Every week it seems we hear of the latest miracle beauty products, which promise to work their magic... at a price. For example, while we can vouch that Lancome DreamTone serum really does deliver impressive results, its £69 price tag puts it beyond the purchasing power of many women.
And even the more mid-market choices might make some ladies pause for thought before reaching for their purses. Cheryl Cole recently went barefaced for the high profile launch of L’Oreal Paris Skin Perfection Skincare. But even a jar of its Advanced Correcting Serum — aimed at the under-35s — will set you back £19.99.
So, do you really always have to spend a fortune to save your face? Or can you find a product that delivers great results at a fraction of the price? We asked some of our best-known women to open their make-up bags and reveal their secret beauty budget buys.
TV personality Pamela Ballantine (54) lives in Belfast. She says:
I usually wash my face with a facial wash every morning. At night it doesn't matter how knackered I am, I will always take my make-up off. It's especially important to do this as you get older.
I use wipes then moisturise. And -- I apologise to people in my surrounding area -- but if I'm not going somewhere I usually don't bother with make-up. I think your face needs a break. Most days though I do put on a tinted moisturiser or BB cream to give myself a boost of colour.
I'm lucky that in my job I do get a lot of products to sample but I tend to stick to favourites, which are Boots No 7 and the Body Shop Vitamin E creams. I have sensitive skin and through trial and error over the years I have found that the Vitamin E creams work for me.
I usually use Clarins Foundation and at the minute I am trying Estee Lauder Jewel Foundation, which is meant to last all day. I'm a great one for special offers.
"I think as you get older, your skin needs more moisturiser and you have to change your foundation to an age-appropriate one."
Favourite budget buy: Body Shop Vitamin E night cream which is £7.50.
Most expensive buy: Nano Blur Skin Cream, £40
Monthly spend: £20
Shauna Tohill (25) is a singer with Silhouette and lives in Belfast. She says:
I'm a really poor example of a girl as I don't have a set beauty routine or wear much make-up. I wash my face in the mornings or use baby wipes to clean it and I only wear moisturiser now and again. I just wear mascara usually. I have never worn foundation because I think it clogs your face up and your skin is not breathing.
But lately I did look around for a foundation that would suit my skin and look natural. I spent £25 on a Clarins Foundation which was a first for me.
I do wear make-up when I am performing but that's about it. If I am going out for the night and want to feel dressed up I might put on a bit of black eye liner with my mascara and lately I've been dabbling with brown eye liner and I like the smoky look it gives me.
I would occasionally use an exfoliating face scrub before I go to bed but that's it."
Best budget buy: Rimmell eye liner £5.99
Most expensive buy: Clarins Skin Illusion Foundation, £25
Monthly spend: £5
Katrina Doran (39) runs the online fashion and beauty magazine Sugafix.com. She says:
I am very thorough with my beauty routine because I had acne when I was a teenager. I have started to use Micellar Water to take off my make-up and then cleanse and moisturise.I use a cream cleanser or Elemis Pro Collagen cleansing balm with a muslim cloth. I also always use eye cream and night eye cream.
I wouldn't go to the corner shop without my full face on. I use foundation, three different types of concealer, eye brow pencil, eye liner, mascara, cream blusher and lip stick.
It is a confidence thing. I've worn make-up since I was 13 because I had acne. I joke to my friends that it is my respect to the world to put my face on. You wouldn't go out without brushing your hair or putting on your clothes would you?
Favourite budget buy: NYC nail polish, £1.99 and Maybelline gel liner, £5.
Most expensive buy: Creme de la Mer concealer, £40
Monthly spend: £200
Former Miss Great Britain, model and TV personality Gemma Garrett (31) says:
I do try to take my make-up off at night and I am quite good at it but there will be the odd night I fall into bed without doing it which is terrible.
I use a Dermologica face wash every morning and a fairly expensive moisturiser Crème de la Mer.
It does cost a lot but you only need the tiniest bit and sometimes I make it last longer by using a cheaper products some days. I do swear by it.
In my 20s I wouldn't have gone out the door without my full make up on but now that I have got older and I am married I'm more relaxed about it -- maybe I shouldn't be. I will go to the shops or meet friends for coffee without my make-up on.
I would probably put some blush on to give myself a bit of a colour and so I don't scare people."
Favourite budget buy: Marks & Spencer Coconut body butter, £6
Most expensive buy: Crème de la Mer Face Cream, £150
Monthly spend: £100
Tracey Hall (46) runs Style Academy Model Agency in Belfast. She says:
In my world you are surrounded by perfection and no-one seems to get older so it does make you very self critical.
Years ago I wouldn't have gone out of the house without my make-up on but now I would go to the gym without it.
I always wear mascara as I think that I look as if I have no eyes without it. I swear by Lash Construct Dream Weave mascara.”
Favourite budget buy: Vaseline lip balm, £2
Most expensive buy: Lancom Night Cream, £70
Monthly spend: £100
Lynda Bryans (50) is a lecturer in multi-platform journalism at Belfast Metropolitan College. She is married to Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt. She says:
I'm really bad when it comes to beauty routines. I don't even moisturise. I had oily skin when I was younger and one of the benefits of that is as you get older your skin doesn't dry out and you age better.
The one thing I am strict about is using sun block all year round. I’m happy to go out without make-up. Generally a good foundation is my best beauty buy. And I don't feel I am properly awake until I put mascara on.”
Favourite budget buy: Rimmel lip pencil, £1.99
Most expensive buy: Channel Eye Shadow, £20
Monthly spend: £30
Stylist and illustrator Sara O'Neill (32) lives in Belfast. She says:
I am usually surrounded by make-up artists in my work which makes me very self conscious. I do look after my skin and I've stopped wearing foundation. If I have a spot I would just use a bit of concealer. I like to do my eyes and I wear heavily winged eye liner, mascara and just a touch of eye shadow in the crease of my eye for contouring.”
Favourite budget buy: Boots Soap and Glory Catch a Wrinkle Moisturiser, £12
Most expensive buy: “Senna Extreme HD cream, £30
Monthly spend: £50
Glamour model Laura Lacole (24) lives in Belfast. She says:
When I’m working on photoshoots I've had professionals do my make-up and so I've been able to learn from them on how to create the flawless look which I always must have and which is a bit of a pain.
I only use Mac and Benefit make-up and I spend a fortune on eye lashes.
One good tip I picked up is to use a lighter colour of foundation under your eyes as this pops your cheek outs.”
Favourite budget buy: Make-Up Academy lipstick, £1.
Most expensive buy: Mac Studio 6 Foundation, £25
Monthly spend: £100
Fashion photographer Khara Pringle (40) lives in Newtownards. She says:
I have very sensitive skin so I do cleanse, tone and moisturise every day. I wouldn’t go out without make-up but I do go for a natural look. I use a Lancome moisturiser with a good sun shield and Senna barely there foundation. I put a bit of Senna powder over that and I always fill my eyebrows in. I feel naked if I don’t. I take care to do it right in the morning as I don’t get the chance to reapply during the day.”
Favourite budget buy: Mario Badescu Silver Powder £15
Most expensive buy: La Prairie Foundation, £90
Monthly spend: £40
Cathy Martin (40), who owns CM PR agency, says:
I don’t wear make-up unless I am going out and then I usually get Paddy McGurgan to do it. My mum is 84 and still has great skin and I’m lucky to have inherited it.
I have recently discovered a great Eve Lom Cleanser which I use every morning and then Creme de la Mer moisturiser. It’s expensive but it does last a long time. I always have my eye lash extensions done and if I have a meeting I would put a bit of lip gloss on. I usually work until 2am so I’m always too tired to cleanse at night.”
Favourite budget buy: Body Shop Body Butter, £15
Most expensive buy: Creme de la Mer moisturiser £160
Monthly spend: £30