Bargain beauty: The best products under

Bargain beauty: The best products under $20

“Consider this column to be the Victoria Bitter of beauty products: iconic and well-priced.”

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“Consider this column to be the Victoria Bitter of beauty products: iconic and well-priced.”

*Harriet Pudney is a beauty aficionado and former Stuff journalist who lives in Melbourne.

Opinion: I will be the first to admit I have Champagne tastes. I like to enjoy life and I don’t have children or a mortgage. These factors, combined with my general love of beauty and a belief that, on the whole, you get what you pay for, mean that the products in my own bathroom are not what you would call affordable.

You won’t find me recommending Barbara Sturm – apologies, but even I have my limits, and no-one needs to pay $500 for a hydrating serum.

Reflecting on my recent columns, though, I realize I have been even more Champagne-y than usual. Everything I feature is genuinely excellent (at least for my hair and skin and preferences – nothing is one size fits all), but I thought it might be time for a bit of balance.

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The joke among many of my friends in New Zealand is that we drink nice wine and cheap beers. Consider this column to be the Victoria Bitter of beauty products: iconic and well-priced.

I have done some real soul-searching, and come up with four beauty products that will cost you less than a cocktail each. When payday is uncomfortably far away and you still need to look adorable, these items will see you through.

Flower Light Illusion Liquid Foundation, $17is medium-coverage foundation from actor Drew Barrymore’s overall very good makeup line, and compares favorably to Nars Sheer Glow at less than a third of the price.

Expect a glowy finish and a weightless feel, with an even, perfected look. The downside is the shade range. More affordable brands don’t tend to offer as many options, and this is no exception. But if there is one to suit you and your foundation runs dry, get yourself a bottle of this.

You might like to grab a tube of Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Waterproof Mascara, $16, at the same time. This little beauty is a hit on the internet for good reason: it offers length and volume, and a deep, dark black tone.

It is a very wet formula, so make sure you don’t have too much on the brush before application. Considering how frequently you are meant to replace mascara (eyes are very sensitive), it makes sense to opt for a cheaper brand here.

When it comes time to wash that affordable makeup off, reach for The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, $18† That is, if you can find it in stock. This brand is notorious for supply issues – the price of success, I guess.

The squalane cleanser is a winner: hydrating, calming and effective in a gel-to-oil formulation that lends itself well to being the first step of a double cleanse, but also works on its own. A winner if your skin is feeling a bit reactive and red.

Speaking of winners, you really should have a tube of La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5, $14on hand for those red-and-reactive moments.

If you have ever hit it a bit hard with your active skincare, or caught some sun, you need this product. Soothing, healing, repairing and simple. It is really an ointment, but if you warm it up you will be able to spread it out thinly.

Those of us with dry skin are most likely to become obsessed. This is also a great one to use after any kind of laser treatment or skin needling. When skin is stressed, this balm is heaven.

Of course, the other way to save money on beauty is to only buy what you need. Keep these products in mind for when your current ones run out, rather than just filling up your cabinet.

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