Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you most expensive luxury skincare. But in beauty, not all of the most effective products come with an astronomical price tag. Myriad affordable skincare brands offer all of the best active ingredients in effective and luxurious-feeling formulations that don’t cost the earth. “I often find that people tend to equate uber-cheap prices to a poor quality product,” says medical and aesthetic doctor, Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe. “But that isn’t always the case. A lot of these cheaper brands can afford to conduct research and create products that are highly effective.”
The problem is, consumers often assume that the more expensive a product is, the better it will be, and in a confusing and crowded skincare market where there is always a new product being touted for its miracle effects, we end up going around in circles. The reality is, a consistent approach to skincare that incorporates good quality ingredients (that you can afford to continue buying) is important for the quality of skin, so it’s worthwhile getting to know the affordable skincare brands that keep prices reasonable, without scrimping on efficacy.
If you’re wondering if there are still certain products worth splurging a little more on, Ukeleghe says the answer is yes. “You can compromise on cost when it comes to products such as cleansers and moisturisers, but I’d stress that this isn’t so much the case with serums,” she says. Every good skincare routine includes a cleanser, a moisturiser, a hydrating product and an SPF, and she says cleansers and moisturisers (read on for our pick of the best affordable options on the market), and in some instances SPF, are the products you can get away with paying less for.
“You can save on SPF as there are some great, affordable formulations on the market, however I typically find that cost does matter, particularly if you want a formulation suitable for oily, acne-prone, sensitive skin or skin of colour,” she says. Once the backbone of your routine is in place, you can add in serums and masks, utilising ingredients like retinol, AHAs, BHAs, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid according to your skin concerns, from congestion to dullness.
Being prepared to invest in a serum is Ukeleghe’s main rule of thumb, since they tend to incorporate more expensive ingredients, bumping up the price. Brands like La Roche-Posay do offer serums that manage to be affordable and effective, so make them the starting point of your hunt for an inexpensive serum that delivers on its promises.
Here is the British Vogue beauty team’s pick of 10 of the best affordable skincare brands to try now.
This French pharmacy brand is a favourite of editors, celebrities, and probably most of your friends, and that’s all thanks to its excellent formulations. There is a product for everyone: the Toleriane range is a favourite of those with sensitive skin (the new Ultra Dermallergo Serum is £28 and excellent at alleviating dryness and redness), while the brand’s Retinol B3 is a brilliant introduction to the best anti-ageing active around – and it’s great for sensitive skins too.
A brand developed with the help of dermatologists, CeraVe products are formulated around the founding principle that our skin barrier is integral to how our skin looks, performs and feels. To that end, each product contains ceramides, an ingredient that makes up half of our skin barrier, and they’re really quite brilliant. Two good entry points are the Hydrating Facial Cleanser, a product that lifts all make-up off without stripping the skin, and the Moisturizing Cream, which is a £5 tube of creamy heaven.
Renowned for its minimal prices, The Ordinary’s products don’t disappoint either. There’s a huge range of choice, but good first ports of call are the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, the Squalane Cleanser, and the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. If you become confused while perusing the website, the brand has recently launched virtual consultations on the Deciem website to connect you with team members over chat or video call, to help you decide what is best for your skin type.
Enjoy world-class skincare formulations with L’Oréal, whose consistent innovation in the skincare space makes it a rival for even the most expensive brands, without the lofty price tags. The brand’s new Age Perfect Golden Age Cooling Night Creamis £14.99, and helps re-cushion sallow skin thanks to the neo-calcium within the formula. Meanwhile, its Revitalift Laser Glycolic Acid Ampoules contain 10 per cent glycolic acid, and help to unclog pores, exfoliate the skin and leave it radiant; and the Revitalift Filler with 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid is an excellent choice for those who want to hydrate, plump, or simply boost their skin’s luminosity.
We should all aim for simplicity in our skincare routines, and Simple – unsurprisingly – offers us just that. You’ve probably tried the face wipes over the years, but a better choice is the milky Kind To Skin Purifying Cleansing Lotion or its micellar waters. The Hemp Ultra Calming Sheet Mask and facial moisturiser are two other stand-out products in the range – both leave skin feeling soothed and glowing.
Another excellent French pharmacy brand (we have a lot to thank them for), Avéne’s speciality is sensitive skin, but its products are worth exploring for all skin types. After all, acne-prone skin also tends to be sensitive too. Look no further than the Hydrance Rich Hydrating Cream and Hydrance Aqua-Gel moisturisers (depending on your preferred consistency) to moisturise, and the Gentle Milk Cleanser to cleanse the skin without drying it out. The newest launch from the range is the Cleanance Comedomed, a cream containing a milk thistle-derived active ingredient called comedoclastin, which helps to reduce sebum and stop spots from forming in the pore. A must-try.
Utilising the power of plants in its products, Garnier’s skincare products will appeal to those who like a natural approach to skincare. The Organic Lavandin Anti-Age Facial Sleeping Cream is enriched with jojoba and argan oils, and leaves skin hydrated, supple and smooth when you wake up in the morning. And if you haven’t tried its Moisture Bomb sheet masks, where have you been, exactly? The Night Time Face Tissue Mask with deep sea water and hyaluronic acid is second to none.
From face wash to eye cream, Super Facialist offers a broad range of skincare products categorised by skin issue. For those who want to encourage luminosity back into the skin, the Vitamin C range is a good choice (the Brighten Booster can be mixed with your moisturiser for supercharged results), while the blemish prone will love its Salicylic Acid line, which utilises salicylic as its star ingredient – the Pore Purifying Clay Mask is a stand out.
With some seriously cult products under its belt, Vichy gives great skincare. Its newest launch, the Minéral 89 Fortifying Sheet Mask, is made up of 89 per cent Vichy mineralising water (which is ultra soothing – and its signature ingredient), and hyaluronic acid, delivering a major boost to skin’s hydration levels. Another star product in the same range is the Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Booster – it’s packed full of hyaluronic acid, so ideal to use morning and night.
The Body Shop
You probably already know it makes great body creams, but The Body Shop’s skincare offering is just as strong. If you’re yet to try its Aloe Soothing Body Butter, now is the time – it’s an ideal accompaniment to facial massage, and helps to calm irritated skin. Those who suffer from spots will love the Tea Tree line, while those with mature skin should look to the Drops of Youth collection.