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Post in Skincare Aware

Cheap but reliable favs

Hi everybody! I'm just discovering the world of skincare and would like to know some of your guys favorites. For all those people out there with acne, red, or sensitive type skin, I can relate! I'm also looking for cheaper products because the stuff at Sephora can get REALLY pricey. Anyway, please reply and list your favs down below!! (Also, you are beautiful and never forget!)

Re: Cheap but reliable favs


Re: Cheap but reliable favs

@iloveSuns if you're looking for cost effective I tend to go for the kbeauty route - cosrx, Benton and purito have all been fantastic for me their products are around $20 which can help supplement a routine. 


The cosrx gel cleanser, benton snail bee essence and aloe BHA toner and the purito centella serum and sunscreen are all fantastic 

Re: Cheap but reliable favs

Hi @iloveSuns 

Some of my favorite budget friendly options are:

The INKEY List Caffeine Eye Cream  I have used this every morning since my 6 month old was born and it really helps with the exhausted new mom look LOL

 The INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum  I use this on mornings when my skin needs a little extra oomph of hydration and a bonus is it makes my skin super soft. 

Depending on what your definition of pricey is (I agree that is a very relative term), LANEIGE Eye Sleeping Mask is another one of my faves. I have had my current container for almost a year now; It lasts forever since I only use it 2-3 times a week and you don't need to use very much at a time. 

My go to budget friendly chemical exfoliant is The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA I was using Sunday Riley's lactic acid treatment (which is $100+) and to my surprise and delight the Ordinary's is just as good! People also rave about The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution and The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil but I haven't tried those yet.


Have fun exploring the world of skin care! I hope you find your HG products 🙂

Re: Cheap but reliable favs

Try the Sephora favorites bags. It's a little gift bag with about 5-6 travel size products in it. Once in a while they'll include a deluxe sample size as well. Anyways, there's one for ALL skin types, oily, combo, dry. They all range from $25-$35 a bag and you get to try all these GREAT top-rated products! The best part is, if you really like any of the items, the bag includes a card that saves you 15% off each product you got a sample of in the bag so if you try it, like it, need it, you save 15% off the full size product(in-store or online, btw). I have gotten a few of these and have NEVER been disappointed. Hello hydration and Beauty must-haves are some that I have tried and its a GREAT way to explore lines, save money and see which brands your skin gels with the most. 

Re: Cheap but reliable favs

Hi @iloveSuns!


Some of the most affordable brands at Sephora are Inkey List, Sephora Collections, and The Ordinary.


My favorite skincare products are SUNDAY RILEY U.F.O Ultra Clarifying Face Oil 0.5 oz/ 15 mL and Youth To The People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid 

RE: Cheap but reliable favs

I have normal (summer) to dry (winter) skin - but struggle with hormonal acne, and have sensitive skin due to prolonged retinA use. If you are very oily, some of these suggestions may or not work for you. I really enjoy the cerave hydrating cleanser and salicylic acid cleanser (have heard the cream to foam is awesome too) and alternate between the two. They are both around $12 for 8-12oz. Both are fine for normal skin. If you are oily you can try their foaming cleanser. They are all gentle and fragrance free. You can consider a benzoyl peroxide cleanser and alternate that with a salicylic acid one if really trying to clear up acne. I also think the Ordinary’s serums are great, and are only $6+ dollars. All of them are in a hyaluronic acid vehicle which is a great humectant. I think a lot of acne sufferers are afraid to keep their skin moisturized and end up compromising their skin barrier by overusing benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid products without adequately moisturizing. I would follow a humectant product with an oil free moisturizer. I really enjoy the Clinique moisture surge line. And would consider adding an adapalene product (such as Differin) if lots of acne. And follow up with spf. A lot of actives (esp adapalene) will make you more sun sensitive. Daily spf is one of the most important components of any skin care routine anyway.

Re: Cheap but reliable favs

@iloveSuns For budget beauty, I like CeraVe PM and CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, Cetaphil Night Moisturizer from their Redness Relieving line, Revolution Skincare London Niacinamide, The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil, VERSED charcoal mask.


I also bought, but haven't been using The INKEY List Niacinamide Oil Control Serum (swapped it out for the Revolution). The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane .


I'm a little underwhelmed by The INKEY List Collagen Booster Firming Peptide Serum , but I plan to buy The INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum .  And if that doesn't work, I will be trying Vichy 89 serum (would've gotten it 40% off today at Ulta, but it was online only and I didn't have anything else to buy).


I think if you shop the sales, accrue points, etc then skincare can be a little more affordable.

Re: Cheap but reliable favs

I love that message @iloveSuns ! I love the brand Kate Somerville. I also have acne, and I find that their products really help, but are really gentle Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Cleanser . I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions, have a wonderful day 🙂

Re: Cheap but reliable favs

I completely disagree with the response below, @iloveSuns. You can absolutely find quality products for lower prices. What's your skin type? Do you have a specific budget in mind (since cheap and expensive are all relative haha)?

Re: Cheap but reliable favs

Hey. Well 1st I have to say. When it comes to your skin  you cannot be cheap. Spending more you use less and it goes a long way. I like drunk elephant all of these are organic and great for sensitive skin. Give it a try (:

RE: Re: Cheap but reliable favs

I disagree. A lot of cheaper drugstore products have the same actives as expensive products. But they don’t necessarily have as luxurious a texture or experience. I do think a lot of expensive skin care is about the experience and not the end result. Which is completely fine - I spend a lot of money on products that I know have cheaper alternatives because I simply enjoy using them. And the texture and experience is worth it to me. I think you can poll a bunch of dermatologists and almost 100% of them (at least the ones not making commission on products) would be able to recommend a great all drugstore skin care regimen. Brands like cerave, vanicream, neutrogena are frequently recommended by derms.

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That may be true. Lots of expensive brands have high percentages of actives - but I think more and more cost conscious brands are more actives driven and those products exist out there. One example of where I think spending the cash does matter is for vitamin C. L-ascorbic acid is very unstable so most cheap vitamin C products probably do nothing for you bc they degrade too fast. As far as retinols - the percentage is pretty useless as retinols aren’t regulated and the percentages are meaningless if you are comparing one retinol to a different one - it’s really apples to oranges. And there isn’t as much research on retinols as there has been on retinoids but there is research in the dermatologic literature at least that a lower 0.025% tretinoin may actually be equally effective for treating fine lines and wrinkles as higher concentrations. So maybe more isn’t really better.

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@jhe9488 It's still going to more to do with formulation and packaging than price, @jhe9488. My ascorbic acid serum is really cheap but is packaged well in a dark bottle and I keep it in the fridge so it lasts quite a while (and has worked much better for me than some more expensive brands). 

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Oh I agree with you on that one—formulation is key. It’s just that a lot of derms feel like L-ascorbic acid + ferulic acid at a specific pH is the best. And skinceuticals patented that specific formulation and no one else has that exact formula. The drunk elephant is the closest dupe to it but also fairly expensive. I’ve spoken to dermatologist friends about this. So yes, formulation is what matters and not price. It’s just that the most “ideal” formulation happens to be very expensive without any affordable dupes. I’m sure there are other formulations that work also, it’s just there is overwhelming dermatologist backing of that specific one, which is $166 per one oz bottle. And there isn’t any medical literature supporting efficacy of any formulations besides that one. It doesn’t mean the others don’t work, just that no one has proven it. And there are plenty or cheaper formulations that very clearly don’t work - such as powders etc.

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@jhe9488 There is a ton of medical research surrounding the efficacy of vitamin C in the form of regular old L-ascorbic acid as used in skincare. I'm sure the Skinceuticals formulation is lovely, but it's by no means the only formulation that works or the only one that is recommended by dermatologists and skincare chemists. 

Re: RE: Re: Cheap but reliable favs

@jhe9488  hmm, I'm not sure what kind of vit.c mine is, but it's like 2+yrs old and still seems to brighten my face when I put it on - or am I imagining that? lol. 🤔

Re: RE: Re: Cheap but reliable favs

Hey if it works it works! I wouldn’t question it lol. But vitamin C products oxidize and lose their efficacy over time - hence why they tend to be sold in dark bottles (the good ones anyway) to block out sunlight and should be stored in a dark cool place (ideally a fridge) to slow down the oxidation process.   They have limited shelf lives and their color typically starts to darken over time. 

Re: RE: Re: Cheap but reliable favs

@jhe9488 I agree that there are good products at all price ranges.  What I've personally found is that some of the more expensive brands seem to have higher concentrations of actives like retinol, Vitamin C, AHA and BHA.  But certainly this isn't always the case - like with Alpha Skin Care, The Inkey List, TO, etc.  I hope to see more drugstore brands offering higher concentrations of retinol, BHA, etc in the future.

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