The past three years have seen enormous change for the beauty industry. We are in a golden era of affordable and “masstige” brands – the newer category of affordable product with performance and branding that rivals their high-end counterparts. If you’re a beauty fan on the hunt for a great buy for €20 or less this month, look no further.
1. Patchology Flashpatch Rejuvenating Eye Gels 5 Pack (€12 at Brown Thomas)
Refreshing tired eyes can transform a face in minutes. I love these little undereye patches for mornings when I wake up looking puffy and underslept. In January, that’s every morning. These instantly hydrate the eye area so make-up sits better, lines appear less obvious, and puffiness is diminished.
2. The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser (€7.20 for 50mls at arnotts.ie)
This remains unrivalled as an affordable make-up remover and gentle cleanser. Wonderfully bland and comforting, it suits every skin type and emulsifies on contact with water to wash away without any residue. It performs like a product that costs three times as much.
3. L’Oréal Lash Paradise Mascara (€16.99 at boots.ie)
Despite dalliances with luxury alternatives, I always find myself returning to this mascara, as much for what it doesn’t do as what it does. It’s black as priests’ socks, gives both curl and length, and crucially, doesn’t travel or crumble. It isn’t cheap, but it’s more affordable than high-end options and performs better than almost all of them.
4. Revolution x Sali Hughes Butterclean Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm (€17.45 at lookfantastic.ie)
This is the best cleanser launch of last year. Apart from the delectably nostalgic powdery fragrance, it is a dream to use. Buttery as the name promises, it removes make-up and SPF with ease, and then emulsifies on contact with water to leave skin softened and perfectly clean.
5. Lush Sleepy Shower Gel (from €9 at lush.ie)
A night time shower should be carefully curated to help wash the day off. This little bottle lasts surprisingly long, and is especially nice in a gym bag if you’re an evening gym goer. The lavender fragrance is intense, softened by sweet tonka and enhanced by moisturising oat milk. It’s a real everyday comfort.
6. The Inkey List Supersize Hyaluronic Acid serum (€19.99 for 100mls at eu.theinkeylist.com)
We all know the benefits of hyaluronic acid in skincare by now, and it seems to be in everything, so there’s no reason to spend big on a stand-alone hyaluronic serum. This hefty bottle will last for ages and is a lovely addition to your winter skincare routine. Apply it to damp skin before other serums and moisturiser for best results.
7. CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF50 (€15.50 at selected pharmacies)
Of all the launches last year, this humble little tube was the one I got (and remain) most excited about. Don’t be fooled by the understated packaging and accessible price tag. Inside you’ll find one of the best moisturising facial SPFs on the market. It plays beautifully with make-up and suits every skin type. I’ve gone through three tubes since it launched.
8. Andrew Fitzsimons Après Sexe Texturising Spray (€11.99 at Boots)
LA-based stylist to the stars Andrew Fitzsimons hails from Dublin and prioritised making his eponymous haircare line affordable and effective. This texture spray offers grit and just enough hold to give you that scruffy-but-chic wave texture that has dominated for some time now.
9. Sculpted By Aimee Satin Silk Longwear Concealer (€18 at sculptedbyaimee.com)
I crack this concealer out when there is something major to cover and it never lets me down. Another Irish brand, it beats competitors with far more expensive launches with ease. Pat the concealer over a blemish before blending the edges for full but seamless coverage.
10. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser (€11.50 at Boots and pharmacies)
The American pharmacy brand is unrivalled for high-performing skincare basics. This might just be the perfect morning cleanser. It doesn’t strip or congest the skin. It simply cleanses without taking anything from it. It’s generously sized, the perfect neutral start to your morning skincare routine and everyone in the family can use it.
11. Glossier Lavender Balm Dot Com (€12 at glossier.com)
Glossier’s lip balm comes in a multitude of finishes, from the iridescent Birthday to the deep, Bitten Berry. I like Lavender, which comes out of the tube a light, bright, purple, but goes on more or less clear. It moisturises and protects the lips, giving them a soft, fuss-free sheen.
12. JVN Complete Air Dry Cream (€8 for 30ml at Space NK)
Expensive hair products can be daunting investments. This mini version of the cult air dry cream will last quite a while if you only use the recommended small quantity. It’s also much better for travel or your gym bag than the heftier standard size. It’s ideal for minimising flyaways and unbidden fluff when you don’t have time or inclination to dry or style your hair.
13. Klorane Dry Shampoo with Organic Flax (€12.50 at millies.ie)
Klorane’s dry shampoo is a reliable classic. It doesn’t really matter which you opt for – the original and nettle versions are excellent too. It rivals more expensive salon brands and buys you that extra day or two before washing becomes a necessity.
14. Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray (from €18 at charlottetilbury.com)
If you set your make-up with powder, a setting spray is important to prolong the finish of your foundation, but also to ensure it looks fresh rather than dusty as the day goes on. This is the spray I spy in make-up artists’ kits and beauty editors’ handbags, and this smaller size is more convenient than the bigger, pricier version.
15. Sculpted by Aimee Hydra Lip in Blush (€17 at sculptedbyaimee.com)
The number of awards that this brand and its founder, Aimee Connolly, collected last year are a testament to the way Sculpted is disrupting the beauty industry. This hybrid lip product is part lipstick, part balm, and it looks and wears like a much more expensive product.
16. Rimmel London Stay Matte Powder (€5.99 at Boots)
Powder has become very complicated lately. There are countless ways to apply it, and every manner of formulation available. For old fashioned mattification, simplify things by opting for this modernised and reformulated improvement on a classic. For quick T-zone touch-ups, it works every time.
17. La Roche Posay Cicaplast Lips (€8 at pharmacies)
When lips are compromised and sore, what you need most is something that will restore and protect them efficiently. This is the product. It comforts and protects without looking like anything is on the lips, so everyone can use it.
18. Function of Beauty Wavy Hair Shampoo (€14 at cultbeauty.co.uk)
Function of Beauty is new to online e-tailer Cult Beauty and is all about customisable formulas for your particular hair type, choosing a base formula such as this one and adding booster shots. (Add a booster shot to this shampoo and it will still come in under €20).
19. Dr Sam’s Flawless Hand Therapy (€16 at drsambunting.com)
Unprecedentedly, my hands did not crack or suffer at all this winter, and I credit their good fortune with a nightly application of this brilliant cream, formulated by a dermatologist. Unfortunately, there are currently no Irish stockists, so shipping fees of €4 or so will be added at checkout. I justify the cost by buying the brand’s excellent lip balm at the same time.
20. Vieve Lip Dew (€20 at vieve.co.uk)
When I want a look that’s kind of “done” but involves pretty much no effort, I’ll apply some nude lip liner and then this glossy lip oil. The finish is supremely glamorous – shiny and glazed, but without the need for constant top-ups. The original shade suits everyone, too.