Best cheap makeup brands

12 of the best cheap makeup brands that prove you don’t need to spend a fortune to look great

13th September 2020 | Author: Libby Mewes

With so many makeup brands and products to choose from, it can feel almost impossible to know the life-changers from the money-wasters.

For example, the best makeup brushes are near-on useless you’re using the best foundation for your skin type; and there’s no point spending a fortune on the best primer if you’re not putting the right products on top.

READ NEXT: Best cheap makeup tried and tested by our editors

What’s more, it’s a fallacy that you have to spend big money to get the best makeup. There are some amazing cheap makeup brands that rival, and often outdo, designer and premium firms so we’ve put together this guide to help you find the best affordable makeup for you.

Each of these brands have been tried and tested by our team of writers and editors.

Best cheap makeup brands

    1. Revolution Beauty London
    2. e.l.f Cosmetics
    3. MUA Makeup Academy
    4. Wet n Wild Beauty
    5. Wilko Body Collection
    6. NYX Professional Makeup
    7. Maybelline New York
    8. Rimmel London
    9. Collection Cosmetics
    10. Benefit San Francisco
    11. Nip + Fab Makeup

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Save money on high-end makeup in our makeup sale roundup

1. Revolution Beauty London

Explore the full Revolution Beauty range

Cheap Makeup in UK RevolutionRevolution

Why we love it: When it comes to a good all-rounder, cheap makeup brand, Revolution Beauty is one of the best.

Its eyeshadow palettes are hugely popular with YouTube and Instagram influencers despite costing around £4, while its foundation doesn’t cost much more yet matches the likes of Estée Lauder and MAC.

Under the Revolution Beauty name, there are six individual brands including: XX Revolution, Revolution, I Heart Revolution, Revolution Skincare, Revolution PRO and Makeup Obsession.

  • XX Revolution combines the brand’s experience and research in a range of cosmetics full of skincare ingredients that boost your skin while enhancing your beauty. The ultimate multi-purpose makeup
  • Revolution, which was previously known as Makeup Revolution, launched in 2014 and its Conceal & Define Foundation and Concealer are still bestsellers.
  • Revolution PRO offers a “curated collection of hero cosmetics” and typically costs a little more
  • The I Heart Revolution range is said to showcase “the fun, playful side of beauty” with quirky packaging
  • Revolution Skincare is one of the newer brands which gives the likes of The Ordinary and Q+A a run for their money
  • Makeup Obsession is the trend-led part of the brand which features palettes aimed at, and designed by, social media stars

You can read more about why we love Revolution Beauty so much in our Brand Spotlight, where we also highlight the best Revolution products. 

The rest of the bestsellers section on Revolution Beauty’s website features products that almost exclusively available fo £10 or less. The brand also offers a 10% student discount. It provides good quality with great pricing, and Revolution knows what to do to bring you back for more.

WANT TO KNOW MORE: The best Revolution Beauty products tried and tested by us

Explore Revolution's range

2. e.l.f Cosmetics

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Why we love it: If you’re after the best cheap makeup brand that means you don’t have to sacrifice on the quality of its ingredients, then look no further than e.l.f.

E.l.f is an acronym for Eyes Lips Face and it’s a Californian company set up by Joseph Shamah and Scott Vincent Borba in 2004.

The mission behind the brand was to produce high-quality, vegan-friendly, cruelty-free makeup that doesn’t break the bank.

Since launch, e.l.f has gone live in 18 countries and has become a social media favourite with more than half the company’s sales coming from its website, which doubles as a social networking site. You can read more about why we love e.l.f Cosmetics so much and discover the best e.l.f products in our Brand Spotlight.

What’s more, it has been leading the clean beauty trend for years having being one of the first brands to remove phthalates, parabens, nonylphenol ethoxylates, triclosan, triclocarban, and hydroquinone from its makeup range. Its skincare is also free from sulphates. You can read more about clean beauty and the danger of sulphates and SLS in our guides. 

WANT TO KNOW MORE: The best e.l.f products you need in your collection

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3. MUA Makeup Academy

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MUA Makeup Academy Cheap makeup UKMUA Makeup Academy

Why we love it: A brand that strives to integrate, educate and innovate both itself and its customers, MUA Makeup Academy is a standout cheap makeup brand.

Its range is 100% cruelty-free with many of its products being vegan, too.

MUA does every kind of makeup from a £2.50 dewy cream blush to the best £5 eyeshadow palettes for any kind of occasion.

The cheap makeup brand also does glorious glitter for all your party and festival needs.

Explore MUA's range

4. Wet n Wild

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Why we love it: Whereas many of the other brands in this list you may recognise from the high street, you may not have heard of Wet n Wild.

With the exception of select Boots stores, Wet n Wild is sold almost exclusively online in the UK and this means it doesn’t necessarily get the exposure it deserves.

From bright, highly pigmented palettes to its large selection of mascaras, makeup brushes, eyeliners and lipsticks – among many other products – the US brand well and truly takes the game to the premium, designer beauty brands in terms of choice, versatility and performance.

Very few items in its collection come in at more than £6. Seriously. Even its foundations are £5.95, while lip pencils are £2, eyeliners are £3 and mascaras average at around £4.

Its makeup looks great and is easy to apply. It doesn’t offer the staying power as some of the other cheap makeup brands in this list but if you invest in the best setting spray, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Explore Wet n Wild's range

5. Wilko Body Collection makeup

Explore the Wilko Body Collection makeup range

Why we love it: Wilko may not be the first choice when you think about buying makeup but let us assure you, it’s a treasure trove of hidden gems. Wilko, generally, makes fantastic products at affordable prices.

In a past life we’ve tested air fryers, slow cookers and more and Wilko consistently beat off competition from much more expensive rivals. Every time. And now it’s doing the same with its Body Collection makeup range.

Despite its name, the collection is full of products for your face. Almost 100 of them, in fact and the majority come in at just £2. The most expensive product is a Huda Beauty eyeshadow dupe which comes in at just £6.

The full collection includes mascara, eyeliners, matte and glossy lipsticks, foundation, eyeshadow palettes, highlighters and more. Plus, every item in this range is vegan and cruelty-free!

Like with a lot of products in this range, the makeup looks great and is easy to apply but the sacrifice you make is that it doesn’t offer the staying power more expensive products. This isn’t a huge issue because it will last the day at least – it may just need touching up if you’re then heading out in the evening.

And as we’ve said before, investing in the best setting spray with the money you’ve saved on makeup will solve this problem!

Explore Wilko's range

6. NYX Professional Makeup

Explore the NYX Professional Makeup range

NYX makeupNYX

Why we love it: Set up in 1999 by Korean-born businesswoman, Toni Ko with a vision to create high-quality, affordable beauty products the brand exceeded $2million in its first year. It’s now owned by L’Oreal and calls itself a ‘digital first’ brand, being incredibly active and popular on social media, particularly Instagram.

Elsewhere, it’s cruelty-free, vegan-friendly and affordable without sacrificing on pigment, quality and a long-lasting finish. It’s also a market leader when it comes to diversity and inclusivity.

In 2018, the brand increased its ‘Can’t Stop Won’t Stop’ foundation range to 45 different shades which is extremely rare for any makeup brand, let alone one that’s so affordable.

Arguably one of NYX’s most favoured products is its matte setting spray, it costs just £7 and is one of the best setting sprays on the market. This quality is reflected in much of the brand as a whole and is a major part of what makes NYX Professional Makeup so popular.

The prices are highly affordable and the website is easy to use, making NYX absolutely worth mentioning in our best cheap makeup list.

NYX’s Ultimate eyeshadows are so good they also make our list of the best eyeshadow palettes. In fact, NYX Professional Makeup regularly crops up in our various Best Buys lists. You can read more about why we love the NYX Professional Makeup brand so much in our Brand Spotlight

WANT TO KNOW MORE: Our absolute must-have NYX Professional Makeup products

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 7. Maybelline New York

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Maybelline makeupMaybelline

Why we love it:  Maybelline is one of the oldest beauty brands; its make-up is sold worldwide and it boasts more than 200 different, affordable, products.

One of the firm favourites that (probably) almost every mascara user has tried is its Lash Sensational mascara, it sits happily in the £5-£7 price bracket and lasts for ages on the lashes.

We’re also big fans of the Maybelline Colossal Volum’ Express mascara which features in our best mascara list.

However, there is so much more to Maybelline than its extensive range of mascara. It excels across its entire range and offers a versatile selection of products to suit almost every cosmetic need, look, and skin type.

We previously included its Tattoo Brow range in our guide on how to get thicker eyebrows, and its Maybelline Dream Fresh BB cream is absolutely perfect for oily skin – and these are just two examples.

If you’re keen to give Maybelline makeup a whirl, but don’t know which products will suit you best the brand has a great virtual try-on tool.

Explore Maybelline's range

8. Rimmel London

Explore the Rimmel London range


Rimmel London makeupRimmel London

Why we love it: If you’re looking for a brand that can give you the best quality makeup from foundations, to nail varnish, and back to eyeliner – Rimmel is the cheap makeup brand for you.

It’s a staple in all UK cosmetics shops and produces some of the most reliable, affordable and durable makeup there is.

In particular, its match-perfection loose powder does exactly as it suggests, and with the promise of lasting up to 14 days, its super gel nail varnish absolutely delivers (and comes in an impressive 35 colours). We’re also big fans of its 60 Seconds Super Shiny polish, which features in our best nail varnish list.

Explore Rimmel's range

 9. Collection Cosmetics 

Explore the Collection Cosmetics range

Why we love it: One of the most appealing features of Collection’s products, and the brand in general, is that every item of make-up is entirely vegan-friendly and hasn’t been tested on animals.

Collection’s lasting perfection concealer is a firm favourite with bloggers, vloggers and pretty much everyone (it remains Collection’s best-selling product).

It provides excellent coverage and lasts (as the name suggests) all day – it’s also a bargain at only £4.19. Its most expensive bestseller costs only £5.99, truly an affordable brand.

Explore Collection's range

10. Benefit San Francisco

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Benefit Best cheap makeup brandBenefit

Why we love it: Benefit is a slightly more expensive brand than others on this cheap makeup list but still affordable. It prides itself on creating durable, beautiful and necessary makeup.

Plus, in the interests of ease, it has created many packages to save you having to buy products individually. For example, its feathered brow kit contains everything you’ll need to get thicker eyebrows.

READ NEXT: Every Benefit mascara ranked

Benefit also provides travel-size miniatures of some of its best-selling products like its famous Hoola bronzer and POREfressional face primer meaning you can try the products, usually for half price, without shelling out for full-size models.

Check out our best mascara list for more information on Benefit’s brilliant They’re Real! range and see what happened when we ranked every single Benefit mascara from best to worst.

Explore Benefit's range


11. Nip + Fab Makeup

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Why we love it: As the little sister brand of Rodial, Nip+Fab offers great, affordable quality.

It’s renowned for its skincare and Nip+Fab’s makeup range is an extension of this range. Both Rodial and Nip+Fab offer a wide range of makeup, from primers, setting spray, foundation, concealer, eyeshadow pallets, blusher sets, powder and liquid highlighters…you name it Nip+Fab have it.

Nip +Fab’s price range is similar to that of Revolution and e.l.f and you can find Nip+Fab makeup in Superdrug and online. Foundations cost around a tenner, palettes are £15, lipsticks are around £8.

In terms of coverage, the brand offers 10 shades of liquid concealer and six high-coverage concealers along with four colour correctors, and seven shades of foundation.

This may seem like a really small number but Nip+Fab has created a foundation mixer – available in either dark or light – and this helps you get your perfect shade. This is a particularly great buy when moving between summer and winter, when our skin tone changes.

READ NEXT: How to find your perfect foundation match

Elsewhere, Nip+Fab offers 10 matte liquid lipsticks and five lip toppers that give you an added shimmer or iridescent look. The matte liquid lipsticks apply on like a gloss but dry as a matte, and it does all this without being drying on the lips. Not sure what shade will suit you? Take a look at our guide on What colour lipstick suits me?

The only downside is that the brand doesn’t sell a mascara – you can read our best drugstore mascara list if you’re on the look out for one, though.

Explore the Nip + Fab range


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