Brilliant budget beauty buys – as voted for by YOU!

The cult £2.83 hair hero, the £5 blusher make-up gurus love, and the seriously clever £5.99 skin perfector… Brilliant budget beauty buys – as voted for by YOU!

  • These are 2023’s Bargain Beauty Awards champions as voted by British women
  • READ MORE: After I divorced at 45, most dates thought I needed a ‘meal ticket’

Women of Britain, your votes have been counted, and here we have 2023’s brilliant Bargain Beauty Awards champions.

You, the true experts, have voted in your droves to come up with the 15 cosmetics that propelled you through 2023, cost-of-living crisis be damned.

The weekly column that I pen for you — and with you — has always included a mix of affordable and more high-end beauty buys. However, British women live for a bargain, and, this year, we’ve all been relying on them, so it felt right to celebrate this in our honours list.

I am my mother’s — and my still more budget-conscious grandmother’s — daughter. And, while I will never not adore a dalliance with Chanel, Guerlain or Sisley, I am every bit as devoted to the budget brands I grew up with: Vaseline, Rimmel, Boots No 7 and Batiste.

I particularly love that Batiste — appropriately born the same year as Glastonbury Festival, in 1970 — has taken us from greasy-haired teens to flimsy-haired fiftysomethings, via your hair hero award-winner: Batiste Dry Shampoo & Volume (now £2.83, Half a century on from that first grimy Glasto, this great British booster is the world’s No 1 dry shampoo with three cans sold every second.

Women of Britain, your votes have been counted, and here we have 2023’s brilliant Bargain Beauty Awards champions

Tweezerman and Maybelline arrived on these shores in the early 1990s care of entrepreneur George Hammer’s pioneering Beautique catalogue, to which my mother, sisters, friends and I were all utterly addicted. At the same time, L’Oreal began to morph into the great, cost-conscious juggernaut it is today.

More recently came competitively priced wonders such as Kiko Milano, e.l.f. Cosmetics and Superdrug’s cracking Studio London range. Studio London wasn’t one of your award-winners, but my money’s on it for next year. Its Flaunt Flawless blusher (£5, will be found in every Christmas stocking I’m stuffing.

L’Oreal Paris ranked as highly as one would expect a cosmetic colossus to. Mail readers revealed their canniness by admiring L’Oreal Age Perfect Collagen Expert Retightening Night Cream (£12.99, — an anti-sagging hit. The French giant can afford to democratise its ‘science stuff’, meaning we all qualify as being ‘worth it’.

CeraVe, creator of your top cleanser, and Maybelline are also L’Oreal-owned brands. I am with you on its genius.

READ MORE: After I divorced at 45, most of my dates thought I was looking for a ‘meal ticket’ – this is how I found love again (without my children getting jealous) 

Maybelline Colossal Curl Bounce Mascara (£11.99, opens up my vanishing, mid-life eyes like no other. Then, a swipe of Rimmel Scandal’eyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal (£4.99) on the inner lid and I appear almost human. Smudge a little into the upper lash for still more emphasis.

The creamy, oil-free build of Maybelline Fit Me Concealer (£5.99, so famously resembles that of last year’s winner, Nars’s sterling Radiant Creamy Concealer (£25), that the word ‘dupe’ gets thrown about. Perhaps that’s why you chose it?

By day, Boots No 7 Future Renew Serum (from £34.95) is your facial care product of choice, which again makes sense.

The Future Renew range, launched in April to a riotously record-breaking response, boasts a ‘super-peptide’ blend 15 years in the researching. This will be at its most potent in the serum, reputed to be one of the most effective and tolerated products on the market. Just add SPF.

Kiko’s eyeshadows are first-rate, while Tweezerman’s worthy win reminds me to send my old pairs to be sharpened as a January cost-cutting exercise. I will not be alone. The brand renovates more than 5,000 tweezers a month free of charge.

Global giants apart, one of the elements of the 2023 line-up that brings me most pleasure is the presence of the small, but no less great, British brand Messiah and Eve’s Body Cleanser 02 (£21,

This is not merely because I picked it, but because founder Sarah Sklavenitis deserves every last accolade for launching her cracking company in the wake of the final Covid lockdown in late 2021.

A fragrance obsessive, Sarah was determined to give our bodywash the same quality as our face care — scented with sophistication, joyously tactile to use, leaving our skin nurtured.

Body Cleanser 02 is infused with niacinamide and alpha hydroxy acids to brighten and smooth without the mess of a scrub.

Her bespoke aromas are created by a French fragrance house, then tailored depending on the type of product they appear in.

They’re worked and reworked until Messiah and Eve achieves the olfactory nuance and longevity that gives it its cult following.

My beloved cleanser 02 uses its Modern Unity scent — an extraordinary blackberry, birch tar and guaiac wood concoction that smells ten times as expensive as it is.

When I inhale it, life is rendered memorable, magical even — worth not merely staggering on with, but living to the full.

And that, in the end, is the great beauty of beauty.

It sees us through high days and holidays, dark days and everydays, walking tall as we stride womanfully on. For glamour is our superpower.

Ruby Hammer MBE

Make-up artist and columnist Ruby Hammer launched her own beauty range in 2019

Make-up artist and brand founder Ruby, 62, has been a beauty world go-to since the 1980s, and launched her own range, Ruby Hammer, in 2019.

It’s always lovely to see the things you recommend resonate with readers, and I’m thrilled they love some of my favourites as much as I do.

When it comes to foundation, it must match your skin tone perfectly and feel weightless when you’ve got it on. L’Oreal’s True Match Foundation (£11, ticks all the boxes. It has got an extensive shade range and is lovely on, so if you don’t feel flush you can still get a good result.

The same is true of the Kiko Green Me Eyeshadow Palette (£14.99, Don’t be scared off by the word ‘green’ — it refers to the natural credentials of the formulations rather than the shades, which are very wearable.

There are nine in matte, pearl and metallic finishes, making the palette so versatile whether you want a day-to-day look, or something more glamorous.

And finally, it’s no surprise to me that the readers have embraced the No 7 Future Renew Serum. We all know that the effects of skincare are cumulative, so while it’s nice to get something as a one-off treat, if you really want results, you need something you can easily buy again and again.

Not only is this serum effective, it is also affordable, which is what we all want.

Millie Kendall OBE

Millie Kendall, who runs the British Beauty Council, has been in the beauty industry for almost 40 years

Millie, 56, is the CEO and founder of the British Beauty Council, and has been in the industry for almost 40 years.

It’s interesting to note that many of the winners this year are heritage brands that have a legacy behind them. And I do think that when money is tight, while we might like experimenting with smaller, niche brands, they simply can’t compete on price with the economies of scale that more established brands offer.

These bigger brands have the money to spend on research, so they’re not just trading on a reputation. Consumers know that what they’re buying is going to work.

And while that’s tough if you’re a smaller brand, I’d far rather people took this route rather than buying dubious dupes or, worse, counterfeit products. This can be tempting when times are tight.

I’m delighted to see Tweezerman gets the Mail readers’ seal of approval — I have a pair of its tweezers in every handbag and bathroom, by the bed and even in the car. Hold the nib together and you can’t see daylight, which is why they’re so good at gripping every hair. You don’t get that with tweezers that aren’t hand-filed.

At a time when people are very price-aware and environmentally aware, I can see why these are a well-deserving winner.

Emma Gunavardhana

Emma Gunavardhana hosts a podcast called The Emma Guns Show which has more than 15million global downloads

Beauty journalist Emma, 46, hosts The Emma Guns Show podcast which has had more than 15 million global downloads (

I know from my Instagram followers just how important accessibility is — we want pro-ducts we can get our hands on during the weekly shop, or on the High Street.

Just as important is value for money, and the results of this year’s awards reflect that.

But I think it’s important to note that, although we’re talking about affordable, mass-market beauty, that doesn’t mean second-rate. Every single one of these products can hold its own against its more prestigious counterparts.

I genuinely think Maybelline makes some of the best mascaras on the market which easily stand up against the likes of YSL.

And e.l.f. is one of the best beauty brands out there. It’s only the slightly cheaper packaging that indicates you’re not buying a luxury item, but blind test its range against products that are three or four times the price and I think it would come out on top.

Ten years ago nobody really cared about their brows. You shaped them by removing hairs and that was about it.

But model Cara Delevingne’s brows and Benefit’s huge range of eyebrow products changed all that, and now we’re obsessed.

I think the entire L’Oreal Paris Brow Artist collection is fantastic but the Xpert Pencil (from £2.55, is my favourite. The spoolie is strong enough to really define the brow; the pencil is skinny enough to draw in individual hairs as well as fill gaps; and the pigment lasts all day.

Lip products have also gone off the scale recently in terms of price, so it’s great to see an accolade for good old Vaseline.

Source: Read Full Article