Save Your Tax Return—Get Gorgeous Without Breaking the Bank

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The business of beauty is booming. Paula Begoun and Desiree Stordahl, authors of the best-selling beauty book, "Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," provide women with budget-friendly beauty advice.

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As Begoun puts it, “Expensive doesn’t mean better in the world of beauty products.”

The business of beauty is booming. Every month a new array of products launch—each promising to be better than the last—and often with price tags even higher than the ones before. Eventually these “miracle” products will be replaced with newer versions, and the cycle continues. The result: disappointment and a deep dent in a woman’s beauty budget when these products fail to live up to the claims.

No one knows this better than Paula Begoun and Desiree Stordahl, authors of the best-selling beauty book, "Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me." “Women are flabbergasted when we tell them the $150 cream they’re using is a do-nothing ordinary formula, and that there are drugstore products loaded with state-of-the-art ingredients for one-fifth of the price,” says Stordahl.

As Begoun puts it, “Expensive doesn’t mean better in the world of beauty products.” Whether this tax season results in paying in or getting a payout, here are some budget-friendly beauty products that earn Begoun and Stordahl’s top rating for impressive results.

Daytime Moisturizer: Yes To Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15. A moisturizer doesn’t have to be expensive to be loaded with state-of-the-art ingredients. Case in point: This one from Yes To costs only $15 and it protects skin from damaging UV rays while also treating the skin to a beneficial mix of antioxidants.

Here’s another shocker: there’s no need for a separate eye cream. A great facial moisturizer can and should be used around the eye area (with SPF during the day and without SPF at night). Still not convinced? Check out the research on eye creams.

Anti-Aging Treatment: Paula’s Choice RESIST Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum. Retinol is one of the most well-researched and proven anti-aging ingredients out there for treating wrinkles, acne, dark spots, and other signs of aging, and at only $31.95, this is practically a steal when compared with the $100+ retinol serums at the department store.

Foundation: Revlon Nearly Naked Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 20. Beauty forums are all aflutter with curiosity about whether Revlon’s Nearly Naked foundation is as good as Urban Decay’s latest cult following, Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid foundation. The answer: It’s even better. Revlon’s Nearly Naked has the same, natural finish and lightweight feel, with the added bonus of broad-spectrum sun protection. Save $28 by going with the Revlon version instead of the Urban Decay version!

Mascara: CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume. A good mascara does not have to cost a lot of money. Try this one from CoverGirl, for less than $8, and say hello to full, dramatic, clump-free lashes. Find out which other budget-friendly mascaras make the cut at

Lipstick: NYX Matte Lipstick. The NYX brand is gaining popularity for its high-quality dupes of expensive department store cosmetics. Their Matte Lipstick goes on surprisingly creamy and then sets to a long-wearing finish. At only $6, this lipstick outperforms many of its $30–$40 rivals.

Hair Care: L’Oreal’s Power Moisture Moisture Rush Mask. Hair care is one of the biggest areas where women overspend, especially considering that hair is dead and, therefore, the results are only temporary. This $6 hair mask from L’Oreal works beautifully to condition hair and rivals the outrageously priced treatment masks sold by salons.

For more budget-friendly beauty advice, follow Begoun and Stordahl at

Led by best-selling author and beauty expert Paula Begoun, the Paula’s Choice Research Team evaluates and reviews hundreds of skin-care and makeup products, in books such as "Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me" as well as online at Combining cosmetics industry knowledge and expertise, Paula and her team have developed the Paula’s Choice line of state-of-the-art formulations based on reliable, published skin-care research. Products include skin-care, makeup, body, and hair-care products, beauty tools, and accessories. All products are fragrance-free, cruelty-free, and environmentally friendly.

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