The request I most often get asked for is affordable skincare. I know it can be frustrating to read here when I review so many products; a lot of which can be very expensive. Here’s the thing though – I’m closer to 40 than I am to 30. Most of the products I use are either all natural, high-tech, or (ideally) a combination of both. I’m lucky to have access to a lot of my favorite products (beauty companies can be very liberal with sending out samples), but even if I didn’t I would still invest in my skin (over fashion, etc). You only get one face – it’s important to take care of it.
Thaaaat being said, a lot of you are much younger than me and my skincare routine is that of someone in her mid-late thirties. If you are in your twenties I don’t think you need all the bells and whistles (like a Dr. Bader for example… it’s my fav, but you can wait a little bit… though if you can afford it, prevention doesn’t hurt either!)
Today I am going to share the most affordable skincare products I’ve found that I stand behind. I say affordable-ish because they aren’t always cheap, but they are high-quality, and if you take any one thing away from reading my blog I hope it’s the importance of taking care of your skin.
First, a few memories. I wasn’t always a blogger with access to high-end skincare.
In my twenties, I didn’t do much, though I did always wear SPF, every single day. Natural products weren’t a “thing,” yet either. Up until I moved to New York when I was 24, I used this Neutrogena moisturizer every.single.day. It was my absolute favorite and I would still stand behind it as a great product, especially for someone a little younger who doesn’t have a lot of aging concerns. It has AHA’s to smooth and exfoliate, it has sunscreen, it’s a great everyday moisturizer.
When I moved here, my roommate (who became my best friend and now is VP of trend beauty over at Macy’s!) introduced me to the world of Kiehl’s, specifically this moisturizer which I also still recommend. I balked at the price tag at first (it’s $31, I was young and v v broke) but the bottle lasts so long. It’s 4.2 oz which is a LOT of moisturizer + you only need a little. I think one bottle would last me about a year… at least!
My first high-end skincare product was SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, which I started using when I was 27. P&G (I was working for them at the time) purchased the company, and our entire office received a training on the brand. They gave us all a (very large) bottle that I would use every day (after cleansing, before moisturizing – read more about SK-II here, in this post). That bottle lasted well over a year and I continued to buy it when I finished with it (using the Kiehls’ moisturizer afterward).
So there you have my skincare history – the two products I swore by up and down (and still love). Neither are cheap but you can buy them once a year… maybe even once every 18 months. To me, it’s worth the investment. As for a cleanser I would just use any old cleanser back then – whatever I had in the shower. I’m still that way though this one from Elemis is just fantastic.
But now that I have given you that history (and NO I am not ridiculous and trying to pass SK-II off as affordable but I’m telling you all of this to stress a point – even when I was really struggling, I bought it with my own money). Now I’m going to give you all of my affordable skincare recommendations! I take skincare so seriously and am not going to recommend garbage products to you just because they hit a certain price point. These are all products I love and would use as my own routine if I did not have the access that I have as a blogger, and I’m also getting really into DIY beauty (read my post about egg beauty benefits and then try this DIY turmeric mask!)
My favorite “affordable-ish” natural brands!
I’ve said this before but I aim for an 80/20 rule with natural products. I try to use at least 80% natural/organic skincare (body products included). I’m less strict with products that rinse off (cleanser, body wash), and most strict about body lotion as I use the most of it so just from a surface area POV it makes the most sense to use a really clean body lotion.
For that reason, we will start with clean products – and then I’ll share some “dirty” ones I still love.
The Seaweed Bath Company
I have written about The Seaweed Bath Co. before but am such a fan of the brand. I love all of the body products (anything with the Awaken scent is amazing, especially if you love Palo Santo as much as I do.) But the face scrub is divine – it’s the only face scrub in my shower right now and my number one favorite at the moment (price point aside), I just love it so much. Also, for the smoothest skin ever, gently scrub your face for a full two minutes. Thank me later.
Honestly, if you are on a hardcore budget, I would say to just buy Everyday Oil and use that to wash your face with (massage a few drops all over dry skin and then use a warm wash cloth to towel off) AND moisturize your face with it afterward. This oil is amazing – my friend Emma is the founder and that’s all she uses on her skin and she looks amazing. It’s such a good product. I should note it’s totally fine for oily skin too.
Okay so I’ve said this before (and it horrified a few of you) but for those of you with very dry skin, Weleda Skin Food is basically your perfect (clean! affordable!) La Mer dupe. Into the Gloss agrees with me so… feel free to argue, but I have very dry skin and in the winter, nothing is better than using skin food as a moisturizer – it’s rich and luxurious and fixes a variety of skin woes.
I look at Indie Lee as a “bridge” brand between something more affordable and something more expensive. Especially in the natural space where those products can cost SO much. I love her cleansers, especially the brightening cleanser ($32). The new eye serum is very, very good although it’s $48. Her spot treatment is my GO TO when I get a zit. It dries pimples right out!
Other More Affordable Products I Love!
Embryolisse. This is one of my favorite moisturizers ever – from the French drugstore but you can get it at a lot of places. It’s $28, so not exactly cheap but not expensive either.
Bioderma. This is another French drugstore beauty product I love as it takes off your makeup in one sweep and it’s SO GENTLE.
Pond’s Cold Cream. Oh Pond’s. It’s just such a classic. There is nothing better after a big event where I have on a full face of makeup (this is rare so I don’t do it very often). Coming home, coating my face in Pond’s, letting it really sink in and melt all my makeup off, and then getting it all off with a warm, wet, hot towel.
Neutrogena Sheer Sunscreen. And this healthy tint from Neutrogena. And the these Neutrogena wipes. I am still a big fan of everything they do as I have very sensitive skin – their products are all very gentle and effective.
My Ideal Affordable Skincare Routine.
I’d start with this cleanser, then (if my skin needed it exfoliate with either the Seaweed Bath Co scrub or L’Oreal Bright Reveal Peel Pads), and then depending on how much hydration my skin needs I would use Embryolisse (light to medium moisture), or Skin Food (heavy moisture) and then lock it all in with Everyday Oil. Keep in mind I have pretty dry skin, so my routine is all about exfoliation and hydration!
PS – If you’re confused about what order to apply products, read this post!!! It’s one of the questions I get asked the most, so I dedicated a whole post to it!
photography by Trent Bailey.