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Best Beauty Buys Under $20

  • Jack Miskell


    Milani Minerals Blush in Sweet Rose (#204), $6.

    Swamped in a sea of pink blush options? Robyn Cosio, celeb makeup artist at Salon Maxime in Beverly Hills (clients include Nicole Kidman, Kate Bosworth, and Marisa Tomei), reaches for this shade to create "the perfect rosy cheek."

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    Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Highbeam Tan and Fire & Ice, $8 each.

    "Revlon's extensive line of colors makes it easy to find a perfect shade for any occasion," says Jo Strettell, celebrity makeup artist in Los Angeles (Strettel has worked her magic on Liv Tyler, Ashley Judd, and Demi Moore). It's hard for Stretell to choose a favorite shade, but these are two of her classic go-tos.

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    Makeup Remover

    Albolene Moisturizing Cleanser, $12.

    One of the best-kept secrets of makeup artists since the 1920s, Albolene has a jelly-like consistency that gets even the most stubborn waterproof mascara to glide right off.

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    Eye Shadow

    L'Oreal Paris HIP High Intensity Pigments Concentrated Shadow Duo in Saucy (#818), $7.

    Rea Ann Silva, founder of BeautyBlender, a makeup application tool, and who works on A-listers such as Jennifer Garner, Kerry Washington, and Halle Berry, credits actress Washington with introducing her to these true-to-pigment shades: "They're richer than your average neutrals and last forever," says Silva.

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    Physician's Formula Organic Wear Natural Origin Bronzer, $14.

    Kimara Ahnert, owner of the Kimara Ahnert Studio in New York City (and who has worked on Catherine Zeta-Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Brooke Shields) relies on this powder bronzer for a sunny glow that looks like the real thing. There are six shades in the range, but as long as you don't go overboard with your application, you can get away with wearing practically any of them.

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    CoverGirl Lashblast Mascara, $8.

    With just a few coats, you'll build thick, gorgeous, never-goopy lashes. The key to its success? The short wand and nubby plastic bristles catch every last lash.

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    Maybelline New York Mineral Power Liquid Concealer, $8.

    The liquid consistency makes it easy to blend over imperfections without making skin look cakey — plus, an a.m. application lasts all day without having to be reapplied, says Cosio.

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    L'Oreal Paris Infallible Never Fail Makeup, $14.

    The trickiest part about shopping at the drugstore? You can't try before you buy. But this foundation "seamlessly blends into your skin to look like nothing's there," says Silva. Pros say there's even room for error if the shade you choose isn't an exact match.

  • Jack Miskell

    Lip Gloss

    Rimmel London Shock Gloss in Indecent, $6.

    For "the right amount of shine without gobs of glossiness," Strettell keeps this handy for its smooth — not sticky — consistency and easy-to-wear sheer pink color.

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    Lip Pencil

    Wet 'n' Wild Lip Liner Pencil in Brandy Wine (#666), $1.

    Finally, a foolproof liner: Experts agree this shade gives you the perfect fresh, pink lips, whatever your coloring may be. Ahnert loves it to color the entire lip, with just a touch of gloss on top.

  • Jack Miskell


    Extreme Style by VO5 Volume Blast hairspray, $4.

    Other strong-hold hairsprays can leave you with helmet hair you'll want to shampoo out as soon as possible, says Brad Johns, color director of Elizabeth Arden's Red Door Spa in New York City. This spray gives brushable, manageable volume that looks and feels natural.

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    Hair Serum

    John Frieda Frizz-Ease Original Serum, $10.

    To get rid of frizz while you blow-dry, this is the product you need, says Jessica Galvan, celeb stylist and owner of Jessica Galvan Hair Studio in Beverly Hills (her clients include Victoria Beckham).

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    Dove Curl & Sculpt Defining Mousse, $4.

    "This is great for a blow-out — it creates hold and shine, leaving hair soft, not sticky," says Antonio Gonzales, senior stylist at Eva Scrivo Salon in New York City. The best part: It works for both straight and curly styles.

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    Hair Mask

    Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Fortifying Deep Conditioner, $6.

    This 3-minute mask is the next best thing to a professional conditioning treatment, says David Dieguez, creative director of Blow, the New York City Blow Dry Bar (client list: Molly Shannon and Malin Akerman). The longer you leave it in, the more moisture will seep into hair.

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    Infusium 23 Moisturologie Conditioner, Step 2, $7.

    Give your hair a moisture boost with this superhydrating formula. "If your hair looks brittle, use this conditioner for added shine," says Galvan.

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    Color Keeper

    Clairol Nice 'n Easy Root Touch-Up, $7.

    Say goodbye to intimidating color kits. "You can't overdo it with this one because the tiny applicator lets you add only a small dose of color at a time," says Johns. "It's virtually foolproof."

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    Jason Rosewater & Chamomile Normalizing Shampoo, $8.

    This sulfate-free pick won't dry or strip your hair of color. "It gently cleanses and moisturizes your scalp," says Nelson Chan, colorist and owner of Nelson J Salon in Beverly Hills; Sarah Michelle Gellar and Heather Graham are longtime clients.

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    Dry Skin Remedy

    Aquaphor Healing Ointment, two for $4.

    It's excellent at repairing dry, chapped skin just about anywhere — lips, cuticles, knees. Surprise use: It can cut down the healing time on open acne lesions, says Dr. Neil Sadick, clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

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    Wrinkle Reducer

    Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, $20.

    Retinol is the only ingredient proven to stimulate collagen and improve the look of deeper wrinkles. This formula contains a low dose, so it refines skin without the drying side effects, says Dr. Leslie Baumann, director of the University of Miami's Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute and author of The Skin Type Solution.

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    All-Over Moisturizer

    Lac-Hydrin Five, $15.

    Instead of sloughing skin with a scrub, reach for this alpha-hydroxy-acid-boasting lotion: It gently encourages cell turnover and smoothes skin all over your body — even on your face, says Dr. Sadick.

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    Eye Cream

    Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum, $19.

    It contains peptides — great for plumping fine lines and repairing sun damage. Plus, it's lightweight, so it sinks into skin immediately, says Dr. David Bank, founder and director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery. No more waiting for heavy eye creams to penetrate.

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    Zit Zapper

    Stridex Power Pads, $7.

    The single-use pads deliver the right amount of bacteria-busting benzoyl peroxide every time. "People tend to wipe more uniformly with these than when they're applying a product with their fingers," says Dr. Bank.

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    Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 85, $10.

    Like other oil-free Neutrogena products, this block goes on feeling dry — not greasy — eliminating the common worry of sunscreen-induced breakouts, says Dr. Bank.

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    Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, $8.

    Looking for a mild face wash that won't strip your skin? This classic won't irritate even the most sensitive types, says Dr. Oscar Hevia, a top dermatologist in Miami and active member of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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    Face Moisturizer

    Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 15, $14.

    This product evens your complexion and calms splotchiness, says Dr. Bank. Dr. Baumann agrees: Feverfew is a favorite ingredient for its anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties.

    Originally published in the October 17, 2008, issue of Family Circle magazine.