By Sali Hughes
In a crowded market, the Guardian’s beauty editor picks her most reliable bargain buys
It’s been four years since my last bargain special, and since then, there’s been a seismic shift in high street beauty. While I wasn’t quite grappling around for decent products for inclusion then, I was more reliant on the tried and tested stalwarts that had either invented a category (Batiste dry shampoo) or at least defined one (L’Oreal Elnett hairspray). This time, advances in science, consumer knowledge and appetite for innovative, effective and sophisticated products (thanks to brands like The Ordinary and Beauty Pie), and the increased affordability of quality ingredients, means I’ve been spoilt for choice. So much so, that I’ve been able to lower the qualifying budget from £20 to £15, and still had so many worthy contenders that after three months of playing with products, my long list means we’re having to run over two weeks. Today is makeup, hair and nails. Next week: skincare and body products.
One of the biggest and most gratifying changes since my first special in 2013 has been the decision, that year, to ban animal testing in the EU, effectively meaning that now only brands sold in China, where animal testing is mandatory, cannot be considered cruelty free. You’ll see a ‘CF’ next to those here who don’t, at the time of writing, distribute there. These are also more difficult times for bricks and mortar retailers but nonetheless, I believe that beauty should be as democratic as possible, and so I’ve deliberately skewed towards products that are available nationwide, rather than hard-to-find cult buys. As is always the case, everything here has been chosen without any commercial consideration.