Beauty & Balance

Best of Beauty Awards: The 28 Most Amazing Beauty Steals of 2018

For modern beauty enthusiasts, few feelings are quite so satisfying as discovering the perfect product at an equally exceptional price point. Where once the selection of budget-friendly options was limited, the market is now filled with affordable hair care, skin care, and makeup to choose from. Of course, this multitude of economical choices has led to a new dilemma: How do you decide which products are worth your hard-earned money? Allure editors are here to answer this question by declaring our 2018 Best of Beauty winners in the Steals category. Whether you’re in search of a nondrying liquid lipstick, a chic $5 highlighter, or a color-friendly conditioner, we’ve got you covered — and those are just a few of the inexpensive winners below. And if you’re worried that “inexpensive” is a thinly veiled synonym for “cheap,” allow me to ease your mind: Allure’s resident beauty experts rigorously reviewed hundreds of products to bring you the crème de la crème, with each winner achieving the same standard of excellence as the rest of our award-winning picks. Take a look to see all our low-cost, high-quality favorites, and be sure to check out the other champions of 2018's Best of Beauty Awards, too.

BODY: Body Wash

Free of dyes and parabens, this hydrating wash hugs every inch and softens our skin with essential oils. The only thing more wholesome than the pure, milky lather is that unassuming price tag.

Ivory Free & Gentle Cleanse & Nourish Body Wash, $5 (Shop Now)

BODY: Body Scrub

If we could bring one item to a deserted island, it would be…a pocketknife (we’re not that shallow). But we’d miss this scrub a lot. Packed with glycerin and gentle buffers, the buttercream formula leaves skin irresistibly smooth. And that scent — screw it. We’re taking it.

Dove Exfoliating Body Polish, $6 (Shop Now)

BODY: Body Moisturizer

Remember when people had to towel off before moisturizing? This lotion has spoiled us for good. Infused with argan oil, it adheres to water molecules, transforming damp skin into dewy perfection.

Jergens Wet Skin Moisturizer With Restoring Argan Oil, $7 (Shop Now)

BODY: Hair Remover

This kit makes us not hate shaving — and that’s the nicest thing we’ve ever said about shaving. It lands at your door with an ergonomic handle, a nifty magnetic holder, and two five-blade razor cartridges. Four replacement cartridges (still at $9) are delivered when you need a restock.

Billie The Starter Kit, $9 (Shop Now)

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BODY: Bath Bomb

This twilight-tinted block releases a fizzy cocktail of minerals and essential oils into the bathtub, leaving a calming lavender scent. It’s like a science experiment gone terribly, terribly right.

Miss A a2o Lab Bath F-Bomb in Amethyst, $2 (Shop Now)

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BODY: Deodorant

Few armpit checks come with a follow-up plan (besides “let’s hope for the best”). These antiperspirant orbs (they’re just a smidge under two inches across) allow us to be proactive, providing on-the-go protection and a boost of instant freshness (the Luxe Lavender scent is one of our favorites).

Secret Freshies Antiperspirant / Deodorant, $5 (Shop Now)

MAKEUP: Liquid Lipstick

This sexy matte liquid lipstick stays put but doesn’t feel tight. Shout-out to Coral Chronicles, a tawny rose that has a fresh effect on all skin tones.

CoverGirl Melting Pout Matte, $7 (Shop Now)

MAKEUP: Mascara

The flexible formula allows you to build a dark, elongated fan that’s just as confident as that assertive (yet accurate) name.

Nyx Professional Makeup Worth the Hype Volume & Lengthening Mascara, $8 (Shop Now)

MAKEUP: Concealer

The lightweight fluid now comes in 12 shades, all of which sit above creases as the sponge applicator buffs away lines and even the inkiest, most intractable shadows.

Maybelline New York Instant Age Rewind Dark Circles Treatment Concealer, $10 (Shop Now)

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MAKEUP: Highlighter

A highlighter that gets it right: The ultrafine powder is soft enough to blend with your fingertips, glowy enough to bring out your cheekbones (hello, old friends).

Wet n Wild Mega Glo Highlighting Powder, $5 (Shop Now)

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MAKEUP: Eyeshadow Palette

Holding 12 powders of both matte and iridescent finishes, this slim kit is all we need to sculpt, define, and accentuate our eyes.

Rimmel London Magnif’Eyes Blush Edition Eye Contouring Palette, $8 (Shop Now)

MAKEUP: Eyeshadow

Wear each shade individually, or blend all four together for seamless definition. We love The World Is
My Oyster
, a smoky taupe palette that inches from matte to glitter and delivers the coolest look this side of the Atlantic.

Almay Shadow Squad, $7 (Shop Now)

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MAKEUP: Nail Polish

Even for the serial hand-washers and public-transportation-takers among us (the two go hand in hand), this polish passed the seven-day test — with flying colors.

Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Nail Color, $3 (Shop Now)

MAKEUP: Makeup Sponge

This egg-shaped sponge has a fine point for reaching around nostrils and under tear ducts, plus a flat edge for buffing away every imperfection.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, $6 (Shop Now)

HAIR: Shampoo & Conditioner

Water is a source of frizz — and the top ingredient in most shampoos and conditioners (recognize a pattern?). This duo leads with aloe juice instead, a humectant that locks in smoothness and breaks the fuzz cycle.

Maui Moisture Color Protection + Sea Minerals Shampoo, $9 (Shop Now), and Conditioner, $9 (Shop Now)

HAIR: Shampoo & Conditioner

When freshly washed hair falls flat at the roots, product buildup is to blame. This silicone-free combo encourages bounce with plant-derived charcoal. The natural purifier (think of your Brita filter) rids strands of residue from top to bottom.

Herbal Essences Detox Black Charcoal Shampoo, $6 (Shop Now), and Replenish White Charcoal Conditioner, $6 (Shop Now)

HAIR: Shampoo & Conditioner

We’d rather clean up our act than quit hot tools altogether. This nourishing little duo reforms our routine by wrapping strands in a protective layer of proteins and ceramides, sealing tattered cuticles and healing frayed ends. After our testers used it (and all their favorite hot tools) for a week, their hair had the softness and shine of lifelong air-dryers.

L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Repairing Shampoo, $5 (Shop Now), and Conditioner, $5 (Shop Now)

HAIR: Hair Mask

In 60 seconds, this magical mask energizes listless strands and tames unruly ones. We’re particularly partial to the ultra-moisturizing coconut variety.

Garnier Fructis 1 Minute Hair Mask, $5 each (Shop Now)

HAIR: Styling Spray

Part treatment, part styling spray: The keratin-rich oil clings to hair and plugs tiny holes in the cuticles, delivering silky blowouts and nonstop smoothness.

Schwarzkopf Gliss Fiber Therapy Repair-in-Oil Spray, $5 (Shop Now)

HAIR: Hairspray

Don’t call it a hair spray (shh, it’s sensitive). The weightless, alcohol-free mist enhances waves, quiets flyaways, provides delicate hold, and bestows a halo of shine. Oh, if a can could blush….

Pantene Pro-V Style Series Airspray 4, $7 (Shop Now)

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HAIR: Volumizer

The same ingredient that elevates a plate of greens is also the key to a lush head of hair. Loaded with olive oil, this airy whip plumps strands and imparts fullness — minus that hearts-of-romaine crunch that still bedevils some mousses.

Suave Professionals Natural Volume Mousse, $4 (Shop Now)

SKIN: Face Cleanser

Chock-full of charcoal and gentle surfactants, this delicate fluid doesn’t even require rinsing. A few passes with a saturated cotton pad dissolves makeup (even stubborn mascara), controls oil, purges pores, and imparts a primer-like finish.

Bioré Charcoal Cleansing Micellar Water, $7 (Shop Now)

SKIN: Face Cleanser

A cactus can retain water in unforgiving environments (case in point: it’s the only plant on our desk that hasn’t died). In this creamy cleanser, the hydrating succulent holds moisture that turns prickly skin pliant. And we swear the twist-up stick model outlives most tubes.

St. Ives Cactus Water & Hibiscus Cleansing Stick, $8 (Shop Now)

SKIN: Face Cleanser

This stuff could hold its own in the splurges story. The decadent balm melts into a silky emulsion as you massage it in, delivering the sort of supple refinement we’d pay good money for — if we had to.

Pond’s Cold Cream Cleansing Balm, $10 (Available in October 2018)

SKIN: Face Scrub

Biodegradable scrubby spheres banish dullness, loosen flakes, and target dirt, while salicylic acid fights breakouts. And the gel texture is like a tonic for tired skin.

Neutrogena Deep Clean Purifying Cooling Gel Scrub, $9 (Shop Now)

SKIN: Face Mask

Each individual packet contains a single treatment and a slew of skin soothers, such as aloe and cucumber. The thick paste tightens around every pore, producing a clean, polished canvas once you rinse it off.

Yes to Cucumbers Calming Mud Mask, $3 (Shop Now)

SKIN: Face Moisturizer

The problem with primer is that it’s one extra step. But this elixir actually shortens your routine. A few drops absorb shine, soften skin, and deposit a matte finish that makes foundation seem gratuitous.

E.L.F. Oil-Control Liquid Lotion, $8 (Shop Now)

SKIN: Lip Balm

ChapStick is suddenly sexy, like an introvert who lands a private jet at his high school reunion. Laced with jojoba oils and shea butter, the formula bestows a wealth of moisture and an elegant après-ski flush. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer product.

ChapStick Total Hydration Moisture + Tint, $5 (Shop Now)

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