From lip balm to top coats to hair ties, these are our favorite low-cost beauty necessities.

Share story

As testers of beauty products, we see (and drool over) all of the latest face masks, shiny lip colors and scientifically advanced face serums. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they will make it into our daily routines.

In fact, some of our most beloved beauty products are actually the antithesis of glamorous — what some would even call “boring.”

Here are the budget-friendly staples that are the bread and butter of our daily routines.

Eos Lip Balm in Vanilla Bean ($4.49 at “A lot of other lip balms remedy dryness in the moment but don’t last long enough to keep chapped lips at bay. This all-natural balm boasts a blend of shea butter and jojoba oil that actually softens dry lips and offers deeper hydration that lasts for hours.” — Dacy Knight, weekend editor

Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($5 for 3.5 ounces at Target). “Growing up, my severe eczema-prone skin needed a savior. Aside from my prescription cream, my doctor recommended that I try Aquaphor to soothe my dry, inflamed skin. It instantly calms my irritated problem spots and erases any signs of dryness.” — Maya Allen, assistant editor

Tangle Teezer The Original Detangling Brush ($12 at “My hair is super-prone to breakage. The only thing that’s ever truly made a difference is my Tangle Teezer. I use it right out of the shower because it’s so gentle and eliminates tangles without ripping any of your hair out.” — Hallie Gould, senior editor

James Read Tanning Mitt ($6.50 at Bluemercury, U District). “I have been a self-professed self-tanning addict for years now… and this, my friends, is the Tesla of all tanning mitts. Not only is application far smoother than any other product I’ve tried, but the mitt itself is so unbelievably soft that you almost forget you’re doing something as mundane as covering yourself in bronze mousse.” — Erin Jahns, assistant editor

Essie Gel Couture Top Coat ($11 at drugstores). “As someone who has done her own nails since kindergarten, I’ve tried my fair share of top coats over the years. And this one by Essie has blown away the competition in every regard. It dries fast, boasts an impeccably glossy finish, and keeps my manicure looking brand-new for weeks on end.” — Erin Jahns

Q-tips Cotton Swabs Precision Tip ($3 at drugstores). “My favorite way to clean up any edges [on my eyeliner] is to dip a Q-tip in micellar water. I especially love these ones because the tips taper to a point and allow you to get really precise with exactly how much makeup you want to remove and where.” — Faith Xue, editorial director

Bioderma Sensibio H20 ($15 at “After the hundredth model told me she loves Bioderma, I figured it was time I gave it a try. I really don’t understand how this magical water is able to remove all my eye makeup in one swipe. I love how hydrating it feels, and I’ve found that soaking a cotton pad in it and wiping it across my face leaves my skin feeling clean without washing.” — Faith Xue

Differin Acne Treatment Gel ($11 at “My skin is very acne-prone, and I’ve tried every spot treatment you can imagine. Nothing keeps my acne in check like Differin. My acne dramatically decreases in size and redness when I apply it the night before.” — Audrey Noble, associate editor

Ole Henriksen So Nurturing Cleansing Cloths ($15 for 30 at Sephora). “In addition to smelling nice, [these cleansing cloths] never irritate, dehydrate or break out my acne-prone, sensitive skin, and they effortlessly take off my face and eye makeup with minimal rubbing or tugging.” — Erin Jahns

Goody Thin Black Hair Elastics ($3.39 at “Since my hair is highlighted, prone to breakage and on the thin side, I have to choose hair ties carefully. I’ve relied on these skinny ones from Goody for years now, and I like the neutral variation in colors so that the tie can virtually disappear into my hair when I want it to.” — Erin Jahns