What’s the Best Makeup Purchase You Can Make for $5 or Less?

Published in: Just For Fun

Truth is, there are tons of great budget beauty products out there, but here’s one I like for $3.49: Essence Gel Eyeliners.


Have you tried ’em before? They’re so great! — waterproof, smudge-proof, super smooth and easy to apply. And they’re like the Hulk once you get them on your lids. They absolutely will not budge unless you ask really, really nicely.

I’m in a thick cat eye liner phase, so these have been my jam lately. I’ve been alternating them with the MAC Fluidlines and NARS Eye Paints to make the pricier products last longer.

I mean, $3.49! That’s less than Starbucks, and they’re available all over the place — drugstores, Ulta and online.

Which reminds me, an Ulta store is opening a few miles away from me in San Rafael. Actually, it might be open right now… I think this calls for a quick trip. 🙂

What’s the most bad-@ss sub-$5 makeup product you can think of? Or, if you can do it, combination of products that add up to $5 or less? And sure, sales and eBay deals count.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Some cheap lip liners that I really love are collection 2000, They have come in really handy and have often excelled where my MAC ones haven’t! worth a look.

    Jess x

  2. Noon says:

    Wet n Wild Coloricon palette in Comfort Zone. God it has some of the most wonderful eyeshadow shades and wears so nicely.
    Noon recently posted … nailed it!

  3. Alison M says:

    I totally need to try them! I also like their clear brow gel. Total bargain and doesn’t leave me crunchy. The Jordana Balm Stains are also Nice and I love Ardell lashes. And of course there’s the NYX Butter Glosses. Yummmm!
    Alison M recently posted … Emerald and Navy Eyes

  4. bin du says:

    essence I <3 extreme crazy volume mascara. I get it for $4.99 CAD and it is amazing. Works just like Benefit's 'They're Real' mascara but you don't have to scrub your eyes to remove it! My only gripe is that (similarly to most essence products) the mascara doesn't come sealed and unfortunately its hard to tell if a mascara has been used

  5. Allison says:

    I love essence gel liner. In fact, my favorite is a green-grey shade that I bought a few months ago. Actually, essence has a whole bunch of stuff for less than $5 that really good including my personal favorites: I Love Crazy Extreme Volume Mascara for $4.99 and gel-look topcoat for $3.49 or maybe less. The trouble is they are not available everywhere, everywhere. In New England, essence is sold only at Ulta, and there aren’t that many Ultas around here. I was dying for their new moisturizing lipstick line in the black cases, but those are only sold at Fred Meyer, boo hoo. More stores should carry essence!
    Allison recently posted … ipsy bag November 2013: Bull’s-eye!

  6. Jenn says:

    It’s not a makeup product, but the elf Powder Brush is amazingly soft ($3 at Target). I use it for liquid foundations or setting powder application. It’s dense enough to do both!

  7. Mika says:

    The Revlon super lustrous lipsticks, old school and still the best.

  8. Kristy says:

    Thank you so much for this! I read the review you wrote of these, and now I ***MUST*** have London Baby. Its stunning!!!!

  9. Jen says:

    True makeup product under $5 is tough. But I can’t live without these <$5 companion items: blotting sheets and Blistix in the green/blue tube.

  10. kirti13 says:

    My favourite below $5 product had to be the Rimmel scandaleyes eye pencil in Nude!

  11. Heidi says:

    I hardly ever spend money to get the more expensive nail polishes, except for the mini sets. I don’t find that they last longer the more you pay. I love the Fast Dry Polishes from Wet n Wild. I’ve had a couple that lasted two weeks without chipping! Unheard of in my world!

  12. Mary says:

    Jordana Balm Stains for sure.

  13. breyerchic04 says:

    Wet N Wild Silent Treatment eyeshadows. My other drugstore obsessions (a lip product, foundation, and mascara are right around $7)

  14. Essence gel liners looks worth a shot..I am sure I wont repent buying thosee.. Will grab them on my next visit! and yes The Wet n Wild Eye shadows too.. 🙂
    Poo@beautyandmakeupmatters recently posted … Doubts Discussion: How to Sharpen NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils?

  15. Gowthami says:

    Wet and Wild products and ELF 🙂
    Gowthami recently posted … 10 Best Drugstore Moisturizers for Oily Acne Prone Skin

  16. Vineetha says:

    I think I will go with wet n wild eyeshadows!
    Vineetha recently posted … Carol’s Daughter – 40% Off sale!

  17. Lulle says:

    Jordana Twist and Shine Balm Stain, Almay liquid lip balm, Maybelline nail polish, Wet n Wild Megalast lipsticks, Wet n Wild Nutty eyeshadow are the first that come to mind!
    Lulle recently posted … Perfection for $3.49: Jordana Twist and Shine Moisturizing Balm Stain in Terra Crave

  18. sahana says:

    No I have tried them. But I want to, but I don’t they are available where I stay.
    sahana recently posted … La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo In India | Review, Swatches, Price, Ingredients

  19. Geena says:

    Wet n Wild megalast nail polish is awesome…!

  20. Leslie says:

    Glad you through in their eBay sales! My fave which is no longer available, is the Revlon Age Defying Moisturizing Concealer which I find on Amazon for less than 5 bucks! HOLLA AT YOUR GIRL!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE! Thanks, Leslie

  21. Tennyoceres says:

    Nyx lipsticks. I buy them by handfuls (thanks BOGO 50% sales at Ulta) even though they normally go for $3.99. A nice way to dip your toes into trendy or new colors without breaking the bank. Opaque, decent wear time (4-5 hours), and can handle hot temperatures in the bag.
    Tennyoceres recently posted … Denver Broncos

  22. Brittnee says:

    That UTLA is open! I saw it on Juicy Beaty’s instagram (random) and it looks like a really nice store!! And like a BIG one! All good things!

  23. kwmechelle says:

    Definitely the wet n’ wild lipstick in Stoplight Red (911D)is hands-down the BEST red lipstick EVER! It’s supposedly a dupe for MAC’s Ruby Woo- except it’s not drying. I’m not a fan of the Ruby Woo lipstick because it dries my lips to the Sahara desert. #NotCute

    The WNW color is moisturizing without compromising on the color payoff, texture, and wear. It’s almost always sold out or at least only one tube left whenever I go to my local drugstore to get it. It’s THAT serious. And for only $2.99, you can’t beat that! I’d encourage anyone to look this one up. A true blue red that compliments any complexion. And for reference, I’m an NC50 in MAC. 🙂

  24. Denise S says:

    Jordana lipstick balms and pen eyeliners are great, they rival high end products for 3-4 dollars.

  25. Rachel P. says:

    Hmm, $5 or less… I used to ONLY make those kinds of purchases, but in recent years, I’ve really loosened up my purse strings! Something I still grab for cheap are the FX hair products you can get in Walgreens/Walmart/Meijer… cheap silkening serum, beach spray, etc. Got2B also has some similar deals under $5 that hold up pretty nicely! Also, Sinful Colors has some awesome nail polishes for cheeeeaaappp. $1-$3, at most. Like, CRAZY good for how cheap they are. I’ve found their formulas to be consistently professional-looking, which I did not expect at first, but when I saw how nice they looked, I went back for a bunch more! Picking out a new nail polish that’s cheaper than lunch is always a good feeling. Sephora-brand or “by/for Sephora” nail polish is also a winner- they go on sale for about $4 a lot. Yay!

  26. Kylie says:

    Definitely elf’s eyeshadow primer! Helps my shadows stay on as long as TooFaced’s!

  27. sasha says:

    My favorite item under $5 is the jordana lash extreme mascara for $2.99! I don’t buy higher end mascaras anymore, on me, its almost as good as the lancome hypnose drama. The wnw eyeshadows would be a close 2nd.

  28. Iris says:

    Essence has great products! I really liked their face powder and eye primer (both under $5).

  29. Amber says:

    I’m in love with E.L.F.’s Bronzer blush duo. It’s supposed to be a dupe for NARS Laguna/Orgasm. Idk how close they are, but the E.L.F. one looks amazing on! I got mine for $3 at Target. I’ve been wanting to try Wet n Wild Comfort Zone for awhile. I may pick it up now!

  30. Ashleigh says:

    A recent pleasantly good AND cheap find($2.99) was the Maybelline baby lips Dr Rescue in just peachy. I was looking for a tinted balm and this one delivers better than products I’ve paid $10+ for. Feels great on the lips, hydrating, minty, and a color payoff that is gorgeous with my fair skintone. I’m definitely picking up more colors soon.

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