Well, Real Simple magazine decided to help.
It asked more than 100 readers of various ages, races and skin and hair types to try more than 300 basic beauty products and report back with their favorites. The result is a catalogue of the best drugstore buys — a complete list of 60 road-tested moisturizers, sunscreens, shampoos, conditioners, body washes and more.
Real Simple's Kris Connell shared some of the choices with The Early Show viewers Tuesday.
They're among those that got the reader feedback, and they're all available at national drugstore chains for affordable prices.
Deodorant: Lever 2000 refresh, $2 for two. This odor-fighting soap scored points for smelling fresh throughout the day with a "just-clean scent" that "doesn't compete with perfume."
Sensitive skin: Cetaphil gentle cleansing bar, $4. "Amazingly effective" but "still really gentle," this non-alkaline bar doesn't contain a single stringent detergent.
Ultra-moisturizing: Caress exotic oil infusions body wash, $4. "Exotic" and "sensual smelling," this "insanely hydrating" formula converted some soap users into body-wash fans.
Liquid Hand Soaps
Sensitive skin: Method creamy hand wash, almond flower, $4. The soothing action of vitamin E and jojoba oil made one tester "actually look forward" to washing her hands.
Odor-neutralizing: Kiss My Face rosemary and melon self-foaming soap, $7. Garlic and onion were no match for this airy, smell-fighting soap, which has a sweet, long-lasting scent.
Illuminating: Burt's Bees radiance body lotion, $9. Shimmer can be tricky when you're no longer a teen, but this lotion delivered a "subtle," grown-up glow.
SPF 15 to 30 sunscreens
Spray: Neutrogena fresh cooling body mist SPF 30, $9.50. Testers from Florida to California unanimously endorsed this fast-absorbing, temperature-beating spray.
Stick: Banana Boat Sport SPF 30, $8. This oil-free, waterproof stick stayed on, even when a tester forgot to reapply it after swimming. "I didn't get a spot of color," she said.
Lotion: Banana Boat Sport SPF 15, $8. Non-greasy and lightweight, this was definitely effective. "I missed a spot," reported one tester, "as evidenced by my new red splotch."
SPF 30-plus sunscreens
Gel: Bull Frog Quik Gel SPF 36, $9. With a formula that is "not the least bit sticky" and a "refreshingly citrus scent," this broad-spectrum, waterproof sunscreen "dried virtually on contact."
Dandruff: Selsun Salon shampoo, $6. Testers declared they would use this shampoo even if they didn't have flaky scalps. "My hair was so soft, I couldn't stop playing with it," said one.
Fine hair: Herbal Essence Body Envy volumizing shampoo, $3. This scored points for fluffing up hair after a single wash. "I didn't have to goop it up with mousse," said a tester.
Chemically-processed: Pantene Pro-V Restoratives Time renewal shampoo, $5. Testers ranked this moisture-rich, "creamy" shampoo as the ultimate hair therapy. "Like a salon treatment," said one.
Curly or wavy hair: John Frieda Frizz-Ease Curl-Around daily conditioner, $6. "An amazing de-tangler," this thick, silicone-based formula tamed curls and created frizz-free waves.
Chemically-processed: Herbal Essences Break's Over strengthening conditioner, $3. Testers with over-processed hair found this formula "creamy and comforting." The result? Shiny, happy hair.