I Tried Hundreds of Beauty Products in 2021—Here Are the Best Under-$20 Ones



As a beauty editor, I try hundreds of different beauty products every year. Ask anyone—I’m a sucker for luxury products (I could not live without my SkinCeuticals' CE Ferulic!), but I also love products that really work and don’t break the bank. 

You may not realize it, but some of the absolute best products available are under $20. I can vouch for every single one of these products—you will not regret adding them to your routine. Whether you’re looking for a new foundation that will help you achieve flawless-looking skin or a hyaluronic acid serum that instantly plumps and hydrates, I’ve got you covered. There are also some hidden gems that you need to own ASAP, like an innovative in-shower body lotion and claw clips for even the thickest, longest hair. Read on for my favorite budget beauty buys.

The Best Under-$20 Beauty Products Out There

I have tried many, many mascaras, and I swear to you, I always go back to this one. I don't have naturally long lashes, but when I use this mascara, you wouldn't know it—the lengthening formula makes me look like I'm wearing falsies. 

I'm pretty sure Bio-Oil might be laced with magic (or that's what it seems like). While there's no cure-all for stretch marks, when I started using Bio-Oil, I saw a significant reduction in the appearance of stretch marks on my hips. 

I don't often wax poetic about body lotion, but when I do, you can bet that I'm talking about this genius wet skin moisturizer. It's a perfect product, particularly if you have dry, itchy skin. It also takes approximately thirty seconds to put on, and you can towel dry as normal afterward. 

If you and everyone else in your life are obsessed with claw clips, these are just what the doctor ordered. I have thick hair that can't normally fit in a claw clip, but these hold up all my hair without any problem.

No pimple is a match for these hydrocolloid patches. The best part is that they're super discreet, so you can even wear them out of the house and no one would notice.

If there's anything I swear by for my dry skin, it's hyaluronic acid. Vichy makes one of the best hyaluronic acid serums in the game. 

Mist this all over your face before applying hyaluronic acid, and you'll never look back. This is my favorite trick for supple, moisturized skin.

"Put some Aquaphor on it" is probably the best advice I have for anything that ails you. This ointment is a skincare essential. Use it for cracked knuckles, slugging, or anything else that requires extra TLC.

Imagine being able to buy a prescription-quality retinoid on Amazon. Oh wait, you can. Differin does everything a prescription retinoid does, and it's easy to get. 

This hand cream is impossibly rich and can resuscitate even the driest hands. Pro tip: This also makes for a great gift. 

Mented lipsticks are fairly priced, high quality, and they're designed to look good on everyone. 

Dark circles, who? No one will be able to tell that you got less than eight hours of sleep when you use this concealer. 

If you struggle with your face feeling tight and dried out after washing it, this hydrating cleanser is the perfect addition to your arsenal. 

This moisturizer helps repair your skin barrier while delivering lasting hydration. 

A foundation that essentially makes your pores disappear and wears like a second skin, all for three dollars? Sign me up.

Many celebrity fragrances are mediocre, but Ariana Grande's is not one of them. Get the body mist version of this juicy, floral fragrance.

Since I have colored hair that I don't want to wash too much, I live by dry shampoo. Batiste's is classic for a reason: it works like a charm, smells good, and doesn't leave any chalky residue.

It's technically $30, but it's on sale for $20. Trust me—you need this vitamin C serum in your life. It works wonders for radiance, fine lines, and dark spots. 

Have you spotted a theme? I love anything that imparts moisture to my skin, and that starts in the shower. This body wash is the best for maintaining moisture even when you're showering. 

Next: 20 Fast-Acting Beauty Treatments That Deliver Results Overnight