The best budget beauty buys to get you through the cost of living crisis
Nothing over $20
By Briar Clark
Beauty Crew Beauty Editor / July 31 2023
If you live in Australia then you’re likely feeling the pressure that the nation’s cost of living crisis is creating.
Living is more expensive than ever before; Australia’s capital cities have experienced an 11 per cent rental increase and inflation has affected everything from petrol to food prices, and interest rates.
So while we don’t think we’re likely to ever give up on our beauty routines in the efforts of maintaining a modicum of self care amidst the chaos, we are making some smart swaps.
As beauty nerds we pride ourselves on our ability to thoroughly research the products we use — our brains are basically encyclopedias of beauty-based knowledge.
We know the bargain beauty buys celebrities swear by, the best drugstore primer, foundation, highlighter, mascara, liquid eyeliner, bronzer, concealer, cleanser, and serums.
We’ve located 12 peptide serums under $50 that are excellent Rhode Skin Peptide Glazing Fluid dupes.
We’ve also found drugstore dupes for all of our favourite luxury products like Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540, the Dyson Airwrap, and basically every skin care product from Drunk Elephant.
Come to think of it, with the help of TikTok, we’ve sussed out dupes for all of our favourite lip products too, like the Laneige lip mask, the Dior Addict Lip Glow Oil, and the Clinique Almost Lipstick Black Honey, just to name a few.
And as self-professed Charlotte Tilbury fans, we have a back-up list of Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Light Wand dupes and Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter dupes (shout out to the viral e.l.f Halo Glow Liquid Filter), just in case.
Over the next few months we expect to lay some very exxy empties to rest (R.I.P). But we’re cutting our grieving period short to celebrate a routine refresh that includes some exciting drugstore finds.
The Best Budget Beauty Products Under $20 To Buy In Australia
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
CeraVe produces some of our favourite budget-friendly skin and body care products. The CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser contains the brand’s signature blend of ceramides and hyaluronic acid and provides a gentle cleanse that doesn’t strip skin of its natural oils. A must for winter.
$13.49 at Chemist Warehouse
Glam By Manicare 77. Elsa Glam Ready Pre-Glued Lashes
When a full set of lash extensions is pushing the budget, it's time to acquaint yourself with the wonderful world of strip lashes. As far as a beginners skill level goes, these pre-glued bands are where you need to be. The adhesive strip makes for a quick, easy and accurate application without the fuss.
$11.49 at Chemist Warehouse
La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5+
La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5+ has a dedicated following on TikTok who like to use the multi-purpose balm as a spot treatment for acne. Enriched with repairing madecassoside, soothing panthenol, and antibacterial agents, it calms and hydrates dry, irritated skin like no other.
$18.99 at Chemist Warehouse
Garnier Skin Active Vitamin C Brightening Serum
The Garnier Skin Active Vitamin C Brightening Serum’s reputation precedes it; those reviews don’t lie. What’s Garnier’s secret to success? They’ve blended a stable and potent form of vitamin C with niacinamide and salicylic acid to help minimise dark spots, dull skin and unwanted texture.
$14.97 at Chemist Warehouse
The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane
If you’re considering introducing retinol into your skin care routine, this squalane-infused formula is one to try. Gentle enough for first-timers but potent enough to make a difference, this serum contains 0.5 per cent retinol, which aims to reduce the appearance of fine lines and photo-ageing.
$13.10 at Adore Beauty
Bondi Sands Everyday Skincare Thirsty Skin Hyaluronic Acid Serum
In our opinion, a good hydrating serum should make you glow, plump fine lines, and stave off that uncomfortable, tight and itchy dry skin feeling. Enriched with hyaluronic acid and algae extract, Bondi Sands Everyday Skincare Thirsty Skin Hyaluronic Acid Serum does all of the above for less than $20. Colour us impressed.
$10.99 at Chemist Warehouse
THE INKEY LIST Caffeine Under-Eye Cream
In a cost of living crisis, eye cream can seem like a luxury. But if you just can’t part with the skin care step, let us introduce you to this $18 offering. It contains de-puffing caffeine, the texture and fine line-smoothing matrixyl 3000™ peptide, and albizia julibrissin bark extract to nix tired eyes.
$18 at Sephora
COSRX Clear Fit Master Patch
Getting a pimple can lead to a freak-out of monumental proportions, but before you go splashing out on an expensive spot treatment, try one of these hydrocolloid pimple patches. Completely transparent, they’re undetectable as they get to work reducing the appearance of red, inflamed zits.
$7.90 at Adore Beauty
Maybelline Fit Me Dewy and Smooth Luminous Liquid Foundation
The Maybelline Fit Me Foundation range has had a place in our makeup bags since our days in high school. But thankfully it’s shaken off its ‘cakey’ reputation with newcomers like the dewy and smooth luminous liquid foundation. The vitamin E-enriched formula hydrates dry patches for a smooth and flawless finish.
$16.38 at Amazon Australia
NYX Professional Makeup HD Photogenic Concealer Wand
The NYX Professional Makeup HD Photogenic Concealer Wand takes out top prize for providing flawless, full coverage and a matte finish. However, if you’re looking for a more natural option or have dry skin, try the slightly exxier NYX Professional Makeup Bare With Me Concealer Serum ($26.95 at Priceline) instead.
$10.76 at Amazon Australia
Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara
The Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara has long held viral status online as the mascara that’s so good it’s like lash extensions in a tube. The $8 drugstore pick doesn’t clump or flake, and fans of the stuff have been known to say things like “it is the best mascara that I [have] ever used!”. Sold yet?
$8 at Priceline
Morphe Definer Brow Pencil
Considering the frequency with which we manage to run through eyebrow pencils, we think it’s safer in the long run for us to spend less on this step. This $14 stylo from Morphe has a creamy formula that glides on easily (no chalky, chunky brows here), an angled, precision tip to effortlessly add definition, and a spoolie on one end to help diffuse the product for a natural finish.
$14 at MECCA
Australis Lip Glaze in ‘Glazed Donut’
Australis holds so much nostalgia for Australians, but we’re obsessed with their rebrand. The brand’s lip glaze is our all time favourite dupe for the viral Dior lip oil. Plus, the Australis Blush Glaze Pink Pop ($16.99 at Priceline) makes a pretty convincing Espressoh Glassy Blush By The Glass dupe too.
was $16.95 now $8.48 at Australis
MCoBeauty Perfect Pout Lip Liner
If the cost of living crisis has sent you reeling because you’ve realised you’ll have to give up your Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk lip liner — breathe. This $14 liner is a perfect dupe for CT’s Pillow Talk shade down to the packaging.
$14 at MCo Beauty
MECCA MAX Beauty Bullet Flawless Sphere
We know, we know, not all makeup sponges are created equal, but if there's ever a time to sacrifice your Beauty Blender loyalty, it’s now. This budget-friendly blender diffuses makeup for a streak-free finish. Bonus: it won’t drink up all of your foundation.
$10 at MECCA
Flower Foundation Buffing Brush
Morphe Eye Got This 4-Piece Eye Brush Collection
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you have to toil away with terrible makeup brushes. This four-piece set has everything you’ll need to create a pro-level eye makeup look. No stress.
$18 at MECCA
MUD Lip Defining Pencil
With an ultra-creamy, long-wearing formula, this budget lip liner deserves a place in every makeup kit. The pencil glides silkily onto the lips, allowing you to define or even overline your pout (hello, Kendall Jenner) to perfection. And did we mention you can snag one from your local Woolies? We're suddenly very excited for our weekly grocery shop...
$5.50 at Woolworths
Briar is the Beauty Editor at BEAUTYcrew. Her 'down for anything' attitude has resulted in more than a handful of hair transformations, and she doesn't mind being used as a guinea pig for the industry's most unusual products and treatments. Her work has also appeared on Refinery29, Girlfriend and beautyheaven.