As a beauty editor, I am fortunate enough to get to try some truly fantastic products that are on the more spenny side of things. I'm talking lots of digits. Whilst there are lots that I believe are worth the investment (if you have the money that is) - Augustinus Bader, Diptyque, Westman Atelier, to name but a few - it's the more affordable beauty brands that I continue to go back to and recommend to friends and family.
These are the brands that mean I can happily curate a beauty shopping list for someone and know that it isn't going to bankrupt them for the rest of the month, but will help with their beauty woes.
So I present to you the beauty-editor-approved list of affordable beauty brands that I always rely on for my skincare, make-up and haircare.
It's an unassuming, household-name brand that you can always rely on. It doesn't try to be anything other than what it is. It's the body collection that really has me hooked - I love its kind and caring shower gels, body creams that nourish in seconds and the roll-on sun cream for kids is a winner.
Nivea Body Lotion Rich Nourishing, RRP £5.99 | Boots
It doesn't matter how many beautiful tubs of luxury body cream I try, I always, always, come back to Nivea. This is the perfect everyday body lotion - I use it in the morning before I get dressed (it absorbs at lightning speed) and at night after a bath. I never worry about how quickly I get through a bottle, because of how affordable it is.
2. The Body Shop
The Body Shop is a brand that I, and I'm sure a lot of you, grew up on. I bought my first make-up products from The Body Shop. A kohl eyeliner and some eyeshadow sticks - I thought I was the height of cool. I've grown up since then and so has the brand. There are still fun and fruity body products to be had, but there should be a special mention for its skincare.
The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Cleansing Polish, £12
The brand recently launched a really purse-friendly vitamin C range, which includes this Daily Glow Cleansing Polish. The gel cleanser is infused with jojoba microbeads and perlite (which is made from volcanic glass) to give you a gentle glow-revealing exfoliation. It's the ideal way to start the day.
3. L'Oréal Paris
If in doubt, go with L'Oreal Paris. The iconic French brand has a huge research and development team that is constantly creating new and exciting formulas, delivery systems and brand new products. With a make-up, hair and skincare range, this affordable beauty brand has you covered and its prices never go over £30.
L'Oreal Paris Elvive Hydra Hyaluronic Acid Shampoo, £5.99 | Feelunique
It wasn't until I had highlighted my hair that I really saw the benefit of using this shampoo. Whilst not technically one of the best purple shampoos, it made my colour sing. And that's because my hair was so dehydrated from the colour treatment that the hyaluronic acid in the formula, as well as the slight lilac tone to the shampoo, gave it the hydration and colour boost that it clearly needed.
If I had a pound for every time I had recommended to CeraVe to friends and family, I reckon I'd be able to holiday in the Maldives twice a year. It's not the prettiest of packaging and it doesn't have a particularly sexy name, but boy-oh boy-does this skincare brand impress. If you're looking for simple products to introduce into your skincare routine that will give you results, look no further.
CeraVe Blemish Control Cleanser, £10 | Boots
I've not tried the newest Blemish products, because I'm a dry-skinned gal. However, I have already sent a link to my cousin and friend, both of whom get blemishes regularly. I'm not concerned about recommending it without testing, because I trust the brand and I really trust its prices.
Nobody does mascara like Maybelline. I always tell anyone who will listen that if you want to spend a bit of money on mascara, then absolutely do it, but you really don't have to. Maybelline has got you covered, whether you're after length, volume, lift, waterproof, curling, defining or thickening, there's a Maybelline mascara for you.
Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara in Cosmic Black, £11.49 | Lookfantastic
My absolute favourite mascara ever, ever, ever is the Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara. It is hands down the best Maybelline mascara, let alone the best mascara. I'm not alone in this thinking, it's the UK's bestselling mascara and TikTok's most viral beauty product ever. The newest Cosmic Black version gives the darkest and most dramatic pigment ever.
6. The Ordinary
Arguably, the brand that put affordable skincare on the map. There was a time when much of the industry and its customers believed you had to spend a lot of money to see real results, then along came The Ordinary and changed all of that. So incredibly affordable and so efficacious.
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, £13.90 | Boots
One of the brand's bestsellers, the Squalane Cleanser spends more time out of stock than it does in. It's also one of Caroline Hirons's favourite products. Praised for the fact that it suits all skin types and works in the morning, evening, whenever you want.
Oh Glossier, you had me at Boy Brow. The ultimate millennial beauty brand that changed everything. And did it without ever charging astronomical amounts. Super minimalist in its approach, it has a cult following that I am well and truly a part of.
Glossier Ultralip, £14
I found it really tricky to decide on which product to shout about, so I went with the one that I'm currently using every day. Ultralip is a nourishing tinted balm that has the colour payoff of a satin lipstick. I use the shade Villa and it looks like my lips, but on a really good day.
8. Bleach London
I have been a fan of Bleach London for as long as I can remember. The brand's salon was my go-to for many years when I was a lot more experimental with my hair colour. (I once had rainbow stripes put in.) Now, at the age of 34, I am a little less playful (but not completely devoid of joy) so when I want to add a little something to my hair, I always turn to London's colour masters. Its entire product range, aimed at caring for coloured hair, is brilliant and will leave you with change from £10.
9. La Roche-Posay
Whenever anyone tells me they're having issues with their skin. I first ask them to run me through their current skincare routine and the exact products they're using. More often than not, that routine needs an update and taking back to basics. I then give them a shopping list of La Roche-Posay products and send them off to their nearest Boots. The French pharmacy brand helps calm inflammation in the skin, especially skin that's allergic, sensitive, blemish-prone or aging, and has the best affordable suncare on the market.
Garnier has brought sustainability to the masses and democratised being green. Its products are accessible, useful and kind to our planet. It continues to impress me and it's a brand that has been in my life for many, many years. Its brand-new Body Superfood creams (£8.99 | Lookfantastic) come in easy-to-recycle tubs and keep you hydrated for up to 48 hours.
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Katie Thomas is the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire UK. With over 10 years of experience on women's luxury lifestyle titles, she covers everything from the best beauty looks from the red carpet and stand out trends from the catwalk, to colonic irrigation and to the best mascaras on the market. She started her career on fashion desks across the industry - from The Telegraph to Brides - but found her calling in the Tatler beauty department. From there she moved to Instyle, before joining the Marie Claire digital team in 2018. She’s made it her own personal mission to find the best concealer in the world to cover her tenacious dark circles. She’s obsessed with skincare that makes her skin bouncy and glowy, low-maintenance hair that doesn’t require brushing and a cracking good manicure. Oh and she wears more jewellery than the Queen.
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