The 15 Best Drugstore Moisturizers Under $20

Aside from sunscreen, moisturizer is arguably the most crucial part of any skincare routine. Whether you’re looking to banish rough patches, soothe sensitive skin, or simply to keep your hydration levels in check, the quest for the perfect formula can be frustrating, to say the least — and it can end up taking a toll on your patience and your wallet.

Although there are a lot of different moisturizers with their fair share of bells and whistles, a few characteristics should be standard. “A good moisturizer should absorb right into the skin and relieve any tightness or dryness,” New York City-based dermatologist Lokita Singh has previously told Allure. “It should be lightweight so you can’t feel it as a distinct layer on the skin.”

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Certified by the National Eczema Association, the ceramides in CeraVe Moisturizing Cream tackle dehydration, while the hyaluronic acid draws in moisture. This gentle cream, which won a 2018 Best of Beauty Award for being the best sensitive-skin moisturizer, also guarantees a huge bang for your buck because a 16-ounce jar retails for under $20.

$19 (Shop Now)

Differin Oil Control Moisturizer with Sunscreen

Think of this oil-free moisturizer as a sidekick for the Allure Best of Beauty Award-winning Differin Gel (one of the most revolutionary acne breakthroughs in years). Not only is this moisturizer noncomedogenic, but it actually absorbs excess oil. Plus, this formula contains an SPF, so it thwarts breakouts and UV rays.

$14 (Shop Now)

Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion

Cetaphil is well-loved in the skin-care community for its super-gentle formulas that are safe enough for even the most sensitive skin — and the brand’s lightweight hydrator is no exception. It’s spiked with moisture-locking hyaluronic acid and glycerin, so itchy, irritated skin doesn’t stand a chance.

$16 (Shop Now)

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer UV

I’ve already raved about the magic behind this Best of Beauty Award-winning hydrator and how it effectively moisturizes deep into the microbiome, which is the top layer of the skin’s physical barrier. But I also have to give it props for its UV protection, which is a broad-spectrum SPF 30.

$20 (Shop Now)

Neutrogena Bright Boost Gel Cream

New York City dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali recommends Neutrogena’s Bright Boost Gel Cream because of its exfoliating poly-hydroxy acids and mandelic acid, an ingredient that brings down redness and corrects pigmentation issues.

$20 (Shop Now)

Aveeno Positively Radiant Sheer Daily Moisturizer

Aveeno Positively Radiant Sheer Daily Moisturizer has earned an impressive five Best of Beauty Awards — and with good reason. It mixes together free-radical-fighting antioxidants, SPF, and soy (which dermatologists say can brighten areas of hyperpigmentation) in a lightweight lotion.

$14 (Shop Now)

Bliss What a Melon Water Jelly Hydrator

Housed in Bliss What a Melon Water Jelly Hydrator’s bright pink jar is a jelly of the same hue that feels like water as you massage it into your cheeks. The end result: skin that feels bouncy and hydrated.

$20 (Shop Now)

E.L.F. Cannabis Sativa Happy Hydration Cream

The star ingredients in E.L.F.’s rich cream are hemp oil, anti-inflammatory fatty acids, and vitamins that work to diminish the appearance of fine lines. The brand also added moisture-retaining hyaluronic acid, brightening and smoothing niacinamide, and nourishing vitamin B5 for a powerhouse blend that improves your skin’s overall appearance.

$12 (Shop Now)

Alba Botanica Hydration Sensation Gel Cream

Relieve parched skin with this lightweight cooling gel. Alba Botanica Hydration Sensation Gel Cream contains three types of hyaluronic acid, skin-coddling oils, and soothing blue lotus flower.

$15 (Shop Now)

Dove DermaSeries Dry Skin Relief Overnight Face Cream

Dove’s DermaSeries Dry Skin Relief Overnight Face Cream, which contains nourishing shea butter and glycerin, will pamper and soothe your dry skin as you sleep.

$15 (Shop Now)

Sweet Chef Superfood + Vitamins Moisture Boost

Quell dryness and and soothe distressed skin with this thick cream. Sweet Chef Superfood + Vitamins Moisture Boost blends together hyaluronic acid and kale, a “superfood,” which touts major moisturizing properties.

$19 (Shop Now)

Physicians Formula Rosé All Day Moisturizer SPF 30

Aside from moisturizing, this lightweight, oil-free lotion contains vitamin C to brighten skin and an SPF of 30 to prevent sun damage. Wear it alone or comfortably under makeup to enhance your glow.

$17 (Shop Now)

L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care

If you’re not a fan of heavy, creamy textures, you’ll love L’Oréal Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care. This liquid moisturizer, which contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and calming aloe water, soothes dry patches and leaves skin feeling soft and silky without a sticky finish.

$18 (Shop Now)

Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream

Honest Beauty’s thick, non-greasy cream sweeps on to feel cool and massages into skin to leave it bouncy and noticeably moisturized. Skin is petal-soft with zero stickiness.

$20 (Shop Now)

Clean & Clear Watermelon Gel Moisturizer

It may be baby-pink and smell sweet like Jolly Ranchers, but Clean & Clear Watermelon Gel Moisturizer is as hardworking as it is delightful. It contains sodium hyaluronate to leave skin hydrated and feeling refreshed as you apply it. The best part: It costs only $6.

$6 (Shop Now)

ALLURE article

This Drugstore Secret Is the Key to Smooth and Glowy Skin

I would say the end skincare goal for pretty much all of us is healthy, smooth, and glowy skin. We’ll pay a lot of money for products from cleansers to moisturizers to serums to get there. The only hitch is that there are many paths to “good” skin, and it all depends on your skin type. The products you use for your oily skin might not exactly work on your friend with dry skin.

One skincare item that can help across the board? A good exfoliant. Now, the specific product you choose depends on your skin’s needs, but some exfoliation every now and then will help slough off dead skin cells, reveal smooth skin, and encourage skin renewal. If you have oily, acne-prone, or combination skin, it might help to exfoliate once or twice a week. For sensitive and dry skin types, however, you might be better off limiting your usage to once a week or even less frequently. Bottom line: Everyone should keep an exfoliating product on hand, no matter their skin type.

There are different types of exfoliants, too. Mechanical ones are the scrubs, sugars, and brushes out there. Chemical exfoliants contain ingredients like alpha hydroxy (glycolic and lactic), beta hydroxy (salicylic), and polyhydroxy acids. While the word “chemical” might sound scary, these products are often much gentler on the skin than the mechanical exfoliants since some of those scrubs can be irritating or harsh.

The sheer volume of exfoliating products out there can get overwhelming and can range from high-end to budget friendly. While I love the splurge-y exfoliants that really do the work, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a quality item—there are a ton of drugstore and affordable buys.

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Exfoliating Daily Facial Scrub ($5)

This exfoliating scrub is gentle enough for everyday use because it has a moisturizing soy extract and jojoba and castor oils. It’s also noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog pores.

Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Facial Cleanser ($7)

Neutrogena’s cleanser is both a mechanical and chemical exfoliant. It contains alpha and beta hydroxy acids to brighten the skin’s complexion and reduce the appearance of pores.

Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub ($16)

With superfine granules, this scrub is okay to use on sensitive skin. It’s formulated with skin conditioners and vitamins to nourish and soften skin.

L’Oréal Revitalift Bright Reveal Facial Cleanser ($5)

L’Oréal’s daily cleanser is another mechanical and chemical exfoliant combo. It has micropearls and glycolic acid, which work to slough off dead skin cells and improve skin tone and texture.

CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser ($22)

CeraVe’s cleanser is a great option for those with oily, acne-prone skin. It’s formulated with salicylic acid to exfoliate and hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin D to smooth and hydrate the skin.

Burt’s Bees Refining Cleanser ($9)

If retinol irritates your skin, this cleanser might give you the same benefits without any problems. It’s formulated with bakuchiol, which is a gentler, natural alternative to retinol. The cleanser will smooth wrinkles and hydrate (thanks to vitamin E).

Clean & Clear Deep Action Exfoliating Facial Scrub ($6)

As its name suggests, this scrub really gets deep into skin to clear pores and remove dirt, oil, and makeup. When you apply it, you’ll feel a tingly, cooling sensation, which is so refreshing.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Exfoliating Astringent Toner ($24)

Formulated for acne-prone and oily skin, this toner can be used to unclog and tighten pores. It contains salicylic acid to exfoliate and castor oil to prevent any irritation or dryness.

Honest Beauty Beauty Sleep Resurfacing Serum ($28)

This is one of the more unique exfoliating options on our list since it’s a serum that works to resurface skin overnight for a glowier complexion in the morning. Ingredients include five AHAs to exfoliate and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture.

Neutrogena Deep Clean Purifying Cooling Gel and Exfoliating Face Scrub ($9)

This salicylic acid scrub works hard at clearing acne and clogged pores, but it won’t leave your skin irritated since the formula is a cooling gel. It’s never been more refreshing to exfoliate!

Bioderma Sebium Exfoliating Gel ($15)

Oily skin gets relief with this gel scrub. It has both mechanical and chemical exfoliants, like microbeads and glycolic and salicylic acids, to remove dead skin cells and promote cell renewal. Antioxidants, laminaria, and vitamin E work to leave the skin soothed and radiant.

Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub ($23)

Formulated with rice granules and vitamins B5 and E, this scrub works for all skin types to improve dull skin. It doesn’t contain dyes or perfumes.

Avène Gentle Exfoliating Gel ($20)

Here’s yet another mechanical and chemical combo. This exfoliating gel purifies pores and increases cell turnover thanks to exfoliating microspheres, salicylic acid, and zinc gluconate. It also contains spring water to soothe redness and inflammation.

Bioré Pore Unclogging Scrub ($6)

This scrub not only works to unclog pores and slough off dead skin cells, but it also has acne-fighting benefits, courtesy of salicylic acid. And because it clears out dirt and oil, it can prevent future breakouts.

L’Oréal Pure-Clay Face Mask ($10)

Use this face mask up to three times a week for 10 to 15 minutes to even skin texture and leave your face looking glowy. It’s formulated with clay, red algae, and volcanic rock to exfoliate and smooth the skin’s surface.

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