NYLON Team Picks: Affordable Alternatives To Your Favourite High-End Beauty Products

We’re always fans of drugstore products, and even if you can’t find them at your friendly neighbourhood mall, there are still plenty of budget makeup items we can happily talk about. You already know that eyeliners fare surprisingly well when they cost below $25, but what about the other items? Now, before you claim that we must be spoilt by the hundreds of beauty products that land on our desks (okayyy, you’re not wrong), do understand that like any Singaporean, we can’t resist a steal too. So while we still love the originals, here are the best makeup and skincare dupes we can find — tried and tested on our faces, of course!


Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Cleansing Oil

I always do a double-cleanse in the evenings, so prior to discovering the Hada Labo Cleansing Oil, I was using Clinique’s Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm as the first step of my nightly routine to literally take an entire day of makeup and grime off my face. You just need a few seconds to massage the product around before emulsifying and rinsing it off with water. No allergic reaction, no clogged pores, no dryness – just clean, smooth, and hydrated skin after every rinse. The only thing that bothered me was its price. I really didn’t want to surrender $53 for a product that won’t even be on my skin for more than 15 seconds a day, so I searched for a cheaper alternative. I can’t remember how I was introduced to Hada Labo’s Cleansing Oil, but I’m glad I got acquainted and took a bottle home. Similar to Clinique’s Cleansing Balm, this Cleansing Oil is also a fragrance-free option that melts away makeup instantly, emulsifies into a silky milk, and rinses off clean without irritating my sensitive skin. The only differences are the distinct consistencies and the oils they’re formulated with, but those are small concerns because they both get the job done.
– Jade Yeo, Writer
Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Cleansing Oil, $20, available at Watsons and Guardian
Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, $52, available at Clinique counters


CReeR 4-in-1 Wipe Off Cleansing Water

Since I started working at NYLON, my skin has been spoiled with all the expensive skincare that happened to come my way, particularly the Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water, the one cleanser that manages to flawlessly remove my makeup in a single motion. It’s also been described as a desk and bathroom necessity for some of us here at NYLON, so my love for the product is rather justified. As it’s price tag is a little on the higher side, you can imagine my feeling of dread as I witness the liquid gradually deplete.
However, the Creer 4-in-1 Wipe Off Cleansing Water ended up in my hands recently – a Japanese drugstore staple, Google tells me – and I have to say that my micellar water woes are no more. It’s touted as a makeup remover, facial wash, exfoliant and toner that contains hot spring water for moisturising – an all-in-one product, basically. The first time I used this, I removed the makeup off of half my face initially to ‘test it’s worth’, and was completely surprised when the makeup just slid off, waterproof eyeliner and all. I occasionally wear rather thick makeup, and this was one of those days. That being said, while it left my skin feeling fresh and cleansed of any makeup, I still went ahead with my regular cleanse-tone-moisturise routine, because it felt akin to a makeup remover and not an ‘one-stop product’ as it claimed to be. Although, I do have oily skin, so those with dry skin might disagree with me on this! Overall, I’m definitely not disappointed.
– Patrene Mathieu, Designer
Creer 4-in-1 Wipe Off Cleansing Water (330ml), $13.90, available at Sasa
Bioderma Sensibio H2O (250ml), $28.90, available at selected Guardian and Watsons stores, and Robinsons


NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil

Now, if I were rich, there’s a whole bunch of stuff I’d buy — however, eyeshadow sticks aren’t one of them. I’d sooner spend on some other frivolous item (Star Wars Landspeeder? Game of Thrones jewellery?) than this because why bother when I can get a way cheaper alternative. Thank you, NYX! Their Jumbo Eye Pencils are every bit as creamy and pigmented as the ones touted by more high-end makeup brands, and while I do love the Laura Mercier version for its staying power and nice shimmery rose gold, I’d say that the Yogurt shade makes for a nice substitute. If you don’t like to see the product creasing on your lids, go light — I tap it on with my fingers and this radiant shade does the neat trick of opening up my eyes, making them pop with that bit more definition, especially when I put it on top of my lids. It works well over eyeshadows too, and has a nice tone that doesn’t look too shimmery or cheap. Of course, being the lazy multi-tasking person I am, I tend to use it on its own and it glides on nicely, plus I can carry this nifty thing everywhere, instead of lugging an entire makeup palette! Try a little champagne shimmer on your inner eye corners and lower lashline for a youthful look too.
– Amelia Tan, Associate Editor
NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Yogurt, $12, available at NYX stores and Sephora
Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour in Rose Gold, $49, available at Laura Mercier counters


Revlon Insta-Blush in Nude Kiss 

When you’re travelling light, this blush stick is perfect for quick makeup on-the-go. Less time getting ready, more time to go out and explore. Just swipe it straight under cheekbones and blend with fingers for model-esque cheek hollows. It looks pigmented and way to dark upon first application, but blends out very nicely into a sheer gradient of colour. It’s also multi-functional — I use it on my eyes as a subtle shadow and even as a contour around my jawline. It’s convenient enough to carry around in my pocket and give my tired face some definition right when I get off the plane.
– Joanne Cheah, Designer
Revlon Insta-Blush in Nude Kiss, $25.90, available at selected Watsons and Guardian stores
NARS The Multiple in 
Nā Pali Coast, $60, available at the NARS store and NARS counters


Mamonde Creamy Tint Color Balm Light in No.3 Rosy Brick

This crayon-like lip balm is very similar to Clinique’s Chubby Stick, for of course, much less. While both of these do give off a very sheer layer of colour, the former tints the lips, which is very much an expected quality coming from a Korean brand, and also something that I look out for. I hate having my lips looking pale, so you will always find at least one type of lipstick tint in my makeup pouch. I use Mamonde’s Creamy Tint Color Balm light when I am not going for a defined lip shape. I generously smear the product all over my lips before applying another lipstick colour over, so I know I have a backup when the second layer disappears into the day. It’s also great for touchups because when it’s sheer, you don’t have to be afraid of overdoing your lips! Plus, this leaves my lips feeling soft and moist without leaving any aftertaste that usually comes with lip tints.
– Phyllis Guo, Editorial Assistant
Mamonde Creamy Tint Color Balm Light in No.3 Rosy Brick, $16, available at the Mamonde counter and Lazada
Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Super Strawberry, $28, available at Clinique counters