Budget beauty: Sali Hughes’s 50 best picks under £20

There has never been a better time in budget beauty. Generally speaking, it’s true that by 2022, “bad” products as we once knew them have all but disappeared from department store shelves and high streets. In fact, research, innovation, and technology in the field of beauty have advanced so rapidly that a cheap beauty product launched now is likely to be of materially higher quality than a luxury product launched 10 years ago.

The dramatically improved performance of modern beauty products made this year’s special offer an even greater joy to compile and, given the financial climate, a more useful and necessary endeavor. What we spend on should work.

As a co-founder of the Beauty Banks charity, I know what products struggling families really need to keep going: shampoo, soap, shower gel, nappies, sanitary protection, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant and the like.

The picks in this roundup represent something else entirely: little extras that work just as well or even better than their premium or luxury counterparts. They are for those in the fortunate position of being able to treat themselves with beauty, but perhaps looking to cut back on spending in times of scarcity. This absolutely can be done with little difference in performance.

Each of the articles that follow, for body, skin, and hair, is outstanding in its field and well worth your precious extra money.

Palmer’s Retexture Renew Body Lotion 400ml, £6.99
What was already hands down the best affordable body lotion for treating flaky upper arms and pimples is now even better. Exfoliating lactic acid lifts dead skin and smooths texture, while cocoa butter and coconut oil hydrate underneath. Smells weird but works great. I won’t be without it.

Marks & Spencer Provenance Greek Olive Bath & Shower Gel 500ml, £5.25
In general, my daily showers are cheap and functional, my less frequent baths are a more luxurious and decadent affair, but this new gem from M&S combines the two. It bubbles profusely, is skin friendly, smells delicious, and comes in a huge bottle that lasts for years. An innocent luxury at the end of a tiring day.

Sainsbury’s Sun Protect Sensitive Skin Spray 200ml, £4.50
Sunscreen is vital for every family, but the cost adds up. Sainsbury’s makes a very good, non-irritating, reasonably priced sunscreen that I wouldn’t hesitate to slather on my own children.

Soft Ventilate gel sock, two pairs €9.99
If you suffer from dry, cracked heels that cause discomfort or pain or even bleed, these will be life changing. Just put it on at night when your heels are suffering, or just getting ready for sandal weather, either on bare skin or with a foot cream like Flexitol. The difference in just a couple of nights of use is dramatic. Machine washable.

St Moriz Professional Tanning Mousse, 200ml, £4.99
St Moriz makes the best budget self tanner by a mile. In fact, it’s better than many brands that cost four times the price. This mousse is easy to apply (always exfoliate and moisturize dry spots first) and gives a nice, even golden glow that lasts for about three days. Apply with a cheap glove to avoid orange wrists.

Garnier Intensive 7 Days body lotion with probiotic shea butter extract for dry skin 400 ml, €2.62
An excellent, pleasantly scented, well-absorbed body lotion for problem-free skin that needs moderate daily moisturization. Very dry-skinned people crave more oil, but balanced folks who dislike buttery ointments will love their non-greasy, cushiony smoothness.

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