You needn't spend a fortune on advanced formulas.
One thing I've learned as a beauty writer lucky enough to try a wide range of products is that I wouldn't turn into a toad if I shopped solely from the supermarket or variety store shelves. Add in a few judicious pharmacy or department store buys and the beauty cupboard would be well stocked with innovative and effective products.
That doesn't mean I wouldn't still hanker after luxury brands, but confusing aspiration with essential is simply buying into an expensive promise. Sure, we wax lyrical about labels in Viva, but we also believe it's chic to make do with less, saving the splurge for a special occasion rather than routinely squandering our savings.
Remember that your best anti-ageing investment is a good sunscreen and here the mass-market brands excel, as they do in perfectly sufficient body and hair care products.
1. Rimmel London Vinyl Max Gloss in Obsession $18.99
For a pimped up-pout, Rimmel's highly rated Vinyl Gloss has gone super-sized. You'll get more bang for your buck with intense colours and a bigger wand that sweeps it on easily for a long-lasting look, unlike that from sheerer glosses. In eight bold colours, the shiny formula is non-sticky and contains moisturising spheres.
2. Designer Brands Retractable Pencil in Blue $9.99
A fine wind-up pencil is ideal for easy eyelining and this indigo crayon glides on to complement the company's new four-colour eyeshadow palettes. Another option is the easy-to-use little liquid liner, which, in gold, gives a glittery finish along the lash line.
3. Covergirl Lip Perfection Lip Liner in Radiant $13.99
A pencil really is worth applying if you want your lip outline and colour to last, so you'll save on lipstick touch-ups if you buy this non-dragging liner and team it with one of Covergirl's new Lip Perfection lipsticks.
4. L'Oreal Paris Colour Riche lipstick in Pink Passion $23.99
With 46 shades to choose from you'll find your perfect match from intense, nude or serum-infused options for all colourings. The case is classy so you won't need to save touch-ups for on the sly. For those looking for a lighter finish on the lip, check out Nutri Shine, a range of 10 balm-like sheers ($21.99) in a slick silver surround.
5. Maybelline New York Fit Me foundation $22.99
With 10 shades to choose from, the Fit Me promise will likely be met for all but darker complexions in Maybelline's oil and wax-free foundation, which stays colour true. Combining a translucent primer base with micro-fine pigments, this gives a breathable finish and medium though unmade-up looking coverage. The range also includes matching powders, plus concealers, blush and bronzers, all priced under $20.
6. Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch $19.99
The much imitated Yves Saint Laurent Touch Eclat pen now has an affordable homage in this gel-based illuminating brush-on concealer. It only comes in two lightish shades, but if you are fair skinned and worried about dark circles give it a go.
7. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night $38.99
With its stabilised retinol, Neutrogena is the market leader in delivering over-the-counter vitamin A in doses decent enough for proven skincare action. Its new Rapid Wrinkle night, day and eye products are gentler on sensitive skin and combined with hyaluronic acid will make a difference to texture.
8. Designer Brands Pre-Foundation Moisturising Primer $18.99
This skin-smoothing primer is an example of how the savvy Australian outfit, is making inroads in its pharmacy and online sales by mimicking pricier cosmetics, rather than just delivering budget basics. It also makes a talc-free mineral powder in a good grinder compact and has just launched into skincare.
9. Aveeno Daily Nourishing Moisturiser $19.99
Aveeno's no-nonsense ranges offer sun and skin protection without fancy perfume and packaging. They're good for sensitive skins and the new spiffier-looking Smart Essentials line suits the stressed skin of busy modern woman. This lightweight moisturiser with SPF30 is a good buy.
10. Za True White Plus 2-Way Foundation Case $10 and refill $19.90
Smart silver refillable compact with aerated spot for the makeup sponge which comes with the refill. This compact foundation isn't the cheapest you'll find, but with its brightening effect it leaves a more radiant, natural, but still well-covered, look than many and its fine texture won't clog pores.
11. Max Factor Ageless Elixir 2 in 1 Foundation & Serum $37.99
Multi-tasking products make sense, so this foundation with an inbuilt serum adds skincare to its creamy coverage, with the plus of SPF15 sunscreen.
12. Nivea Express Hydration Body Lotion 250ml $6.49
As a specialist skincare company dating back 100 years, Nivea devotes huge resources to research and is a reliable choice for face and body care. This fast absorbing, non-sticky lotion with a pleasant light fragrance utilises scientific knowledge about water transporting aquaporins in cells to better deliver moisture to the skin.By Janetta Mackay Email Janetta