Splurge or Save? These Skincare Products Are Totally Worth It

There’s no doubt about it, you should be taking care of your skin. But your skincare products should take just as much care of you, and that includes your wallet. After all, the key to a solid skincare routine is consistency. So you not only need products that work, but ones you can afford to buy again and again.

Some skincare products are worth the splurge, but others are definitely not. With your budget in mind, it’s important to know what’s really worth what when you’re filling up that shopping cart.

Cleanser

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It might sound surprising, but there are very few instances where you should be splurging on a face cleanser. If you ask around, top dermatologists and skin care specialists will quickly let you know that a drugstore cleanser will do just fine.

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Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser for $10 is eternally recommended for its gentleness, effectiveness, and price point.

If you’re looking for something affordable, clean, and luxury level, browse cleansers from The Inkey List on Sephora. The Inkey List is a step above the rest when it comes to forward-thinking products with nontoxic ingredients. Lately, they’re even beating some of the biggest brands to “what’s next” in the clean skincare movement. Best of all, their award-winning and beauty blogger recommended products are all about $10.

If you have troubled skin, finding the right cleanser may take a little longer. In some cases, it might cost more, and only you can decide if it’s worth it. But before you break the bank, look into CeraVe. They’re renowned for treating troubled skin. This renewing cleanser has rave reviews from those with finicky or sensitive skin, and it’s under $10. Most notably, CeraVe is dermatologist tested and approved.

Toner

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While toners are not something you need to overspend on, you still need to be mindful about what you’re really paying for.

You’ll find countless listicles all saying to splurge to avoid cheap toners loaded with alcohol. And they’re not wrong about that. My advice? Just be aware of this common pitfall read and the ingredients before you buy it.

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Compared with all the great fancy toners I’ve tried, witch hazel remains one of the most effective and inexpensive products I’ve ever put on my face. Typically, you can pick it up at any drugstore from anywhere between $5 and $15.

Beauty experts will tell you; many who switch from pricey toners to witch hazel never go back. Thayer’s has a great line of alcohol-free witch hazel toners all under $20 with skin-boosting ingredients like rose, cucumber, and aloe vera. You can also get this natural and organic Vitamin C Clearing Toner from Insta Natural for under $20. I’d highly recommend it for those with sensitive or dull skin.

Apple cider vinegar diluted with water is another natural toner alternative worth your money but costs very little. Make the switch and see for yourself.

Moisturizer

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You’re not just putting moisturizer on your face, you’re wearing it all day. Because it soaks into your skin consistently, you shouldn’t be buying it hastily, no matter the cost.

The reality is, you can get good moisturizers for cheap, but they’re generally not filled with the best ingredients. In a short-term sitch or a financial pinch, cheaper moisturizers are okay. But when looking at the long-term effects products have on your skin, it’s usually worth spending more.

With that said, your unique skincare needs are also a major factor when deciding what’s really worth what.

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First things first, consider your skin type. If you have ultra-dry skin, you’ll need major hydration and should opt for cream-based moisturizers. If you want something lighter that absorbs quickly, gel moisturizers might be the way to go.

Once you’ve decided what base is right for you, check the ingredients. Whether your moisturizer is cheap or top dollar, what it’s made of matters most. Here’s a list of the best clean skincare products of 2021. Some products cost notably more than others while some are surprisingly affordable, but they’re all formulated with the best ingredients on earth.

Serums

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Beauty experts say that if you’re going to splurge on one thing for sure, make it a serum.

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As noted by Salon, “Serums are going to perform above and beyond a lot of your regular skincare because they are developed with a higher concentration of active ingredients and you get better penetration of those ingredients as well.” On top of that, their job is often to pinpoint, troubleshoot, and conquer specific skincare needs.

The trick to getting your money’s worth with serums is knowing what you’re looking for. Perhaps you want something to help with congestion and texture. If so, don’t hesitate to spend on a quality AHA or salicylic acid serum. If pigmentation is an issue, opt for a serum with licorice root or kojic acid.

No matter your skin type, do yourself a favor and invest in a quality vitamin C serum stat. You’ll thank me later.

Eye Cream

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The skin under our eyes is incredibly sensitive and different from the skin on our faces. In turn, it requires different care.

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Since there is nowhere more prone to fine lines, aging, and irritation, splurging on this focused product is highly recommended. The upside is, it’ll last you. Higher-quality eye creams come with higher price tags, but a little bit goes a long way.

Masks

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When shopping for face masks, skin experts and beauty magazines agree; if you’re going to spend the money, get something really worth it. In other words, a basic mask shouldn’t come with a hefty price tag. But if you want added benefits, it might be worth the splurge.

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No matter the cost, the secret to flawless skin is often a mask that really works. Masks, especially overnight varieties, are often overlooked superstars in skincare routines. So much hydration is lost while we catch some zzzs. With the right mask, you’ll wake up and see an instant difference in your skin’s overall quality. So if you’ve found a sleep mask you love that costs more, don’t throw it out. Most times, you’re getting what you pay for.

If you’re in the mood to splurge, this Superberry Hydrate and Glow Dream Mask from Youth to The People delivers on everything it promises and continues to win countless beauty awards. Frankly, I couldn’t recommend it enough, but I only use it once in a while, so I buy the $15 mini instead.

With that said, there are some incredibly affordable options worth a test on your skincare quest. Here are 15 of the best drugstore face masks on the market with every skin concern in mind.

Lip Balms

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Splurging on lip balms is never necessary.

Fancy lines may claim to do much more than cheaper lines, but most people will tell you that’s typically not the case. You will likely find yourself disappointed when you’ve paid for a luxury lip balm that doesn’t do more than your trusted drugstore brand. So don’t do it.

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With some smart shopping, you can always find quality lip balm for a fair price. Physicians Formula Organic Lip Treatment is the reigning Allure Best of Beauty winner. It costs under $7. If you’re looking for a solid lip scrub, check out elf’s lip exfoliator collection. These moisturizing miracle workers are made with Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter, and avocado oil, and they’re only 4 smackeroos.

Scrubs

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Never underestimate the power of an exfoliating scrub. It’s a key step for skin cell turnover. If you’re looking for a product with natural anti-aging and resurfacing properties, you don’t want to skip using a face scrub two or three times a week.

However, you don’t have to spend a fortune.

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The best scrubs are mostly made with natural ingredients you could find in your kitchen. Therefore, spending a fortune is silly when you think about it. A DIY face scrub made from coconut milk, raw sugar, and honey will provide the same renewed and hydrated glow as a $40 scrub made with the same ingredients. So don’t be fooled.

If you’re not into making your own scrubs, your options for wow-worthy and wallet-friendly products exist. For instance, this powerful and popular coffee scrub from ArtNaturals is a scrub staple for many. It’s rich in antioxidants, shea butter, sweet almond oil, olive oil, sugar, and it’s under $10.

If you’re looking to spend more but get your money’s worth, this Sugar Strawberry Exfoliating Face Wash will cost you about $33 (or $15 in a mini), but it works. 97% of Sephora users said it immediately exfoliated their skin. 94% of users reported it immediately refined their skin’s texture. Also, it smells delicious.

Body Lotion

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This is another skincare staple that often comes down to personal preference. But if you don’t want to splurge on body lotion, you definitely don’t have to.

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If you haven’t tried Vaseline’s line of intensive care body lotions, you’re missing out on a great buy. Their body lotions are all under $7 at Wal Mart and come highly recommended across the board. Vaseline’s Cocoa Radiant hand and body lotion is an eternal crowd-pleaser for all the right reasons.

Eurecin’s Advanced Repair is consistently voted the best (and least expensive) overall body lotion by dermatologists. If you’re still not sure, check out the 29 best body lotions for every skin type, compliments of The Strategist.

Sunscreen

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There’s no item more important in your skincare stash than sunscreen. When it comes to premature aging, UV rays are responsible for about 80% of the damage done. In other words, this is one step in your skincare routine you should never skip and always budget for.

No matter what sunscreens cost, they work in the same way. What’s really going to matter is texture. Nobody wants greasy, streaky, chalky white sunscreen on their face. Luckily adequate sun protection with a quality feel doesn’t have to cost much.

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This oil-free, breakout-free 55+ broad-spectrum SPF from Neutrogena is Amazon’s Choice and costs about $11. This vegan and reef-friendly 50+ SPF from Sun Bum is a longtime fan favorite and will only run you $13. Cerave AM Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30 costs under $14 and is dermatologist recommended for daily use.

If you’re looking to splurge, I’ve fallen in love with Supergoop. Their beauty award-winning antioxidant-rich sunscreens are reef-safe, invisible, weightless, breakout-free, and deeply moisturizing. They also protect against blue light damage and can double as a primer. Supergoop products are between $20 and $40. While the splurge isn’t necessary, it’s totally worth it.