Two months ago, I came to the conclusion that my skincare routine was too expensive to maintain. Like many other millennials, I had become caught up in the hype of stockpiling products from cult, Instagram-worthy brands we all know and love, including Glossier, Mario Badescu and GLAMGLOW.
Chock-full of skincare products, I had a bathroom shelfie to envy, but when I added everything up, I was shocked to discover that my routine came to over £150 – and that was just facial skincare. While some might say, "Pfft, that’s nothing!" it'll make others, including myself, wince.
I thought that it was just the price I had to pay for great skin; then recently I decided on a career change which would leave me with less money to play around with. In this process, I re-evaluated my spending and my most wasted expenditure was (you guessed it) my skincare routine. I could no longer justify spending £50+ on two different creams for day and night, a plethora of serums I wasn’t even sure were actually working, or face mists (which many experts will argue are useless anyway). The one thing I wasn’t willing to sacrifice though was the quality of my skin.
I knew it might not be easy. Eighteen months ago I came off the pill and suffered some of the worst breakouts I’ve ever had. It's only in the past nine months or so that I've managed to get my skin back on track. I had thought this was in part thanks to my new, much fancier skincare routine. But by trading my spenny products for high street versions as well as own-brand buys, I discovered that it is totally possible to achieve great skin using products that are a fraction of the price. While this routine may not work for everyone, it's proof that bargain beauty buys can be just as good as their luxury counterparts. Here's what I love.
My Morning Skincare Routine
I swapped my usual cleanser with Superdrug's Tea Tree Cleanser Toner, £3.49. I’ve used this on and off since I was 15, and every time I come back to it, I remember exactly why. I love the smell of the acne-busting tea tree mixed with peppermint, and it leaves my skin looking and feeling fresher almost straightaway.
I then dampen my face and apply The Ordinary's Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £5.75, and leave it to properly absorb, before using Superdrug's Vitamin E SPF15 Moisturising Cream, £4.49, which has rave reviews online and is particularly useful for those with dry skin. The smell may not be as great as Glossier's Priming Moisturiser, £18, but the built-in SPF (although only factor 15) is a worthy trade-off and the texture is very similar. If sun damage is something you're conscious of, layer a sunscreen with SPF 30 or 50 over your moisturiser. If you have very oily or acne-prone skin, some dermatologists recommend solely using sunscreen, as the SPF is already suspended in a moisturising base.
My Evening Skincare Routine
I remove my eye makeup with Boots’ Cucumber Eye Makeup Remover Gel, £1.50, using reusable cotton pads because sustainability is important to me. While it may not feel as gentle on my eyes as other eye makeup removers I've used, such as Glossier's Milky Oil, £10, it is just as effective at removing all my stubborn eye makeup, especially after a night out.
I then use Superdrug’s B. Pure Micellar Water, £1.99, to take off the rest of my makeup. Sure, it's not as satisfying as using a more luxe balm cleanser and washing it all off down the sink, but it does just as good a job and a 100ml bottle costs less than my morning coffee. I always double cleanse and reach for the same Superdrug Tea Tree Cleanser Toner to make sure any last residue is removed.
Another application of The Ordinary's Hyaluronic Acid Serum (rated by some of the most knowledgeable skin experts) then I’m on to the final step, and I've saved the best 'til last. The inexpensive replacement I’m most impressed with is Cetaphil's Rich Night Cream, £7.99, which has also amassed incredible reviews online. Designed with sensitive, dermatitis-prone types in mind, it leaves me with smooth, glowy skin the next morning. The brand has had a lot more coverage in recent months thanks to the brilliant results of the Gentle Cleanser, but this night cream is so good, I've binned my usual product and I no longer need to rely on expensive overnight masks to quench my skin.
Swapping out my expensive routine for a budget one has shown me that a high price tag isn't exactly necessary for skin I'm happy with. While it has opened my eyes to experimenting with other, inexpensive skincare products, that isn't to say that I wouldn't go back to fancier products in the future. Especially when it comes to some of the new Glossier releases, such as Balm Dotcom and Super Serums, because some things never change. Right now, though, this routine is just right for me.