35 Bang-for-Your-Buck Beauty Items to Try in 2022, According to Editors
I'm a firm believer that more is not more when it comes to beauty and cultivating a solid regimen. A bigger price tag doesn't necessarily connotate better results, nor does a bigger product array. (Take it from someone whose skin did a complete 180—in a much healthier direction—the second I slashed my a.m. and p.m. routines in half.)
Don't get me wrong—I'm more than down to invest in an absurdly expensive perfume, but I have to love it so much, that the hefty price tag will feel well worth the splurge each and every time I wear it. And, it had better last me a long, long time. The same criteria go for other expensive products I love like hair styling tools, beauty gadgets, the like—each investment has to have a sound cost per wear, if you know what I mean.
But alongside my favorite luxurious beauty indulgences, I also have a ton of appreciation for the small, comparatively cheap finds that work miraculously well without the sticker shock and also have impressive legs in the longevity department. So, really, I have two different product requirements: First, savvy, ultra-high quality formulas that bring me joy and produce real, noticeable results, and second, budget-friendly heavy hitters that help keep my bank account in check without compromising on results.
But here's where the plot twist comes in: Since you see and read me here on Who What Wear every day (and are likely sick of me and my recs, LOL), I reached out to a bunch of my fellow beauty friends, editors, and writers to get their picks for a nice change of scenery. Below, 35 bang-for-your-buck beauty products experts in the beauty field highly recommend you snap up this year. Keep scrolling!
Faith Xue, Executive Beauty Director, Bustle Digital Group
"Spending $75 dollars on a hair product might make you cringe, but K18 isn't so much of a product as a highly innovative, science-backed treatment. As someone who bleaches her hair regularly, it's been a lifesaver for keeping my hair strong and healthy between bleachings. My colorist Reece Walker even noticed how I had less fallout after I started using K18 and now recommends it to all his clients."
"If you have $210 to spend, you won't find a better or more luxurious feeling moisturizer than this one from Sisley. I have tried every moisturizer under the sun, and this one is by far the best in terms of texture and hydration. Plus, it's really a sensorial experience that's a pleasure to use. I have oily-combination skin, and this moisturizer keeps it balanced and lightly hydrated. It's one of the few products I use to the last drop every single time."
"I just started using this vitamin C from founder Paul Baek, and I'm blown away by the results. First of all, the formulation is sophisticated and completely waterless, so the 20% stable vitamin C is really able to go deeper into the skin to brighten. I've been using it every day and it's now become a staple in my morning routine—and totally worth the price."
Maya Allen, Beauty Director, InStyle
"Scalp care may not be the sexiest topic, but it's a step in my haircare routine I never skip thanks to this nourishing serum from Dr. Barbara Sturm. On wash days, a few drops of this formula, which is full of vitamins and healthy ingredients, like green algae and lavender, soothes my scalp like no other. Post-shower, I gently massage this in starting at my roots and working it down to the ends. It keeps my hair hydrated and free of flakiness from dandruff. When I wear protective styles, like box braids or twists, I use this a few times a week for upkeep."
"Cozying up to Dior's Eden Roc candle is an evening ritual I look forward to. When I'm winding down from a stressful day, a whiff of this slow-burning aroma takes the edge off. Light and airy, it smells like a sunny day in the South of France, which is the mental vacation I need in the midst of New York's winter. The lifespan of this long-lasting candle is well worth the price tag. Plus, it's the perfect chic gift for a loved one."
"There are very few things in this world that make me feel as luxurious, ladylike, and lit-from-within than La Prairie's White Caviar Crème Extraordinaire. This product is a pretty penny indeed, but the benefits are beyond worth it. It's such a sophisticated cream made of the brand's signature caviar extract (I mean, how chic?) A good lather in the morning guarantees glowing, supremely supple skin all day. The moisturizing blend of shea butter and squalene has kept dry January from getting the best of my skin. I've also noticed the brightening effects fade the look of stubborn dark spots over time after regular use."
Jessica Chia, Contributor, Allure
"Y'all. This is five dollars. I love and buy the miniature size of the French pharmacy favorite (once upon a time, you'd really have to fly to Europe to snag one of these) because it fits in my travel bag and lasts forever. It's super gentle, so you can use it to remove eye makeup even if your eyes are always giving you grief (like mine) and gets off even the longest-wear eyeliner (like mine)."
"This $20 tin will last you your entire lifetime (kidding, but years for sure) and is such an underrated hair staple. It gets rid of frizzies at your part and down your strands, can help you polish a ponytail, and can add definition to curls. Think of this as your go-to to get a hair in place without leaving it greasy or crunchy. Plus, it smells amazing."
"A pea-size amount of this dream cream will make your skin glow like you just got an hour-long facial. It's also one of those amazing products you can stick on a rash, zit, etc. (it's very anti-inflammatory) or smear all over your face before you go skiing to avoid a windburn (it's also very balm-like). You need this in your skincare arsenal if you live/travel anywhere cold/outdoorsy."
Tiffany Dodson, Associate Beauty Commerce Editor, Harper's Bazaar
"I basically swear by any product Kinship makes, but I especially stan their Pimple Potion Retinal + Salicylic Acid Treatment. It's a dream for surprise breakouts and stubborn zits that won't budge since it literally works overnight to shrink them down to size or get rid of them completely. While it's slightly more expensive than most drugstore spot treatments, a little goes a long way with this product, especially since you can also use it all over your face."
"Another beauty brand I swear by, Tenoverten's Rose Wipes (which come individually wrapped in packs of eight) have completely changed the nail care game for me. Not only are these remover wipes travel-friendly and extremely gentle, as they're acetone-free, but I only need one to take off chipped polish on all 10 of my fingers—with ample space leftover for my toes, if necessary. Plus, their rose scent just generally smells awesome, and is a total departure from the intense polish removers I've used in the past."
"Simply put, this shower brush is everything. It makes my wash day routine a breeze and contains flexible rubber bristles that work to gently detangle my hair without uncomfortable pulling or snags (especially with the help of a little deep conditioner). It's also comfortable to hold and super easy to clean, and absolutely one of the secret weapons behind my bouncy, free-flowing curls."
Sarah Y. Wu, Freelance Beauty Editor, Copywriter and Consultant
"I tend to believe that the most 'worth it' beauty investments are devices. You can use them for years and the best ones provide results that go beyond what topicals can deliver. My most-used home device has to be the Foreo Bear, which delivers a combination of sculpting microcurrent and relaxing T-Sonic pulsations. I do a three-minute session every morning, which instantly depuffs my face and gets me ready for the day. The cumulative results are even better; it's sharpened my jawline and cheekbones with regular use, to the point that friends and strangers alike regularly DM me compliments."
"A single session with this flexible LED face mask gives me comparable results to a really good spa facial, making it an easy pick for getting bang for your buck. I love how the lightweight silicone molds perfectly to my face, which also ensures that the maximum amount of red and near infra-red light reaches the deeper layers of skin. The treatment makes my face look glowier, smoother, more even, and tighter after just one session. Of course, results get even better if you keep using it regularly. I pull mine out a few times a week, and never fail to receive questions on my skin care routine afterward. I've recommended it to countless friends since I got mine, and I'm happy to report they're just as obsessed."
"I love a drugstore gem as much as a pricey splurge, and this base coat truly changed my home manicure routine. One coat grips my nail polish like nothing else I've tried and keeps my nails looking fresh and chip-free for a full week, if not longer. I've tried it with endless combinations of polish brands and finishes, and it plays well with literally anything. If you want even more security for your mani, sandwich it with the brand's Glosser top coat, and you're all set."
Katie Berohn, Associate Beauty Editor, Who What Wear
"I cannot think of a single product that I've gotten more use out of than Supergoop Glow Screen. It is basically a sunscreen, primer, foundation substitute, and highlighter all in one. On days when I want to look like I put little to no effort in but still look presentable, I wear it on its own (it is guaranteed to get at least one "your skin looks so good" compliment per wear), and when I want my makeup to look lit-from-within, I put it under my foundation or skin tint, where it acts like a grippy primer and imparts a subtle glow. In the summer, it's the one sunscreen that I'll always bring to the beach, because it's easy to re-apply and evens my skin tone in a flash. "
"It might be called a blush, but don't be fooled—this stick can be used on eyes, lips, and cheeks for an effortless makeup look that takes less than five minutes. I once read that the best (and easiest) way to look pulled together is to go for monochromatic makeup, and this stick is my go-to for creating that vibe. It also has moisturizing ingredients like jojoba oil, so it's kind of like using skincare, too."
"This new serum from Lancôme has quickly become one of my most-reached for products. I'm not a morning person and I hate spending time on skincare when I wake up—my ideal would be to splash my face with water and forget about it. This Triple Serum has replaced three steps in my morning skincare, streamlining my routine. Three chambers contain vitamin C and niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and ferulic acid that are freshly mixed when you pump, so it brightens, moisturizes, and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles all in one. To me, the choice is easy: you could either spend upwards of $400 on three different serums targeting different issues or buy this one serum. It's also really big, so the product lasts a long time."
Ama Kwarteng, Beauty Editor, Coveteur
"A few months ago, I glanced in my bathroom mirror and noticed that the whites of my eyes, well, didn't really look that white. Now, I don't know the specific reason behind the dullness, redness, and irritation, but I did some first-hand research to find a solution that wouldn't require me to implement a screen time limit and I discovered these eye drops. They're incredible—just one drop will annihilate redness while also giving those dry eyes some moisture. Warning, though: You'll feel a cooling sensation once you drop them into your eyes. It's completely normal and you're not dying; don't freak out like I did or else you'll scare your neighbors."
"Yes, this is pricey, even for a serum, but hear me out: I only use a little less than one full pump twice a day, so it'll last you a while. And instead of spending money on several serums that don't actually do anything for your skin, why not save up your coins for one that does? The consistency is featherlight and it won't turn your T-zone into an oil slick. And thanks to the brand's amino acid and antioxidant complex, after a few weeks of use, I noticed that my skin was smoother and more fetus-like than ever before."
"My skin looks chill and calm on the surface, but one slip up (aka accidentally falling asleep makeup after one too many spicy margs) and we're heading toward a full-blown skin freakout (read: acne). Through past trials and tribulations, I've now developed a sixth sense where I can feel a breakout making its way to the surface, and Differin is the first product in my skin-care arsenal to fight it. It gently sloughs off bumps and dead skin to uncover the calm, glowing, and zit-free layer underneath."
Marie Lodi Andreakos, Freelance Beauty and Style Writer and Podcast Host
"I'm already a big fan of Kinship, especially the brand's original Naked Papaya cleanser, but was super excited to try their newest one,which is great for people with oily, acne-prone skin (aka me). Made with Botanimoist AMS—a moisturizing apple saccharide—this face wash keeps my skin hydrated while cleansing it of oil and gunk. It also contains exfoliating lactic acid as well as niacinamide, which helps to reduce the appearance of pores. On an aesthetic note, I'm obsessed with the lime-green hue of the bottle. (I'd kill for a nail polish that shade.) But my most favorite thing about this cleanser? The scent sort of reminds me of my favorite Sanrio chewing gum as a kid, but it's still super light. I actually look forward to washing my face with this."
"My skin has been going through some trials and tribulations thanks to weird Los Angeles weather, so I've been looking for the perfect moisturizer for my confused skin. It's usually oily, but I've been experiencing random moments of dryness. However, because I have big pores and acne-prone skin, I'm hesitant to slap on thick creams. The new Strength Trainer from Ole Henriksen is basically my Goldilocks moisturizer. It looks thick, but when I apply it to my face, it goes on smoothly and absorbs nicely—the feel of the formula sort of lands in the middle of my go-to gel moisturizers and a thicker, reparative face cream. The scent is lovely, too. A nice, light fruity scent. I also think this would make a great post-laser/treatment moisturizer, which is something I'm always on the hunt for."
"I'm gonna be honest. When it comes to my beauty product version of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, hand creams were at the bottom of the list. That is until the aforementioned weird L.A. weather started messing with my hands. I found them dry, red, itchy and even flaking. What was this? Who was I? My cuticles were also a mess, which did not please my nail artist. So, it was time to find good hand cream, and also start using it on the regular. This was another Goldilocks situation: I first tried one that was way too greasy, and then another that worked well but the fragrance was too strong for my hands (I kept smelling it and it gave me a slight headache). Then I got a sample of Nécessaire's The Hand Cream, which contains moisturizing niacinamide, peptides, and marula oil. It—no joke—nourished my dry and tortured hands instantly. And it's fragrance-free! Who knew a hand cream could hold such power."
Stephanie Montes, Fashion and Beauty Editor, Founder of Nue
"Literally, the only time my nails look good is when I'm wearing these drugstore press-ons. I never get manicures because regular polish chips within days of my appointment, I don't have the patience for gel, and acrylics aren't toddler-friendly. I love the soft square shape and the fact that they come pre-loaded with a super sticky backing. I've gone a solid two weeks with them and they only take about seven-ish minutes to apply—perfect for faking a professional mani right before you run out the door."
"Ardell has been my go-to lash brand since I was a broke high schooler in search of a full flutter. The quality rivals some of the most expensive falsies I've tried over the years and has even stood up to multiple wears in a pinch."
"I'm considering the glossy, balmy, subtly tinted lip product of my dreams found, thanks to this under $20 stick. The clickable pen design makes for a clean application every time, and the formula is packed with hydrating ingredients (from Vitamin E and grapeseed oil) that keep my lips moisturized all day. And the best part is the juicy wash of shiny color doesn't crease."
Sara Tan, Beauty Director at Refinery29, Co-Host of Gloss Angeles
"Two words: Dyson Airwrap. I sound like a broken record at this point, but if you love blowouts and can afford to invest in one—or find one to buy for that matter—I highly suggest you do. The Airwrap has completely changed my at-home hair game. It used to take me 30–40 minutes to dry and style my hair and now it takes no more than 15. My hair is bouncy, voluminous, and shiny with minimal frizz. It is my most used tool and has been ever since I got it."
"This serum is so expensive, but like everything else in Augustinus Bader's line, it is so, so good. It's made with the brand's proprietary complex (TFC8) that protects and supports the skin in a way that has made my face look healthier, brighter, and more radiant without the use of retinols or acids. The very sleek bottle features an airless design that increases the lifespan of the serum so it's literally good till the last drop. My skin can't get enough of this stuff."
Shawna Hudson, Associate Beauty Editor, Who What Wear
"Yes, this serum is pricey, I know, but if you have acne-prone skin, it is an absolute game-changer. My facialist finally convinced me to give it a go and I ended up completely loving it. It absorbs so quickly and doesn't leave any sticky residue which I 100% appreciate. It also cleared up some hormonal acne I had going on around my chin in a matter of a week or two."
"This is literally one of my all-time favorite skincare products (there, I said it). Formulated by celebrity dermatologist Dr. Macrene Alexiades, this is a serum I'll always recommend to anyone who wants to address the early signs of aging. It's packed with vitamin C, peptides, hyaluronic acid, and the list goes on. In my opinion, it even rivals another cult-loved serum (ahem, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic) and delivers more benefits."
"I wasn't too sure if I'd love this stuff because it's a heavier moisturizer, but I decided to give it a try and haven't looked back since. It's the perfect cream to reach for during the winter because it provides just the right amount of hydration without being greasy. If you use a prescription retinoid at night like I do, this will definitely be a lifesaver for you during this time!"
Kirbie Johnson, Beauty Writer, Co-Host of Gloss Angeles
"I would be shocked if I were the only person to suggest the Dyson Airwrap. I'm not sure that $550 counts as bang-for-your-buck, but it truly is one of the best inventions of our time. There is a learning curve and I wouldn't recommend it if you A) have extremely curly or coiled hair and B) want more beachy waves versus a voluminous blowout, but it's a worthy investment for people who want to style their hair without continuous damage. The controlled temperature aspect is important, and because of the brand's Coanda effect technology, it allows you to blowdry and style your hair with less heat damage than a traditional dryer-and-styling-tool combo. My hair has improved from using it for the last three years: it's healthier, smoother, naturally longer and it keeps my extensions looking fresh as well. I travel with it and I tell any and everyone who invests in blowouts to get their hands on it. Plus, I never get more compliments on my style than after I use my Airwrap."
"I've been using this product for years due to the fact that it removes all my eye makeup without making me feel like I opened up my eyes in a chlorinated pool afterward. It doesn't strip the skin, it has a delightful-yet-light fragrance that gives a relaxing sensorial experience for morning or evening, and I simply can't find a better cleanser. The cheapest option (other than a travel size) is $38, so it's definitely a skinvestment, but one thing I like not having to worry about is if my cleanser is causing more harm than good to my skin and whether or not it's cleansing properly."
"I've started cleaning my makeup brushes immediately after use—like a professional makeup artist—and it's been a total game-changer in my routine. I'm embarrassed to think about how long I would go in-between sanitizing brushes before… the horror… but it's incredibly quick now thanks to Cinema Secrets. This isn't a secret nor a new product, but TikTok has caught wind of how great it is so I'm starting to see more people talk about it. $32 may seem steep for a bottle of brush cleaner, but I haven't found anything that effectively and quickly removes accumulated contour, foundation, eyeshadow, or red lipstick better than this. I know dish soap diluted with hot water is more cost-effective, but it doesn't work as easily for me."
Next: I'm a Makeup Artist, Brow Expert, and New Mom—17 Things I Can't Live Without