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The Best Skincare Products To Save Money On, According To A Dermatologist

And the one thing worth splurging on.
The Best Skincare Products To Save Money On, According To A Dermatologist

When it comes to skincare, there are endless options at every price point. As tempting as treating yourself to the latest celeb-approved viral product might be, a well-rounded skincare routine doesn't have to be expensive.

The foundation of a budget skincare routine that actually works is knowing where to splurge and where to save. Wondering where your money is best spent? We asked St. John’s-based dermatologist Dr. Michelle Pratt to share her top tips, including the best skincare products to save money on and exactly how much product to use to avoid waste.

What are the best skincare products to splurge on?

Serum

“Serums are worth splurging on because they tend to be more concentrated and have more active ingredients, which is harder to formulate and costs more,” says Pratt.

Some ingredients, like Vitamin C—a notoriously unstable active that loses its effectiveness when exposed to sunlight and air—are worth spending more on. For serums that blend many potent actives, it's also a good idea that spend a little more money to get clinically tested formulas.

How much serum should you use?

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An illustration showing how much serum to use in a skincare routine.(Illustration: Isie Yang)

She recommends… SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $208

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A bottle of SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic for an article on the best skincare products to save money on.

What are the best skincare products to save money on?

Cleanser

A cleanser is the one area where Pratt says it’s worth saving every time. “Contact with the skin tends to be pretty short and you literally wash it off,” she says. “If you have a limited budget, don’t spend a lot of money on a cleanser.”

She recommends formulas that are gentle and fragrance-free.

How much cleanser should you use?

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An illustration showing how much cleanser to use in a skincare routine.(Illustration: Isie Yang)

She recommends… CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser, $20

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A bottle of CeraVe Cream-to-Foam cleanser for an article on the best skincare products to save money on.

Moisturizer

“Most people can save on moisturizers,” says Pratt. Keep it simple and look for hydrating ingredients like barrier-boosting ceramides, glycerin and hyaluronic acid to draw in moisture.

How much moisturizer should you use?

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An illustration showing how much moisturizer to use in a skincare routine.(Illustration: Isie Yang)

She recommends… La Roche-Posay Toleriane Sensitive Crème, $28

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A tube of La Roche-Posay Tolériane Sensitive Crème for an article on the best skincare products to save money on.

Retinol

Beloved by derms for its ability to improve skin texture, boost collagen and erase dark spots, retinol is a powerhouse ingredient that doesn’t have to break the bank—though even drugstore versions are still somewhat pricey.

“The key is consistency over a long period of time,” says Pratt, who recommends applying it nightly if your skin can tolerate it.

How much retinol should you use?

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An illustration showing how much serum to use in a skincare routine.(Illustration: Isie Yang)

She recommends… Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair 0.5% Retinol Pro+ Serum, $30

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A bottle of Neutrogena 0.5% retinol for an article on the best skincare products to save money on.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is non-negotiable, but it doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money to get a top-notch formula. “There are a lot of great affordable options for daily facial sunscreens,” notes Pratt. Look for broad-spectrum SPFs, which protect skin against both UVA and UVB rays.

One caveat: “If you really like a higher-end sunscreen, it’s not a bad idea to invest in it—it's all about what you'll want to wear.”

How much facial sunscreen should you use?

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An illustration showing how much facial sunscreen to use in a skincare routine.(Illustration: Isie Yang)

She recommends… Vichy Capital Soleil UV+ Age Daily SPF 60, $43

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A bottle of Vichy Capital Soleil UV+ Age Daily sunscreen for an article on the best skincare products to save money on.

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