their high-end counterparts.

Shop the editor-approved guide to affordable beauty.

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