This is a very late follow-up to a video I made last year that you guys seemed to enjoy: Top 10 Drugstore Makeup Favourites. At the time, I asked if you guys would be interested in seeing another Top 10 list of affordable tools, skincare, nail stuff and hair products and a lot of you said yes… so here it is – it’s only taken me a year to write it!
Real Techniques Brushes
I couldn’t possibly choose just one, so I’m recommending the whole range! But there are certainly a few specific tools from the range that I think are just as good as the more expensive alternatives. For foundation, not much beats the Expert Face Brush (R180) for flawless, effortless coverage. Certain foundations work better with beauty sponges though and I’m a devoted fan of the Miracle Complexion Sponge (R130) for helping to work in heavier formulas and seamlessly blend in concealer. The tapered shape of the Blush Brush (R200) makes it brilliant for blush and bronzer, because the tip picks up the pigment while the rest of the bristles blend it into the skin with minimal elbow grease. Last but not least, a brush I use every single time I apply makeup, is the Setting Brush (R105). This small, fluffy brush is ideal for precision placement of powder on small parts of the face, like under the eyes, on the nose and on the chin. In my opinion, it’s far superior to using a massive brush and dusting powder all over as it gives a much more natural, multi-dimensional finish to the skin.
Garnier Sensitive Micellar Cleansing Water
As micellar waters go, this budget option from Garnier is a real winner, in terms of performance AND cost. At the princely sum of R80 for 400ml (Bioderma is R190 for 250ml), it won’t break the bank and as far as I’m concerned it does the same thing. For the uninitiated, micellar waters are gentle make-up removers that don’t need to be rinsed off, so they’re great for backstage, late nights, traveling and exhausted moms. They can also be used to refresh or lightly cleanse the skin (e.g. in the morning or after gym), as the formula dissolves impurities and draws out grime without drying out the pores, leaving the face clean and hydrated. This Garnier version (there’s also a PureActive one for combo skin) isn’t necessarily going to be suitable for all skin sensitivities (I’d say Bioderma is more foolproof) but at that price, it’s worth a shot.
Essence Express Dry Drops
You know the saying that a woman is only helpless while her nail polish is drying? Well, we’ve all been there. One of my pet hates is completing a perfect at-home manicure and then smudging my nails on my jeans or jamming a fingertip into a piece of furniture by mistake. Luckily for me that doesn’t happen very often because I discovered these amazing Express Dry Drops (R45) a couple of years ago and have never looked back. You squirt a couple of drops out of the pipette, onto each nail, and a couple of minutes later your nails will be 100% dry; no stickiness, no smudging, no sheet prints. It also doesn’t appear to have an adverse effect on the wear time of my polish. The ingredients list is a series of unpronounceable chemicals so I’m sure it’s not the best thing to be putting on your skin/nails but it sure does work!
Blistex DCT Lip Balm
Everyone has a favourite lip balm, and I won’t lie, my taste tends to run to the more luxury end of the scale (Nuxe, Elizabeth Arden, Jo Malone). Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with a lot of the options at the “drugstore” and Blistex makes some of the best. DCT (Daily Conditioning Treatment) (R69) is made from a combination of aloe, vitamin E and cocoa butter, as well as SPF 20, so it smells great, keeps lips soft and moisturised, and protects the fragile skin from the sun. Aquaphor is also good but I don’t find it quite as nourishing as DCT (and it doesn’t have SPF) – it’s more a straight-up barrier product.
Bioderma Photoderm Max Aquafluide SPF 50+
I know I already mentioned this product in a post this week but I couldn’t write a list of drugstore superstars without mentioning it. The Aquafluide (R199) ticks all the boxes for my skin: it’s lightweight, it’s mattifying, it contains a good level of SPF and it’s oil free. It also comes in two different tinted versions so if you’re looking to combine your sunscreen with your makeup, this would be a great way to do it. Bioderma also makes a number of other great sunscreens in their Photoderm range, including cream, spray, compact, stick and milk formulations for every preference and skin type. Out of interest, Avène and Eucerin also make excellent facial sunscreens at more affordable prices.
COLAB Dry Shampoo
I’m starting to feel a bit repetitive, banging on about my favourite dry shampoo the whole time! But I can’t rave about it enough – I think it must be one of my most often repurchased beauty products. To be fair, I use it extremely liberally so I tend to power through a bottle rather quickly but since it’s fairly affordable (R90) I don’t feel too guilty about that. In case you’ve somehow missed my many mentions of COLAB on this blog, all you really need to know is that it is an invisible formula that absorbs oil without creating a dusty residue or build-up in the hair. It comes in a variety of fragrances, my favourites being Monaco and London. Note that I don’t like the Extreme Volume variant – I find it too sticky, especially at the roots.
Schick Hydro Silk Razor
Gillette have done a fabulous marketing job with the Venus razors but take my word for it, this 5-blade razor from Schick (R130) is SO much better. The moisturising strips above and below the blades truly help to lubricate the skin, and the curved, rubberised handle is really comfortable to hold. But the real reason that it’s the best razor I’ve ever used is because it gives you a perfectly close shave – you *think* you’ve experienced a close shave but something about this razor is just on another level. I challenge you to give it a try and let me know if you also think it’s better than the Venus razor (they cost about the same).
Fudge Urban Sea Salt Spray
Almost every single time that I wash my hair, I add a texturising spray of some kind to it before drying. It’s the single most effective way for me to add volume and texture to my super smooth, fine, slippy locks, which makes it look less straight, flat and thin. Volume is a big deal to me, and I’ve tried many texturising sprays in my time to achieve it. H&M actually make a fantastic one called The Thick of It Volume Spray but as that’s not available in SA, the next best thing is the Fudge Urban Sea Salt Spray (R130). It smells like something from my childhood (vanilla milkshake maybe?) and has a very fine mist so you don’t get those crispy chunks of hair in between other pieces of hair that have no product on them. The result is very natural and fairly subtle, but you can always add more product if you want a more “roughed up” effect. Another thing I love is that I usually have to brush through my hair after applying sea salt spray to ensure even distribution but with this stuff, I don’t need to. It also adds grip to the hair; the essential step in creating curls that last in fine hair.
L’Oréal Hair Expertise Pure Riche Nourishing & Taming Shampoo
Sorry, this is another one I go on about rather a lot. I’ll freely admit that I love the smell of this shampoo more than anything – it’s got a sweet almond scent that I find irresistible (see here for proof). It’s a sulphate-free formula that’s technically supposed to be for “dry, rebellious hair” which is basically the opposite of my hair but it somehow works nonetheless. It’s really rich but it doesn’t leave any residue in the hair so it’s nourishing without being dulling down shine. L’Oréal owns Pureology and the trickle-down theory dictates that the formulas are probably fairly similar, making the Hair Expertise range a seriously good option if you don’t want to spend big bucks on haircare but would prefer a suphate-free product. It’s not the cheapest shampoo on the market (R130) but it’s literally half the price of Pureology. The range also caters for colour-treated (Pure Colour) and fragile hair (Ever Strong).
The Body Shop Body Butters
I have a life-long love affair with The Body Shop body butters (R170), and even though they’ve recently been de-throned from the number one spot by The Skin Creamery Everyday Cream, that’s not exactly a drugstore option. They remain one of the most brilliant body moisturisers that money can buy, and the staggering assortment of fragrances is growing every season. The texture is rich and nourishing without being greasy, and they keep your skin moisturised all day long. My personal favourites are Fijian Water Lotus, Fuji Green Tea, and Shea. Keep your eyes peeled for one of the regular Body Shop sales because you can stock up in bulk and save a boatload in the process.
I can’t quite stop at ten so here are a few more products in this category worth mentioning:
Aussie 3-Minute Miracle (R85)
Cettua Sheet Masks (R36)
Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover (R110)
L’Oreal Elnett Satin Hairspray Extra Strength (R75)
Julienne 45 Day Permascara (R100)
What other affordable hair products, nail goodies, skincare and beauty tools would you recommend?