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.
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.
WANT TO KNOW MORE? Save money on high-end makeup in our makeup sale roundup
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.
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
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.
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
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.
The cheap makeup brand also does glorious glitter for all your party and festival needs.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Libby graduated from Bournemouth University with a degree in Multimedia Journalism. She’s worked as a researcher and writer for Heart Radio as well as a features writer for a Somerset newspaper. She’s since taken time out to travel, manage a hotel restaurant, do a lot of dog walking, and now works in London’s West End