Beauty On A Budget: An Effective Affordable Skincare Routine

As someone always interested in the latest skincare products, I know how easy it is to blow your beauty budget, especially if you’re ingredient-conscious like me.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to receive products due to blogging. But, that doesn’t mean I want to break the bank all the time. Luckily, there are tons of affordable options that can rival their more expensive and popular counterparts. There are actually a few products that even the most experienced skincare guru would struggle to differentiate between once they applied it to their skin.

So, let’s create a budget-friendly skincare routine! In light of our current environment, I think it’s timely. Plus, it’s always good to know that we can all have a good routine without breaking the bank!

To see my budget-friendly skincare routine, keep reading! And if you’re just starting your skincare journey, check out my post on How To Build A Skincare Routine, so you know what products you’ll need first. 

Everyone can have a good skincare routine without breaking the bank!

My Morning Skincare Routine

Step 1: Cleanser

I always look for a gentle, non-drying cleanser, especially since I have sensitive skin. A few economical options I like are:

These cleansers are free of harsh sulfates so they won’t strip or irritate your skin. And each of these is under $15!

If you prefer something milder, you can use a micellar water like Bioderma Sensibio H2O ($15) on a cotton pad. As I’ve stated before, I don’t use micellar water every day, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone to use it in replacement of a real face wash.

Step 2: Vitamin C Serum

This step is technically “optional” in a basic skincare routine. But, I believe everyone can use an antioxidant, and I am a big fan of vitamin C serums. I, personally, use a vitamin C serum almost every day.

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($27) is a great budget-friendly vitamin C serum because it’s lightweight, non-oily, and super stable. It contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which is a vitamin C derivative that treats hyperpigmentation and dullness.

Of course, serums with the active form of vitamin C, l-ascorbic acid, are even more potent. But, they aren’t as stable and oxidize quickly. I really enjoy Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster ($49), and that bottle lasts me about three months.

Step 3: Hydrating Mist

If you’re not familiar with them, face mists are liquids that you mist on your skin using a spray bottle or atomizer. I, personally, love ones that are packed with hydrating and soothing ingredients. Caudalie Grape Water ($10) is one of my favorites and has been in my arsenal for years.

Step 4: Hyaluronic Acid Serum

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed higher-end hyaluronic serums like Pestle and Mortar Hyaluronic SerumDrunk Elephant B-Hydra Hydrating SerumNIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex, and Dr. Barbara Hyaluronic Sturm. Just check my blog and social media channels. But, there are good, less-expensive hyaluronic serum options.

These are all worthwhile options, AND they’re all under $25.

Step 5: Moisturizer

Let me start by saying that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on a good moisturizer. Cheaper moisturizers will perform just as well.

During the spring and summer months, I like a lighter moisturizer. And during the fall and winter months, I tend to reach for richer formulas. Right now, I’m enjoying Paula’s Choice Water-Infusing Electrolyte Moisturizer ($35), Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream ($68) and Good Science Beauty Hydrating Cream ($98). A few economical alternatives are:

Step 6: Sunscreen

Sunscreen is your most crucial skincare product and needs to be worn every day, year-round. I have two go-to sunscreens, and that’s the Paula’s Choice Youth Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF50 ($33) and the Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen ($34). For more affordable alternatives, I would look into:

Both don’t leave me looking casket-ready, and they’re both fragrance-free and water-resistant.

My Evening Skincare Routine

Step 1: Oil Cleanser

I’ve talked about double cleansing ad nauseam. If you wore any makeup, sunscreen, or any silicone-based products, you need to double cleanse. The only time I don’t double cleanse is if I haven’t applied SPF or makeup.

As far as oil cleansers go, here are a few budget-friendly options:

These are some of my go-to cleansing oils. These no-frill formulas are great at removing everything, even the most stubborn eye makeup.

Step 2: Water-Based/Cream Cleanser

Next, we apply a water-based cleanser to remove impurities like sweat and dirt. Here is where you can use the cleanser you used in your morning routine.

Step 3: Exfoliator

If you’ve been following me, you know that I’m a big fan of chemical exfoliants. Exfoliating acids do the work for me, so I don’t have to rub and tug at my skin manually. My favorite chemical exfoliants are Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, Biologique Recherche’s P50V 1970Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum, and Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Enzyme Cleanser. A few economical alternatives are:

  • Good Molecules Pineapple Exfoliating Powder ($16) – This can be considered a dupe for Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Enzyme Cleanser. It’s not as elegant of a formulation, but it’s effective.
  • Tarte Knockout Mini Tingle Treatment Toner ($18) – Although I don’t believe this is a dupe for the P50V 1970 as other people have claimed, I can say that it does exfoliate, refine the look of pores, and balance and brighten the skin.
  • First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads ($17) – These pads remove dead skin cells with two AHAs (lactic acid and glycolic acid). They’re also gentle enough for most skin types since the formula is alcohol-free and high in aloe vera and glycerin.

Step 4: Hydrating Mist

Here’s where you can use the hydrating mist you used in your morning routine.

Step 5: Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Here’s where you can use the hyaluronic acid serum you used in your morning routine.

Step 6: Moisturizer

Here’s where you can use the moisturizer you used in your morning routine.

Step 7: Face Oil

A layer of face oil locks in all the goodness you applied beforehand and helps prevent overnight moisture loss. I have a wide range of face oils, but I have some excellent budget-friendly options too.

I love rosehip oil because it’s packed with beauty essentials like anti-inflammatory fatty acids and vitamins A and C. These ingredients treat signs of aging and hyperpigmentation, hydrate and repair damaged skin, and provide a substantial protective antioxidant boost. I’m currently using Pai Skincare Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil ($40), but some cheaper alternatives are:

Squalane oil is known for its anti-aging benefits. It helps balances oil production and has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits to help with skin conditions like acne and eczema. I’ve been using Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil ($34) and Good Molecules Squalane Oil ($6), but some other alternatives are:

Marula oil is an antioxidant-rich oil, packed with essential fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, and flavonoids that deeply moisturize skin, repair skin cells, and leave the skin looking vibrant. I’ve been using Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Oil for a few years now, but some other alternatives are:

Optional Skincare Extras

Since this is a budget-friendly routine, I didn’t include these products as a part of the core routine. But, you can definitely add them, depending on your needs and preferences.

Are you ready to create your budget-friendly skincare routine? If so, products would you use? Have you tried any of the products in this post?

Shop The Skincare Products In This Post

Pai Skincare Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
Skinfix Barrier+ Foaming Oil Cleanser
HoliFrog Kissimmee Vitamin F Therapy Balmy Wash
Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm
Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum
Dr. Barbara Sturm Darker Skin Tones Enzyme Cleanser
Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum
Good Science Beauty Hydrating Cream
Jordan Samuel Skin The Matinee Gel Cleanser
Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil
Bioeffect Imprinting Hydrogel Masks
Bioeffect EGF Serum
Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin(TM) Liquid
Biologique Recherche P50V 1970
Youth To The People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream
Biologique Recherche Lait VIP O2
Dr. Barbara Sturm Darker Skin Tones Hyaluronic Serum
Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster
Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil
Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream
Paula’s Choice SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster
Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster
Clean Skin Club – Clean Towels


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