The Best Little Under-$20 Indulgences, According To Beauty Experts

These hidden gems are guaranteed to brighten your look (and your day).
Left to right: Pacifica's Chill Baby Cooling Cryo Globes ($20), Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer in Love Pop ($18) and The Ordinary Peeling Solution ($8.99).

Of course it’s great to enjoy big luxuries when you can afford them, but pint-sized indulgences can be just as enjoyable, boosting your mood and brightening your looks for a few bucks. We asked experts in makeup, skin, hair and fashion to share the cheaper-than-$20 beauty indulgences they rely on.

Scroll to the bottom of the story to find out where to buy all these recommendations.

When the economy sucks, lipstick rules.

The self-care treat most mentioned by the experts we spoke to was lipstick, a low-cost secret weapon that can add polish and shine to any look. Even if you’re dressed casually, a quick slap of lippie can elevate your mood and your appearance. “Whenever I think of self-indulgence, I think of the stories of the rise in lipstick sales during the Great Depression,” said Vanessa Coppola, a family nurse practitioner and owner of Bare Aesthetic Medical Spa.

“Sales skyrocketed because women needed to feel good about themselves so they could conquer the tough road ahead. These days, people are still looking for inexpensive treats that provide a sense of joy and confidence.”

“I like to splurge on lipsticks when I need a little beauty boost,” said makeup artist Emily Gray, who is fond of several colors in the Catrice line. “I think there’s something so powerful about a bold lip color. When I have a power lip on, I feel like I can do anything. And the best part is that you do not need to spend a lot to give yourself a little boost — a $7 lipstick can do for me.”

Stylist Nikki Steele is also a lipstick fan, specifically calling out Revlon’s Iced Amethyst shade ($6.48). “It’s inexpensive, but it looks and feels luxurious, she said. “In an empowering and royal color like this, I feel like I can conquer the world.” Personal wardrobe stylist Sandra Veum is another lipstick fan. “I love to wear a pop of color to boost my appearance and outfit,” she said, citing Clinique’s Love Pop ($18) shade. “It’s a good in-between color of red and berry and looks good on many skin tones.”

Accessorize your head.

Steele picks a new accessory each season, like a fun-colored beanie for winter. “You can transform any outfit or style from blah to wow by adding this inexpensive accessory,” she said. “Hats frame your face and are intriguing enough that people want to know your story. They make you feel empowered to be seen and heard in any crowd.”

“A favorite beauty boost of mine is adding a headband,” Veum said. “I wear one if I’m too lazy to do my hair, if there’s too much humidity in the air or if I’m having a bad hair day. Adding a headband is like adding a necklace, and it works a messy bun, ponytail or braid. It’s an easy accessory, especially when traveling, and it always fits.”

Hairstylist Jennifer Korab said, “I like to splurge and treat myself to a scalp scrub and hair mask. I love to use the Kitsch scalp scrubber ($7) after shampooing, followed by a hair mask.”

Affordable skin care can actually be an upgrade.

“Skin care is definitely a great form of self care, since not only does it help you look good, but it also feels good to be taking time for yourself,” said dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick. “That said, skin care doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective. There are many drugstore products that can provide the beauty boost our skin needs.”

What are her top picks? “No matter the season, I love using La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water Face Mist ($13.99). Not only does it help to boost hydration in the winter months, but it also has a cooling effect for summer months. I love that it gives my skin a mid-day refresher, and I always reach for it when my skin is looking tired, dry and dull.”

“I love The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Exfoliating Peeling Solution ($9.50), too,” she added. “It’s an exfoliant that helps reduce clogged pores and congestion while also improving skin texture and uneven skin tone.”

Jamie Greenberg, a makeup artist and founder/CEO of Jamie Makeup, loves using Pacifica’s Chill Baby Cooling Cryo Globes ($20). “They depuff under my eyes if I didn’t get enough sleep or if I just don’t look as alive as I want to,” she said.

Flutter those lashes.

“Whenever I need a little pick-me-up, I absolutely love magnetic false eyelashes,” Coppola said. “There’s nothing like enhanced eyelashes to make you feel your absolute best, particularly after a long day at work when you’re feeling tired and your eyes are starting to show fatigue.

“False eyelashes can instantly open and brighten up the eye, lift the upper lids and provide a beautiful feminine boost to your natural beauty,” she said.

Get a high-quality balm at a low price.

Harry Josh, a Kerasilk ambassador, said, “I love the Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm ($5.99 for a two-pack), because it always makes my lips feel fabulous. It hydrates my lips more than any other product I’ve tried before.”

Garshick recommends an OG drugstore favorite, Vaseline Healing Jelly Ointment ($4.99 for a two-pack). “It’s a multi-purpose ointment that gives my lips the beauty boost they need,” she said. “It helps seal in moisture while providing a protective barrier.”

Another drugstore pick comes from Veum, who recommends Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula ($2). “I’ve been using it for over 25 years, and I still love the richness of the lotion, in addition to the yummy smell.”

Buy the experts’ top picks.

Want to pick up some of these treats for yourself? Here’s a shopping list. As you’re browsing these top picks, keep this advice from Greenberg in mind: “There are so many ways to indulge without breaking the bank, so don’t be drawn in by every TikTok about a million-dollar product. Oftentimes, there are affordable alternatives that feel just as good. But it’s also worth it to give yourself a gift every now and then. If you don’t treat yourself like a priority, no one else will.”

Veum agreed: “I always say that style has no price and I believe this for beauty products as well. Treating ourselves does not always have to cost a lot of money. Be sure to read reviews and don’t just follow the latest trend. Always go with what works for you, your skin tone and your skin. Believe it or not, sometimes what our mothers and grandmothers used back in the day still works today.”

HuffPost and its publishing partners may receive a commission from some purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently curated by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

Revlon Super Lustrous Pearl Lipstick (Iced Amethyst)
"I always tell my clients, 'You’re never fully dressed without a smile,' and it's great to highlight that smile with this beautiful shade," stylist Nikki Steele said. "This color looks great on most everybody, and it makes your teeth look their whitest."
Catrice Scandalous Matte Lipstick
“If you’re ballin’ on a budget, Catrice has some fantastic colors and lipstick shades,” makeup artist Emily Gray said. “I’m in love with the shades Blame the Night, a vivid red, and Muse of Inspiration, a deep berry. They glide effortlessly on and are extremely long-lasting."

"My personal go-to makeup look is a clean face and a bold lipstick, usually a red,” she said. “I feel like it compliments my complexion and it makes a statement without much product. Red lipstick always makes me feel like I can take on the world, because it reminds me of who I am and gives me positive, strong energy.”
NYX Lip Pencil (Bloom)
“A little style tip is to apply your lip color first then go back and line your lip with my favorite lip pencil,” said personal wardrobe stylist Sandra Veum. “It keeps the lip color from bleeding out of your natural lip line.” She pairs this pencil with Clinique lipstick in the Love Pop shade (see below).
Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer (Love Pop)
“This shade is a good in-between color of red and berry, and it looks good on many skin tones,” Veum said.

Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
“Everyday life can be hard sometimes,and often it's the smallest, simplest pleasures that can make your day just a bit better,” said Harry Josh, a Kerasilk ambassador who is a fan of Burt's Bee's lip balms. “Whether it’s a delicious cappuccino, a good book that you can't put down or a lip balm like this, it can provide a simple, yet indulgent moment of self-care.”
Pacifica's Chill Baby Cooling Cryo Globes
Greenberg recommended this product. In addition to depuffing her eyes, “they add even more relaxation to my skin care routine," she said.
Ace Beauté Magnetic Eyelashes
“They’re easy to apply, no mess, no fuss — and they look fabulous,” said Vanessa Coppola, a family nurse practitioner and owner of Bare Aesthetic Medical Spa. “They make me feel so confident. When I'm wearing lashes, I feel like I can conquer the world.”
La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water Face Mist
"It feels so soothing on the skin and instantly gives it a boost,” Dr. Marisa Garshick said. “If I’m feeling particularly dry, I love spraying it and then applying my moisturizer on top to seal it in. The thermal spring water contains natural antioxidant properties, and it can be used by all skin types.”
A three-pack of Vaseline Healing Jelly
“I love that it immediately leaves my lips feeling healthy and refreshed, making it great when I'm on-the-go and for when my lips are dry and cracked,” Garshick said. “Not only is it good for the lips, it also gives them a nice and natural shine.”
The Ordinary Peeling Solution
“This is a great at-home option to help brighten the skin and leave it looking more radiant,” Garshick said. “I like to use it whenever my skin needs a boost.”
Kitsch Scalp Exfoliator
Hairstylist Jennifer Korab uses this to massage her scalp after shampooing, then follows up with the Redken's bonding mask (below).
Redken's Bonding Hair Mask
“This takes only five minutes and leaves my hair feeling soft, hydrated and silky,” said Korab.
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula
“The lotion is intensively moisturizing, and it contains cocoa butter and Vitamin E,” Veum said. “I started using it during my pregnancy to help with stretch marks, but I was so happy with it that I continued using it from that day on. A little style tip is that it also comes in a small 1.7 fl. oz. travel size."

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