Buying the tools you need for your beauty regime need not break the bank. These are our top buys under £20.

The brilliant thing about beauty in 2021 is its democratisation. Whilst higher price points, especially in skincare, often mean you are paying for expert formulations, concentrated actives and clever science, there are still bargain buys to be had that deliver a serious cosmetic bang for their buck. From high-street beauty brands, to French pharmacy must-haves – here’s our beauty editor Lydia Mansi’s top twenty beauty buys, all under £20.


Coco-Nutter Balm, £8.99

A buttery, super-intense lip balm without a hint of stickiness that smells like a tropical island, it’s packed with coconut oil and vitamin E to nourish and calm. A tiny bit goes a long way, making a tube even more of a steal. Buy it here.

The Ordinary

Vitamin C Suspension 23% serum, £4.90

A vitamin C serum for under a fiver is a brilliant thing, making this super ingredient accessible to everyone for its instant skin-brightening properties and, if you stick with it long-term, its abilities to reduce pigmentation marks. Buy it here.

Living Proof

PHD Dry Shampoo, £18

In a budget buy list you may be thinking £18 for a dry shampoo isn’t so much of a steal. But Living Proof’s formula doesn’t just absorb grease by filling your roots with white, chalky residue; it actually cleans hair, without water. Eliminating oil, sweat and odour, it replaces them with their time-release fragrance to leave your hair feeling and smelling fresh all day. Buy it here.

Autograph Perfumes

M&S, £10

Who would have thought a fragrance would make it under the £20 radar? Good ol’ M&S has come up trumps with its new Autograph range. They look and smell far more luxey than their £10 price tag, whisking spritz-ers away to the glamorous Italian Riviera with their Neroli blend, and Greek islands with the green notes of fig. Beautifully balanced when worn alone, they can also be layered for your own bespoke scent. Buy it here.


All In One Milk, £15.50

Davines, a sustainable, family-run haircare brand from the island of Sicily has nailed the sweet spot of a leave-in hair formula, transforming straw-like tresses into silky lengths, yet enhancing volume without weighing down your do. Magic stuff. Buy it here.


Skin Food, £12.50

On the desks, nightstand and bathroom shelves of every beauty journo in the know, Weleda’s Skin Food is a seriously intense salve. With botanical extracts of viola, calendula and chamomile, it’s a universal saviour for dry and chapped hands, elbows, feet – and anywhere in-between. Buy it here.


Almond Shower Oil, £19.50

It may feel like a treat purchase for a shower wash, but this super nourishing oil-to-milk formula from L’Occitane is so hydrating you can skip the moisturiser, so really you’re saving money (and time). The sweet almond and vanilla scent is as delicious as it sounds, but light enough not to cloy. L’Occitane offers eco-refills too for extra brownie points. Buy it here.


Best Foot Forward Softening Foot Mask, £10

If you’re looking to do a DIY job on your pedi, start with this self-warming foot mask from Patchology and let it do the heavy lifting for you. With a coconut-infused formula of super nourishing fatty acids, vitamins and shea butter, toes and heels will be sandal-ready for summer. Just add polish. Buy it here.

Cocoa Brown

Miracle Mist Facial Tanning Water, £7.49

This really is a miracle mist, delivering just a veil of colour in one spritz even for the most heavy-handed of fake tanners. Simply add a-top your night-time skincare and wake with a hint of health, rather than a telling orange glow – minus streaks or clogged pores. Buy it here.


Colour Sculpt Contour, Highlight and Blush Palette, £7

There are only good things to say about this palette – we love the generous size pans in a slimline palette, and the great creamy textures and buildable colour. There’s a big mirror too for on the go touch-ups, too. A brilliant price for a palette that does it all. Buy it here.

Bourn Beautiful Naturals

Body Velvet Supreme, £12

Handmade in the UK by founder Kadian Pow, the whole Bourn Beautiful Naturals range focuses on retaining moisture in both the skin and hair. If you suffer from tight, itchy or dry skin, this deeply nourishing butter is like an instant hug. Enriched with shea butter, hazelnut oil, rosewater and Vitamin E, it smells as good as its results. Buy it here.


Lash Paradise Mascara, £12

This inky black, lash-thickening mascara from L’Oreal can stand up against many brands, twice the price. Suitable even for the most sensitive eyes, the castor oil formula ensures lashes remain feathery soft, with no flaking – just lengthened, fluttery peepers. What more could you want? Buy it here.


Cloud Paint, £15

Sheer, buildable, dewy colour to imbue just enough life into your cheeks, without feeling too ‘done’. The gel-cream formula makes it almost impossible to overdo it, as it blends beautifully into skin. Available in a good range of colours for all skin tones, simply pat on and feel instantly perkier. Buy it here.

Ambre Solaire

Clear Protect, Invisible spray SPF, £6

If you are on the hunt for a summer SPF for children that doesn’t immediately act like a magnet for sand, transform them into a slippery seal and leave white marks all over their clothes – this is the one. The non-greasy ‘clear protect’ is super lightweight, yet highly waterproof, protecting against UVA and UVB rays. The spray bottle makes it a doddle to apply to even the wriggliest of smalls, and those hard to reach places of your own, too. Buy it here.

La Roche Posay

Toleriane Dermo Cleanser, £12.50

This wipe-off milk cleanser from French pharmacy brand, La Roche Posay, is a go-to for sensitive, allergy-prone and even rosacea skins. Effective at removing make-up without disturbing the skin’s natural barrier, it has glycerine and spring water to soothe and calm irritated skin. Buy it here.

L’Oreal Elvive

8 Second Dream Lengths Wonder Water, £10

How much difference can a water-texture, wash-out conditioning treatment make in eight seconds? The answer: a lot. Hair is smoother, shinier and silkier as amino acids go to work repairing dry and damaged lengths. It’s suitable for all hair types in need of instant repair. Buy it here.


SA Smoothing cleanser, £12

Cerave is a great entry level skincare cleanser for teens, offering gently exfoliating salcylic acid to keep imperfections at bay and hyaluronic acid to moisturise, while essential ceramides help build a stronger, healthier skin barrier. A no-nonsense, dermatologist devised brand at a great family friendly price. Buy it here.


BB Crayon, £18

When you don’t want to wear a full face of base but need a little something to correct colour and conceal, a quick scribble with this BB Crayon from Erborian, enriched with ginseng will hydrate, whilst blurring imperfections. Buy it here.

Beauty Pie

Body Scrub, £15 (to members)

Granted, you need to be a Beauty Pie member to get this heavenly scented body scrub for under the £20 threshold (it’s £40 to non-members), but if you do bag a pot before it sells out you won’t be disappointed. The Omega 3 and 6-rich formula is coupled with papaya enzymes to smooth as it softens skin, with a heady scent of coconut milk, tonka bean and citrus notes. It smells like a luxury spa, at home in your bathroom. Buy it here.


Eye Putty Primer, £5

Add this little guy under your expensive eyeshadows and instantly get longer-lasting wear. Choose from twelve shades, all designed to deliver different ‘foundations’ to your eye make-up look. Whether you are looking to warm or cool your skin tone or provide the right canvas to your favourite shadow shade, it will ensure 12-hour of crease-free wear. Buy it here.

By Lydia Mansi
May 2021

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Lydia Mansi

Lifestyle Editor

Lydia is an all-round lifestyle guru, tireless champion of women in business and our resident expert on beauty.