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The 10 best skin care products under $30 that actually work

Oct 09, 2023Oct 09, 2023

Tue, July 25, 2023 at 12:32:40 PM EDT

Some skin care products can be very expensive, but that doesn’t mean that the product is effective, formulated with quality active ingredients or you’ll see the results you’re looking for. In fact, some of the best budget skincare products perform more effectively and work much faster.

So how do you know if a product is worth your money? It comes down to the active ingredients’ levels and potency and understanding what ingredient works for the skin concern you’re looking to target (such as retinol increases cell turnover, which helps minimize lines and wrinkles). Sometimes you won’t know until you use the product. Patience is key in your skin journey as it can usually take a few months to evaluate whether a product is improving the appearance of your skin—and you’ll know right away if your skin isn’t reacting well to a product.

For example, suppose you’ve been using a product for about a month and your skin has become dryer, oiler, duller or you experience increased breakouts. In that case, this can indicate the product isn’t working for you (dependent on the initial reason you bought this product and which skin concern you were trying to treat).

So let’s look at some products that are tried and tested, highly rated and just some of my favorites that are not only efficacious but also won’t break the bank.

With a reviving and refreshing gel formula, La Roche-Posay’s unique Thermal Spring Water is naturally rich in minerals with soothing and antioxidant properties, ceramides, niacinamide and glycerin. This cleanser works to remove dirt, oil, impurities and makeup without overdrying or stripping the skin. A perfect cleanser for oily skin.

I find many of my clients and friends still don’t use a toner in their skin care routine. And you should! Finding the correct toner can feel challenging as many of them are overdrying. But not this one. This toner does exactly what toners are supposed to do — balance the pH of the skin — but has additional benefits like calming redness and irritation and moisturizing and strengthening the skin barrier.

This plant-based daily moisturizer is one of my favorites and utilizes skin care’s most underrated ingredients: Aloe leaf juice to calm and soothe irritation and hoya lacosuna flower extract to deeply hydrate and restore essential nutrients. It also has powerful antioxidants vitamin E and avocado oil to combat free radical damage and moisturize.

This is one of my go-to products for treating pimples and breakouts. When your pimple is red, inflamed or white underneath the skin, apply these patches and watch it disappear. The secret ingredient is the hydrocolloid, which promotes healing, absorbs fluid from the blemish and protects your skin from infection all at the same time.

Finding a quality efficacious retinol under $30 was tough, but this retinol hits the mark. Retinol helps make fine lines look smoother, skin tone looks more even and your skin firmer, more lifted and with dark spots and texture minimized. With retinol, always start with a smaller concentrate percentage like this one, which is 0.3%, and then work your way up. Sensitivity can occur, so start once a week at night and move to using nightly for youthful and healthier-looking skin.

Having a good face oil in your routine is a must to help your skin seal in hydration, as face oils help reduce water loss in the skin. And I love that this one is extremely high in omega-3s, which nourishes and restores dry, inflamed skin, leaving your skin looking and feeling plumped and glowing.

Lip care is also skin care, so apply this lip mask before bed for plumper, smoother, and firmer-looking lips. This uses coconut and castor oils to bind and retain moisture, while the pomegranate and jojoba oil complex plumps, firms and boosts elasticity.

Vitamin C is a must for every day! It helps fight free radical damage (like UV damage and pollution), helps brighten and even your skin tone and reduces lines and wrinkles. And this dermatologist-tested serum is formulated with 10% l-ascorbic acid, the purest form of vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid for hydration.

Say goodbye to dark spots, puffiness and crow’s feet forever with this eye cream. It’s non-greasy, hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic — meaning it won’t clog pores.

This product’s formula is 95% snail mucin, a Korean beauty natural exfoliating ingredient that minimizes pores, targets dark spots and hydrates the skin. It also has licorice and cica, which visibly calm skin while leaving skin more balanced.

Pro Tip: I recommend using one to three times per week depending on skin type, climate and skin concerns. And always do a patch test when trying new products to see how your skin will react.

If you enjoyed this story, check out this $10 shampoo that’s the industry’s best-kept secret for curing bald spots and dryness.

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