Fact: Glowing skin comes with a cost. Namely, from your wallet. Take, for example, an anti-aging serum—when it’s good, it’s good. Smear it on, and your skin feels brighter, tighter, and ready for its makeup-free-selfie debut. There’s just that little thing about the price tag… Yikes! It’s steep. Add that onto your eye creams, cleansers, moisturizers, toners, and more, and you’ve got yourself a full-fledged situation. We fully believe that skincare should be an investment, but we also think that it doesn’t need to be a pricey one. Beauty is a democracy, and why should glowing, poreless, Gigi Hadid–esque skin be limited to the select few who can shell out $100+ for skincare products on the reg? No, we’re firmly in the “savviness before spending” camp and are here to tell you that you, too, can get Dom Pérignon–level skin—all on a Two-Buck Chuck budget.
To help us, we enlisted S.W. Basics founder and Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm Happy Skin author Adina Grigore, the reigning queen of DIY skincare solutions. Her recipes and solutions will change your skin (here’s proof), and we suggest taking full stock of your kitchen—aka your new beauty stomping grounds—ASAP.
Keep scrolling to find out how to get champagne-status skin on a boxed-wine budget!
Courtesy of Adina Grigore
If investing in a brightening serum or going in for routine facials isn’t in your current budget, not to fear: The even-toned skin of your dreams is still achievable. “Brightening is achieved when you exfoliate dead skin cells while simultaneously nourishing the ones underneath,” Grigore explains. She suggests reaching for papaya, yogurt, or oats to gently exfoliate your skin, and then following with a rich oil. “You can take a big scoop of full-fat yogurt, add just enough avocado or olive oil to create a paste-like consistency, and apply it like a cleanser or mask,” she says. “Rinse and follow with moisturizer, and you should notice the effects instantly.”
So you’re not going to shell out for La Mer anytime soon—that doesn’t mean your skin is resigned to its sad, dry state. Instead, Grigore says, there’s a cheap but amazing alternative hiding right under your nose: hydrosols. Also known as floral waters, they’re made from steam-distilling plant materials and contain the essence of the plant in every drop—like essential oils, but in a much milder form. “While they are not all created equally, even the super-affordable rose water found in almost any drug and grocery store is soothing and toning all at the same time,” Grigore says. “Rosewater and lavender hydrosols are both light enough to soak into your skin but pack a lot of the strength of essential oils, which means they are anti-inflammatory, help with redness and irritation, and fight chronic dryness.” Use them as toners, or mist them whenever you need a hydration boost. Another bonus: Rose and lavender been proven by science to help your feel less stressed out, too. Shop the aisles of your neighborhood grocery store or drugstore for these fragrant, hydrating, waters—or, you can buy Grigore’s own Lavender Hydrosol ($16) or Rosewater Spray ($16).
Goal: Oil Control
If your forehead is an oil slick by midday, you might be tempted to stock up on mattifying primers and potions. But here’s the deal: Grigore says skin that produces too much oil is often actually struggling for hydration. An easy fix? apple cider vinegar. “It’s my favorite ingredient for oily skin, because it actually corrects your skin’s pH in a way that makes it both less oily and less dry,” she says. “All you need to do is dilute it with water (or hydrosol!).” She instructs to start with four parts water and one part vinegar, and apply it like you would a toner. Take note of how your skin reacts—ACV can be intense for some people, but Grigore says if you notice a healthy flush and your complexion balances out, then you’ve found your match. (Here are 12 more ways to use apple cider vinegar in your everyday beauty routine.)
Goal: Wrinkle Reduction
Ahhh, wrinkles. Like the unwelcome houseguest who shows up unannounced then never goes away, they plague us to no end. Yes, SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic ($162) will likely lessen them, but what about those who aren’t able to spend that much on a serum? Rather than give up altogether, Grigore suggests looking to rich butters and oils to plump up your skin. “Try shea butter, cocoa butter, rosehip seed oil, and essential oils like lavender, frankincense, and geranium,” she says. As we age, our skin needs more and more love, since the work it’s doing on its own slows down. Thus, Grigore says moisturizing is key, and using different butters and oils will provide different nutrients to your skin, just like they would for your body. “You can add one at a time to keep the cost down, but swap new ingredients in from time to time,” she advises. “Essential oils are also a really affordable and powerful way to fight inflammation and invigorate the skin.” She recommends adding a few drops into your carrier oil or butter, and you’ll be good to go. (Here are five more ways to use essential oils, in case you’re feeling creative.)
The Other Stuff
Your kitchen is your oyster—don’t be afraid to coat yourself in kitchen cabinet ingredients, as Grigore puts is. “Even olive oil is incredibly nourishing and gentle for the skin, she promises. “Start slowly, and play with one ingredient at a time.”
We all know by now that what we do and what we put inside our body is just as important as the stuff we put on it. Some other easy, cheap ways to get the best skin of your life? Drink water—that’s a given, but Jessica Alba swears by it. Eat foods with good fats, like avocados and salmon (here are 12 foods for glowing skin, and some more foods that will hydrate your skin from the inside out). And above, all else: Chill. “Virtually every skin ailment (including aging) is exacerbated by stress,” Grigore says. “It doesn’t cost any money to figure out how to relax and be happy!” (But in case you need some ideas, we got you.)
Want more broke-girl beauty tips? Here’s how to get fit without spending a dime.