You don’t have to empty your bank account to get high quality beauty products.
In fact, some of the best beauty buys are those you can pick up along with your avocados on your next supermarket shop.
As a beauty writer, I’ve dusted and dabbed a lot of beauty products with all sorts of price tags yet it’s often the ‘budget’ options I find myself reaching for time and time again on a daily basis.
Whether you’re looking to create a makeup collection from scratch, or you’re a diehard always looking to expand, here are the 20 best products under $20 that are just as good – if not better, if we’re being honest – than the super exxy ones.
1. Bh Cosmetics 28 Eyeshadow Colour Palette, Neutral Eyes, $12.50
I’ll be honest, when I first bought this palette I had low expectations, anticipating super chalky eyeshadows that lasted all of five minutes. I was – and continue to be – pleasantly surprised. There’s a nude for every need, and they blend really easily. I don’t use all the shades, probably sticking to four or five, but it’s become my go-to for both night and day and I hate to travel without it. Not all the shadows are as good as others but it’s great value and almost foolproof to use. A must-have basic.
2. Chi Chi Cosmetics Makeup Blending Sponge, $5.95
The original Beauty Blender is still my favourite but this comes in a very close second. Just dampen and then bounce across the skin to apply your foundation and any cream products and you'll get a smooth application and flawless finish. There's a few different shapes to choose from but I prefer this one, simply because the ridge around the middle makes it easy to hold and the pointy end is great for getting in hard-to-reach places like around your nose and under your eyes.
3. Mecca Max Bring On Bright Illuminating Primer, $20
I've raved before how excellent and great value this entire makeup range is, but this primer is one of my favourites. Its illuminating properties bring skin to life and is fab for either applying before foundation for a glow and staying power, or even just wearing alone to brighten tired skin. A little goes a long way and it dries quickly without feeling sticky.
4. Essence I Love Extreme Mascara, $5.75
I always forget just how good this mascara is until I apply it. Seriously - wow. Lashes are separated, evenly coated and very va va voom. It's a great dramatic mascara and a killer combination with an eyelash colour and some sharp winged liner. For the price, it's almost a crime it's that good.
5. Australis Ready Set Go Pressed Finishing Powder, $13.95.
If you tend to get shiny like me, this is a must-have and a great dupe for the more well-known and expensive options like Laura Mercier. The pressed version is a lot less messy than the loose and you only need a little bit to set and mattify your makeup.
6. ModelCo More Brow Gel, $7.95.
If you're after something low maintenance for your brows, look no further than this. The handy sized brush will comb, colour and set your eyebrows in place simultaneously.
7. Face of Australia Blush in Primrose, $9.45
Rose gold doesn't just look great in your home, people. This blush is a beautiful rosey-pink with flecks of gold and often draws comparisons to Nars Orgasm, but a fraction of the cost. It sells out regularly, so stock up if you like it.
8. Sephora Collection Intense Gel Eyeliner, $17
These waterproof eyeliners glide on the eyes and last forever. Available in a range of colours (I personally love the blue) they're great for doing liner or a smudging into a smokey eye.
8. NYX Professional Makeup Duo Chromatic Illuminating Powder, $19.95
Beauty lovers rave about this relatively new release from NYX. Available in five different shades, it's the shortcut to making your highlighter literally shine, Apply to the top of your cheekbones and cupid's bow.
9. Maybelline Master Precise Eyeliner, $15.95
This is pretty much foolproof. Available in the blackest black, the thin felt-tip style point can do understated or over the top winged liner that doesn't smudge or budge.
10. Sportsgirl Pout About It Lipstick in Bombshell, $9.95
You might not think of the clothes retailer as your first stop for beauty, but Sportsgirl keep killing the cosmetics game. I've sworn by this lipstick for the past five years - it's matte without being dry, lasts forever and is the perfect Hollywood red.
11. Rimmel Lasting Finish Foundation, $18.95
My holy grail for very good reason. Excellent on dry or dehydrated skin, this foundation is full coverage but also light enough for day time and also features SPF 20. It blends well, lasts for ages and I'm probably on my seventh bottle (at least).
12. Essence Lip Liner, $2
Yes, you read that right - TWO BUCKAROOS. There's not the greatest colour range but the red is brilliant... long-lasting and doesn't bleed.
13. Australis Liquid Strobe Illuminating Drops, $19.95
This is a great multitasker and more affordable version of the YouTuber favourite from Cover FX. Apply to your favourite moisturiser or foundation for added illumination or on its own as a very intense highlight.
14. Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip in Creeper, $7.45
Made from the same factory as Kylie Jenner's Lip Kits, these are cheap and more than cheerful. The colour is pigmented, it's matte but not too chalky and it really does last the distance.
15. Morphe Crease Blending Brush, $11.20
If you buy just one brush, make it this one. While cheap brushes can be a minefield, these are great quality and this one in particular has completely upped my makeup game. It's great at blending eyeshadows seamlessly and is a handy one to take with you for travel.
16. Ulta 3 Gel Look Nail Polish, $3.95
Forget paying $20 a pop, this gel look nail polish is a home manicure in a bottle. There are both vibrant and more neutral options and you'll get a good few days before chipping.
17. E.L.F Warm Bronzer, $12
Choose one or mix all four of these bronzers together for a fake-summer glow all year round. Available in warm and cool tone, it will suit any skin tone and is the perfect travel size.
18. NYX Matte Finishing Spray, $14.95
Setting spray is no gimmick - it's essential for making your makeup last all day (and night) as well as a great way to freshen it up after a few hours. This one from NYX is a beauty favourite for good reason: it works.
19. Mark by Avon Pout Velvet Lip Paint, $12
This brings together the intense colour of a lipstick with a shine of a gloss without all the stickiness. There's a range of bold shades but my pick is Spark, a vibrant red-orange.
20. DB Designer Brands Cream Contour Kit, $14.95
If you're not quite convinced about contouring, cream is a great place to start as it blends easily for a softer look. This kit contains a highlighter, bronzer and illuminator and won't break the bank if you decide that Kim-K level face shaping isn't on your daily to-do list.
Do you agree? What other products would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments below.