Courtney Higgs is my other WWW beauty editor half, and we have eerily similar taste in almost everything under the sun. Our Zodiac signs are supremely compatible (she's a Cancer, and I'm a Taurus), and honestly, the only thing we've disagreed on lately is our preferential candy bar—she's team Snickers, and I'm team Twix. Another major similarity that's actually worth talking about given the nature of our jobs as beauty editors? Our unabashed, ridiculously expensive taste in beauty products. I don't want to call us beauty snobs, per se, but we definitely swing upscale and spendy where our favorite brands and products are concerned. And we're far more likely to talk your ear off about a $50 lipstick we're obsessing over than a cleanser from the drugstore.
However, as much as we love the allure of investment-worthy formulas, we also know there is plenty of beauty product gold to be found at the drugstore, and lately, we've been sprinkling in a few super-effective yet low-budget favorites among our bottles of SkinCeuticals, Oribe, Tatcha, and more. (In some cases, we've swapped them altogether!) To provide you with a quick glimpse, Courtney and I are each sharing five expensive hair, skin, and makeup staples alongside the less expensive drugstore dupes we use and recommend. Keep scrolling!
Courtney Higgs, Associate Beauty Editor
The Splurge: Curl Cream
The Save: Curl Cream
I’ve been using this extended period at home to get intimately familiar with my natural hair texture. After years of heat styling my mane and only ever dealing with it in its straightened form, I’m now experimenting way more with no-heat styles like perm-rod sets and twist-outs. One thing I’ve learned is that I really don’t need to spend a ton of money on hair products in order to get amazing results. While I love Oribe and really enjoy the curl-specific line it came out with a couple of years back, I’m just as happy using this curl cream from The Doux that imparts serious moisture into my hair via coconut, rose water, vitamin E, avocado oil, and monoi oil (hence, the acronym C.R.E.A.M.).
The Splurge: Liquid Eyeliner
The Save: Liquid Eyeliner
I don’t know where I’d be without liquid eyeliner. Okay, that’s a dramatic statement, but honestly, my signature cat eye has practically become part of my identity. While I’m always down to spend some cash to make sure my lines are sharp and blacker than black, I can absolutely get the job done with cheaper picks. This one from NYX is great because the brush is super fine, allowing for a ton of versatility. The ink is also super black and matte, which I love.
The Splurge: Concealer
The Save: Concealer
I also love a nice, bright under-eye area, so concealer is another best friend of mine. I’ve been devoted to the iconic Nars formula for ages now, but I swear this one by NYX is an exact dupe.
The Splurge: Vitamin C Serum
The Save: Vitamin C Serum
Everyone on earth uses SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic at this point, right? Everyone loves it so much, and for good reason, but it’s pricey. I truly wince at the thought of running out of the stuff. When I do, though, I’m finally going to try this Amazon-famous serum that has over 30,000 reviews. I need to see for myself why tens of thousands of folks have taken the time to endorse it!
The Splurge: Face Mist
The Save: Face Mist
Face mists and essences are among my favorite skincare items. I spritz my face all day every day, whether I’m looking to infuse a little moisture before I go in with my HA serum or just need a quick midafternoon reset. This one by Tatcha is one of my favorites, but I can’t forget my first love, the Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin Face Mist. It’s calming, refreshing, and, best of all, inexpensive.
Erin Jahns, Beauty Editor
The Splurge: Express Self-Tanning Mousse
The Save: Express Self-Tanning Mousse
I feel like I bring this up in every single article I write, but I'm a self-professed tanning addict, and I'm almost always wearing some kind of glow-enhancing elixir on my body. I've tried every mist, water, lotion, oil, and mousse on the market, and for years, nothing could compete with St. Tropez's express self-tanning mousse. I hate sleeping in self-tanner, so I love that it could make me look like I took a week-long vacation in a matter of hours. (The longer you wear it, the deeper your tan will get.) But then I met this clear, natural, and far more affordable express mousse from Tanologist, and I haven't wanted to use anything else since. It has the same express concept as the St. Tropez mousse, but I love the clean ingredients, the practically nonexistent tanning smell, and the clear, transfer-free formula. I also appreciate that it comes in different color options (I typically choose the medium!) so that I have even more customizability.
The Splurge: Liquid Glitter Eye Shadow
The Save: Liquid Glitter Eye Shadow
I wish I could say I was good at branching out of my eye shadow comfort zone, but I'm a subtle-shadow girl through and through. If I wear shadow at all, it's always something neutral (think shades of beige, light pink, copper, and gold), topped off with a bit of shimmer or sparkle if I want a little something extra, which I usually do. I've been obsessed with Stila's little liquid shadows forever due to the handy doe-foot applicator and fall-free result. There's nothing worse than specks of glitter in your eye, but E.L.F.'s version is almost the same and is significantly less daunting to my credit card.
The Splurge: Texturizing Spray
The Save: Texturizing Spray
I'm obsessed with Oribe, and if I had to be honest and choose just one haircare brand to use exclusively for the rest of my life, it would be Oribe. But my infatuation does not come cheaply. As much as I adore Oribe's cult-loved texturizing spray, OGX's is an almost exact dupe. I'm big on haircare that smells amazing—another reason I love Oribe—and OGX always ticks that box off, too. (This one smells like cozy sandalwood.)
The Splurge: Skin-Clearing Cleanser
The Save: Skin-Clearing Cleanser
I'm pretty breakout prone, and surprisingly, so many cleansers end up clogging my pores thanks to sneaky, comedogenic additives. I use these two interchangeably because they both use strategic congestion-busting ingredients like salicylic acid to heal and prevent breakouts while still being moisturizing and gentle enough not to send my skin into a complete tizzy.
The Splurge: Resurfacing Mask
The Save: Resurfacing Mask
As I mentioned above, pimples and bumpy skin texture are my two main concerns when it comes to skincare, and I always, always, always keep a resurfacing peel/mask situation in my back pocket for a once- or twice-per-week application. I've doted over Maya Chia's beautiful cerulean mask for a couple of years now thanks to how smooth and clear it leaves my skin, and this new resurfacing mask contains an almost identical roster of exfoliating enzymes and acids. Plus, since both brands only use clean ingredients, I'm not making any sacrifices on that front.