GIVE me a woman who says she walked into Chemist Warehouse and came out with only one product, and I’ll show you a liar.

Last week I went to buy deodorant. I emerged with a new serum, a sheet mask, some overpriced organic cotton tampons and zero regrets.

If shopping for beauty products at the chemist or supermarket were an Olympic sport, I’d be the Grant Hackett of budget beauty — pre-Stilnox meltdown.

It’s absolutely possible to form a great skincare routine solely from products bought during your grocery shop.

“The price of a product does not necessarily correlate with its effectiveness. Often a large part of the cost of expensive products is ‘luxury’ packaging and advertising,” Dr Michelle Hunt, a Fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, said.

This first instalment of The Beauty Diary,’s new weekly beauty column, will focus on affordable beauty.

Here are 10 products under $30, including the $5 mask Priceline can’t keep restocking fast enough, that will make you look glowy AF.


Price: $5

Available from: Priceline, Woolworths, Chemist Warehouse

This is Priceline’s best-selling sheet mask, the company’s spokeswoman told me, beating out all its competitors in a crowded market.

For $5 you get dewy, hydrated skin in 15 minutes. But the best thing about this mask is that it has no annoying flappy bits and actually fits the face properly.

The mask comes in a three different varieties — pomegranate, camomile and green tea — and there’s also an under-eye version for $4.


Price: $9.30

Available from: Priceline, Chemist Warehouse, Coles, Woolworths, most chemists

I legit bow down to Cetaphil. It’s a brand loved by dermatologists because it’s gentle, fragrance and paraben-free and great for sensitive skin.

This is a great cheap moisturiser that can be used for day or night. It’s perfect for when you run out of your bougie moisturiser before payday or you want a cheap hand/body cream.

Sure, Cetaphil’s packaging is not super cute. You’ll want to hide this guy in a drawer before Instagramming your beauty cabinet.

But at least you know every cent of your $9.30 is going towards the product and not an inflated marketing budget.


Price: $9.90-$25

Available from: Priceline, Adore Beauty or The Ordinary’s own website

Have you heard of The Ordinary yet? If not, you’re welcome. It’s a Toronto-based skincare brand that sells ridiculously cheap, ingredient-specific skincare. We’re talking $10 for a serum.

They don’t waste money on marketing or branding and are able to pass those cost savings onto the consumer. Also, their formulas are very simple so there’s no fancy science to pay for either.

Serums go underneath your moisturiser morning and night. They contain concentrated, active ingredients scientifically proven to make your skin look better.

If you’re new to serums, start with hyaluronic acid and B5 for hydration or the niacinamide and zinc for reducing redness and breakouts.


Price: $26

Available from: Priceline, Chemist Warehouse, Adore Beauty, Skincare Store

Slathering an oil on your face might seem counterintuitive if you’ve spent years trying to remove the stuff from your pores, but it’s a one-way ticket to dewy skin.

Would it help if I told you Kate Middleton is reportedly a fan of this oil? I thought it might.

At night, massage a few drops directly onto clean skin or mix it with your moisturiser for extra hydration.


Price: $10

Available from: Coles, Woolworths, Priceline, Chemist Warehouse

You certainly don’t need a toner in your skincare regimen, especially if you have dry skin, but I have developed an addiction to this product and its very ugly packaging.

It’s not chic. It doesn’t look good on Instagram. It probably has loads of alcohol and bad things in it but I don’t care.

For some reason I can’t not put a little bit on a cotton pad and wipe it all over my face after cleansing, morning and night.

It removes any extra grime or make-up and tightens/closes pores. Every time I’ve tried a fancier toner, I’ve switched back to this one.


Price: $16

Available from: Priceline, Chemist Warehouse, Coles, Woolworths

A BB Cream (beauty or blemish cream) is basically a tinted moisturiser with a bit more oomph. It’s not technically a foundation, but many BB creams on the market provide plenty of coverage. This one provides HEAPS of coverage but without being drying or cakey.

Many BB creams purport to be “three in one” or “all in one” products, claiming they can act as your moisturiser, foundation and sunscreen. TBH, when I use a BB cream I still moisturise and wear sunscreen underneath, but that’s up to you and how little time you have.

I first bought this product years ago when my expensive foundation ran out — it was a week before payday and I was desperate — but I actually loved it. It’s super easy to apply with fingers, blends easily and lasts well throughout the day.

The only downside is that this BB cream only comes in two shades — light and medium.

In a world were 40 foundation shades is the new normal, this is not OK. Lucky I’m a pale white lady but my lovely WOC readers and darker-skinned beauties might have to stick to Fenty for the time being. Apologies.


Price: From $10.50

Available from: Coles, Woolworths, Priceline, Chemist Warehouse

This is an awesome gentle cleanser for people with dry or sensitive skin, plus it’s great for the rest of us to use on clean skin in the morning.

Full disclosure: This cleanser looks and feels a little bit like semen. No, you won’t ever be able to see past it. Yes, it feels super weird massaging it all over your face. Trust me, you’ll get over it. It’s extremely unfortunate, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices to look good.


Price: $25

Available from: Priceline, Chemist Warehouse

Avene is a French pharmacy brand that’s “dermatology-friendly, not going to be irritating and at a great price point,” Sydney dermatologist Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan said.

Finding a cleanser that takes every scrap of make-up and grime off without drying the skin out is tricky, but this one ticks all the boxes.

It’s best for people with oily skin or those who wear a lot of make-up and not ideal for those with very dry skin.


Price: $30

Available from: Priceline, Chemist Warehouse, Adore Beauty

I knew you would ask me, dear reader, if we need to wear sunscreen everyday, even when it’s cloudy. So I put your question toDr Gunatheesan. “Yes,” she deadpanned.

“UV damage is constant throughout the year. It can be a cloudy day but there can be a high UV. On a cloudy day you can get more reflection from the clouds, so the damage can be more severe,” Dr Gunatheesan said. “You want one that is that is broad spectrum, water-resistant and SPF 50 plus.”

This sunscreen ticks all these boxes. It comes with or without a tint — the former is best for no make-up days when you still want a bit of coverage.

La Roche Posay’s entire range of sunscreens are awesome, including the BB cream one. The colour range is very limited, so best for people with light to medium skin.


Price: $6

Available from: Woolworths, Coles, Priceline, Chemist Warehouse

I’m sick of people only suggesting the SK-II face masks when I ask for a good sheet mask recommendation. At $138 for a pack of six, that’s $23 per mask. No bueno.

The SK-II ones are amazing, but I need a cheap option for my Sunday self-care afternoons in bed with The Hills. These work a treat.

– For the record, this column is not sponsored and this is not advertorial content. Every review is independent, honest and ad-free.

– If you have a beauty question or a product you’d like us to road test, email, DM me on Instagram or tweet me.

– Share your own beauty routine on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #MyBeautyDiary.

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