Let’s Talk About Budget Skincare

Hi everyone, today’s post is going to be a little bit different; expect a combination of ranting, fury and a celebration. Today we’re talking about budget skincare, all of these brands are available from Boots and Superdrug (with the exception of one but we’ll get there later).  I’m not going to be talking about French Pharmacy brands because we’d be here all day. They’re going to get a post of their own.

I’ve been bullying trying to convince my friends to start looking after their skin for a long time now. We always hit the same road blocks, money. No one wants to invest in a routine if they’re not sure if they’ll stick with it. When I first got into skincare in a big way, they’d ask me if they could get something similar to x, y or z on a budget. The answer was always no most of the time. Skincare has come a very long way in the last 5 years or so and it is now possible to get quality products at a lower price.


I posted this photo on Instagram recently of two oils from Superdrug, both £2.99, with the caption explaining that I was testing them out for an upcoming post. What I didn’t say was the original post I had in mind was very different. I’m currently testing the vitamin E oil on the left, I’ve only used the one on the right twice so far. I started with the vitamin E one because the original plan was to do an entire post dedicated to the vitamin E range; something along the lines of ‘I got a full skincare routine for under £15’. But when I looked at the ingredients for the individual products, I couldn’t do that in good conscience. The ingredients across the range just weren’t up to scratch.

Budget skincare

As many of you will know I do a monthly series entitled save, spend, splurge where I compare similar products across different price points. What you won’t necessarily know is that choosing the save option is often a compromise. There’s often ingredients in those products that I wouldn’t accept in something I’d paid more money for.


For starters there are many good products ruined by an excessive amount of fragrance. Those oils I just bought, great, but the vitamin E one reminds me of tropical sunscreen. Not ideal for sensitive skins. When I review products, I don’t necessarily review them based on how I found them, if it’s marketed for dry skin I imagine how it would be on the driest of skin types and likewise for oily and sensitive. So, products with fragrance always get marked down. Sadly, cheaper products are usually fragranced for some reason. That being said, I do feature fragranced products. I’d probably have to ditch my series if I allowed fragrance to be a deal breaker, but it does bother me that I have to make these sacrifices on my recommendations over something so trivial.


And the reason I ditched the vitamin E idea, most of the range is loaded with alcohol; drying at best, an irritant at worst. Used as an affordable ingredient to give products a thinner, matte texture, sadly it’s found quite high on the ingredients list on many cheaper products.


Now I’ve had my little moan, it’s time to celebrate the fact we can now get affordable skincare with quality active ingredients (despite the fact some of them are fragranced).  Brands like The Ordinary have changed the game in terms of accessibility.

This is especially true if you have dry skin as a simple glycerine, silicone and oil formula can be produced with very little expenditure.


This basket has everything you would need for a full skincare routine and every item is under £10, most are actually under £5.

We have makeup remover, a couple of cleansers, a serum, oils and moisturiser.

Here are a few of my favourite budget buys:

Micellar water.

I’ve already done a round up of my favourites so I’m not going to get too deep with this one. There’s absolutely no reason to spend a fortune on this stuff.


Funnily enough when I was putting that basket together I wasn’t attempting to get a full face. The goal was to reach for products I liked that were more affordable. I had to stop myself because I realised the first three things I picked up were all cleansers.  This is definitely easier to do on the cheap if you have dry skin as most affordable oily skin cleansers foam (which is a big fat NO), but there are a few that I really like.

The Good Things one used to be available from Boots. When they stopped selling it I panicked thinking the line had been discontinued. You can however still buy the products directly from the brand.


This is where The Ordinary come in, for exfoliation, dehydration and the acne prone, they have an option. While my skin didn’t really get on with them as a brand overall, you can still pick up some amazing products.


I’ll say it again; these oils were both £2.99. Even though I hate the fact one of them smells a bit too much like Malibu, it’s a great bargain.


I featured this one in save, spend, splurge. Another product with fragrance but as it also contains an AHA, it’s a steal as long as you’re not too sensitive.

Budget skincare

I forgot to mention eye creams, but I really like this one from Botanics. It is by no means up there with my trusty Kiehl’s avocado. But it’s nice and hydrating with a light texture that works well under makeup.


Until next time,




To see my last beauty post click here.

This post contains some affiliate links.



  1. 28th January 2018 / 5:21 pm

    I love how you’re so knowledgeable in skincare, usually i just go for the cheaper ones, not really understanding about what’s in it!

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:03 pm

      Aw thank you! I spent a lot of time looking everything up when I was younger x

  2. 28th January 2018 / 5:47 pm

    This is helpful, thank you for clarifying why the cheaper ones aren’t always the best skincare products to go for 🙂

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:04 pm

      Glad you found it helpful! It’s a shame there are some great products ruined by too much fragrance x

  3. 28th January 2018 / 6:33 pm

    I’m always very dubious with cheap skincare and what’s in them, but you can find good products in the drugstore sometimes! x

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:05 pm

      Me too! I look at a label and I’m like but can you REALLY do all of that for £4.50?! Then spend forever analysing the ingredients list! x

  4. Evie
    28th January 2018 / 7:16 pm

    I’m trying to start a skincare routine but you’re right it’s very hard to get good products on a budget. This post was fantasic as not only have I learned what to look out for ingredient wise but I’ve learned that there can be decent products that aren’t too expensive!

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:07 pm

      Totally, if you’re just starting I’d recommend getting one thing at a time so your skin has some time to adjust that gives you a little time to save up if you’d prefer to add something a little more expensive too x

  5. 28th January 2018 / 8:03 pm

    I use drugstore skincare all the time, especially when it comes to taking off my makeup! I love it, especially for the price x

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:08 pm

      That’s great if you have good products that work x

  6. 28th January 2018 / 8:06 pm

    Love this post it was a really interesting read, I only ever buy drugstore/budget skincare as I think there’s some amazing products out there! X

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:09 pm

      It 100% depends on your individual skin, if you have stuff that’s working for you then that’s great x

  7. 28th January 2018 / 8:09 pm

    I don’t have a great skincare routine… really need to start that up!! Love the post!

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:09 pm

      Haha everyone starts somewhere! x

  8. 28th January 2018 / 8:12 pm

    My skincare is non existent, mainly due to having a busy life and a tight budget so this post was a fantastic read for me. I will definitely be checking out some of the suggested products, esp the eye cream as I sorely need it !

    Melanie | http://www.frasersfunhouse.com

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:11 pm

      Eye cream can make such a difference when you’re feeling/ looking tired! There’s definitely some good stuff out there x

  9. 28th January 2018 / 8:23 pm

    I don’t usually buy drugstore product (except for garnier) because i never know what to expect and my skin is way too sensitive to risk it. But thanks for this post, it was super interesting and full of great products xx corinne

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:12 pm

      Same! There’s something so comforting about knowing you can take a little pot home to test something first. Glad you found it interesting x

  10. 28th January 2018 / 8:25 pm

    Most skincare is so expensive so its great to see some cheaper alternatives. Plus I love The Ordinary. Thank you.

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:14 pm

      They’re definitely a game changer when it comes to finding a high performance active on a cheaper budget. It’s really nice to see more women looking after their skin now they’re around x

  11. 28th January 2018 / 8:37 pm

    What a great post! Micellar water is definitely a great budget Skincare product! I think serums are always one to splurge on!
    PaleGirlRambling xo

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:15 pm

      I totally agree with you. That’s definitely where all of my money goes! Some things are definitely worth investing in x

  12. 28th January 2018 / 8:48 pm

    I love skincare posts! I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to skincare, posts like this are so helpful x

    • Sophie
      29th January 2018 / 1:16 pm

      Thank you! I’m so glad you found it useful! x

  13. 28th January 2018 / 8:52 pm

    I love how you’ve talked about so many different things and given options for different people and skin types!

  14. 28th January 2018 / 9:29 pm

    I pretty much only use budget skincare now. I love Garnier products personally, I’ve been using their miscellar water for sensitive skin (the pink one I believe) for a few months now. I love using products with little to no fragrance, just because most products have so much of it!

  15. 28th January 2018 / 10:01 pm

    This post is so helpful! I’m not the best with skincare and what skincare products to buy I’ll try and buy skincare products from the drugstore x

    Ashleigh | http://ashleighwrites.co.uk

  16. 28th January 2018 / 10:11 pm

    Really useful post hun, I’m such a newbie when it comes to skincare but tend to go for products from The Body Shop most of the time, will definitely be checking out some more drug store products though 🙂

    Jessica ♡ jessinwonderlandx.blogspot.co.uk

  17. 29th January 2018 / 4:54 am

    I’m serious when I say this, you’re the first person I honk of when I’m snooping for skin care stuff! You’re always so knowledgeable of your stuff! I love that you did a drugstore kind of dupe post. The misconception is that skincare ALWAYS has to be expensive. Thanks for showing some pretty rad alts ❤️

    xx Lena | https://lenadeexo.com

  18. 29th January 2018 / 5:58 am

    Yes, Yes & YES to Fragrance and alcohol ruining products! I can deal with a little fragrance here & there but often there is just way too much that it’s overpowering and it surely can’t be that good for your skin.

    I just made my first purchase from The Ordinary yesterday. It is definitely a little overwhelming for me at the moment learning about all of the different acids and what they do/how to apply them but i’m so excited to try!

    Like you and some of the other commenters have said above – skincare doesn’t always have to be expensive.


  19. 29th January 2018 / 10:38 am

    Brilliant post – you are SO thorough! It’s a shame the cheaper products have ingredients in you would rather not use. It’s a shame money is so tight for people but also good that brands are bringing out these cheaper products so people don’t miss out. I love Micellar Water! xxx

  20. 29th January 2018 / 2:54 pm

    Very informative post Sophie. I had never thought in detail about how cheaper products can actually harm the skin. I don’t usually buy cheaper variety but mainly because I don’t find that they work as well. But this is an additional point to keep in mind while selecting skin care products.

  21. 29th January 2018 / 3:12 pm

    I never really think about what goes into my skin care but I’m really really conscious of what goes into my hair product. I really should start looking at the bottles

  22. Huda
    29th January 2018 / 5:10 pm

    It’s so true! Finding budget friendly skincare can be hard especially with the long ingredient list that include all these alcohols in them. After learning what a bad effect alcohol has on your skin on the long term I’m so careful with the products I use on my face! Unfortunately I have still not tried out Ordinaty as it is really hard to get where I live and the shopping costs would probably make it a high end skin care product!

  23. 29th January 2018 / 5:15 pm

    This was a really thought provoking post, Sophie! Call me a snob but I often simply do not purchase budget skincare products because of all the fragrances, alcohol etc. that go into them. I would rather save up and invest in a quality product – my favourite brand is Neals Yard Remedies because the quality is amazing and their ingredients are (for the most part) natural as well as being organically and ethically sources. I can totally see where you’re coming from, so thank you for sharing your thoughts! The Ordinary do seem to be changing the game for budget options, as you rightly say, let’s hope that this continues!

    Abbey x

  24. 29th January 2018 / 5:37 pm

    Wow! You are always so knowledgeable on skin care Sophie! It’s very educational reading your blog, he he. I’m using Simple day and night cream at the moment but when that runs out I might be more adventurous. I’ll definitely check out your recommendations <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  25. 29th January 2018 / 5:48 pm

    Skincare can be so expensive, but it’s so good when people realise you can get awesome products on a budget. I love Garnier products and my new favourite – The Ordinary!


    Kristina | https://ginandbiscuits.co.uk

  26. 29th January 2018 / 5:56 pm

    My skincare routine is pretty much non existent. A good cleanser and soft when I head out is all that I do! I’m so lazy when it comes to skincare. Yiur post is really helpful! And I do have a few takeaways from it. Thanks!


  27. 29th January 2018 / 8:32 pm

    I love how honest you are in this post! I’m a bit of a skincare snob and think that skin is worth investing in even more than make-up! I do spend quite a bit though so will definitely think about saving myself some money on occasion and picking up some of the things you’ve recommended!- https://sophiehearts.net x

  28. 30th January 2018 / 10:07 am

    I tried using drugstore products, but nothing really seeming to work for my skin, so I have to have a bigger budget …

  29. 31st January 2018 / 11:15 am

    Love a bit of budget skincare! Bookmarking this for later when i’m putting together my shopping list! ❤️

  30. Alice
    6th February 2018 / 8:46 am

    Absolutely agree here! Sometimes the ‘filler’ ingredients in cheaper skincare just don’t justify it being cheaper. I always like to buy high end for my skincare, however I absolutely adore Garnier Micellar Water!

    Alice | Dainty Alice

  31. 13th February 2018 / 6:39 pm

    I’m really intrigued by the Manuka Honey Cleanser! I love using honey in skincare ^_^

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:

Looking for Something?