With the advent of game-changing brands such as The Ordinary and The Inkey List I get just as excited by so-called budget skincare launches as I do luxury ones.
What saves me from making expensive mistakes is roughly calculating the cost-per-use, giving my make-up bag and bathroom cabinet the same consideration as I would my wardrobe.
These skincare, hair and make-up products combine both indulgences and no-frills-but-excellent must-haves, but they all come in under £30.
They are either constants in my own regime or products I regularly return to recommending.
Weleda Sea Buckthorn Body Oil
I often layer the Weleda Sea Buckthorn Body Oil under my normal moisturiser for extra hydration in the winter months (particularly for legs), though you do need to leave it a few minutes to sink in.
Elemental Herbology Bath and Body Oil
I like that you can soak in Elemental Herbology Bath and Body Oil before you smooth it onto skin. The layered effect enhances the scent and increases the mood-boosting effects of the essential oils.
Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion
Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion is transformative for any skin-type, but comes into its own tackling dry areas and rough, bumpy skin (called keratosis pilaris).
REN Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Anti-Fatigue Body Cream
Brilliantly hydrating REN Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Anti-Fatigue Body Cream quickly absorbs so it feels refreshing rather than cloying.
Frank Original Coffee Scrub
I can’t justify spending loads of money on a body exfoliator. It just needs to be scrubby enough to feel both exhilarating and effective. Frank Original Coffee Scrub is both and is best massaged onto damp - rather than wet - skin.
Aroma Active Laboratories Sleep Salt Soak
I’m finding sound sleep hard to achieve these days. A bath laden with Aroma Active Laboratories Sleep Salt Soak is soporific thanks to the blend of valerian and lavender and it’s my current go-to before bed.
Maybelline Lash Sensation Sky High Mascara
Most of my favourite mascaras sit around the tenner mark – it’s something that budget-friendly brand excels in. I prefer a smaller brush that you can snuggle into the roots of lashes to separate them up and out and regularly return to Maybelline Lash Sensation Sky High Mascara for just that reason.
IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream
A brilliant do-it-all, IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream manages to diffuse redness around the cheeks without looking heavy or pooling in pores and can be sheered out or layered for more coverage.
Hourglass Vanish Airbrush Concealer
Concealers are hugely personal so a try and test approach is essential. However, I’m confident your search will end with Hourglass Vanish Airbrush Concealer, a soft-focus, long lasting concealer that actually conceals without looking dry.
Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint
When my skin needs a radiance pick-me-up I turn to Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint. This complexion-booster enhances and evens out my skin-tone (it comes in 12 shades), leaving me to conceal only where needed.
Chanel Ombre Premier Longwear Cream Eye-Shadow
Easy to blend with fingers, Chanel Ombre Premier Longwear Cream Eye-Shadow stays put all day without creasing and the metallic shades look as refined as you’d expect. Switch between your index finger to apply the colour, and a clean middle finger to blend for quick application.
Benefit Gimme Brow+ Volumizing Eye-Brow Gel
With tiny micro-fibres that attach to your own brow hairs, Benefit Gimme Brow+ Volumizing Eye-Brow Gel, £22.50 won’t fill obvious gaps, but it’s an essential for fuller, more defined brows.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock ‘n’ Kohl Eyeliner
I wouldn’t be without Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock ‘n’ Kohl in Bedroom Black. It’s a true black shade that glides on and stays put and although it’s more expensive than some I use it every day.
Kevyn Aucoin The Eyelash Curler
I’m not wearing much make-up at the moment, but curling lashes every morning wakens the eyes and looks groomed even without mascara. The Kevyn Aucoin Eye Lash Curlers have a good grip and don’t pull or catch lashes.
Eucerin Hyaluron Filler Sheet Face Mask Hyaluronic Acid
I use a sheet mask once a week. I tend to apply my serums first, place the Eucerin Hyaluron Filler Sheet Face Mask Hyaluronic Acid over the top, and then push the ingredients into my skin using a facial roller over the mask.
Elizabeth Arden Probiotic Cleanser Whip-to-Clay
A cleanser has to do its job but I also love the alchemic ritual. Elizabeth Arden Probiotic Cleanser Whip-to-Clay starts off as a cream, transforms into a mineral-rich clay after one-minute on skin and then gently lathers so you can rinse it away all while balancing skin with probiotics.
Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
A daily treatment, the Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel gently resurfaces skin, tightens pores and reduces pigmentation with five alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids. If you have sensitive skin I suggest using it every other day at first.
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
For those with oily, congested skin Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is a leave-on exfoliant that helps clear breakouts and is brilliant for refining blackhead-prone areas such as the chin.
The Inkey List Vitamin C Serum
There are so many great The Inkey List products it’s hard to choose only one, but the skin-brightening Vitamin C Serum stands-out, easily competing with more expensive products.
The Ordinary 0.2% Retinol in Squalane
I recommend those new to retinol to start with The Ordinary 0.2% Retinol in Squalane as the low percentage allows your skin to get used to it. Use it at night to reduce fine lines and even skin-tone.
Lixirskin Skin Universal Emulsion
Lixirskin Skin Universal Emulsion ticks the box of a serum, a day cream and a nightly moisturiser. I’ve recommended it to so many different skin types who have all got on well with it, though I still layer additional serums underneath.
La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra Overnight Cream
La Roche Posay as a whole makes it onto most of my lists of recommendations as they have so many excellent treatment serums, but it’s the Toleriane Ultra Overnight Cream that’s a regular on my bedside table. I use it every night to help calm my extremely sensitive skin. It’s very lightweight so easily sits over serums and under a richer cream if your skin needs it.
Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Hydration Booster
Hyaluronic Acid is a must for keeping skin hydrated. A gel-serum Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Hydration Booster quickly absorbs without feeling tacky. Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water but you need to ‘feed’ it with additional moisturiser on top.
Avène Tolérance Extrême Mask For Intolerant Skin
Even hardier skin types can develop sensitivity with lack of sleep, stress or going OTT on products, particularly peels. With calming, mineral-rich spring water, Avène Tolérance Extrême Mask For Intolerant Skin quickly soothes skin and helps repair the barrier - worth having handy for when the need arises.
Tan-Luxe The Face
Forgive me for cheating slighty with this travel size (the full size is £35) but Tan-Luxe The Face is hands-down the best tanner out there. It can be added to your usual serum or moisturiser so you don’t have to skip your favourite skincare.
Garnier Micellar Water
Strictly, I would reserve micellar water for a quick alternative to facial wipes rather than an everyday cleanser. Garnier Micellar Water feels refreshing and quickly does the job without drying out skin like some.
Living Proof PHD 5-in-1 Styling Treatment
I have no patience prepping hair in the morning and love that Living Proof PHD 5-in-1 Styling Treatment conditions, provides heat protection, styles and smooths. A brilliant product that creates savings in both time and money as you need nothing else.
Color WOW Dream Coat Spray
Applied to wet hair and activated by heat, Color WOW Dream Coat effectively ‘seals’ hair from moisture and humidity, keeping it frizz-free and lasts for three-to-four washes. I tend to mist it onto mid-length and ends where I find frizz is hardest to combat.
Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector
For those missing in-salon backwash treatments, Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector is for you. This mask repairs damage to hair caused by heat and colour treatments like nothing else and can be used for ten-minutes pre-shampoo or as an overnight hair treatment.
L’Oreal Paris Precision Retouch Precision Root Concealer Brush
I have a few greys around my temples, which are scattered enough to ignore (so far) except when I wear my hair back. The L’Oreal Paris Precision Retouch Precision Root Concealer Brush quickly targets them with shampoo-out colour and is imperceptible.