Scary-Good Beauty Buys Under $15

Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
We all love a great bargain, especially when the bargain is also a great beauty product. For years the product reviews I’ve done with Cosmetics Cop Paula Begoun and our team have consistently revealed this: In the world of beauty products, expensive doesn’t mean better. There are good and bad products in all price ranges — no need to over-spend and get stuck with a credit card bill that leaves you screaming in terror!
With penny-pinching in mind, I crafted a handy shopping list of some of the best beauty bargains out there. Armed with this information, you’ll find it’s easy to look gorgeous for less — and you can use your savings toward the perfect Halloween costume instead!
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Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
Scary-Good Skin Care
To the surprise of almost no one, you’ll find the lowest prices on skin care at the drugstore. We love oodles of department store products, too, but for those looking to save without sacrificing performance, the drugstore is where to go. Here are some beauty bargains so cheap yet so wonderful, it’s scary — but the good kind of scary, not the bogeyman-hiding-in-the-closet-waiting-to-pop-out kind of scary.
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For just one dollar, you get 50 of these oil-blotting papers, which you can use as often as needed without fear of breaking the bank.
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This lip balm is natural done right, and it leaves your lips feeling smooth and protected without a cloying, annoying fragrance or artificial flavor.
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Light on fragrance but heavy on all of the core ingredients, this hand cream will make dry hands look and feel better fast, without a too-slick finish.
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Hands down, this is the most affordable and beautifully effective water-soluble (read: no residue) cleanser out there. Its popularity is well deserved.
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This is the facial cleanser to choose if you have dry, sensitive, or reddened skin; its gentle formula that won’t leave skin shrieking.
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This acne cream packs a potent pimple-busting punch of 10% benzoyl peroxide, the gold standard active ingredient for killing (cue Psycho shower scene music) acne-causing bacteria.
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This makeup remover takes off every speck of every type of makeup — even waterproof mascara doesn't stand a chance. Love Lancome’s pricey-but-great Bi-Facil eye makeup remover? Try this and bask in the savings.
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So luxuriously creamy-smooth and luscious, this body wash feels like a steal — and the fragrance is soothing rather than overpowering, so men love it too.

St. Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter Body Wash, $3.99, available at Target.
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This eye cream has a formula so good, it can make other eye creams costing four times as much quiver in fear.
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This SPF that works on the body or face is packed with ingredients more commonly seen in expensive sunscreens packaged in bejeweled jars. Best for normal to dry skin.
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Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
Frighteningly Cheap Makeup
Don’t be scared off by the prospect of cheap (OK, “inexpensive”) makeup. We consistently find many drugstore color products that are high quality without the high price — and with as good as these picks look when properly applied (toss those tiny brushes and sponges and buy full-sized tools), no one will know you didn’t pony up big bucks to look so fab!
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We love this moisturizing cream lipstick with a glossy finish for less than a dollar that doesn’t suck. It will move into lines around the mouth, but so will lots of other creamy lipsticks, including those costing over $25.
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These singles are wonderfully smooth, don’t skimp on pigment, and offer some sophisticated options in matte, satin, and soft shimmer finishes. You may find yourself doing some touching-up before the day is done, but at this price, that’s hardly a deal-breaker.
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This blush adds a dash of color and soft radiance to cheeks with a suede-smooth texture that begins sheer and builds beautifully. Love. It.
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These eyeliners have a soft cream-to-powder finish that take a bit of time to set, but that's actually a good thing because it allows ample time to blend and smudge. Once set, the long-wearing finish is resistant to smearing and doesn't flake.
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This formula stays on when lashes get wet (and in humid weather), but it also volumizes and lengthens better than waterproof mascaras costing three times as much!
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A screamin’ deal for those with oily, breakout-prone skin, this base gives you an impeccable, silky-matte finish and provides great coverage from a range of neutral shades.
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This product multitasks by working as a lip balm and sheer lip gloss, so lips look great while it's on — and after it wears off. Bright yet sheer shades round out the accolades.
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Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
Hair Treats, No Tricks!
Think you need to spend big bucks at the salon to maintain that new cut or color? It’s not that such products are bad, they’re just overpriced (often WAY overpriced). The shocking truth is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a chillingly good hair day. Here’s what you need to get the job done with plenty left over for a pampering mani/pedi.

Ahead, get everything you need for eerily dazzling skin, hair and makeup.
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The go-to pick for removing product buildup so hair can quickly regain its bounce, shine, and ability to hold a style is this shampoo. A must-try for fine, lifeless, or dull hair.
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A shampoo that makes dry, thick, highly textured hair feel amazingly smooth, while adding noticeable shine. We’d put this up against any luxury shampoo you’re considering.
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A rich oasis of moisture for dry, frizzy hair is what this conditioner provides. Actually, we wish more salon-sold conditioners worked this well — and were available in such economical sizes!
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This conditioner won’t repair damaged hair (that’s impossible), but it will make the most of hair that’s been through more scary situations than a slasher flick survivor. Bonus points for its ability to make hair look so great for so little.
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A longtime favorite for its affordable price and brilliant formula that adds shine, smooths frizz, and makes hair feel like spun gold without looking like an oil slick, this finishing cream is incredible.
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This spray doesn’t add a halo of potentially unwanted fragrance, and it holds for several hours without feeling crunchy or creating helmet-hair. And, it's so light that even those with fine hair can gain control of wayward strands.
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A sculpting product that does what it says without gunking up; you can mold, smooth, and restyle without adding more product that could weigh hair down. Great for all but the finest hair textures.
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Promising extra hold and delivering on that promise, this mousse contains a mix of lightweight conditioning agents. Excellent for normal to fine or thin hair that’s chemically treated.
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