Ooohhh has this post been cooking for a while. About a month ago someone asked me to do a skincare on a budget post! I get it, I’m a college student with lots of guilty pleases and I love finding skincare that isn’t a billion dollars that actually works. This post took me a little longer then I thought because I wanted to have something tried and true in each category! Today we’re talking serums, masks, toners, moisturizers, eye creams, oils and the whole shabang. I’m a k-beauty skincare sort of girl so I love me a 10 step routine. Whether you go for a 10 step routine or a simple wash and moisturize I got you!
This skincare routine is drugstore priced or on a budget but I really strayed from American drugstore beauty. In my findings, I think European and Asian drugstore beauty is a hell of a lot better than American drugstore beauty. You can find products that lack chemicals, parabens, fragrance, dyes and all of that shit that’s really not good for your skin that won’t cost an arm and a leg. Especially, k-beauty which we’ll talk about later!
As for American drugstore, there are a few products here and there but honestly, I don’t want to use Olay or Clean and Clear and when I have it the past, it broke out my skin and left it dry and tight. My skin just doesn’t bode well with American drugstore beauty and I rarely purchase skincare from the drugstore anymore. While some of the stuff could work for your skin, what I’ve tried and the low-quality ingredients and fragrances make my skin very unhappy. If you’re using something drugstore that your skin responds well too, keep using it! Personally, I have sensitive, dry skin and I find that my skin does better with gentler formulas without a huge list of ingredients and surely without tons of fragrance and dyes.
Here’s an analogy: Garnier Micellar Water versus Bioderma. American drugstore versus French pharmacy. The products are priced similarly and the difference/quality is night and day!
I love Korean beauty for so many reasons. I’m generally still experimenting with it, I’d call myself a mid-level student, but I love it! The ingredients are rich, quality materials that skin, at least mine, responds well too. They’re often gentle and made with really unique ingredients…ahem snail mucin… That truly work! I’m a huge fan of the 10 step routine. I believe simplicity is better at times but with K-Beauty, I have enough gentle products in my routine that allow me to follow the 10 step routine and still get results along with really hydrating my skin.
I love this explanation by k-beauty brand, Peach Slices. K-Beauty has always been huge because they’re so forward thinking with their skincare and they strive for perfection. It’s starting to become more mainstream in the American market and I’m loving it and how easy it can be to access.
If you’ve made it past my explanation, thank you!! Here’s my fave budget skincare — I classify budget as under $25 but a lot of this is way cheaper. No bullshit, no drugstore soaps that will dry out your skin and skincare that I have tried and reach for often.
I also want to say, this is an ongoing post and I’ll add stuff on here as I try/discover new things. I’ll be doing it monthly and will alert you on the blog and Instagram!
I did a post on SPF here. SPF is sooooo important.
Missha Sun Milk – $22 – They also have $10 versions too.
This is one of my favorite sunscreens. It’s incredibly light, milk-like and easy to blend in on the skin. It’s a physical sunscreen so it has the slightest, tiniest tint of a white cast. I find that it fades away with some time and if you’re wearing makeup you’re fine. It won’t clog pores or feel thick and greasy. I reach for this if I just want a sunscreen to wear without makeup and I love the texture!
Supergoop Glow Stick – $25
A dry oil sunscreen that’s perfect for application on the go? If you likey dewy, you’ll need this. It actually doubles as a highlighting balm because it’s so dewy. It’s not for everyone but if you like a dewy face and want to reapply SPF, this is a good option. I love the SPF setting powder best but the one I have is $30!
Face Oils all under $10 !!!
Face oils are one of my favorite parts of my routine!
Acure Face Oils – $9
I have the marula oil along with the blue tansy oil and both are awesome. They’re lightweight and melt into the skin for added hydration. You can find them at Target and Whole Foods. You can also find them on sale at TJ Maxx and that’s what I recommend because they’re like $6.
Trader Joes Argan Oil – $6
Don’t sleep on Trader Joes skincare!!!! This oil is great for hair or skincare. It’s not super light but not the thickest oil I’ve tried. It’s pure argan oil and it’s just as good as the $100 Josie Maran oils. Buy this and save your dollars. I also love their rose toner spray and their oil cleanser.
My dry skin peeps will love this! This is such a thick, creamy moisturizer and it’s not for oily skin or for daily use. I save this for winter and use it on nights when my skin is extra dry, in need of some serious hydration and TLC. I wouldn’t even recommend this for daytime because it’s so thick. I don’t find this to clog my pores! It’s such a savior product in the winter because it really helps to hydrate dry, winter skin.
Beyond Aqua Angel Cream – $25 for 2 jumbo ones.
This is water, gel texture. I think it would work for all skin types because I have dry skin and I love how hydrating it is. It’s a great summer moisturizer because it’s lightweight, but you could use it all year round. The texture reminds me of the Belief water cream or the Neutrogena gel hydration cream. It’s a good lightweight, everyday moisturizer that absorbs quickly and won’t clog pores or feel greasy!
A heavy duty moisturizer for dry skin. It has a thicker, cream texture and it feels so hydrating once it’s on. The texture sort of reminds me of my HG Avene Skin Recovery cream rich moisturizer. It’s a great, soothing and hydrating creamy formula with no parabens. Plus, it has salicylic acid to help exfolatie and keep the texture of the skin smooth and radiant.
Hadanomy Collagen Cream – $11
This is a light yet creamy moisturizer. I like the texture but the scent! If you like roses maybe you’ll enjoy this but the scent is very strong. It’s a good moisturizer but too strong of a scent for my liking. Collagen will help the skin hold it’s elasticity, will this $11 highly scented cream do that, unlikely.
What a great cleansing balm and makeup remover! It’s definitely one of my favorites! It removes all makeup and it’s super gentle. It honestly is so, so similar to the Clinique take the day off balm. They also make different versions for different skin types. They have a normal, oily, nourishing and a dry skin one I believe. They contain papaya extract, an enzyme exfoliant and vitamin c to brighten. Whether I notice anything is a stretch because I use other products to help exfoliate and brighten BUT it circles back to my schtick on k-beauty and it’s choice of stellar ingredients that’ll benefit the skin. I suggest getting them on Amazon or Sokoglam.
Skin Laundry cleanser – $20
This is a great cleanser to wash your face to remove dirt or to use as a second cleanse. It’s a good gentle, foaming cleanser and those are harder to find then you would think!
Bioderma – $14
Best makeup remover, micellar water hands down. Buy this on Amazon, don’t use the Garnier one — it’s much greasier feeling. You will thank yourself. I know why everyone loves this and it’s a staple for me. It’s gentle, doesn’t dry you out and removes excess anything on your skin. I like hydrabio but sensibio is just as good. I have / use both.
This is an awesome serum that I’ve been using for the last 3 weeks! It has vitamin c and ferulic acid which are two great antioxidants that are packed with benefits for the skin. Vitamin C is a great product to use in your morning routine with SPF because it ups the sun protection. The combination of vitamin c and ferulic acid provide up to 4xs the protection from solar radiation. Using this serum in your morning routine will help you even more from sun damage!
Vitamin C will brighten, fade dark spots and overall help the skin to glow. This does all of that and it really helps to fade scars after a bad breakout. I definitely notice a glow and with a 20% Vitamin c, hyaluronic acid and ferulic acid combo, I don’t find it to sting! This vitamin c is very stable and hasn’t oxidized at all since I got it. It’s a pale, yellow color that almost looks like lemon juice. I’ve heard that this is dupe level similar to the Skinceuticals CE ferulic acid that’s around $166. This is $16. I really recommend this and I think it’ll make a difference for your skin. Vitamin c is one of my favorite skincare ingredients! As for this one, it gives great results, the price is so friendly and buyable and it’s on Amazon prime!
Snail mucin fills the essence step of your routine that is very easy to include, use with other serums. This product is 96% snail mucin and is packed with good skin care benefits that include anti-aging and anti-acne. I think snail mucin is a miracle product because it has so much to offer! It fades fine lines, locks in moisture, targets hyperpigmentation, stimulates collagen and improves the appearance of sun damage. Everyone should be using it! I’ve noticed a difference using this and it’s so simple to incorporate and it’s gentle to use with other products! While snail mucin maybe dubbed a fad and not backed by research, it’s huge in k-beauty products and me along with many other people can attest to its benefits.
As for the texture, it’s a sticky slime. I was grossed out at first by this, snails freak me out, but I think the hydration and spot fading I get from it makes it worth using.
A gentle, hydrating serum that helps to add moisture back into the skin is a skincare staple. You could almost use this as an essence or ampoule and use it after a BHA/AHA or Vitamin C which is what I usually do for added hydration. This is also great under makeup if you want a dewy base. It has a slightly tacky finish. This contains licorice root which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight wrinkles, fade dark spots and soothe skin conditions like eczema. I think this could be a good serum to add hydration for dry skin, to soothe sensitive skin or even as a moisturizer for oily skin.
Mists / Essences
Thayers Toner Spray – $11
A toner spray is a refreshing spritz on the skin after cleansing. It helps to hydrate and just get rid of any leftover bacteria on your face while adding some hydration and helping to reduce redness. You can use this as an essence in your routine after toner or exfoliating. I like the spray because then you don’t need cotton which can strip the moisture from your skin. I go for lavender but they have cucumber, rose and a few other flavors.
These sprays are pretty basic now. I like them to set my makeup or as a refreshing spritz in my routine or throughout the day. I think they hydrate after you spray them but long term, I would argue that they really don’t do much.
I use this to pat into my skin for added hydration. I’ve been dry lately and this added step won’t effect the rest of my routine and it’s helping to hydrate! Essences and emulsions are a great way to add plumping effects and hydration into your routine. This one has a high amount of alcohol, but so far it’s been good and hydrating to my skin.
The only spray I’ve tried that actually hydrates. It contains pumpkin extract to hydrate and boost glow! Like any spray, not life changing but this one is the best out of what I tried. The smell is odd — sort of like leather. This really hydrates and adds a radiance to the skin!
Cosrx Rx Acne Dots – $5.
I love these little guys. There stickers that you put on zits that will dry them out and basically kill them. The gross part, you’ll see the puss on the sticker when you take it off in the morning! I like these for new zits or upcoming zits. They’re great to wear before bed and they’re clear so you can wear them out if you have too! I prefer these for upcoming zits or a zit I just popped. This will suck the life out of a zit. I also like the Peach Slices ones too.
This stuff is raved about! I like this to dry out a zit, towards the end of it’s life or after its been popped and needs to be dried out. This will dry out a dead zit. I do think I like the dots better because they stay on all night! When I use this, I wake up and there’s no sign of it on my face.
Pixi Glow Tonic – $15
I love a chemical exfoliant and it’s way better than a physical exfoliant for removing dead skin. This Pixi one contains 5% glycolic acid and is alcohol-free to wipe away dead skin so you can have a smooth radiant glow. This is an exfoliating toner so you can use it with a serum. You can use this every night or every other night depending on your skin! I like to use a chemical exfoliant at night and a vitamin C during the day since it boosts my sun protection with SPF. If you’re using a chemical exfoliant you absolutely need a daily SPF because acids make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Pixi Peel and Polish – $24
My favorite exfoliating mask!! This product contains enzyme exfoliants to help leave the skin softer and smoother. This is a treatment mask and can be used 2-3 times a week! If you use this, you wouldn’t need the glow tonic or another chemical exfoliant every night…I go every other night, do what your skin can tolerate. I love this mask because it leaves my skin brighter, smoother and fresh looking. It get’s rid of dull skin and it’s one of my favorites!!
This is a physical exfoliating mask that contains sugar and strawberry seeds. I said I prefer a chemical exfoliant but there’s nothing like a good chemical exfoliant from time to time to really remove the dead skin off your face. I don’t use this as a mask– it’s like putting exfoliator on your face and leaving it there. It does nothing and doesn’t dry down. I use this to prep my face before using self-tan or if my skin needs a gentle, scrub. This mask is pretty gentle but you can use it everywhere to exfoliate before self-tan.
Neogen Exfoliating Pads – $18
These are a chemical exfoliant on a gauze pad that you swipe on your face. I have this but haven’t used it yet as I’m waiting to finish up my other chemical exfoliant. I just had to talk about them now because I have heard great things and I expect to use these soon. I love that they come on gauze so you don’t have to grab cotton too. I’ll be talking about these on here soon once I use them! I think these are also a good bet for acne prone skin.
I guess this is a runoff from the exfoliants.
I like the honey mask for hydration and the marshmallow one for radiance and a soothing feeling to the skin. These are great masks from Target and I’m loving Bliss. I think the honey one does more then the marshmallow one but the texture of that one is truly my favorite.
Are they the most groundbreaking masks that will deliver skin changing results? No. I think the honey one works better and delivers more for the skin in terms of hydration. The marshmallow radiance one? Doesn’t do much. If you want a glow, you’re better off using vitamin c or a chemical exfoliant. This one is more for pampering.
This is the most hydrating sheet mask I’ve ever tried in my life. Really hydrates and plumps you up!
Biore Nose Strips – $7
These may be bad because they stretch out pores or so I’ve read! I love them for getting rid of sebaceous filaments. They’re so satisfying once you peel them off, too! I’ve used these for forever and they help with the texture on my nose.
If you like a dewy base then you’ll like this moisturizer. It has shimmer in it that wears really pretty and gives a dewy finish to the skin. It looks great under makeup and it would be a great hydrating, illuminating primer! It’s also pretty on no makeup up days for a subtle glow.
Laneige Lip Mask – $20
The overnight lip mask that will actually help your chapped lips. I use this daily as a lip balm and it really helps to nourish my lips and its a great dose of heavy duty hydration. I use this daily!
L’oreal tan towels – $8
I need to buy these again because they’re so easy to use — it’s a wipe and you wash off at your next shower. It doesn’t streak and it leaves a nice color! Plus you can use it with moisturizer on dry spots.
This is a good, little on the go hydration stick. It has coconut oil so use it with caution depending on how your skin reacts to that. I don’t like coconut oil on my pores — it makes them bigger, so I use this for undereye hydration or on my lips or on dry spots on my body.
This is 92% aloe and it’s very cooling and soothing on the skin. Good for a cooling lotion or on a sunburn!
There we have it, I have dry skin but I tried hard to include products that I believe would work for all different skin types! I tried hard to have oil cleansers, water-based cleansers, makeup removes, toners, essence, serums, exfoliants, moisturizers, oils, face masks and the whole 9 yards! I’ll post updates and new products on here soon! Any requests or questions, send them my way!
I know I don’t have an eye cream on here. I don’t have one that I love in any price range so I’ll work on that!
If I had to narrow it down, I would get SPF, a good cleanser, Bioderma, a chemical exfoliant and a moisturizer. Maybe a good maintenance mask too depending on your skin type.