40 Cult-Favorite Beauty Products That Seem Expensive But Are Super Cheap

Even without looking at their price tags, some beauty products just seem expensive — maybe they hail from France, have a devoted following among celebrities, or simply look fancy. But you may be surprised to find out that the cult-favorite beauty products on this list are actually super cheap. Most of these products are well known among skin care obsessives, or they’re under-the-radar finds from Amazon with thousands of rave reviews. They all, however, check off two key boxes: they’re amazingly effective at what they do, and each one costs less than $20. What’s not to love?

Whether you tend to favor products for your skin or hair — or maybe your not-so-guilty pleasure is makeup — you’ll find plenty of items to get excited about here, from Korean and Japanese exports to French pharmacy classics that you’ve always wanted to try. A lot of these products are cheaper on Amazon than they are in-store, which is why you may be seriously surprised by some of these deals. (Bioderma micellar water, the model and makeup artist staple, is a prime example of that.) And assuming you’re a Prime member, buying on Amazon eliminates all those pesky shipping costs.

Ready to have some fun? Then scroll on to shop the surprisingly affordable beauty products with cult-like followings.

Table of Contents


This Certified-Organic Oil Blend For Your Hair, Skin, & Nails

Premium face oils can fetch upwards of $100, so at just about $8, this one is an absolute steal. This blends two organic, cold-pressed oils — rose and argan — both rich in fatty acids and antioxidants to plump, brighten, and hydrate your skin. You can massage this all-purpose oil onto the ends of your hair, cuticles, knuckles, and any other dry spots on your body, too. The opaque, airtight bottle keeps the blend fresh while it sits on your shelf, while the pump-top bottle mitigates mess and product waste.


The French Pharmacy Staple That’s Beloved By Makeup Artists, Models, & Celebs

You’ve probably spied a bottle of Bioderma Micellar Water before, whether it was pictured backstage at a fashion show or on the shelf in a supermodel’s bathroom. But this French pharmacy staple isn’t very expensive — an 8-ounce bottle will set you back less than $10 (while the enormous, 16-ounce bottle costs just $15). Safe for even the most sensitive skin (like all products from the brand’s Sensibio line), this micellar water does a next-level job at removing makeup, but it leaves your skin soft and hydrated instead of greasy or stripped. It comes in handy for cleaning up mistakes as you’re doing your makeup, too.


This Foundation, Serum, & Sunscreen That Gives Your Skin A Dewy Finish

Here’s a sneaky way to save money: Combine your skin care and makeup into one hardworking product, like this L’Oreal foundation. It offers the buildable coverage and fresh, radiant finish of a foundation and the benefits of a serum, thanks to aloe, niacinamide, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid in the formula. It also boasts impressive SPF 50 protection, so as long as you’re using the recommended nickel-sized amount on your face, it can stand in for your sunscreen, too.


This Niacinamide & Zinc Serum That May Just Transform Your Skin

This serum could easily cost five times the price — but that would go against Naturium’s ethos, after all. It contains all the skin care superstars you could want in one bottle, like niacinamide, zinc, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E to promote firmer, clearer, more even-looking skin, while also providing plenty of hydration. Other highlights? Its delightfully lightweight, non-greasy texture and the airtight bottle that keeps the formula fresh.


A Dewy Creamy Blush Made With Good-For-Skin Ingredients

With its nutrient-rich formula and sleek mirrored compact, it’s hard to believe this Honest Beauty blush costs just $10. The creamy blush gives your skin a dewy, natural-looking flush, while nourishing ingredients like castor seed oil, beeswax, and several plant-derived extracts comfort and pamper your skin. It’s nice and buildable, so you can customize the intensity of your look, too.


A Shockingly Inexpensive Set Of Oval Makeup Brushes

Beloved by professional MUAs, oval brushes seamlessly diffuse liquid and cream products, while their silky-soft bristles coddle your skin with every stroke — and seeing as a single premium oval brush can set you back over $60, this 10-piece set for $15 is an incredible deal. One out of over 6,000 Amazon reviewers reported that these “perform beautifully,” and another confirmed that they’re “high end, soft, durable, and wash easily,” so you’re certainly not sacrificing quality for the price.


This Rose Toning Mist That Hydrates & Soothes Your Skin

Toners get a bad rap for stripping your skin; but with ingredients like panthenol, aloe juice, and glycerin, this one is made specifically to maintain your skin’s pH balance and protect its natural barrier. In this formula, rose flower distillate, a natural anti-inflammatory, helps calm irritated skin (and adds a luxurious, lovely-smelling touch). Spritz on this gentle, hydrating toner before your serum both morning and night, then throughout the day whenever your skin is feeling dull or dry.


A Collagen Face Cream That Leaves Your Skin Bouncy & Supple

There’s something about collagen that just feels expensive. Though the powerful ingredient doesn’t impact your skin’s natural collagen production (sorry!), it does work to deeply moisturize your skin, so your complexion will look and feel bouncy, dewy, and well-rested. This cult-favorite Korean cream uses collagen as the headlining ingredient, and the rich, juicy texture feels like heaven on dry, dehydrated skin. A little goes a long way, too, so you’ll get your money’s worth out of this surprisingly inexpensive jar.


These Elegant French Soaps That Make Your Powder Room 10 Times Chicer

Is there anything chicer than a bar of authentic Provençal soap? These classic Pré de Provence soaps are quad-milled (as opposed to the traditional triple-milled method), which gives them a soft, extra-sudsy lather, while shea butter, glycerin, and botanical oils leave your hands feeling supple, not stripped. Choose from 34 elegant, lightly perfumed scents, like Rose Petal, zingy Lime Zest, or ultra-soothing Milk. At just $5 a pop, you can pick up a few for each bathroom.


An Organic Lash & Brow Serum With A Genius Dual-Sided Applicator

There are lots of pricey lash and brow serums on the market, but why not opt for this $10 oil instead? It contains just one ingredient — cold-pressed, USDA organic castor oil — which has stores of fatty acids that help strengthen hair follicles and, in turn, possibly promote faster and thicker hair growth. The double-sided applicator has a mascara brush on one side and a thin brush on the other for easy, mess-free application to both your lashes and eyebrows. So smart.


7 Pairs Of Faux-Mink Lashes At An Unbeatable Price

These faux eyelashes are the rare cheap falsies that don’t look like they’re cheap. Their five-dimensional design mimics the depth and movement of real lashes, and the faux-mink fiber material is soft and fluffy to the touch. And at about $8 for seven pairs (which are reusable, as long as you properly clean and store them), the value simply can’t be beat.


A Japanese Toning Lotion That’s Like A Glass Of Water For Your Skin

Though it’s called a lotion, the cult-favorite Hadalabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist is actually quite thin and fluid, so it lies somewhere between a lotion, a serum, and a toner. Semantics aside, this gorgeous product harnesses three types of hyaluronic acid, so it’s hydrating in the most literal sense of the word — meaning, it draws moisture from the air and into your skin. It’s a must for dehydrated skin, though it feels light and refreshing on oily skin types, too.


This Pocket-Sized Epilator That Looks Like A Glamorous Tube Of Lipstick

The first selling point for this hair remover: It looks like a gorgeous, gleaming tube of lipstick (and it’s just as compact and lightweight). The second: The electric razor removes unwanted facial hair with zero pain or irritation — even if you have sensitive skin. And the third: It’s earned a 4.4-star average from over 85,000 Amazon reviewers, so there’s a small army of shoppers out there who can attest to its brilliance.


This Rice Water Cleansing Oil That Leaves Your Skin Feeling Divine

This cleansing oil from K-beauty brand The Face Shop looks luxe, smells luxe, and feels luxe — yet it costs less than $15 on Amazon. Ideal as the first step in a double cleansing routine, this cleanser removes even the most stubborn of makeup without putting up a fight, but thanks to the rice water in the formula, it leaves your skin looking brighter, as well. Follow it up with the brand’s equally-amazing rice water cleansing foam for best results.


A French Hand & Nail Cream That Smells Like Almond Pastries

L’Occitane is perhaps best known for their rich, decadent hand creams, and this almond-scented version is particularly delightful. While the brand’s full-sized hand creams are admittedly expensive, this travel-sized version — which is ideal for keeping in your handbag — offers an accessible way to add a touch of French luxury into your everyday life.


This 3-Pack Of Gorgeous Crystal Nail Files For Super-Smooth Tips

Not only do these ombre crystal nail files look beautiful, but they’re actually better for your nails than traditional emery boards — the tempered, double-sided glass construction is strong yet smooth, so it glides across your nails seamlessly without any risk of splitting (or that horrible nails-on-a-chalkboard sensation). They’re also durable and easy to clean with soap and water, so they’re both hygienic and reusable — meaning this order of three will virtually last you a lifetime.


The Iconic, All-Purpose Moisturizer That Celebs & Makeup Artists Love

Look inside the kit of any makeup artist, celebrity, or dermatologist, and you’re likely to find an iconic green tube of Weleda Skin Food. It’s the not-so-secret secret to dewy, hydrated skin, whether you use it all over your face as a rich moisturizer; to spot-treat dry, flaky bits on your hands, face, or body; as a lip mask; or even as a colorless highlighter, as many MUAs do. At just $17 for this big bottle (it’ll last you ages), it’s an inexpensive way to give your skin the star treatment.


A Finishing Mist That Makes Your Hair Look Supermodel-Shiny

This gorgeous hair mist from the classic salon brand Giovanni gives you smooth, soft ‘90s-supermodel hair with just a few spritzes. Even better, the simple formula harnesses USDA organic ingredients — like nettle extract, rose hip extract, rosemary leaf extract, and bergamot oil — that load up your hair with vitamins, antioxidants, and nourishing fatty acids, all while leaving behind a glossy sheen and smoothing down flyaways.


A Korean Ampoule Filled With Brightening & Firming Snail Essence

Snail essence may no longer be a novelty in the skin care space, but it does still feel luxurious — and arguably the most expensive-seeming vehicle for the stuff is an ampoule, a more intensive version of a serum. Like any snail essence product, this cult-favorite ampoule from Mizon is especially useful for healing and repairing your skin, but it’s also great for clearing up unwanted scarring and providing general firming and moisturizing benefits. At just $16, why not try it for yourself?


This Putty-Like Primer That Turns Your Skin Into A Smooth, Even Canvas

With close to 15,000 perfect ratings from Amazon shoppers, the e.l.f. Putty Primer is a total fan-favorite. Like a putty, it spackles over inconsistencies in your skin’s texture, resulting in a smooth, even canvas. Happily, unlike a putty, it feels surprisingly lightweight, blends seamlessly into your skin, and layers beautifully under makeup without pilling or clumping. It’s made with squalane for lightweight, non-greasy hydration, so it feels especially lovely on dry skin. (Oily skin types may want to check out the matte version.)


The Best Retinol Serum You Can Get For Under $20

Virtually every CeraVe product has a cult following, but this retinol serum is arguably the most expensive-seeming of the lot — mainly because retinol serums can cost an arm and a leg from other brands. This happens to be a great choice for retinol beginners, too, since it contains a relatively low dose of a retinol derivative, while the brand’s signature tri-ceramide complex protects and restores the skin barrier to stave off potential irritation. This may just become the best $17 you’ve ever spent on a beauty product.


18 Luxe-Looking Makeup Brushes For Less Than $15

How luxe do these Champagne gold makeup brushes look? Their quality reflects their appearance, too: They’ve garnered over 14,000 five-star Amazon ratings from people who swear by them. For less than $15, you get a pack of 18 brushes that tackle all your makeup bases (you can see a list of exactly what types of brushes are included, here). What’s not to love?


This Korean Sunscreen That’s As Light & Creamy As Milk

With the consistency of a creamy, hydrating milk, this is one of the most comforting sunscreens you could put on your face. A cult-favorite within Korean beauty circles, MISSHA’s Soft Finish Sun Milk is formulated with a silky type of powder to leave your skin feeling dry and fresh, instead of greasy or suffocated. A high SPF of 50 rounds out the thoughtfully designed formula.


An Exfoliating Gel Cleanser That Clears & Brightens Acne-Prone Skin

This luxurious gel cleanser helps clear and regulate oily, acne-prone skin, thanks to two powerful ingredients: glycolic acid, which works to deeply cleanse your pores of impurities; and vitamin C for a boost of brightening and protecting antioxidants. The fresh citrus scent is gentle yet invigorating, so you’ll love using this in the morning.


One Of The Best Mascaras Money Can Buy — & It Costs Less Than $10

L’Oreal Lash Paradise is one of the best mascaras on the market, hands down. The hourglass-shaped brush delivers falsie-worthy volume, thickness, and curl, but unlike other volumizing mascaras out there, there’s great separation and minimal clumping involved. The under-$10 price tag is just an added bonus to all that goodness.


A Rich, Creamy Body Lotion Enriched With Decadent Coconut Oil

This coconut oil-enriched body lotion feels like a decadent treat for dry, dull skin. Though the consistency is extra-creamy (think Greek yogurt), it sinks into your skin surprisingly quickly, without leaving behind any greasy residue — but the delicious coconut-vanilla scent lingers for hours. Pro tip: The texture will thin out a bit when it’s mixed with water, so this works well as a moisturizing shaving cream.


An Antioxidant Gel-Cream That Feels So Refreshing On Your Skin

Lately, Garnier has been excelling at putting out luxe, fancy-feeling beauty products at drugstore prices. Case in point? Their glorious Moisture Rescue Gel-Cream, which has a refreshing, cloud-like texture that’s especially well-suited to being stored in the fridge. Made with good-for-skin antioxidants and thirst-quenching fruit water, this lightweight moisturizer claims to provide up to 24 hours worth of hydration. The pink jar is ideal for dry, dehydrated skin, while oily and combination skin may have better luck with the green one.


The Cult-Favorite Exfoliant That Targets Blackheads & Clogged Pores

You’ve probably heard of the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting exfoliant before, but maybe you’ve never tried it. If you’re curious, start off with the 1-ounce bottle — it costs just $10, so you can see if it works for your skin before investing in the bigger, 4-ounce bottle. A favorite of beauty experts far and wide, this miracle liquid helps keep your skin clear of blackheads, whiteheads, and other forms of congested skin, while also promoting a skin tone that looks and feels more even.


This Peeling Gel That’s Like A Mini Facial For Your Skin

Get super-soft skin with the cult-favorite Dr.G Brightening Peel. This facial-in-a-bottle sloughs away the outermost layer of your skin so your complexion looks radiant and feels smooth. It’s oddly satisfying to use, too, since the gel produces tiny little balls that pick up dead skin as you massage the product into your face. Reserve this for occasional use when you’re treating yourself to an at-home spa day.


A Hydrating Face Cream Made With Coconut Water & Probiotics

This decadent moisturizer is like a cup of water for your skin. It’s made with strengthening probiotics and two hydrating heroes — coconut water and hyaluronic acid — as well as the antioxidant vitamin E. It feels super lightweight and refreshing, too, instead of greasy and thick like so many moisturizing creams can. Like all Pacifica products, this is vegan, cruelty-free, and packaged in an absolutely gorgeous bottle.


This Soothing Face Mist Made With Thermal Water From France

Pamper your skin with a bottle of Avène thermal water spray. Though $14 may seem like a lot of money to spend on water, this isn’t any old water: It’s thermal water from the brand’s namesake town in France, which has been used to heal and soothe skin for centuries. Use it in place of toner, to refresh your skin throughout the day, or in between steps (i.e. serum and moisturizer) to encourage your skin to lock in even more moisture. Store this big bottle in the fridge, and pick up the smaller bottle for travel — it’s a savior on long, dry flights.


This 2-Step Peel That’ll Leave Your Skin Glowing & Smooth

Give yourself a pro-quality facial from the comfort of your own bathroom — and at a drugstore price — with this peel from Olay. It comprises a mask and a peel activator that are layered on top of one another and the massaged into your skin before being rinsed off. With ingredients like brightening vitamin C and what the brand calls “resurfacing crystals,” your skin will be left looking luminous. It’s a real treat for DIY pampering sessions.


This Hydrating, Jelly-Like Cleanser From A Beloved Spa Brand

Who knew you could get a spa-caliber face cleanser for under $10? This jelly cleanser from the cult-favorite spa Bliss leaves your skin feeling soft, supple, and hydrated, courtesy of panthenol, chamomile extract, and glycerin in the formula. Use it on wet skin for a gentle cleanse (it’s a particularly lovely choice for your morning routine), or on dry to remove all your makeup, including mascara.


An Oil-Absorbing Powder That Helps Treat Congested Skin

Prestige beauty brand Mario Badescu makes plenty of products with cult-like followings, but their Special Healing Powder is perhaps the most unique. It’s made with kaolin clay, zinc, and sulfur — three popular ingredients used to treat acne — that work to sop up oil and clear out pores. You can use this whenever and however you want, whether it’s throughout the day to quell shine or to set your makeup.


5 Pearl-Infused Sheet Masks To Make Your Skin Look Radiant

Pearl makes everything seem expensive — and that’s the star ingredient in these LAPCOS sheet masks, in its extract form. In addition to pearl extract, these masks are soaked in an essence that contains probiotics, glycerin, and floral extracts to leave your skin glowing, soft, and bright. Fancy something even fancier? Then try the escargot-themed masks.


The Cult French Cleanser That’s Gentle Enough For The Most Sensitive Skin

Another French pharmacy staple, La Roche Posay’s Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser is — as its name implies — ideal for dry, sensitive skin. That said, even if your skin is on the oily or acne-prone side, you truly cannot go wrong with this face wash. The oil-free formula comprises mild hydrating ingredients, like niacinamide, glycerin, and prebiotic thermal water from France, to soothe and comfort your skin. Even more importantly is what it’s made without, like sulfates, soap, and fragrance. The creamy, milky formula works on both wet and dry skin and leaves your face feeling comfortable, not dry.


A Gorgeous Bronzer To Give Your Skin A Summery Glow

Doesn’t this bronzer just look expensive? Not only that, but it’s made by the brand that practically perfected the art of bronzer, Physicians Formula. Sold in two shades — Light to Medium and Medium to Dark — this shimmering quad is made with the brand’s Glow Activator technology to give your skin a summery radiance all-year round.


An Intensely Pigmented Lip Tint That Feels As Light As Air

Peripera is a staple in Korean beauty stores, but the brand has earned a cult following Stateside in recent years, as well; and this lip tint is undoubtedly its most popular offering. This unique product combines the intensity and longevity of a liquid lipstick with the airy-light feel of a stain, topped off with a plush, velvety finish that looks so luxe. Choose from nine rich hues, from dusty rose to fire engine red.


This 7-Free Nail Treatment That’s Made With Gentle Ingredients

Get stronger, shinier nails with this ella + mila nail treatment. It’s seven-free, meaning it doesn’t contain the seven most common ingredients that are typically found in nail products, like formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP, which are potentially questionable. Whether you wear it on its own or underneath nail polish, this best-selling treatment will help your nails look and feel their best. Over 4,500 Amazon reviewers are fans.


A Best-Selling Dermaroller With Thousands Of Rave Reviews

Dermarollers use teeny-tiny needles to exfoliate and massage your skin, so it looks (and feels) clearer, plumper, and smoother. It’s a lot less scary than it sounds — there’s a reason this tool has garnered over 5,000 five-star ratings and number-one best-seller status on Amazon. “I have spent a lot of money on micro-needling at the dermatologist’s office, and this product is every bit as effective as the professional one,” one Amazon reviewer reported.