Skincare on a budget. For a lot of us, when starting out in skincare, we might not be able or willing to spend tons of money on a skincare routine, so we look to the cheaper drugstore brands. From my own experience, these brands can be either hits or misses. Some of them will offer fantastic ingredients with a low price to beat, while others will be packed with contents that will only irritate your skin more.
So what do I consider a budget brand? How do you determine how much you have to spend in order to achieve this categorization? For me, a budget brands offers products under 10 pounds, but the occasional product that is more expensive than that but will last you twice as long is eligible too. Remember, if you spend 3 pounds on a day cream that lasts you a month or 9 pounds on one that lasts you three months, you’re still spending the same amount of money.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the biggest names in budget skincare, and how they hold up against my personal skincare standards.
The Ordinary is a brand that’s made by DECIEM, the same umbrella company that makes NIOD. This brand prides itself on being free-from, which means all of their products are made without parabens, sulfates, mineral oils or any other ingredients that might upset your skin.
My big plus for The Ordinary is their fantastic range of retinoids and peptides. If you’ve been in the skincare game for a while and are looking to add these products to your routine, definitely consider The Ordinary. They also list the pH of every single product on their website, and their ingredient lists, after taking them through the ingredient scanner I use, show up completely free of any baddies, just like they promised.
Most of their products are vegan and cruelty-free. Price point wise, their cleanser is only £5,50, which is a correct price in my eyes. The only downside to this brand? It’s available mostly online, unless you live in London and have access to their flagship store. However, they do offer a 365-day return policy, so if something does not work out for you, you have a full year to return it!
This is by far my favourite skincare brand! Simple was founded in 1960 and today is the number 1 budget skincare brand in the UK. Their tagline is ‘Kind to Skin’ and that should tell you a lot about their products. They specifically tailor to sensitive skin, but anyone can use their products and still expect great results. Every product they make is free from anything that could upset your skin and infused with vitamins and skin loving ingredients.
All of their products are dermatologically and ophthalmologically tested, non-comedogenic and PH balanced, and it shows. I’ve heard so many stories of people trying multiple luxury brands, only to find that Simple works much better. This brand offers specific anti-ageing ranges, as well as one for the oily/combination skin types among us. 90 percent of my skincare routine is Simple products, and I have tried a lot of brands for my difficult skin!
Their price range is even better, their basic face wash starting at £1,50. Simple is available online and in store at Boots, Superdrug and the bigger supermarkets like ASDA. They also recently made the leap to go international, so have a look if Simple is available in your country!
Okay, I have to admit, I’m a big fan of Lush and everything they do. My cupboard is full of their bath bombs and shower gels. Lush was founded in 1995 and has since then taken over the world with their cruelty-free, natural products. They offer everything from soap to shaving products to face masks. Their bath bombs are, in my opinion, by far their best products, but their haircare is top-notch too!
Their skincare range however, I’ve got a love-hate relationship with. Even though their skincare is completely natural and does not include any harsh chemicals, I’ve tried products in the past I’ve reacted badly to. This lies in the fact that Lush uses mineral and essential oils in their products, as well as not shying away from perfumes and parabens. Even though everything is meant to be very natural and kind to your skin, it has been proven these ingredients can upset sensitive skin and clog pores.
The products I do love are their face masks. They are packed with good ingredients and Lush offer both cleansing and hydrating options. Mask of Magnaminty is my all time favourite skin detoxing mask, and I’ve been using it for years. My mother uses their moisturizer daily and she swears by it, while I only broke out after testing one.
It all comes down to personal preference. Lush is very big on giving out samples on just about anything, so you can try a product on your skin before you commit to it. Their testers will last you at least a week if you use them correctly and by then, you will have formed a proper opinion on whether it works. Price point wise, people could consider Lush being a bit more high end, since their moisturizers retail for 20 pounds and up, but, they will last you at least 6 months, so consider it an investment.
Avène is another one of those powerhouses that cater specifically to the very sensitive, dehydrated skin types. This brands focus lies on the spring water they get from their source in the south of France, which has been known to have skin healing properties since 1736. It was even used to treat burn victims!
Avène has multiple ranges, with the focus being on soothing irritated and dehydrated skin. However, they also offer cold cream (one of those things that was your grandmother’s holy grail and is still around for a reason!) and products for oilier complexions. They offer everything from face washes to serums and sun care.
My personal favourite is their Calcifate range, and here’s why. I am a midwife, which means I work in hospitals where I have to disinfect my hands with harsh alcohols pretty much every time I touch something. I also have eczema on my hands during dry and cold months. The combination of these two meant that I would have wounds on my hands from dry patches being torn open, and nothing I tried worked. Their Calcifate range does. Whenever my hands start getting a bit sore, I put their hand cream on and it soothes and heals my eczema immediately.
This brand’s cleansers start at about 11 pounds, so it’s on the verge of being high end in my eyes. However, this brand is so fantastic catering to the extremely irritated and sensitive skin, I still wanted to include it in this list.
This brand is a big one for teenage skin, or any oily/combination types dealing with acne. Their Effaclar range is famous for being extremely effective at getting acne under control, and is the favourite of many beauty bloggers. This brand has been around since 1976 and is a daughter company of L’Oréal.
La Roche-Posay (wow, that is a mouthful), like other brands, offer multiple ranges, but Effaclar is by far the most popular. Featuring products with salicylic acid and other sebo-controlling ingredients, it has helped a lot of people get their breakouts under control. All of their products are dermatologically tested, and they claim 9 out of 10 dermatologists recommend their brand.
They also claim their sensitive line is even suitable for babies, but since I do not have children, I can’t put that to the test for you. I am saying though, that if you are looking for products for your oily or combo skin, Effaclar might be worth a try. At 12 pounds for the cleanser, I would not necessarily categorize this as being extremely budget proof, but for acne issues, it’s definitely one of the best choices out there.
La Roche-Posay is sold at Boots and your local pharmacy.
Founded in 1930, Neutrogena is another brand that has been around for a while. They offer multiple ranges, formulated for dehydrated, sensitive or oily skin. Neutrogena is dermatologically tested and they pride themselves on constantly evolving their products to suit the needs of their clientele.
I have tried a couple of their products, and here’s my verdict after going through the ingredient lists and how they worked for my skin. First off, their Hydro Boost range looks absolutely great! It offers great products that will intensely nourish and hydrate dull or dehydrated skin. They even offer products for your body within this range, which is great if your dry skin reaches further than your face alone.
I have personally tried their Visibly Clear line, and with this one, I’ve got some issues. The moisturizer, although meant for combination skin, made me shiny and broke me out. The face wash is great, but does make my sensitive skin look a bit red and irritated.
My advice for Neutrogena is to have a look at your skincare needs. If they are simple and straightforward, i.e. you only have oily skin that is not sensitive or you only need some extra hydration for your dry skin, this brand will work well. Otherwise, I would look at another brand, since their products are so focused on doing exactly what they are told, mixed skin types could find Neutrogena doesn’t work for them. Neutrogena is freely available online, at Boots and Superdrug, and their products start at £4,69 for a cleanser.
Bringing It All Together
So, which brands do I recommend for which skin types? Here’s my breakdown for every skin type
- Dry or Dehydrated skin: Try Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost range
- Sensitive skin: Try Simple or Avène
- Oily or Combination skin: Try La Roche-Posay Effaclar
- Vegan skincare: Try The Ordinary
- Expanding your routine: Try The Ordinary
- Natural products: Try Lush, but be careful to try out products before you buy
There you have it, my list of budget skincare brands. Take into account that I live in the UK, so I only used brands that are available here, which is why I might have missed your favourite brand. Skincare on a budget is definitely possible and you do not need to spend hundreds of pounds to achieve your goals. Ingredients are becoming more effective and brands are becoming more conscious of what they are bringing to the market. It’s a golden age for skincare, so let’s make the most of it!
Are there any brands that I missed? Do you have personal positive or negative experiences with these brands? Let me know in the comments, I would love to know!