Best cheap beauty products of 2012

Allure

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NYC New York Color Smooth Skin Perfecting Primer

These Allure beauty product winners shine above the rest, and boast rock-bottom price tags (all are $10 or less).



NYC New York Color Smooth Skin Perfecting Primer, $4, sears.com.

The Spanx of primers: It firms, evens, and is so lightweight you won't even notice that you're wearing it.

WHAT IT IS:
A liquid primer for the face

HOW IT LOOKS/FEELS:
The creamy, lightweight lotion disappears into skin.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
The primer creates a smooth canvas for foundation and extends wear by hours.

Maybelline New York Dream Fresh BB Sunscreen

Maybelline New York Dream Fresh BB Sunscreen, $9, ulta.com

Five self-adjusting shades, SPF 30—and did we mention five shades? This multitasker helps women of all skin tones get even.


WHAT IT IS:
A tinted moisturizer with sunscreen

KEY INGREDIENTS:
Titanium dioxide (sunscreen)

HOW IT FEELS/LOOKS:
The oil-free formula is lightweight and provides sheer coverage.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
This BB cream is a great multitasker: It protects against damaging UV rays, masks minor imperfections, and evens out skin tone. It's available in five shades.



Wet n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder
Wet n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder, $4, drugstore.com

Swirled together, the ribbons create a rose-gold blush; used individually (wet or dry), they make lids glisten.

WHAT IT IS:
A powder highlighter

HOW IT LOOKS/FEELS:
The highlighter comes in shades ranging from pink to bronze; each circular tin contains four individual colors.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
Blended together, the four powders create an all-over glow; used individually, wet or dry, they give cheeks a touch of color.

(See also: Lip plumpers that actually work.)



NYX Matte Bronzer

NYX Matte Bronzer, $9, nyxcosmetics.com

Shimmer-free and available in five sun-kissed shades, the powder makes it easy for every woman to have a believable bronze. The extra-large pan means you can keep the charade going year-round.

WHAT IT IS:
A pressed-powder bronzer

HOW IT FEELS/LOOKS:
The bronzer is shimmer-free and comes in a mirrored compact.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
This highly pigmented matte bronzer warms up all complexions, giving a beachy glow without any orange undertones or tacky glitter.



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Mark Just Pinched Instant Blush Tint in Berry
Mark Just Pinched Instant Blush Tint in Berry, $8, shop.meetmark.com

This cool raspberry sinks into skin for that proverbial glow from within, and doesn't go MIA like so many cream blushes.

WHAT IT IS:
A cool raspberry-colored cream blush stick

HOW IT LOOKS/FEELS:
The creamy formula blends into a sheer, lightweight tint.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
The beautiful berry hue gives cheeks a natural flush that sinks into skin but doesn't disappear like some other cream blushes.




Essence Liquid Ink Eyeliner

Essence Liquid Ink Eyeliner, $3, ulta.com

The laser-sharp point is easy for amateurs to maneuver. Pros love that the jet-black line doesn't budge or crease.

WHAT IT IS:
A black liquid eyeliner

HOW IT FEELS/LOOKS:
The tapered brush tip draws lines smoothly without skipping or tugging on the lids.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
The richly pigmented formula goes on inky and stays glossy for hours after application. The tapered brush tip makes it easy to paint on a thin or thick line that won't smudge or flake.



Rimmel London Glam'Eyes HD Quad Eye Shadow in Black Cab
Rimmel London Glam'Eyes HD Quad Eye Shadow in Black Cab, $5.50, walgreens.com

Blended together, the four shades strike the ideal balance of sparkle and soot for sexy smoky eyes.

WHAT IT IS:
A powder eye shadow quad of smoky shades

HOW IT LOOKS/FEELS:
The four shimmery shadows are highly pigmented, silky powders in white, black, gunmetal, and silver.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
This smoky shadow palette has all the ingredients you need for dramatic nighttime eyes. The shimmery finish is enough to add an elegant twinkle without looking too glittery, and the long-wear powder is so silky you won't have to worry about creasing or smudging. One caveat: Some of the color blocks are rather small, which makes it difficult to pick up certain colors without mixing in the neighboring shade.



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CoverGirl NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara
CoverGirl NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara, $7.54, Amazon.com

This soufflé-like mascara builds long, lush lashes that don't stiffen or flake.

Bonus: It rinses off without the need for harsh scrubbing.

WHAT IT IS:
A mascara with natural ingredients

HOW IT LOOKS/FEELS:
The mascara is made with beeswax, carnauba wax, and tapioca polymers, giving it a lighter feel and consistency than those with synthetic ingredients.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
No clumps, no crunchiness, just naturally enriched lashes. Though the formula coats and lengthens your fringe, it isn't the most volumizing mascara out there.



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Vaseline Lip Therapy in Cocoa Butter
Vaseline Lip Therapy in Cocoa Butter, $3, drugstore.com

So rich and effective, a pot slightly bigger than a Tootsie Roll is all you need to keep lips, cuticles, and even elbows smooth this winter.

WHAT IT IS:
A conditioning lip balm

WHAT IT DOES:
Moisturizes, repairs, and softens chapped lips

KEY INGREDIENTS:
Petrolatum and cocoa butter (moisturize)

HOW IT FEELS/SMELLS/LOOKS:
The supersoft clear balm is thick and smooth, not greasy. It has a sweet, chocolaty scent.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
Our favorite cure-all balm in a mouthwatering sweet cocoa scent and tiny to-go tub.



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Maybelline New York Color Show Nail Lacquer

Maybelline New York Color Show Nail Lacquer (shown here in Keep Up the Flame), $3, Target.com

Mint green, canary yellow, silver-flecked navy—there are certain trendy polish shades you want to play with before committing. At this price, you easily can do both.

WHAT IT IS:
A formaldehyde-, DBP-, and toluene-free nail polish

WHY WE LIKE IT:
Every shade in this line of polishes is bold with a capital B—such as a neon pink or intense electric blue. The width of the brush makes for easy application.



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Revlon Crazy Shine to Go Nail Buffer

Revlon Crazy Shine to Go Nail Buffer, $4.25, soap.com

With an easy-to-grip design, it takes only seconds to give bare nails a just-polished gleam.

WHAT IT IS:
A nail buffer

HOW IT LOOKS/FEELS:
One side smooths; the other shines.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
The green side buffs out ridges while the patterned side leaves nails impressively shiny—all that after just a few seconds of swiping it back and forth.




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Pond's Luminous Clean Daily Exfoliating Cleanser

Pond's Luminous Clean Daily Exfoliating Cleanser, $6.50, drugstore.com

So many all-in-ones fail to do much of anything. This mix of kaolin, microbeads, and shea butter smooths and soothes as well as three separate products.

WHAT IT IS:
An exfoliating face wash

WHAT IT DOES:
Cleanses skin and sloughs off dead cells

KEY INGREDIENTS:
Sodium cocoyl isethionate (cleanses); kaolin clay (absorbs oil); polyethylene microbeads (exfoliates)

HOW IT FEELS/SMELLS/LOOKS:
This pearly white cream has tiny microbeads that feel gentle on skin. It has a light botanical scent.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
This hypoallergenic cleanser removes dirt and makeup, leaving skin looking bright. The barely visible microbeads make it delicate enough for everyday use.



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Neutrogena Make Up Remover Cleansing Towelettes

Neutrogena Make Up Remover Cleansing Towelettes, starting at $5, Yahoo! Shopping.

These alcohol-free wipes erase the smudgy signs of a late night faster than it takes to chug a glass of water. Keep them on your bedside table.

WHAT THEY ARE:
Premoistened facial cleansing cloths

WHAT THEY DO:
Remove makeup (even waterproof) and dissolve dirt and oil

KEY INGREDIENTS:
Sucrose cocoate (cleanser); cetyl ethylhexanoate and isostearyl palmitate (moisturizers)

HOW THEY FEEL/SMELL/LOOK:
The soft cloths are sturdy and nearly odorless.

WHY WE LIKE THEM:
Gentle enough for sensitive skin, they easily remove makeup. But they do leave behind a slight greasy residue, so buck the instructions and splash some water on your face after cleansing for a fresher finish.



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Ambi Fade Cream

Ambi Skincare Fade Cream, $4.50, walgreens.com

This hardworking cream plays offense (breaking up dark spots with 2 percent hydroquinone) and defense (protecting with sunscreen).

WHAT IT IS:
A treatment cream for dark spots

WHAT IT DOES:
Gradually lightens hyperpigmentation

KEY INGREDIENTS:
2 percent hydroquinone (bleaches skin); alpha hydroxy acid (exfoliates and moisturizes); vitamin E (hydrates and soothes)

HOW IT FEELS/SMELLS/LOOKS:
The white cream has a slight chemical scent; it comes in two formulas: normal skin and oily skin.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
This Best of Beauty winner fades dark spots anywhere on your body with an effective level of hydroquinone (2 percent)—one of the top ingredients recommended by dermatologists to lighten spots. It also moisturizes and exfoliates skin because of the alpha hydroxy acids.



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Tresemmé Moisture Rich

Tresemmé Moisture Rich Shampoo and Conditioner, $6 for 32 fl oz., drugstore.com

These seemingly bottomless bottles are just as generous with shine and frizz control.


Shampoo:

WHAT IT IS:
A nourishing shampoo for dry and damaged hair

WHAT IT DOES:
Cleans and revives brittle strands

KEY INGREDIENT:
Sodium laureth sulfate (cleanser); vitamin E (conditioner); biotin (strengthener)

HOW IT LOOKS/FEELS/SMELLS:
This pearly white shampoo foams into a gentle lather with an almond scent.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
Proving that the best products aren't always the most expensive ones, this affordable hydrating shampoo leaves hair clean and noticeably softer after just a few washes.

Conditioner:

WHAT IT IS:
A rich conditioner for dry, damaged hair

WHAT IT DOES:
Delivers intense hydration to brittle hair

KEY INGREDIENTS:
Vitamin E (moisturizes)

HOW IT FEELS/SMELLS/LOOKS:
The thick white conditioner has a sweet, fruity scent.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
This ultramoisturizing formula detangles, softens, and hydrates even the driest strands, without weighing down your hair—or your wallet.



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Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle Condition

Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle Condition, $4.50, soap.com

Reforms the most overprocessed hair yet won't overwhelm fine and frizzy types.

WHAT IT IS:
A deep conditioner for hair

WHAT IT DOES:
Hydrates and smooths dry, damaged hair

KEY INGREDIENTS:
Dimethicone, Australian sea kelp, and jojoba-seed oil (strengtheners and moisturizers); Australian aloe (moisturizer)

HOW IT FEELS/SMELLS/LOOKS:
The thick white cream has a strong fruity-floral scent.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
It does exactly what it claims: After three minutes, even the driest, most fried hair feels remarkably softer.



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Suave Naturals Daily Clarifying Shampoo

Suave Naturals Daily Clarifying Shampoo, $2.60 for 15 fl oz., Amazon.com

No matter how much buildup you've got, this nonstripping wash gives hair a fresh start.

WHAT IT IS:
A pH-balanced shampoo for normal to oily hair

WHAT IT DOES:
Washes away dirt, oil, and product buildup

KEY INGREDIENT:
Sodium laureth sulfate (cleanser)

HOW IT FEELS/SMELLS/LOOKDS:
The clear, fresh-scented liquid lathers up nicely.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
For less than the cost of a latte, this shampoo gets rid of product buildup without drying or stripping hair.



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Dove Hair Therapy Nourishing Oil Care

Dove Hair Therapy Nourishing Oil Care, $8.60, cvs.com

Even the wimpiest strands can handle this argan-oil-infused serum, which fuses split ends and makes dull hair gleam.

WHAT IT IS:
An anti-frizz treatment

WHAT IT DOES:
Smooths hair and boosts shine

KEY INGREDIENTS:
Argan, coconut, and almond oils (add shine and control frizz)

HOW IT FEELS/SMELLS/LOOKS:
The oil has a clean citrus scent.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
It delivers salon-caliber softness and polish—for under seven bucks.



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Goody DoubleWear 2-in-1 Ponytailer Bracelet

Goody DoubleWear 2-in-1 Ponytailer Bracelet, $5 for three, walmart.com

Sturdy enough to anchor the thickest ponytail; pretty enough to wear around your wrist. This is no ordinary hair elastic.













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Jergens Crema Hydrating Coconut Milk

Jergens Crema Hydrating Coconut Milk, $6, walmart.com

So deliciously tropical, we half expect this vitamin-E-enriched moisturizer to be packaged in a hollowed-out coconut.

WHAT IT IS:
A body lotion

WHAT IT DOES:
Hydrates very dry skin

KEY INGREDIENTS:
Mineral oil, petrolatum, and glycerin (moisturize)

HOW IT FEELS/SMELLS/LOOKS:
The rich white lotion smells sweetly coconut-y.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
This moisturizer manages to be heavy-duty without a greasy feel. The coconut scent is just sweet enough—and not overpowering.



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Caress Evenly Gorgeous Exfoliating Body Wash

Caress Evenly Gorgeous Exfoliating Body Wash, $6.50, drugstore.com

A quarter-size dollop of this lathering shea-butter-and-brown-sugar blend is enough to slough and brighten every inch.

WHAT IT IS:
An exfoliating body wash

WHAT IT DOES:
Cleans, moisturizes, and smooths skin

KEY INGREDIENTS:
Sodium laureth sulfate and cocamidopropyl betaine (cleanse); polyethylene (exfoliates); glycerin, glycine soja oil, and helianthus annuus seed oil (moisturize)

HOW IT FEELS/SMELLS/LOOKS:
This thick, golden-brown cream contains tiny buffing beads and smells like warm amber and vanilla.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
The creamy body wash produces a luxurious lather, and the small beads gently slough away dead skin. It smells good enough to eat, but the scent left behind isn't overpowering.



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Aveeno Active Naturals Hydrosport Sunblock Spray SPF 30

Aveeno Active Naturals Hydrosport Sunblock Spray SPF 30, $9, Amazon.com

A beach-bag essential: The clear spray clings to even soaking wet skin while the potent broad-spectrum sun protection swims laps around similarly priced sunblocks.

WHAT IT IS:
A waterproof, broad-spectrum sunscreen spray with SPF 30

WHAT IT DOES:
Shields skin from UVA and UVB rays

KEY INGREDIENTS:
Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone (sunscreens); nymphaea coerulea flower extract (water repellant)

HOW IT FEELS/SMELLS/LOOKS:
This oil-free mist has a mild chemical odor.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
The spray-on formula makes it easy to protect hard-to-reach areas, and it sticks to even dripping-wet skin. Rub it in well, and reapply at least every two hours.



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St. Ives Naturally Smooth Hand Cream

St. Ives Naturally Smooth Hand Cream, $5.30 for 21 fl oz, drugstore.com

This heavy-duty hydrator absorbs in seconds, so it leaves our hands (and iPad screens) grease-free. And it has just the faintest floral-citrus fragrance.

WHAT IT IS:
An exfoliating hand cream

WHAT IT DOES:
Hydrates and exfoliates

KEY INGREDIENTS:
Alpha hydroxy acid (exfoliant); petrolatum, glycerin, and dimethicone (moisturizers)

HOW IT FEELS/SMELLS/LOOKS:
This nongreasy white cream has a sweet fragrance that isn't overpowering.

WHY WE LIKE IT:
Made with natural ingredients, this cream has AHA to increase cell turnover and heavy-duty humectants that do an impressive job of transforming dry, cracked skin.

More at Allure:

10 Hairstyles That Make You Look 10 Years Younger

The 12 Best Eye Creams

The 10 Most Gorgeous Hair-Color Ideas for Brunettes




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