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Daily Question: What are the Best Products Under $10?

Posted Sep 03 2011 12:08pm
10 dolla bill by vizjer
10 dolla bill , a photo by vizjer on Flickr.

Dear Nicki,

Can you do more “beauty on a budget” posts?


Dear M,

Sure! Here are 10 of the best products I’ve found for under $10. Please note that the prices listed are as they are currently available on today, and other retailers may charge more:

Scientists use sodium lauryl sulfate to induce irritation in the skin – and it’s the second ingredient in most shampoos. Luckily, the L’Oreal Sulfate Free system eliminates this problem, with a sulfate-free cleansing system that leaves hair still feeling clean.

If you love Lancome Juicy Tubes, then you’ll love L’Oreal Paris ColorJuice Lip Gloss . (As all readers know, they’re both owned by parent company L’Oreal, so the similarities should not be all that surprising). Keep in mind there is no SPF in this lip gloss, but it’s beautiful at night.

I have tried everything for my lashes – from eyelash growth serums to semi-permanent eyelash extensions to $30 mascaras. Of the mascaras I’ve tried, L’Oreal Voluminous One Million Lashes mascara is amongst the best, with an ultra-voluminizing formula. It really makes a huge difference – for best effect, apply with your mouth open (it stabilizes the muscles in your face), and apply several coats while the formula is still wet.

Okay, so it’s not less than $10, I apologize. But for just $11.19, it has Helioplex, which was reported by the American Academy of Dermatology in 2007 to have the most photostable UVA protection on the U.S. market – even more stable than Mexoryl. It’s also lightweight, smells decent, and blends even better than the Neutrogena Sheer Touch sunscreen line. My only warning? Don’t let your beloved kiss you after you apply it – there’s definitely a “chemical” taste to it.

Dermatologists and aestheticians frequently recommend Cetaphil cleanser. And for good reason: Cetaphil cleansers are proven non-comedogenic, so they don’t clog pores, and have a far lower concentration of potentially irritating sulfates than other cleansers. According to cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson, “I’ve created cleansers with over 40 ingredients; this one has [fourteen] and when you have sensitive or inflamed skin, less is more.”

Ingredients in Cetaphil Cleanser (Normal to Oily Skin): Water, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Acrylates/Steareth-20 Methacrylate Copolymer, Glycerin, PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Butylene Glycol, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Phenoxyethanol, Masking Fragrance, Panthenol, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben.

I may just be the world’s biggest fan of the Aveeno Moisturizing Bar. First of all, the price is amazing. Second, it contains colloidal oatmeal, which is one of the most underrated soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients on the market today, with aspirin-like prostaglandin inhibitors included as a natural component. Colloidal oatmeal also provides hydrating benefits to the skin, including 60-64% polysaccharides, lipids, and saponins ( Cosmetic Dermatology , 2008). Add in the fact that colloidal oatmeal is a source of many enzymes, vitamins, and flavonoids, and that makes the Aveeno Moisturizing Bar perhaps the greatest buy on the skin care market today for under $5.

Vaseline Sheer Fusion moisturizing lotion is another one of the most underrated products on the market today. For under 50 cents per use, you’re getting a hydrating lotion that is proven to penetrate the skin down to its deepest surface layer (stratum basale), while most body lotions only get down to the second surface layer (stratum lucidum). This means Vaseline Sheer Fusion provides hours of lasting hydration.

How it works is through a formulation known as Stratys-3™, consisting mostly of glycerol quat (GQ) and hydroxyethyl urea (HEU). According to the official website , GQ is unique because it not only hydrates better than ingredients like glycerol, but also because it doesn’t “stick” to the upper membranes of the skin as it travels downward. HEU is similar and also able to penetrate through to the deepest layer of the skin.

The clinical data support the idea that Vaseline Sheer Infusion delivers superior hydration as well. In the most convincing Unilever-affiliated study , 168 subjects were split into 12 different groups. Another trained, blinded clinician measured the skin hydration levels, and the results were astounding: Vaseline Sheer Infusion resulted in a score of 1150; the next leading body lotion was a mere 800. I’ve used this lotion myself, and I can say not only does it hydrate better than most any I’ve tried, the Botanical Blend also smells amazing!

Sometimes I feel like a broken record, singing the praises of niacinamide, but it’s true. Niacinamide, a basic derivative of vitamin B3, has been proven to do everything from reducing fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing) to increasing skin’s elasticity ( Dermatologic Surgery , 2006). What’s beautiful about niacinamide is that it provides the benefits of vitamin B3 without the “red flush” that can occur with niacin supplements or more acidic topical solutions of vitamin B3. The fact that your entire body can be beautified through this lotion, with such a low price tag, really blows my mind. I definitely recommend it.

The brainy side of me knows that I need a daily lip treatment with SPF to protect against skin cancer, early signs of aging, and to protect my lip lines from fading with time (yes, this occurs). Yet the girly-girl side of me refuses to retreat to a boring colorless balm with SPF. The solution? Neutrogena MoistureShine with SPF 20. I sound like an advertisement, but it comes in an array of colors, provides enough shine, and has a neat cooling effect without drying menthol. One note: Some with sensitive skin may have a problem because it contains lanolin oil. I have not experienced a problem, but I recommend saving your receipt, just in case!


The reasons to buy Olivella Cleansing Wipes are numerous. One, Gwyneth Paltrow recommends them on her Goop blog. Two, they provide all of the antioxidant, soothing, hydrating benefits of olive oil, without a hefty price tag. Three, Olivella Cleansing Wipes are fast and easy. Sometimes I’m so exhausted at the end of the day all I can do is swipe one of these across my face, put on a few dabs of a retinoid cream, and drift off to sleep. These save me at least twenty minutes a week, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it means a lot at the end of the day! And lastly, Olivella Cleansing Wipes leave your skin feeling hydrated and smooth, not dried out like many cleansers.

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