Between the endless sponsored ads on your Instagram feed, adverts with not-so-discreet help from lash extensions, and 'authentic' product hauls from an ever expanding sea of influencers, it can be a minefield trying to find a beauty product that simply does what you want it to do.

Add to that a world of new and niche product categories (, and face puddings we're looking at you).

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The need to get educated about your beauty routine has never been so important.

Why? Because, although there are a lot of genuinely amazing beauty products out there, there's also a whole load of duffers. And, unfortunately, some of the shams are astronomically expensive, so you could be throwing money down the toilet.

So what do we do? We recruited an army of beauty pros to confirm once and for all, which products are worth splurging most of your monthly income on, and which budget buys just won't work, no matter how enthusiastic Youtube is about it.

From and , to DIY teeth-whitening and injectables, read this before you splash the cash.

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Blow-out vs budget skincare - what's the difference?

Contrary to what you might believe, cheap doesn’t always mean less effective, when it comes to skin care.

It depends on the manufacturing process and the mix of ingredients. There are very strict EU rules around active ingredients, which means that sometimes products do contain the right ingredients, but at a lesser strength.

Worth buying budget...

is found in numerous anti-ageing products for all budgets, in varying dilutions. HA helps to restore volume to the skin, giving a plumping effect. It is effective and readily available to add to skincare which means you don't have to spend a fortune to see results.

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There are some really good budget skin care ranges developed by dermatologists and medical companies that are perfect for sensitive, reactive skin.

Worth spending on...

Organic ingredients, botanicals and powerful antioxidants are natural ingredients which need a little more time intensive nurturing.

For example, EGF (Epidermal growth factors) - a protein molecule made of amino acid for increasing skin regeneration, or Fullerene – a powerful antioxidant that penetrates skin cells to detoxify and regenerate skin cells.

These ingredients can be more time intensive in terms of sourcing and manufacture, which is what makes them more expensive.

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Blow-out vs budget facials - what's the difference?

Expertise does make the world of difference, when it comes to facials. You want a therapist who is passionate about what they do and invests in themselves to keep learning.

If you have an inexperienced therapist applying the same peels as an expert, the outcome, client experience and result is likely to be very different. You learn so much from working with skin, clients, brands, products and machinery over the years that you can’t learn at college or in a few years of working.

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A bit like your hairstylist, you build a relationship with your facialist – they know your skin and you trust them. I can teach my children to massage, but to do it in the best possible way takes training and skills.

Equipment is also a huge cost for the therapist, but the right equipment can definitely increase results. Some of the , and laser machines can vary from £30 – 80K and you need to factor that in. But on top of that, the same machine in two different sets of hands can give a very different customer experience and result.

Location rents can impact on a cost of treatment and also the ethos of the location. Are they about seeing as many Groupon clients as possible or do they want to give the best service, experience and environment they can?

Worth buying budget...

– with an effective machine though, not all machines are the same. I've used for years and totally trust them. In 20 minutes, the light absorbs into the skin. It's safe for all skin types too.


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trying ! It's the best thing to add in at home. You can combine it with your own skincare routine, and it works not just on your skin, but also with your emotions and stress and plays a huge factor in accelerated ageing.

Worth Spending On...

A combined bespoke treatment. We all have different skin requirements and as we age the skin doesn't just need one thing, so combining these, with ingredients and machines within a treatment will give you the best result for the short and longer term.

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Blow-out vs budget make-up - what's the difference?

For me, it’s all about durability. It’s the longevity of the product, which can be deceiving in cheaper products. What looks great in the first five minutes can often oxidise, separate and fade with wear.

Saying that, it can also be the same deal with expensive products. Don’t be fooled by the initial seduction. That gorgeous glowing veil that you started with can often look like a layer of orange lard in a very short amount of time, regardless of the price tag.

Worth buying budget...

Feel free to go cheaper on your disposable statements that you won't wear everyday, like bright lipsticks or bold eyeshadow shades.

I think most good functioning make-up bags contain equal portions of high and low end product. It’s like wardrobes which mix designer with high street and sportswear. It’s just cooler and more eclectic.

Worth spending on...

and skin enhancing make-up products are where I would definitely fork out. I like veils of coverage and micro fine pigments in sculpting products.

Go for drop dead expensive skin with a grungy mascara and rubbed in lip. It’s that contrast which ends up being stylish and quite chic.

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Blow-out vs budget make-up (continued) - what's the difference?

From an ingredient standpoint, there isn't much difference. The main differences are in the marketing position/story and in the packaging. More expensive make-up tends to have better packaging.

It's easy to be vegan and avoid testing on animals. This isn't hard for even cheap brands to do. It's harder for brands to make truly since there are a limited number of ingredients that would qualify as organic. That leads to a more expensive product.

But, for pigments and longevity you can't make a generalisation based on price. There are some great cheap make-up products and some terrible expensive ones, and vice versa. It just depends on the product.

Worth buying budget...

Lip gloss and lipstick. It really is difficult to make something that is significantly better and it's a product that you have to reapply frequently anyway.

Worth spending on...

Foundation. It can be a challenge to find cheap ones that have a colour that matches your skin and more expensive ones will generally contain ingredients that help improve your skin condition as well.

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Blow-out vs budget injectables - what's the difference?

In my opinion you pay for what you get. are no exception.

The price for the experience of a practitioner, and also their ability to deal with any complications, is what you are paying for in addition to the quality of the product being used.

There are different grades of quality of filler, toxins and other skin injectables, which of course will be more expensive the better quality and safety record. Like anything, it should always be explained exactly what product is being used. It should also be from a supplier that is able to assure traceability from production to injection.

The major difference between cheap and expensive injectables really will be the expertise and experience of the doctor performing the treatment, and to an extent the physical location where the treatment is being provided. Rents are high for practitioners in central London so naturally, like any business, prices need to be higher to cover for this.

In addition, the busier a clinic is, the less time a doctor will have and since time is a commodity as much as anything, prices are going to be higher.

Worth buying budget...

I would never scrimp on injectables.

Fillers and other injectables should only be done by trained medical professionals with advanced experience in facial anatomy, should any complications arise. Doing these things ‘at home’ yourself if you have no anatomical knowledge or training is extremely irresponsible and potentially very dangerous should a complication arise.

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Topical generally involve a surface application of hyaluronic acid (what the majority of fillers are made from) but it is unlikely that will give any deep volumisation or do anything more than hydrate your skin.

Worth spending on...

You can now get different ranges of injectables, e.g. premium or longer lasting fillers such as Juvederm voluma or teosyal RHA range, which are generally more expensive than the standard ranges of fillers from the same manufacturers.

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Blow-out vs budget fake tan - what's the difference?

When looking for a on a budget, my first piece of advice is to do some online research. Investigate what budget tans have proved a good colour on certain skin types. The ingredient in all which activates with the proteins in the skin is called DHA. In some cheaper tans the grade may not be as high a grade as a premium tanner.

You can totally get good budget tans. However, be aware that the staining agent in the tan, the guide colour, maybe doing a lot of the work on the skin at first, therefore leading to a speckled effect once that guide colour has worn off.

Worth buying budget...

Cheap alternatives are not always worse when it comes to tans. It can also depend on the individual's skin tone. Someone with an olive skin tone that’s more oily than dry may wear a cheaper tan well and the guide colour doesn’t flake away as fast and uneven. Drier skin types tend to lose the colour quickly as their skin sheds cells faster.

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Worth spending on...

uses the highest grade of DHA and combines it with erythrulose, which is a slow release tanner. Combined, the ingredients leave a longer lasting colour on the skin that fades evenly. The way tans wear off the skin is major factor when it comes to using self-tan.

More expensive normally means better ingredients. does just that. It’s key benefits include sunflower oil and vitamin E. Ingredients that help retain water in the epidermis. Fake Bake’s award winning contains Hyaluronic Acid which plumps the skin. Also the coconut oil firms and keeps the skin hydrated.

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Blow-out vs budget teeth whitening - what's the difference?

In the UK, anyone not a dental professional doing is breaking the law.

The maximum percentage allowed in tooth whitening products is 6% Hydrogen peroxide for professional treatments, and 0.1% if you're buying over the counter.

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The only product that works is peroxide and there are three such products:

  • Professional - where custom trays are made for you by a professional and you wear the trays with the gels overnight, for most people about 14 nights.
  • Insurgery/laser whitening - where the procedure is carried out in surgery and takes about 1.5 hours.
  • Oral B Whitening Strips - these only work on the front teeth up to the canines as it is hard to get the strips further back in the mouth.

    Whitening works by lightening the tooth enamel, and depends on the amount of enamel on your teeth and how dark your teeth are at the outset as to how effective it is. The darker the difference is between the whites of your eyes and your teeth, the more effective whitening will be.

    Worth buying budget...

    The only real ‘budget product’ is a whitening toothpaste. Over the counter products are only allowed to have a small amount of peroxide and at best, one should think of them as stain removers.

    Ask your dentist for advice as some of them are abrasive and can actually damage your enamel. Never buy stuff from the internet, a lot of them have acid in which, again, destroys the enamel and some are even banned because they're carcinogenic.

    Worth spending on...

    Invest in the proper procedure, provided by a dental professional. For most people avoiding Starbucks for six months will save enough money to have it done professionally.

    There is no difference between the professional home whitening or the laser whitening, what you pay for is time with the former. You are paying for proper analysis and expertise.

    The dentist can assess if you are suitable for the procedure, if you're likely to get sensitivity or have cavities. For example, if someone has recession, this should be dealt with first, otherwise the procedure can be extremely painful. I will often blend different products and concentrations and get patients to go through a desensitising treatment before I even consider whitening.

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    Blow-out vs budget nailcare - what's the difference?

    In colour coatings, cheaper products will have cheaper pigments and effects e.g. thin colour, shimmers that don’t ’shimmer’. The shine on top coats will not be as long lasting. The brush will be a poor quality and difficult to use. such as nail oils, will have poor quality and less than effective ingredients.

    It is difficult to know what is great just by reading the label or checking the price for colour coatings. The only way is to try the on your own nails. Buying from reputable brands is a good start.

    Worth buying budget...

    If a budget nail polish was exactly the right colour then I would buy it. It may not dry as quick or last as long but if it matched that outfit or pair of shoes then it’s worth it (in the short term).

    Beat the system by... putting a drop of any oil (even olive oil) onto wet polish - it'll stop it sticking to everything and speed up the drying process.

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    Worth spending on...

    With nail coatings, it is usually (though not always) the case that the characteristics of a more expensive version are superior. For example, the adhesion to the nail is better, the colour is stronger, the gloss lasts longer. The best example of this is - it needs no base coat as the adhesion of the colour coat is excellent.

    Another example of quality is . They always have beautiful and effective pigments.

    With treatment products it is the quality of the effective ingredients you're paying for. A nail oil is one of the most important nail treatment products. There are very few oils that will have any beneficial effect on the nail plate - the main ones are jojoba and avocado. If a nail oil doesn’t have one or both of these it will do little for your nails.


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    Blow-out vs budget lash growth treatments - what's the difference?

    It’s all about the key ingredients that make any products effective.

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    The key ingredients to look out for are biotin, peptides and bimatoprost - a synthetic prostaglandin which is scientifically proven to increase lash growth. This is found in like and .

    Most products claiming to grow lashes simply don't work. They are marketed with plant extracts and conditioning agents which sounds great but the ingredients are not active enough to deliver actual growth.

    Worth buying budget...

    is a good DIY remedy but there's no scientific evidence that says it will make hair grow. However, it can be used to condition /lashes which can help with preventing early shedding of hair due to poor condition.

    Worth spending on...

    An in-salon and professional . This will help to create the illusion of naturally longer lashes.

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    Blow-out vs budget hair products - what's the difference?

    The main difference is the quality of ingredients. Even though you might find a similar , or product in the supermarket, there’s a reason it’s got a lower price point.

    Although there might be the same ingredients, cheaper products will have a lower grade. For example silicone in shampoo is a good thing if you’re buying premium products, because silicone will smooth the hair, create shine and reduce frizziness. In premium products, next time you wash your hair, the silicone will wash out of your hair.

    But, there’s a lower grade of silicone in cheaper or supermarket products, and danger is that it will build up on your hair the more you use it and create a film or layer which will make your hair brittle.

    If you’re looking to spend less money on haircare, in shampoo and conditioner, look for products with no parabens or high-level detergents. For example, sulphate-free shampoo. These will likely be better for your hair as it will be less drying and the colour will last longer.

    It's always worth bearing in mind that expensive products are usually more concentrated, so you need less and they'll last longer. Luxury and high end ranges will often also be environmentally friendly, consider animal welfare and importantly, the high grade ingredients which go into the products will ensure your hair is in the best possible condition and will give the best possible results.

    Worth buying budget...

    . I’d go for . It’s widely used by session hairstylists all over the world as a go-to grab product at shows and fashion week. You can layer it up and it brushes out of the hair without damage.

    Beat the system by... making your own with warm water and table salt. It’ll give a gritty, textured effect. It’s great if you’re going to a party and you want your hair up, and don’t have any product to hand.

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    Worth spending on...

    Shampoo is the product that can do the most in terms of looking after your specific hair needs. They are the most versatile and can combat specific needs such as dryness, or weakness or frizziness or to add moisture. It is the foundation of your entire haircare routine.