The Best Skin-Care Products Under $25

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
There is something truly magical about a good drugstore beauty find. After all, who doesn't like to save money? But while you probably have a trusty under-$10 mascara, hairspray, and shampoo, navigating the skincare section can be a lot more difficult.
In addition to the vast array of options, there is a lot to think about — like finding a cleanser that won't strip the skin, a moisturizer that won't clog your pores, and an eye serum that will de-puff without irritating. All that requires a good amount of trial and error. But why waste both time and money when we can do the legwork for you? To help guide you to the right drugstore shelf, we've tapped a handful of experts for the affordable skin-care formulas that they trust.
So, what do our own R29 editors and some of the top celebrity makeup artists buy at their local pharmacies? Ahead, 14 essentials that will cleanse, tone, hydrate, and refresh skin for less than $25.
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Expert: Monika Blunder, makeup artist to Jessica Alba, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Emilia Clarke

"This 5% glycolic toner helps remove dead skin cells and firms and tightens the skin. It’s a super effective product for a great price."
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Expert: Carola Gonzalez, makeup artist to Kerry Washington, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Leona Lewis

"I use this on a daily basis on both myself and my clients, before makeup application. It instantly quenches the skin and keeps it looking smooth and hydrated. It’s like drinking water for the skin."
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Expert: Jo Baker, makeup artist to Emmy Rossum, Salma Hayek, Olivia Wilde

"I love using witch hazel as a toner. It cleans off any dirt, oil, or makeup residue, and gives me the cleanest base to begin makeup! At a fraction of the cost of normal toner, it's a must-have for me and in my kit. It's also great for skin that is prone to breakouts, as it has a gentle antibacterial property."
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Expert: Anne-Marie Guarnieri, R29 deputy editor, Beauty

"A few years ago, Johnson & Johnson sold my beloved Purpose soap-free face wash to another company, and even though it remained more or less the same in terms of formula, it became nearly impossible to find at drugstores, for reasons that are not clear to me.

I started using Cetaphil Gentle Bar Cleanser out of necessity. Now, I can't imagine using anything else — and I can always find it at my local Duane Reade, even in a multi-pack. Like Purpose, Cetaphil is soap-free, and for a regular user of Retin-A, it's a cleanser that keeps my face from drying out into a tight, flaky mess. But it still removes most makeup (I use micellar water as a backup for stubborn mascara). It's a must-have. Plus, since it's a bar formula and not a liquid, I never have to worry about not being able to take it on a plane."
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Expert: Robin Black, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Beauty Is Boring

"Aside from the incredible scent, this mist is perfect for spritzing your face post-makeup to set it, or as a body spray when you need a quick refresh. I carry a small bottle in my bag for quick doses of both the calming scent and hydration throughout the day. You can purchase it in Whole Foods, online, or in many natural markets."
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The Expert: Lexy Lebsack, R29 West Coast beauty editor

“My eyes tend to get puffy at the drop of a hat, so I consider myself an eye-roller aficionado. I keep this product in the fridge (which is key for any roller), and apply it when I wake up with bags under my eyes. It de-puffs, feels great, and is super gentle. But the best part is that it’s the only formula I’ve found that’s in a soft tube, so you can squeeze it like toothpaste, which allows you to get the right amount of product every time.”
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Expert: Monika Blunder, makeup artist to Jessica Alba, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Emilia Clarke

"This is very comparable in quality to the more expensive micellar waters. Great for quick removal of makeup, and this product is gentle on skin."
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Expert: Carissa Ferreri, makeup artist to Gina Rodriguez and Bailee Madison

"I didn’t think it could get much better than the classic, original Biore Strips, but it just did. These have purifying charcoal, which pulls out even more dirt, to rid your skin of those nasty blackheads."
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The Expert: Megan McIntyre, R29 beauty director

"A cleanser, toner, and all-around face refresher in one. I was addicted to this wipe right off the bat. We all know how beneficial witch hazel is for the skin, and this puts all that wonderfulness in a totable form. I also love that, rather than a giant wipe pouch, these come in single-use sachets, so you can pop some in your bag for on-the-go refreshment and don't have to worry about drying them all out."
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Expert: Monika Blunder, makeup artist to Jessica Alba, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Emilia Clarke

"It’s a fantastic deep-cleansing mask that draws impurities out of the skin. My skin always feels so refreshed after doing this mask."
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Expert: Robin Black, celebrity makeup artist and Beauty Is Boring founder

"So the name isn't exactly encouraging (nipple balm for lips?) but this is one of the best heavy-duty lip moisturizers I have ever used. It's the only thing that works in NYC's mid-winter icy winds and L.A.'s incredibly dry, hot summers. The texture is extremely thick and goopy, but pile some on before bed, and you will wake up with plump, moisturized lips.

"I also like to apply a tiny dab before getting ready in the morning, so that by the time I get around to lipstick, it has sunk in and moisturized my usually dry lips."
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The Expert: Lexy Lebsack, R29 West Coast beauty editor

"I've used this cleanser off and on for about six years for one one big reason: It keeps my easily-clogged pores clear and rings in at under 10 bucks. Thanks to a few different AHAs, it lightly exfoliates and prevents congestion, which my complexion is prone to. Somehow, it easily removes washable mascara, but doesn't dry my skin out."
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Expert: Carola Gonzalez, makeup artist to Kerry Washington, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Leona Lewis

"Charcoal is the new kid on the block in the beauty industry. It’s been around for years, but not many people know about its benefits as a dirt and oil magnet. It draws out and traps more dirt and impurities than a basic cleanser, thus purifying the pores and deeply cleansing your face."
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The Expert: Kelsey Castañon, R29 beauty news editor

"I'll admit: I'm an oil-phobe. The ones I've tried (and believe me, I've tried a quite a few) tend to be too heavy or leave behind a sticky residue, which means a pimplepalooza for me the next day. Not so with this brilliant gel-oil. Not only is it incredibly lightweight, it's also packed with ceramides and sunflower oil that helps lock in moisture. Sounds like a win-win to me."

CeraVe Skin Renewing Gel Oil, $24.99, available at Walgreens.
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The Expert: Samantha Sasso, R29 beauty editorial assistant

"I don't have a lot of products for acneic skin in my collection, so when I do break out, I'm ill-prepared. But the one thing I've learned to always keep stocked is this spot treatment. It always, without fail, works to significantly erase redness overnight."

Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment, $8.99, available at Walgreens.
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