How to Get Better Skin When You're Pinching Pennies
Skincare can be wildly expensive. The price tag attached to every cleanser, moisturizer, and serum adds up, and, frankly, we can't always afford to treat ourselves. But that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on quality products.
To prove it, I talked to dermatologists, co-workers, and did a little product-testing on my own to find the best of the best—based on your budget. We have exceptional drugstore products, a few indie brands, and a handful of prestige offerings that align with your income. Keep scrolling for every formula you'll ever need and what to pair it with so you don't go over budget (even if you already overspent on Postmates and cocktails this month).
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($10)
Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group recommends this tried-and-true classic: "Cetaphil's cleanser is not a soap and will remove impurities and dirt (even makeup!) from skin without stripping the moisture barrier." Plus, it'll only set you back $10 for a hefty amount of product.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($12)
Mara Weinstein, MD, FAAD—as well as a bevy of other dermatologists—recommend CeraVe as a great budget-friendly option. Weinstein explains, "Ceramide-containing moisturizers are the best because they help replenish the skin barrier. CeraVe is a great example of something simple and over the counter to use at night or as an added layer of moisture in the morning."
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% ($6)
Guess what? This $6 anti-aging serum is the biggest new thing in skincare. Why? Because my favorite vitamin C serum costs almost $200. Dermatologist Ross Perry, MD, confirms the active ingredients in each affordable bottle (like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and retinoid) are "well proven, tried and tested … and are very cheap to source."
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser ($18)
There is truly no better makeup-removing cleanser—and I've tried hundreds. This conditioning face wash can be used on wet or dry skin, depending on how much makeup you're wearing or the amount of grime on your face (think: pollution, sweat, et al). It's effective but oh so gentle.
Soften, boost collagen, and improve elasticity in your skin, courtesy of this light, daily moisturizer that packs an intensely hydrating punch. Radiance, fewer wrinkles, and brighter skin is less than $20 away.
Too Cool for School Egg Cream Mask Firming ($6)
I'm a breakfast food connoisseur, but I was shocked to find my favorite early-morning meal doubles as skincare. It turns out that egg white extract brightens your skin while egg yolk extracts work to nourish and soothe—the ingredient has been used in Korean skincare products for a long time. Too Cool for School's firming mask specifically utilizes high concentrations of hydrolyzed collagen and egg yolk to target your aging skin and plump it back up in 20 minutes.
Caudalie Lip Conditioner ($12)
We often forget to take care of our lips, paying attention only to the skin on our faces (allowing our pout to get dry and flaky). This buttery, antioxidant-rich treatment smooths, moisturizes, and plumps your lips each time you apply. That, and it feels like sheer luxury.
Eve Lom Cleanser ($50)
Eve Lom's cleanser is somewhat of a holy grail product at Byrdie HQ. As in, we all use it. The formula helps improve circulation, open your pores, cleanse, exfoliate, and tone your skin all in the amount of time it takes to massage it into your face. Byrdie's editorial director, Faith, waxes poetic: "I thought I was happy with the cleansers I had been using. I WAS WRONG. This cleanser has a texture like a buttery, fragrant balm that melts instantly when you warm it up in your palms and massage it into your skin. Unlike other balm cleansers, it actually does what it promises and magically melts all my makeup off in one go."
Created by a Parisian who moved to L.A. and became an all-natural esthetician, this line of skincare products (of which the concentrated serums are my favorite) allows you to mix and match each formula according to your skin issue that day. Genius. Mix it in with your foundation for a truly glow-worthy experience.
Stacked Skincare Collagen Boosting Micro-Roller ($30)
Looking to permanently remove your under-eye bags? Our editor used this bad boy to do it—successfully. "Basically, the skin around your eyes is very thin and delicate," celebrity facialist and dermarolling proponent Kerry Benjamin said. "When you see dark circles, you're actually just seeing the blood pool around your eyes through the skin. By microneedling and making those tiny injuries in the skin, you're putting collagen production into overdrive and literally thickening that skin."
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizer ($20)
Enriched with squalane—a botanical lipid similar in molecular structure to natural skin lipids—Kiehl's signature formula will keep any dryness at bay, no matter the situation. It's a classic prestige choice perfect for all skin types (especially during wintertime).
Next up, find out the secret to removing eye makeup without giving yourself wrinkles.