On… Cheap HGs

On Friday I was bored and on instagram, and started taking the piss out of a silly beauty story about hugely expensive ‘Holy Grail’ skincare finds.

I offered to put together my own list of ACTUAL HG products that are genuinely cheap (at least, on a cost-per-wear basis), so then I had to follow through. (Argh, following through, the worst.)

I’ve spent my entire life a writer worrying about wasting money who also happens to love anything and everything beauty, so you can trust that I’ve done the R&D. I used to write funny little beauty articles for Tatler, which is a British fashion magazine, and honestly, I mostly did it for the free make-up opportunities.

ANYWAY. None of these are particularly groundbreaking – and for those of you who know me, I’m predictable/repetitive/consistent, and have talked about most of them before. If you hate buying from Amazon I understand (and side note, how are we feeling about fakes on amazon? I bought some It’s A Ten hair stuff that was, I’m pretty sure, Fakey McFakerson, so I won’t be doing that again), so obvs buy them anywhere you want my loves, preferably somewhere with a good return policy in case you decide my suggestion is sub-par. One woman’s Holy Grail is another woman’s waste of space.

Here’s the complete list, with one reason why for each:


Salux Nylon Beauty Skin Bath Cloth. Don’t spend your hard-earned cash on grainy body exfoliants that go right down the drain: lather up with your favorite shower gel and this magical stuff instead. It feels harsh, in a good way, and it’ll make your elbows and knees feel like a baby’s bottom. With less chance of poo.

Yu-Be Glycerin Cream. I have been banging on about this stuff for years, I should buy shares in the damn company. Mix it with your normal moisturizer when your face feels dry and cracked. Wake up with perfectly boing-y skin.


Cetaphil Cleanser. This alone isn’t enough to shift my usual SPF-concealer-powder-blush sparkle. But as a quick cleanser on make-up-free days, as a second step, or even just as a light moisturizer when my skin is feeling, oh I don’t know, basic, this is unbeatable.


NARS impassioned

NARS Impassioned. A nothing-but-something blush that sculpts and lifts and makes it burn. This is the blush I wear when I want to look like a lady, and you need to use so little it’ll last forever. (I also suggest NARS Exhibit A for the same reason, but that’s less ladylike good, more roll-in-the-hay good, so, you know, whatever blows your skirt up, toots). By the way, obvs NARS isn’t the cheapest brand out there, but when it comes to blushes and eyeshadows, cheap just isn’t as good. (*Taps cigarette, gets super-intense*) The pigment quality isn’t there in powdery products, in my humble opinion. Go cheap for lipsticks and lipliners and eyeliners and mascaras and lip balms instead.


Real Techniques setting brush. Katie Jane Hughes told me to get this on one of her Instagram stories, and so I did, and she was right: it blends foundation and concealer into flawless invisibility.


Lumify Eye Drops. So OKAY, glaucoma specialists do not recommend we use this every day, but oh my GOD you guys, these are so good. No other eye drops compare. Not even those fancy-ass French ones. Or those blue ones from the UK. These. Are. The. Best.


BECCA Shimmering Skin in Pearl. Right now people are going nuts for glass skin, but it’s a swift skip from glass to greasy. This is the only product you really need for sheer glowy brilliance. (Obvs choose diff shade according to your skin tone, btw. I use Pearl, and I am v pale and kind of yellow. Like I always look like I might have jaundice. Just a little bit. I’m cool with that.)


L’Oreal Paris Make-Up Rouge Lip Stain in I Enjoy. Pat on your lips, smear around with your pinkie and pretend you’ve been drinking red wine and French-kissing someone delicious. (When you wear red lipstick, incidentally, or any reddish lip color, make sure you blot out any other redness on your face apart from your cheeks first – i.e., if you have a ruddy chin or get broken capillaries round your nose, like I do, throw some concealer on that shit.)


A-Derma Oat Milk Cleanser. This is a giant workhorse of a cleanser: a tiny amount will take off a full face of make-up in about 30 seconds.


Burts Bees Lip Balm in Sweet Violet. Oh man, I LOVE this lip balm. It makes my lips look naturally plump and pink and moist and flushed, which they most certainly are not.

red dahlie

Burts Bees Lip Balm in Red Dahlia. After I waxed lyrical about Sweet Violet on Instagram, I got a bunch of DMs saying ‘no try Red Dahlia GEMMA TRY RED DAHLIA OH MY GOD TRY IT WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS’ so I did, and yup, this color is ALSO AMAZING. I think this might particularly suit someone with lips that have a little more natural red color, so darling, if that’s you, meet your new best friend.


Coconut and Lemon Shower Gel. Like body exfoliants, spending $$$$ on a shower gel that lasts for *literally* 45 seconds on your body and then disappears down the drain is madness, utter madness (unless, of course, you are so obsessed with the scent that nothing else will do, which is totally valid, it’s your life, as Bon Jovi kind-of said). This stuff smells heavenly and is totally free from nasties. Two huge bottles will last you until Christmas.


Jurlique Skin Balancing Face Oil. Does it combat sun damage like it claims? That seems a stretch. But when my skin feels tired and emotional, I give myself a little massage with this stuff, and it’s all better by morning.


La Roche Posay Serozinc spray. I had a bunch of miscarriages in 2017. (Sometimes I like to say it like that, really cavalierly, although it was not a cavalier experience in the least, I imagine being a cavalier is probably rather fun.) Anyway, my hormones were bananas, obviously, and at one point I got – gasp – oily skin. I bought this to use morning and night and it helped, and I’ve kept using it, just because I like it, and I’m a loyal little thing. It feels very soothing and cool.


Shu Uemura Hard 9 Pencil in Stone Grey. Yes, this isn’t cheap per se, unless you consider that I’ve had the same pencil for like TEN YEARS and I use it EVERY DAY. I don’t know why it lasts forever, it just does. It never even needs sharpening. Perhaps it is magic? Also, grey is a weirdly perfect eyebrow color for most people. I haven’t tried it on you, so I can’t say for sure. But I’m quietly confident it will suit you, too.


Plain white facecloths. Use a freshly laundered facecloth every night to dry your face after cleansing, throw straight in the laundry, never have funny little bacteria bumps around your chin and jaw again, never waste money on facials, feel like a duchess, live forever.


Lubriderm Advanced Therapy. So cheap. So, so good. I lube up my entire bod a couple of times a week after a bath, put on clean cotton pajamas, drink a cup of herbal tea and eat dark chocolate and read a beauty blog or two, and yeah man, hashtag winning.


Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel. You need about a quarter teaspoon of this powder, once a week. It’ll last you forever. Especially good when you’ve been wearing heavy SPF in summer. Watch out for acid moisturizers after (glycolic, lactic, etc); this stuff isn’t as gentle as it looks.


Butt paste. Or Sudocrem, if you’re not in the US. This is pure zinc oxide, which heals and calms irritated skin and is great for red chapped noses when you have a cold, red marks after blemishes, in-grown hairs, and so on and so forth, you name it, this fixes it.


Mise En Scene Damage Care Perfect Repair Serum. Long name, small bottle, big results. (Bigly!) (Just kidding.) (Ugh, sorry.) Like a pep talk for your hair – this adds strength and shine to my embattled old tresses. 





















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2 thoughts on “On… Cheap HGs

  1. Cori

    Lumify, where have you been all my life? Thank you so much for the recommendation! I don’t even recognize myself now. I look like Vincent Gallo with crazy huge eye whites!


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