Downsizing. Rising interest rates. Recession. All words that strike fear in the hearts of beauty product addicts. Rationally, you know that when you need to cut costs, eliminating $18 lip gloss and $35 shampoo is probably a good way to start. And to prove that good things come in small (priced) packages—and to keep you from getting overwhelmed by drugstore aisles full of products that you can't try before buying—we're kicking off a weekly series to help you figure out what's the best of budget beauty, and what's just plain cheap. And where better to start than with lip gloss…
For everyone: This was love at first swipe. Cover Girl Wetslicks Lip Gloss ($6.25) moisturizes better than my schmancy “lip treatments,” comes in 13 colors, feels smooth, and freshens my breath. I couldn't give it higher praise unless it paid my taxes and fielded phone calls from my mom.
For the nostalgic: Like Goonies and Ralph Macchio, I never stopped loving Bonne Bell's Smackers ($2.50-$4). They moisturize, they gloss, some of 'em have a hint of color, and, well… they taste good (I'm partial to Ice Creamies and Lip Sparkler). Plus, it's a family-owned company.
For the fickle: It's hard to say no to $1 lip gloss. So when you're feeling deprived by all this rational spending and need to go on a beauty bender, E.L.F. is the place to do it. You can pick up all seven shades of their Hypershine Gloss ($1) for less than one tube at a department store counter, and have a different treat every day of the week. Plus, your lips will shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.
For plump lovers: I give a very strong honorable mention to Wet n Wild's Mega Plump ($4). It looks great, though I'm a wee bit put off by the strong cinnamon scent. In fairness, this could just be because of a nasty experience with Goldschlager shots, so if you're not at risk of “I can't believe I did that” flashbacks, dive right in. It's in a groovy little tube, too.
If you're still willing to splurge on product hall of famers, check out our Beauty Bestsellers Guide.