50 Beauty Essentials to Shop Under $50, According to Experts
Seasons come and go, but the best beauty essentials are here to stay. Spanning skin, makeup, hair, and more, we’ve discovered our fair share of products that work overtime to deliver results without fail—and we’re prepared to share all of our finds and then some. To start, we’ve tapped experts to curate an edit of the 50 best beauty products under $50. Read on to unveil everything from sensitive-skin friendly moisturizers to hair strengthening treatments and classic concealers—all with that professional stamp of approval. Your beauty cabinet refresh just got that much easier.
Dior La Mousse OFF/ON Cleanser
- Why We Love It: “An effective cleanser that gently removes all impurities from the skin and is packed with soothing, hydrating, and antioxidant-rich ingredients,” says esthetician Sean Garrette.
- More to Know: This foaming cleanser is packed with 90% natural-origin ingredients, including purifying water lily and cornflower floral water.
Paula’s Choice Youth Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50
- Why We Love It: “One of the best sunscreens I’ve ever tried,” says Garrette. “[It] has a lightweight, water-light formula that’s packed with antioxidants.”
- More to Know: This weightless sunscreen is powered by broad spectrum SPF 50, oat extract, green tea, and a multi-antioxidant blend.
Differin Adapalene 0.1% Gel
- Why We Love It: Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele J. Farber calls this one of the best retinoids available over-the-counter. “Retinoids are used to treat acne, control oil, and for anti-aging reasons like stimulating collagen and improving skin tone,” she says. “This is one of the strongest but most tolerable options available without a prescription.”
- More to Know: This gel is powered by adapalene, a topical retinoid, and should be applied once daily post-cleanse.
Melē Skincare Even Dark Spot Control Serum
- Why We Love It: Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King notes this serum is formulated for melanin-rich skin to combat discoloration caused by UV exposure and acne.
- More to Know: “It contains pro-retinol to help reduce dark spots, as well as niacinamide, which helps to even skin tone and smooth skin texture,” explains King. “It also contains hexylresorcinol, which helps to brighten skin, as well as vitamin E.”
Pond’s Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream
- Why We Love It: According to King, this “is a great option for moisturizing while also delivering anti-aging benefits.”
- More to Know: “It’s formulated with vitamin B3, a retinol complex, as well as glycerin and pro-ceramides to hydrate and support the skin barrier,” she says.
Dermalogica Precleanse Cleansing Oil
- Why We Love It: “Dermalogica’s pre-cleansing oil takes off dirt, oil, makeup, and helps balance your pH without stripping the [skin of its natural] oil,” says celebrity esthetician Taylor Worden.
- More to Know: The first step in a double cleanse, this oil features vitamin E, rice bran extract, kukui nut oil, borage seed oil, and apricot kernel oil to leave skin soft and smooth.
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré
- Why We Love It: “[This] moisturizer is a must in my kit,” says celebrity makeup artist Jen Tioseco. “It works with all skin types, is the perfect base for foundation, and at $29 a tube you can’t beat the price!”
- More to Know: This French pharmacy find is milky, lightweight, and gentle. Powered by shea butter and soy proteins, expect deep hydration and a more supple appearance.
Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels
- Why We Love It: “I love using these under-eye patches before makeup as they help to firm and brighten the under eye area ahead of a big event,” says celebrity makeup artist Tobi Henney, who counts these by Skyn Iceland as her favorite. “They feel amazing and make you feel super refreshed, especially after traveling.”
- More to Know: Thanks to a powerhouse blend of hydrolyzed extension, ginkgo biloba leaf extract, CoQ10, and the brand’s complex rich in minerals and fatty acids, this is crafted to instantly quell puffiness and dullness.
Face Halo Original Makeup Remover
- Why We Love It: “These microfiber pads are reusable, and they’re all you need to remove makeup. You can wash them (just don’t put them in the dryer) and they work with water alone,” says celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg. “They’re better for the environment and so easy. I take one everywhere I go.”
- More to Know: These pads are meant to replace 500 makeup wipes; just wet the pad and swipe it across skin so its fibers can slough away impurities from your pores.
Caudalie Beauty Elixir
- Why We Love It: Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir comes at the recommendation of pro makeup artist Alexx Mayo; though we’ve long been fans of its glow-boosting mist.
- More to Know: Comprised of 100% natural-origin ingredients, this face mist utilizes a blend of botanical oils, along with grape extract and orange flower water to tighten the look of pores and reveal refreshed hydrated skin.
Biossance Rapid Radiance Set
- Why We Love It: Pro makeup artist Gilbert Soliz is a fan of this set by Biossance, which includes an eye cream, facial oil, night serum, and repair cream—all beauty essentials for luminous skin.
- More to Know: All of the products in this set are powered by squalane for lightweight hydration. Even more, the eye cream features marine algae to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while the night serum is infused with 10% lactic acid to exfoliate overnight. Otherwise, the repair cream relies on fatty acids to nourish and protect, with the face oil targeting brightness and elasticity through vitamin C.
PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Lip Booster
- Why We Love It: According to integrative aesthetics specialist Dr. Rahi Sarbaziha, the PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Lip Booster “is super hydrating and gentle—[making] your lips kissably soft.”
- More to Know: This lip treatment adds hydration, firmness, and plumpness thanks to a blend of hyaluronic acid and peptides.
Tatcha Serum Stick
- Why We Love It: “This innovative multi-purpose skin-care stick can do it all,” notes celebrity makeup artist Sean Harris. “It works great to enhance moisture on skin, to revitalize makeup, or as a dewy cheek highlight—the possibilities really are endless.”
- More to Know: While the stick formula makes it a convenient pick for a travel beauty bag, we’re mostly interested in its blend of 80% squalane and Japanese lemon balm to treat signs of aging and dryness on the go.
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30
- Why We Love It: “This game-changing formula is an everyday must for me,” says Harris. “This sunscreen never has a white cast and seamlessly blends into the skin. It leaves the perfect glow on [my] face and body every time—I’m obsessed.”
- More to Know: Crafted with melanin-rich skin in mind, Black Girl Sunscreen’s acclaimed daily formula features SPF 30, avocado, jojoba, cacao, carrot juice, and sunflower oil to protect against stressors, inflammation, and dullness.
KNC Beauty Supa Balm
- Why We Love It: “My lips are always plump, hydrated, and kissable thanks to KNC Supa Balm,” notes Harris. “The all-natural ingredients make this balm a must-have for me and my makeup kit.”
- More to Know: Refresh your lip care regimen with this KNC beauty balm infused with botanical oils (like moringa and kukui) and shea butter to soothe and prevent dryness.
iS Clinical Cleansing Complex
- Why We Love It: Celebrity hairstylist Florido Basallo swears by the iS Clinical Cleansing Complex, dubbing it one of his all-time favorite skin-care products. “It’s a face wash that’s powerful, yet gentle enough for sensitive skin [and] great for fighting acne,” he says.
- More to Know: Think of this lightweight gel as a clarifying cleanser, which uses a blend of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, centella asiatica, and chamomile flower extract, to gently exfoliate and deeply cleanse without stripping skin of its natural oils.
EltaMD UV Sheer Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+
- Why We Love It: “This silky zinc-based sunscreen goes on with a light touch and is quite transparent,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Melanie Palm. “I use it daily on non-facial exposed skin, and it provides a light touch of moisture.”
- More to Know: What’s more, this lightweight pick is powered by zinc oxide, though it also features a blend of squalane, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid to protect against UV rays, free radicals, and moisture loss.
Topicals Faded Serum
- Why We Love It: “Faded by Topicals is one of my favorite hydroquinone-free products for hyperpigmentation because it contains a wealth of ingredients (kojic acid, tranexamic acid, licorice root, alpha-arbutin, glutathione, niacinamide, azelaic acid, melatonin) that target the multiple pathways involved in melanogenesis,” says esthetician Tiara Willis.
- More to Know: Incorporate this lightweight into your routine to tackle post-acne marks, scarring, and other forms of discoloration.
SKN by LH White Tea Toner
- Why We Love It: Willis is also a fan of this toner from Lori Harvey’s skin-care lineup—not only because it’s Black-owned, but for its hydrating and soothing properties.
- More to Know: “[It] contains rose water, glycerin, aloe, sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid to hydrate, [as well as] niacinamide, panthenol and allantoin to soothe the skin,” she says.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
- Why We Love It: “The Ordinary’s niacinamide is one of my favorite serums due to its accessibility and effectiveness,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman. One should consider this to treat blemishes, excess sebum production, and other signs of skin congestion.
- More to Know: On the ingredient front, Hartman explains that “niacinamide will not only help clear up congestion on the skin, it will also help boost the skin’s moisture level.”
Versed Baby Cheeks Hydrating Milk Toner
- Why We Love It: “Versed Baby Cheeks Hydrating Milk Toner is great for skin that is severely dry,” notes Hartman. “The formulation containing coconut water and algae provides more hydration than most toners. The bonus is that it also doubles as a cleanser and makeup remover.”
- More to Know: Think of this as a post-cleanse step to add weightless hydration, remove any excess makeup residue, and help balance your skin’s pH.
iS Clinical Copper Firming Mist
- Why We Love It: Registered nurse and cosmetics injector Revay Plunkett notes this mist is great for super hot days. “This refreshing treatment mist contains potent antioxidant protection and defends against the visual signs of aging while instantly hydrating, smoothing, and firming the look and feel of skin,” she notes.
- More to Know: Infused with copper and botanically-sourced PCA, this treatment can be sprayed across the face and neck on its own or even atop makeup like your favorite setting spray.
Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner
- Why We Love It: Worden is a fan of Olaplex’s conditioner as it “protects and hydrates your hair, leaving it soft and healthy.”
- More to Know: The brand’s bond-building technology is at the heart of this vegan formula which is suitable for all hair types.
Amika Bust Your Brass Blonde Purple
- Why We Love It: London-based groomer and hairstylist Ben Talbott says this Amika formula is the best shampoo for blonde hair. “[This] contains purple pigments to kick out the yellow brassy tones that can sometimes happen to blonds,” he explains. “This shampoo is also great for silver hair.”
- More to Know: What’s more: there are even quinoa protein and plant butter ingredients to promote hair that looks and feels healthier.
L’Oréal Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hair Spray
- Why We Love It: “Elnett is my go-to drug store hair spray and [stays] firmly in my kit,” says Talbott. “[It] takes me back to my grandma’s dressing room every time—this is the best hair spray by far.”
- More to Know: A classic choice we’ve seen recommended time and time again, this humidity-resistant hair spray delivers a super fine mist to coat each strand without stiffness.
Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk
- Why We Love It: Celebrity hairstylist and groomer Jillian Halouska loves Klorane’s dry shampoo not just because she’s privy to French pharmacy pickups but because it “cuts oil without being sticky.”
- More to Know: Powered by oat milk, corn, and rice starch, absorbent microspheres, and silica, this fine powder gently cleanses while ridding tresses of dirt and odor.
Hot Tools Professional 24K Gold Marcel Curling Iron/Wand
- Why We Love It: Celebrity hairstylist Sky Kim cites this Hot Tools model as her favorite affordable curling iron “because not only is it inexpensive but very ergonomic, the handle spins so that you can let your wrists relax!”
- More to Know: Dubbed one of the best curling irons, this marcel iron/wand makes creating long-lasting curls that much easier.
Conair Xtreme Instant Heat Jumbo and Super Jumbo Hot Rollers
- Why We Love It: Kim selects this Conair set as her favorite hot rollers “because they come in two sizes for variety and are fun to use with low effort!”
- More to Know: Hot rollers took over TikTok in recent years to achieve the ultimate voluminous blowout. Crafted to heat evenly in 85 seconds, these make getting the look that much faster.
Crown Affair The Comb No. 002
- Why We Love It: Kim reveals this Crown Affair tool is her favorite wide tooth comb “because its rounded tips are very gentle on the scalp and help increase circulation while being very pretty to keep in the bathroom!”
- More to Know: Handcrafted in Switzerland from 100% plant-based cellulose acetate, this comb offers a comfortable grip and easy detangling.
GHD Natural Radial Brush
- Why We Love It: Ghd’s Natural Radial Brush is Kim’s round brush of choice “because of how easy it is to glide through whatever hair texture you have and how it holds a curl while drying!”
- More to Know: The perfect tool for a silky sleek blowout, this uses natural bristles for a shiny finish.
Davines Love Smoothing Conditioner
- Why We Love It: Celebrity hairstylist Kiley Fitzgerald says the Davines Love shampoo and conditioner “have helped [her] hair grow and get healthier over time.”
- More to Know: To manage frizzy and curly hair, this conditioner promotes moisture and elasticity through minuta olive extract—which is abundant in fatty acids and vitamin E—leaving your mane smooth and soft.
Living Proof Full Dry Volume & Texture Spray
- Why We Love It: Pro hairstylist Jazmin Kelly, who counts Taraji P. Henson and Mary J. Blige as clients, is a fan of Living Proof’s spray for “absorbing oil and extending the life of a style.” What’s more, it “transforms fine, flat, or thin hair—with heat protection.”
- More to Know: Featuring a volumizing and texturizing technology, a blend of minerals and starches, along with hydrophobic resins, this spray should deliver a lived-in texture with a buildable hold that won’t weigh your hair down.
Aveda Control Paste
- Why We Love It: Looking to say bye to stubborn flyaways in that snatched updo? Give Aveda’s Control Paste a try. Recommended by Kelly, she says this is “perfect for a slick and smooth ponytail which has a matte finish.”
- More to Know: The paste is designed with dry hair styling in mind to create texture with a medium, pliable hold.
L’Oréal Voluminous Original Waterproof Mascara
- Why We Love It: “I’ve been using this mascara for years, and I still grab it over my high-end comps!” says Tioseco. “It’s super black, and long wearing, and the wand never leaves the lashes clumpy.”
- More to Know: One of the best drugstore mascaras, this formula is a makeup artist favorite for its buildability, volumizing, and smudge-resistant properties.
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream
- Why We Love It: “I love this cream bronzer; it is so beautiful to use on the cheekbones, temples, and jawline to warm up the skin and give a sun-kissed glow,” explains Henney.
- More to Know: This lightweight cream-gel features mineral waxes, powders, silica, and light-reflecting pigments, leaving a smoothing effect and natural non-shimmery radiance.
Dior Backstage Glow Face Palette
- Why We Love It: “These palettes are so stunning as they come with four different shades which can be used individually or used together,” says Henney of Dior’s gold-hued makeup quads.
- More to Know: Pro tip: “Use this palette to highlight the tops of the cheekbones, inner eyes, and cupid’s bow.”
Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Concealer
- Why We Love It: “You can’t go wrong with this smooth, liquid concealer,” says Greenberg, who recommends this Maybelline concealer for an array of reasons. Specifically, she calls out its great applicator and ease of use.
- More to Know: Add this drugstore beauty product to your cart to experience its hydrating, concealing, and correcting benefits for yourself.
Pur 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup
- Why We Love It: According to Greenberg, this is “an incredible multi-tasking product that has coverage, SPF, and adds hydration. I’ve never used a powder that was hydrating like this. It’s great for all skin types.”
- More to Know: Thanks to a blend of waltheria extract, shea butter, vitamin E, and the brand’s ceretin complex, this not only provides medium, buildable coverage but works to brighten, smooth, and condition the skin. Just think of it as a skin care makeup hybrid!
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder
- Why We Love It: Charlotte Tilbury’s finishing powder is another top pick of Mayo’s. The fine-pressed powder instantly blurs imperfections and reduces shine, leaving a natural, matte finish.
- More to Know: Infused with rose wax, almond oil, and light-reflecting pearls, this helps illuminate your complexion for an overall soft-focus look.
Too Faced Born This Way Foundation
- Why We Love It: “Too Faced Born This Way Foundation is a go-to foundation in my kit,” notes celebrity makeup artist Hailey Hoff. “I can mix it with a lighter foundation or moisturizer to make it less full coverage, or use just that for full coverage; it’s beautiful on the skin.”
- More to Know: With coconut water, alpine rose, and hyaluronic acid, expect this oil-free foundation to blend seamlessly into skin without feeling heavy or cakey.
Maybelline Super Stay Vinyl Ink Longwear Liquid Lipcolor
- Why We Love It: Celebrity makeup artist Keita Moore recommends this lipstick by Maybelline for its “high shine and long-lasting” wear.
- More to Know: Smudge resistant and transfer-proof for up to 16-hour-wear, this is a great gloss to have on hand year-round.
Charlotte Tilbury Color Chameleon Eyeshadow Pencil
- Why We Love It: “This goes on creamy and dries to a bulletproof finish; it lasts forever, even under hot lights and long hours,” celebrity makeup artist Robert Sesnek says. “I love the nine shades and can even layer powder eyeshadow on top for even more depth.”
- More to Know: Glide the eyeshadow pencil of your choice to your lids for long wear and an easy pop of color.
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
- Why We Love It: “NARS Creamy Radiant Concealer is another holy grail product that I use on almost all of my clients,” notes Sesnek. “It’s crease resistant, lasts for hours, and has a hydrating, full coverage effect. This is a must-have product.”
- More to Know: This creamy concealer has been a mainstay in makeup routines for years now, especially because the shade range is particularly good for people of color. And thanks to a blend of botanical extracts and mineral powders, this hydrates, brightens, corrects, and smooths the under-eye.
Pat McGrath Labs Mattetrance Lipstick
- Why We Love It: Sesnek admits his love for Pat McGrath Labs’s MatteTrance Lipsticks. “They go on ultra creamy but they are so intensely pigmented,” he says. “I can even multitask and use it as a cream blush. These lipsticks are seriously amazing!”
- More to Know: From nudes to rich reds, each lipstick is meant to deliver effortless opaque color in one stroke.
Body and Nail Care
- Why We Love It: Henney shares that she uses this cream all of the time to prep stars for the red carpet. “It gives the skin such a beautiful sheen and glow and makes your arms and legs look super healthy and hydrated,” she says.
- More to Know: This thick cream is infused with vitamin B5 for a rich lather to use on the face, body, and hands.
Cocokind MyMatcha All Over Moisture Stick
- Why We Love It: Think of this as your favorite moisturizing balm, but in a convenient stick formula. “I use this as lip balm daily because it’s so hydrating and juicy!” says pro makeup artist, groomer, and esthetician Britty Whitfield, who notes it’s also great on sunburnt areas and dry heels.
- More to Know: With matcha tea powder, coconut oil, and beeswax, this is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids to support the skin barrier—even reducing the appearance of dark circles and puffiness (thanks to the matcha that’s rich in caffeine!).
Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50
- Why We Love It: Mayo recommends Supergoop!’s reliable sunscreen lotion that can be applied to both the face and body—not to mention its fast absorbing, water- and sweat-resistant.
- More to Know: With SPF 50, sunflower extract, and rosemary leaf extract, this provides protection against UV rays and environmental stressors while calming and moisturizing skin.
OPI Nail and Cuticle Oil
- Why We Love It: “OPI Nail and Cuticle Oil is a favorite for dry, cracked cuticles and nail beds,” says Farber of this lightweight, fast-absorbing formula that uses a blend of grapeseed, sesame, kukui, sunflower, and cupuaçu oils.
- More to Know: “It is best to avoid cutting cuticles as they are important for protecting against infection around the nail,” she advises. “If they are damaged, nails can look unkempt, but also are at risk for infections.”