Just as budget-friendly skincare products can be as good as high-end ones, the same can be said of makeup. These days there are plenty of affordable makeup brands to choose from that are just as good as their more expensive counterparts—proving there’s no need to spend excessively on your beauty routine. In fact, these purse-friendly options are often made in the same factories as or with the same ingredients as makeup products from luxury brands. And if you’re wondering why they’re so cheap? It usually means that the brand has cut costs on the packaging or the marketing spend—the quality of the product itself has nothing to do with it.
That’s right, just because something is affordable, doesn’t mean it’s not as pigmented, long-lasting, or high-performance as a high-end product. Take a look at legacy makeup brands like L’Oréal and Maybelline for example. They’ve stood the test of time, continually evolving and improving their formulas over the years, but still keeping their prices accessible. Meanwhile new brands like Glossier and e.l.f. Cosmetics have found their fame through social media vitality—as sure a sign of any that a product is worth hunting down, regardless of its price tag.
Whether you’re trying to cut down on your beauty spending or you’re starting to build out your makeup kit on a budget, these are the best places to start if you’re looking for affordable makeup products.
The best affordable makeup brands:
1. Beauty Pie
The premise of Beauty Pie is that you pay a monthly or annual subscription fee that gives you access to luxury beauty products at factory prices. This means that (once you're a member) you end up paying up to 12 times less for products that are made in the same factories as high-end formulas, simply because the brand cuts out the middlemen. It sounds too good to be true, but trust us, it's really not—and the products are seriously good.
Far more than just a regular face powder, this multi-tasking pressed powder simultaneously sets makeup, absorbs excess oil, blurs imperfections, and boosts luminosity.
2. e.l.f. Cosmetics
e.l.f. Cosmetics only recently made its way over to the U.K. from the U.S.—for years it was the one makeup brand I always sought out (and stuffed my suitcase with) when I visited the States, but it's now finally available in retailers such as Boots and Beauty Bay. The brand has a knack for creating really impressive products, but manages to do so without bumping up their prices—everything costs less than £15.
This creamy concealer has been making waves on social media thanks to its ability to cover everything from breakouts to dark circles without looking cakey or feeling heavy on skin.
Thanks to its heritage (it's over 100 years old), L'Oreal is one of the most-trusted affordable makeup brands out there. They also have a really wide product range—you could easily do your entire makeup routine with L'Oreal products from start to finish. With that said, they're most well-known for their base products (they always have impressively wide shade ranges) and their mascaras, which are every bit as good as those from luxury makeup brands.
L'Oreal is well known for its mascaras, and this ultra-voluminising one is one of my personal all-time favourites. The thick, fluffy brush manages to coat every single lash.
4. NYX Professional Makeup
Ask any makeup artist what their favourite affordable makeup brand is and we can pretty much guarantee they'll say NYX. It's another U.S. import and has quickly become a favourite amongst those looking for affordable and accessible makeup products. Since the products are designed and formulated with makeup professionals in mind, they're seriously good quality.
Lip products are one of NYX's specialities, and with a collection that includes lipsticks, lip stains, lip glosses, and liquid lipsticks, there really is something for everyone. This double-ended lipstick-gloss hybrid is a favourite amongst makeup artists.
When you spend hours crafting your makeup look, you want to know that your setting spray will keep it locked in place. NYX's iconic formula does just that, promising up to 16 hours of longevity. Don't be put off by 'matte' in the name—it won't turn makeup cakey.
5. Sephora Collection
Sephora's 'own brand' makeup collection finally became available in the U.K at the end of 2022, offering a vast selection of makeup, tools, and brushes. If you're looking to stock your makeup bag for less, this is a great place to start and get all of the basics covered—prices start from just £2.
Eyeliner is something that Sephora does particularly well. I'm personally a huge fan of this felt tip offering—the nib is short but firm and finely tapered, so it makes crafting a cat-eye flick effortlessly easy.
Maybelline has been around for years (108 to be precise), but also happens to be a brand that frequently goes viral on social media, proving that its formulas definitely have the star factor. From concealers and mascaras to lip glosses and eyeliners, Maybelline always delivers high-performance products at super affordable prices.
Maybelline is another brand with really impressive affordable mascara options. The latest launch, Colossal Curl separates and lifts each lash, locking the curl in place with its unique Memory-Curl formula.
7. The Body Shop
The Body Shop's makeup line often gets overlooked in favour of its skincare and body care offerings, but it's well worth checking out—especially if you're after affordable cruelty-free and vegan makeup products. Inspired by and drawing from nature, most of the product range are skincare-makeup hybrids which do good as well as looking good.
Naturally, The Body Shop's answer to skin-friendly foundation is a formula boosted with skincare benefits. While delivering a light and natural-looking coverage, it works to keep skin moisturised for up to 24 hours.
Available in a wide range of shades, these buildable, blendable cream pigments multitask as lipsticks, blushers, and even eyeshadows.
Glossier may be less than a decade old but it's already a familiar feature in many peoples' makeup bags and skincare routines. The makeup range (which features eye makeup, lip products, blushers, and base products) cuts the guess work out of makeup artistry, offering simple, easy-to-use solutions.
Don't be fooled by the simplistic packaging, this hardworking brow gel is one of the most popular brow products, ever. It lifts and locks hairs into place, tinting them with a subtle colour for a super natural but defined result.
In my opinion, this lip gloss is one of Glossier's most under-rated products. Unlike other formulas, it's neither heavy nor sticky, but instead delivers a light veil of glass-like shine. Oh, and it's also available in a red and holographic versions.
9. By Beauty Bay
Known for being the place to source hard-to-find and up-and-coming beauty brands, in 2018 Beauty Bay turned its expertise to creating a range of affordable makeup basics. The own brand collection launched with eyeshadow palettes (for which it's most well known), but has since extended to include everything from blushers and bronzers to lipsticks and brow products. What's more, nothing costs more than £25.
By Beauty Bay is known for its supersize eyeshadow palettes—which offer great value for money if you like to have a wide range of shades to choose from and prefer to have everything in one place.
10. Revolution Beauty
Comprising a number of sub-brands, including Makeup Revolution, Revolution Pro, XX Revolution, and I Heart Revolution, Revolution Beauty has one of the most impressive offerings of affordable makeup products out there. You'll find the brand stock both online and on the high street, so it's super easy to get hold of. The brand is most famous for creating dupes of high-end beauty products, so you can create luxury looks for less.