I Swapped My Expensive Skincare for Drugstore Products and Didn't Hate It

Updated 04/26/19

My skincare routine has always been special to me. I take my time—blithely enjoying every scent, texture, and moment to myself. I take advantage of any opportunity for me time in my small NYC bathroom. So, yes, I like to treat myself to expensive products. I keep them displayed proudly in their minimalist packaging as chic accessories in my morning routine. If asked, I couldn't name a single drugstore product I used on a daily basis.

The thing is, I began to realize that while some prestige skincare is worth the price tag (cough Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, $165), others, simply aren't. In an experiment to overhaul my regimen and find the best inexpensive products on the market, I decided to use only drugstore products for seven days straight. But, how to choose? I asked our lovely (and knowledgeable) readers to comment on Facebook and Instagram with their picks. From there, I narrowed it down to just nine products to replace the ones I usually use.

Keep reading to find out the results.

Yes to Coconut Wipes - best skincare products
Yes to Coconut Face & Hand Cleansing Wipes $5
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My thoughts: I was already familiar with these coconut-scented makeup wipes—I'm a sucker for anything that smells like vacation. So, when a reader suggested it, I was totally on board. Formulated with coconut water and kukui nut extract, they're not drying like most other options and easily remove stubborn mascara and lipstick in just a few swipes. I'm sold.

How likely I am to use it again: 5/5

CeraVe Cleanser - best beauty products
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser $8
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My thoughts: Thanks to ceramides, humectants, and emollients, CeraVe's cleanser is supremely gentle and hydrating. I couldn't believe how nice it felt on my skin. It doesn't foam up or leave you feeling dry, just restored and refreshed. The ingredients help protect your skin barrier while replenishing and retaining moisture. I usually like to use a slightly more active cleanser, as I don't have sensitive skin, but this one is definitely worth keeping around for when my skin feels irritated or dry.

How likely I am to use it again: 3/5

Thayers Rose Witch Hazel - best beauty products
Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel With Aloe Vera $7
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My thoughts: I've used this brand before at the suggestion of a few of our most engaged readers (thanks, guys). This one is particularly lovely, as it's an alcohol-free (so it's totally gentle on your skin) mix of aloe vera juice, glycerin, witch hazel, and rose water. I splash it on post-cleanse in the morning and sometimes even when I just need a quick refresh throughout the day.

How likely I am to use it again: 4/5

Neutrogena Hydra Boost Water Gel - drugstore anti aging cream
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel $14
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My thoughts: Our managing editor Lindsey raves about this stuff—it's the one moisturizer every dermatologist continually tells her to use. So, I wasn't surprised when it felt really lovely and made my skin look even better. It's super light and airy, kind of like a mix between a gel and a cloud cream, and it's infused with hyaluronic acid.

How likely I am to use it again: 4/5

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair- drugstore anti aging cream
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Moisturize With Retinol $18
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My thoughts: I've heard about this product a lot—people really love it on the internet. In fact, during clinical trials, 100% of women experienced noticeable results in just one week of use. As a good retinol is paramount in my preventative anti-aging routine, I was excited to give this one a try each night. I experienced a little bit of redness the first night, took the second off, and by the third could really tell a difference in the texture of my skin. This is definitely a solid anti-aging product.

How likely I am to use it again: 5/5

L'Oreal Brightening Peel Pads - drugstore anti aging cream
L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal Brightening Peel Pads $18
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My thoughts: To replace my most prized skincare possession, a glycolic acid peel, I used L'Oréal's brightening pads to keep my skin's texture even and bright. The textured pads physically exfoliate, while the glycolic acid helps to resurface, brighten, and smooth your skin. I follow up with a thick moisturizer and wake up with skin just as bright (if not brighter) than when I use my expensive masks and peels.

How likely I am to use it again: 5/5

Avene Eye Cream - drugstore anti aging cream
Avène Physiolift Eyes $46
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My thoughts: Admittedly, $46 is extravagant for a drugstore product. But, I don't mess around when it comes to eye cream. I suffer from consistently tired-looking eyes, dark circles, and under-eye bags (it's a struggle), so I rely on my eye cream to do a lot of heavy lifting. It's definitely an area where I'm not willing to settle. So, I splurged on a French pharmacy product. I liked it—it's moisturizing, soothing, and the texture is nice. But, I don't think it helped the thin skin in my under-eye area as much as I would have liked.

It's a great option in a pinch, but I'm staying loyal to my original formula.

How likely I am to use it again: 2/5

Dr Bonners - best beauty products
Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soap in Peppermint $16
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My thoughts: I'm no stranger to this one—I used it the entire time I was growing up in my shower as well as on family camping trips. It's organic and vegan, which I love, and the peppermint scent is incredible in the morning. The lather is quite nice, but, I did find that afterward, my skin felt a bit tight. I was happy with the soap but I'd definitely try for something more moisturizing next time.

How likely I am to use it again: 2/5

Maybelline Baby Lips - best beauty products
Maybelline Baby Lips $4
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My thoughts: I have a go-to glowy, pink lip balm that I'm obsessed with—but, yes, it costs a lot of money. So, in an effort to really go for it with this experiment, I gave it up in favor of a Maybelline dupe. Baby Lips is great: moisturizing, delightfully scented, with just a hint of color. I'm keeping it my bag from now on, but I'll never give up my other fancy balm.

How likely I am to use it again: 4/5

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