Splurge On: Facial Moisturizer
"Your moisturizer is absorbed into the skin and acts as a base for every other product being applied," says celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic. "A great moisturizer can also provide a ton of added benefits to your skin." Think anti-aging properties, antioxidants, and essential oils that match skin tones ranging from very dry to very oily.
"Moisturizer is the best product to spend a little extra money on, especially when you are trying to fight aging and erase damage," says makeup artist Carmindy, makeup host on TLC's hit show What Not to Wear. "Higher-end creams are usually loaded up with clinically tested ingredients that really work. My favorite line is SkinCeuticals."
Try SkinCeuticals Face Cream, $140; skinceuticals.com
Save On: Shampoo and Conditioner
"If you know what to buy, you can absolutely get a great hair-care product from a drugstore or grocery store," says Angelo David, of The Angelo David Salon in New York City. "A classically good shampoo and conditioner to buy at your drugstore is anything from the Pantene Pro-V line. They come in formulas for every hair type: for normal, oily, or dry hair; for curly, fine, thick hair, or color-treated hair; theyve got something for everyone!"
Splurge On: Good Brushes
"You usually get what you pay for with brushes," says makeup artist Marni Giannotti. "The drugstore has your basic brushes, but they're usually made with cheap, synthetic hair, which doesn't lend to a great application. Cheap brushes also fall apart a lot quicker, leaving you with brush hairs on your skin after application.
"I love Trish McEvoy and Stila brushes," she says. "The hair that's used is froms natural bristles and is the best for blending and precision." However, Marni warns, with great brushes comes great responsibility: "Washing your brushes makes for long-lasting brushes."
Trish McEvoy brushes, $14-$53, nordstrom.com
Stila brushes, $18-50, nordstrom.com
Save On: Products with SPF
"Make sure your products have SPF in them," says acclaimed dermatological surgeon Patricia Wexler. "Women tend to not be vigilant about sunscreen during times in which they are indirectly exposed to the sun. I demand that all my patients wear SPF 30 all year, bur it is especially important to be vigilant when you're young by using an SPF of 30 even on cloudy days."
"I love Neutrogena moisturizer with sunblock," says celebrity cosmetic surgeon Amiya Prasad. "It goes on smoothly and doesn't feel heavy or greasy. Sunblock is key to protect yourself from incidental sun exposure."
Try Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer SPF 50 with Helioplex, $15.79, cvs.com
Splurge On: Foundation
"This is the number-one product I recommend splurging on," says Dedivanovic. "Any beauty product that is going to be applied to the entire face is definitely a product worth spending money on. Just be sure you choose the right formula, color, and texture to match your skin. When your skin looks and feels great, all the other products and colors are just 'extras.'"
"Everyone's skin type, texture, color, and undertones are very different," says Giannotti. "Because of this, there are a ton of different varieties of foundation. Usually at drugstores, you can't test out foundations first, so department stores are usually your best bet. (Watch out for poorly lit stores, though, or you may still end up with the wrong color for your skin tone.) Always ask a product specialist /makeup artist for his or her help with picking out the right foundation for you, and make sure to describe your skin type. My Favorites are Giorgio Armani, Face Atelier, and Laura Mercier's tinted moisturizer."
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, $59, giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com
Face Atelier Ultra Foundation, $45, faceatelier.com
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20, $42, lauramercier.com
Save On: Eye Makeup Remover
"The ones at the drugstore far exceed any expensive ones out there," says Giannotti, "especially Neutrogena's oil-free eye makeup remover. It takes off everything and is very gentle without leaving an oily residue."
Splurge On: Tweezers and Eyelash Curlers
"Ive tried to go cheap on these and ended up having to throw them out quickly," says Giannotti. "I know it's hard to comprehend spending $20-$30 on one pair of tweezers, but those will be the ones that actually pull out those tiny, pesky hairs. It will save you a ton of frustration."
The same goes for eyelash curlers, Giannotti says. "I've had nothing good come from using cheap ones. They just don't work! I recommend splurging on Shu Uemera; you'll keep them a lot longer and they'll do what they were meant to do: curl your lashes!"
Save On: Mascara
"Never spend tons of money on mascara," says Carmindy. "You can always find a great brush-size and formula at the drugstore."
Dedivanovic agrees. "Many mascaras contain the same ingredients, just with different packaging," he says, "and there are great, less expensive mascaras out there, like L'Oréal Voluminous."
"I always love all the drugstore brands," says Marni Giannotti. "You'll really be saving, too, since women need to change their mascaras at least once every two to three months. Also, you can buy multiple mascaras for the same price as one pricier mascara. My favorites are CoverGirl Lash Blast, Maybelline Lash Stiletto, and L'Oréal Voluminous."
Need further testimony to the benefits of buying drugstore mascara? "Mascara is one beauty product the drugstore brands are knocking off with the most success," says celeb makeup artist Brett Freedman. "At half the price, drugstore mascaras are definitely a beauty bargain, and for gals who like to have a fresh tube more often, that's a real savings!"
CoverGirl Lash Blast, $6.54, target.com
Maybelline Lash Stiletto Ultimate Length, $7.49, walgreens.com
L'Oréal Voluminous Full Definition, $7.49, walgreens.com
Splurge On: Hair Dryers and Flatirons
"Although these products may seem simple to use, they can finish off a great style or cut, especially when used correctly," says David. "I highly recommend the Elchim blow dryer; it's fast, lightweight, and has settings to cool or heat your hair.
"The GHD Classic Styler Ceramic Iron is something I use, and I've always had great results," he continues. "Flatirons today are, generally, safe and gentle on your hair. They can be used not only to straighten but also to make quick curls and flips. Like any tool, the key is knowing how to use it." Tried it out and still need some pointers? Ask your stylist!
Elchim Uragano Ionic Dryer, $118.95; folica.com
GHD Classic Styler Ceramic Hair Straightener, $185; folica.com
Save On: Toners
Toners, while important, aren't the products to break the bank on. "An inexpensive, drugstore-brand toner is great for makeup removal and mild exfoliation," says Prasad.
Try CVS Alcohol-Free Toner, $5.99; cvs.com
Splurge On: An Anti-Aging Night Cream
"Our skin rebuilds and repairs itself as we sleep," says Wexler. "Without environmental factors to ward off, skin is able to speed up its natural renewal process and absorb ingredients. This is why nighttime is the best time for active treatment."
Try Prevage Anti-Aging Night Cream, $125; sephora.com
Save On: Cold Cream
"I've always been a huge lover of the theater and have always dreamed of being on the stage now, my salon is my place to sing!" says Paul Labrecque of Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa. "Stage actors have used cold cream for years to remove their makeup and cleanse their skin. A jar of cold cream for cleansing, makeup removal, or even to calm sunburned skin, has always been an industry go-to. I always say, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it!'"
Try Boots Original Beauty Formula Cold Cream, $7.99; target.com
Splurge On: A Good Hairbrush
"As a hairstylist, I try to tell my clients that regular brushing plays a very important part in the condition of your hair," says Angelo David. "It is important to stimulate the scalp to increase the blood flow to the roots, which promotes growth. Plus, the natural oils from your scalp help give strength and shine to your hair. I love the Mason Pearson Brush, which is great for all types of hair."
Splurge On: Products You Can't Get Anywhere Else
"When it comes to splurging on products," says Prasad, "it's often more about feel than results. Over-the-counter products can only do so much, but since everyone's skin is different, you need to find the products that are right for you.
"You can also splurge by seeing a professional," Prasad says. "Ask a medical aesthetician, dermatologist, or cosmetic surgeon to guide you. The cost of the visit will be minimal compared to the money you'll save by avoiding ineffective products with nice packaging."
"I spend money on really unique products," says Freedman. "I especially like Benefit Posietint and Smashbox Sheer Focus Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15, as neither of these have a drugstore counterpart."
Benefit Posietint, $28, macys.com
Smashbox Sheer Focus Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15, $30, sephora.com