Laura Kennedy’s favourite beauty products for under €10

If you can find something at €5 rather than €35, why on earth wouldn’t you?


As a teenager and later as a student, I coveted luxury beauty products with an ache so deep it felt as though it radiated from my skeleton. A friend I met during Leaving Cert year ignited the fire for beauty which still burns brightly in my heart and wallet (burns holes, that is). She came into school one day wearing the most obscene glittery green eyeshadow. I was moved in the same way that reading Shakespeare moves me. Her eyes seemed to glitter in iambic pentameter. “What is this magic?” I asked. She replied with that three letter word which still enraptures so many young women. “It’s MAC.”

Only at 18, I couldn’t afford MAC, and was consequently cast adrift in the sea of budget beauty in an attempt to find treasures. These days, budget beauty poses luxury stuff considerable competition. If you can find something at €5 rather than €35, why on earth wouldn’t you? Some of the best fun I’ve had has been on reconnaissance missions to Boots or the local pharmacy with a tenner in my pocket. It’s still some of the best fun to be had, except the choice is so much better now than it was when I was eighteen.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% Serum (€7.90 from

Frankly, I could simply list ten products from The Ordinary and have ten excellent affordable recommendations. The brand has taken the beauty world by storm for a reason – it offers luxury standard results at a whisper of the price. Glycolic acid is an excellent and widely used chemical exfoliant, but can be too intensive for some sensitive skins. Lactic acid is a far gentler alternative. This resurfaces skin without irritating, all while plumping and hydrating it with hyaluronic acid. The Ordinary is the only brand of its class on the market at the moment, and the products are almost universally rewarding budget buys.

Simple Kind to Eyes Eye Makeup Remover (€4.49)

If you are a lover of eyelash extensions (they minimise makeup application time and instantly give the face an open, polished look), you will know the nightmare of maintaining them. I will always remove makeup with an oil-based cleanser, but oil degrades the lash bond and will cause the extensions to fall out. This cleanser is gentle, affordable and effective, even with lash extensions, and comes recommended by famed  ‘London Lash Queen’ Daxita Vaghela. Even if you simply have sensitive eyes, it is a very useful product to have in the house.

L’Oréal Paris Brow Artist Plumper (€8.49)

This can be used over brow pencil or powder to set and enhance brows, or alone to add polish. It clings to the natural brow hairs to plump and enhance them, leaving a natural looking ‘good brow’ texture, even over other brow products. I’ll opt for this over expensive alternatives every time.

Dove Silk Glow Body Wash (€3.69)

While I will gleefully accept a fancy luxury body wash or shower gel as a gift, it just isn’t a priority purchase. That said, I still insist upon a luxuriant lather, high quality fragrance and non-drying effect. Most budget shower products with a good lather are drying and leave skin with that squeaky, catching feel when you run your finger across it. Dove manages to thoroughly clean skin without compromising its barrier. It feels infinitely more expensive to use than it really is.

Face Inc by Nails Inc CAT NAP Revitalising and Fatigue-Fighting Facial Sheet Mask (€6 from Boots and

Beloved nail brand Nails Inc has expanded into skincare and produced a range of fun and affordable sheet masks. This one is hydrating, refreshing, and looks absolutely terrifying on the face, which is tremendously enjoyable. You will find yourself jumping out at family members to frighten them. I particularly enjoy applying this on long-haul flights to prevent talkative flight companions from attempting conversation with me while preventing dry, uncomfortable skin.

Real Techniques Expert Concealer Brush (€9.99)

A good concealer brush is an invaluable tool for seamless blemish cover and blending undereye concealer to insure it is invisible. Real Techniques brushes are the perfect budget tool. The Expert Face Brush and Setting Brush are also notable heroes within the range.

VO5 Matt Clay (€5.49)

Finding good styling products for short hair which leave a natural finish can be challenging. This matte finish clay is a great unisex option. It adds lift and texture to the hair without leaving an obvious ‘product’ finish or sticky residue. For best results, use it sparingly.

NYX HD Studio Photogenic Concealer (€8)

I’ll usually spend as much as I can reasonably afford on concealer, since it’s a damage-control product that I keep in my handbag. However, budget alternatives are getting better every season, and this one from NYX is a fine replacement for several wallet-blasting luxury concealers. This product also comes in colour correcting tones like orange, green and lavender, making it a go-to range if you need a hardworking concealer. This finish is light on the skin, but the coverage is impressive.

Mixa Anti-Dryness Body Lotion (€8.95 for 200ml from Sam McCauley Chemists)

I confess that I have a violent aversion to coriander, so was disinclined to like this body lotion from French pharmacy brand Mixa. Despite the dubious addition of coriander oil (dubious only to those who share my distaste for the herb), it is splendid stuff. It does not smell at all like coriander, but more importantly has a light, instantly-absorbed texture and palpably soothes and moisturises skin. It looks humble, but is a sensational budget buy, and the range contains other body lotions (in case you don’t believe that it doesn’t smell like coriander).

Maybelline Color Sensational Blushed Nudes Lipstick (€10.49)

Alright, so I’m cheating a bit here, but if you search among the receipts, gremlins and errant bobby pins at the bottom of your handbag, and can find forty-nine cents, then technically you’re only spending a tenner. You didn’t know you had the forty-nine cents, after all, so it doesn’t count. This range of supremely wearable nudes is near perfect. Soft, wearable creamy texture and impressive pigment make the extra few cents worth it.

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