From Vitamin C To Retinol: Here Are 32 Of The Best Serums Under $50

Background via iStock
At Refinery29 Australia, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team, but we may earn commission or other compensation from the links on this page.
We're not shy to admit we're massive fans of skincare. Not just because it keeps us looking our very best, but our skincare routines are often a token refuge for self-care amidst busy days dedicated to everyone and everything but ourselves. What we don't love, however, is the fact that the current cost of living crisis and soaring inflation prices are making it harder and harder to repurchase the potent skincare serums we know, love and use every day.
The only thing keeping us from weeping into our nearly empty products is the fact that we've surveyed the beauty lands for more affordable beauty products, and scoured the shelves of drugstore beauty strongholds like Chemist Warehouse and Priceline to find the serums that do the damn thing without leaving us fearful of impending bankruptcy.
Keep scrolling for our rundown of the best cheap serums under $50 that you can add to your cart when your bank balance is giving you anxiety.

The Best Cheap Hyaluronic Acid Serums Under $50

When it comes to skincare ingredients, hyaluronic acid is blessedly cheap, which means there's a wealth of high-quality hyaluronic acid serums on the market that don't cost an arm and a leg. The Hada Labo Lotion No.1 Super Hydrator, $28.76, is Japan's number one serum thanks to a potent formula that combines three molecular weights of HA, and it's been a favourite of ours ever since it landed in Australia.
Of course, the viral The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, $14.30, can't be beat in terms of affordability, but are you familiar with these equally budget-friendly picks? The Bondi Sands Thirsty Skin Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $11.19, The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum, $14 and Q+A Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum, $13. If you're happy to splurge on a serum, then you also can't go wrong with La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Anti-Ageing Serum, $49.99.

The Best Cheap Vitamin C Serums Under $50

Unlike hyaluronic acid, vitamin C is a more expensive ingredient — the more potent and stable the serum is, the bigger the price tag. However, there are a handful of entry-level vitamin C serums on the market that are great options for first-time users of the ingredient or people who tend to experience reactions after applying stronger formulations. Garnier Skin Active Vitamin C Brightening Serum, $20.99, and KLAIRS Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop, $39, take the cake when it comes to sensitive skin-friendly formulas. While, La Roche-Posay Redermic Vitamin C10 Serum, $49.99, Skin Republic Vitamin C 6% Serum, $19.99, Olay Luminous Vitamin C Super Serum, $35.99, and Bondi Sands Everyday Skincare Gold'n Hour Vitamin C Serum, $14.99 are great choices for those with more tolerant skin types.

The Best Cheap Retinol Serums Under $50

Retinol serums have come a long way in the last couple of decades. Unlike the retinol of old, modern-day iterations of the powerful anti-ageing ingredient are far more gentle on skin and boast formulas that include soothing complimentary ingredients that claim to minimise the risk of redness, flaking and irritation after use. There is a mountain on the market but good affordable options are Skin Proud Recharge Serum, $25.99, BOOST LAB Retinol Night Renewal Serum, $29.95, La Roche Posay Retinol B3 Anti-Ageing Serum, $49.99, The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane, $14, The Inkey List Retinol Serum, $21 and CeraVe Blemish Control Resurfacing Retinol Serum, $30.99.

The Best Cheap Niacinamide Serums Under $50

Niacinamide is one of our favourite skincare ingredients because regardless of your skin type, you can benefit from inserting a niacinamide serum into your skincare routine. The cream of the crop, the potent La Roche Posay Niacinamide 10 Serum, $49.99, Clear Skincare B3 Serum, $27 and The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $9.50, all help to unify skin tone and texture, minimise the appearance of pores, regulate oil production and hydrate skin. However, the BEAUTY OF JOSEON Glow Serum: Propolis + Niacinamide, $36, and Hey Bud Niacinamide + Hemp Serum, $39.99, also include soothing and nourishing supporting ingredients in their formulas such as hemp and propolis that make them great all-rounders in their own right.

The Best Cheap Peptide Serums Under $50

Peptide serums rose to popularity after Hailey Bieber attributed her glazed doughnut complexion to daily use of the stuff. While we can't get our hands on Mrs. Bieber's Rhode Skincare down under, we do have great substitutes at our disposal. The Bondi Sands Plump It Up Hydrating Peptide Serum, $18.99, and Q+A Peptide Facial Serum, $18, are the most affordable and effective peptide serums on the market. But the KLAIRS Midnight Blue Youth Activating Drop, $46, The Ordinary Multi-Peptide + HA Serum, $28 and BOOST LAB Multi-Peptide Anti-Ageing Serum, $29.95, are only a tad more expensive by comparison and boast anti-ageing formulas that include other skincare ingredient heroes like hyaluronic acid, fruit extracts and complexes that protect the skin from pollutants.

The Best Cheap Salicylic Acid Serums Under $50

Salicylic acid is a godsend for oilier skin types (though we'd recommend exercising caution if you have dry or sensitive skin). The chemical exfoliant promotes skin cell turnover, smoother skin, a more unified complexion, a minimisation of oil and pore size and is often recommended for people with acne-prone skin. Our top picks in the category are: Skin Republic Salicylic Acid 2% Serum, $24.99, The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution, $10.20, Revolution Skincare 2% Salicylic Acid Serum, $12 and IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout Salicylic Acid Serum, $49.
Want more? Get Refinery29 Australia’s best stories delivered to your inbox each week. Sign up here!

More from Skin Care