I'm a Beauty Editor—30 Under-$50 Items I'd Buy on Repeat Until the End of Time



Most Wanted is a weekly series in which one editor, staffer, or influencer shares their top 30 must-haves or current wish-list items.

Believe me (and you probably don't need me to tell you), but there are plenty of mediocre beauty products out there. And when it comes to our hard-earned dollars, the last thing we want to be doing is investing in items that are anything less than completely amazing. Right? Right.

Whether said investment is $10 or $100, it really doesn't matter! Since I've tried hundreds, maybe even thousands, of beauty products at this point, I've kind of narrowed my routine to a lineup of no-monkey-business products I can rely on: liners that, well, stay in line; ChapStick that keeps my lips from chapping; the list goes on. And below, I'm sharing every last one of those products with you! Of course, I mix it up every now and again with new finds and other formulas I'm test-driving, but unless something crazy happens, I plan to use these under-$50 beauty products until my last days on earth. (And here's hoping none of them get discontinued.) Keep scrolling! 

Skin & Body

A godsend once winter rolls around because my lips chap, flake, and crack. There are lots of lip scrubs floating around, but this is the one I come back to again and again. It's made with sugar, sweet almond seed, jojoba oil, shea butter, and orange peel, so it smells super luxe, too.

Meet my newest favorite SPF—a multitasking face oil that's boosted with ceramides for a balanced, more resilient skin barrier; oodles of hydration via hyaluronic acid and squalene; and, obviously, SPF.

I talk about this micellar water all the time. But years later, it's still one of the best things to happen to my sensitive, acne-prone skin. I still have yet to meet a formula that beats it, and I use it religiously morning and night before I go in with my normal cleanser. 

If you think a cleanser is just a cleanser, think again. I use this one nightly and love how gentle and nurturing it is. It's silky-smooth with a serum-like consistency (hence the name) and will never leave you feeling stripped or dry. 

Although it just barely squeaks in under the $50 mark, this eye cream is truly worth every penny and will last you at least a few months (and probably more). I've tried a stupid number of eye creams, and even formulas five times the price of this one just can't compete. 

That said, if I want something that's a little more illuminating, this slightly shimmering option from Mario Badescu is the absolute shit. It's become my go-to for mornings when I wake up a little more sleep-deprived than I'd like. And it's a little more affordable, so there's that!

I hate sticky lip balms more than anything. I want something that's going to work, that feels nice and pillowy on my lips, and that I won't have to reapply every 10 minutes. If I use this once in the morning and once at night before I go to bed, I'm good to go. Don't waste your money on any other lip balm!

No other hand cream exists as far as I'm concerned! I buy these in bulk and am addicted to the smell, which was inspired by Glossier's cult-loved fragrance, You. 

I've learned the hard way not to go hog wild with my collection of physical exfoliators. This one never irritates my skin, is reasonably priced, and leaves my skin baby-smooth. It's magical and a twice-weekly ritual I couldn't go without!

This body lotion sinks in and glistens atop your skin like the most luxurious oil, but the lotion consistency makes it way less messy and a true pleasure to apply. I'm obsessed and keep about five bottles in stock at a time. I like the unscented version, but there's a variety of options, so pick your poison.

I'm convinced I have the most raggedy cuticles on planet earth. No, really, it's abnormal! This formula from Static Nails is easy to paint on each night and almost instantly mends the snags and rags around my fingertips. 

Smothered with potent exfoliating acids and skin-soothing ingredients, this jelly-like sheet mask attaches like a second skin and noticeably de-gunks pores, refines uneven texture, and calms redness and irritation in one fell swoop.

I'm a huge believer in the overnight magic a truly qualified acne patch can wield, but not all patches are up to the task. This original iteration from Hero Cosmetics is the only one you'll find on my vanity.

I want to love body scrubs, I do! But honestly, they are so messy, gloopy, and, in my experience, unremarkable in the efficacy department. Plus, I for one don't like to step out of the shower looking like I was clawed by a rabid cat. (But to each their own.) This exfoliating bar from Glossier is so freaking good. It's fast, easy, painless, and mess-free to use, and the results are truly insane. My skin feels as soft as a newborn baby after I use it, which is almost every single time I take a shower. 

I truly regret the years (YEARS) I went without a separate cream from my, erm, sensitive areas. How many ingrown hairs and super-uncomfy irritation I could have avoided if only I had had Fur's soothing and smoothing stubble cream. I apply it the second I get out of the shower or bathtub wherever I'm freshly shaven, and it's like a magic potion for preventing sensitivity, bumps, and any other ills.


I have long, fine, bleached, damage-prone hair, and for whatever reason, this has always been the only hair oil up to the task in the shine-enhancing and smoothing department. I don't even know how many bottles I've gone through at this point. 

This non-stripping scalp-invigorating shampoo from Philip B (a god) saves me every time. It's not harsh or abrasive on your strands like most clarifying formulas are, but it still manages to lift away built-up product and debris without skipping a beat. It also helps kick volume, shine, and moisture levels into overdrive, and the cooling minty-fresh sensation you get on your scalp is spa-level fantastic.

I may or may not have squealed like a 5-year-old when I found out Sol de Janeiro was going to release a dry shampoo with its highly addicting signature scent—a tropical melding of pistachio and salted caramel you’re likely familiar with thanks to the brand’s iconic Brazilian Bum Bum Body Cream ($45). Divine smell aside (I mean, who doesn’t want their hair to smell delicious enough to eat?), the dry shampoo itself is spectacular. It does everything you want a dry shampoo to do: soak up and banish excess oil while adding residue- and stick-free bounce and volume back into your strands. This stuff is summer hair bottled, even in the dead of winter.

I've gone on and on about this OG product from Olaplex for years, but truly, I can't imagine life—or my hair—without it. I apply it to wet strands once a week, and I try to let it marinate for at least an hour, but a whole day if possible. Because of said ritual, I only lose a couple of strands of hair post-wash as I comb out and detangle, which is a truly satisfying feeling that never gets old. I'll put it like so: If you're not using this, your hair is mad at you.

Did I save the best for last? Maybe. Actually, yes. If I could only use one hair product for the rest of my life, it would be this one. It's the only detangler/leave-in conditioning hybrid I'll ever use. It smells fantastic, it allows a comb or brush to effortlessly glide through even the gnarliest tangles, and it saturates hair with shine and moisture-boosting conditioning agents without weighing down your look or leaving behind a greasy or residue-laden aftermath. I'll be beside myself if Unite ever stops making this stuff. I've used it for six years! 


Newly relaunched, Kosas's 10-Second Eye Gel Watercolor Eyeshadow is back and better than ever. Each dreamy new neutral hue is a true collector's item (I recommend getting an assortment) and the ultimate antidote when you want a low-maintenance flash of shimmer and depth in 10 seconds or less. (The name doesn't lie!)

I used to crinkle my nose at freckle pens, and to be honest, I thought they were a little cheesy. Until, of course, I actually tried them and realized how fun they could be. I naturally have freckles, but using this cute little pen to dot some on and then using my finger to tap them out gives me that same sun-kissed look all year round. Pro tip: Get two different colors for a more dimensional (read: natural) end result.

This is one of my favorite products, especially on my no-makeup makeup days. It gives you a touch of hydration and coverage in one easy go and never looks obvious, crease-y, or thick. It's my secret weapon when I wake up looking less bright-eyed and bushy-tailed than I'd like. 

I don't remember what I was wearing on my lips before I discovered this tinted balm from Ilia, but the shade Wanderlust has become a daily nonnegotiable. The color looks natural—that just-bitten saturation of color everyone is always coveting—but you're also getting an ample dose of hydration and pillowy softness. It's a perfect product. 

In my experience, tinted moisturizers are one of the stickiest (read: most impossible) products to feel satisfied with. Until I met this glorious formula from Saie, that is! It provides a little more coverage than the average tinted moisturizer without giving you so much coverage that it becomes a full-on foundation. It's less oily and dewy than other formulas I've tried in the clean-beauty category but still gives you a naturally radiant finish. The fact that it also has a dose of SPF is just the cherry on top. 


Merit is the best thing to ever happen to my five-minutes-and-out-the-door makeup routine, but if I have to play favorites, it'd be this goof-proof highlighting balm. For an ethereal, non-makeupy glow, I like to swirl my finger in it and then tap it on top of my Cupid's bow, the tip of my nose, brow bones, and cheekbones.

You'd think making a reliable clear brow gel would be pretty straightforward, but considering this new discovery is the first one I've ever truly loved and become unequivocally obsessed with, apparently it's not! This little dose of heaven gives me everything I want from a clear brow gel. The vegan formula boasts growth-enhancing and hair-strengthening peptides, plant extracts, and antioxidants to encourage the bold, bushy brows of your dreams, and the lightweight formula also provides the perfect amount of hold for lifted, but not overly stiff, brows. Plus, unlike so many clear brow gels I've tried, it doesn't move or lift off the other brow products I've applied (like pencils or powder).  

My obsession with this budget-friendly mascara from Glossier runs deep. If you love natural, curled, fluttery, long lashes that are perfectly defined, there honestly is not a better option on the market right now. Plus, it's only $16, so there's that. Oh, and although it's not waterproof, it IS water-resistant, so you don't have to worry about smudging or wear-off. 

I have just about every shade of this complexion-brightening blush, and it's become my go-to on days when I just want a dab of makeup since they melt so beautifully into the skin for that ultimate "I woke up like this" effect. Try it with Saie’s Tinted Moisturizer, and thank me later! Plus, who doesn’t love a product that comes with a built-in brush for fast, goof-proof application?

I almost always gravitate toward liquid liners, but for some reason lately, I've been loving the softer results of a gel formula. This one from Almay is perfect—the velvety smooth texture delivers great pigment so you can literally sweep it across your lid in just one go and have a satisfying payoff. And while it smudges enough to let you play with your shape, it won't keep moving once you've headed out the door. The brown shade called Deep Chestnut is divine.

Up next, These Are the 13 Leave-In Conditioners That Will Resurrect Your Curls