As I shared recently, I have moved back to San Diego and have been settling in. I have made it my mission since going back to esthetician school to discover the best in affordable skin care and beauty because I want you to know that beautiful skin is achievable regardless of budget. I have worked with dermatologists (professionally and personally) so here I’ll be weighing in on the budget buys that are actually worth the money. And yes, I purchased all these products myself
- Neutrogena Hydroboost Gel-Cream was recommended by my dermatologist Dr. Chiu for use after she gave me the most intense (and most effective) chemical peel I’ve ever experienced. My skin was basically raw. Since it was so fresh, sensitive, fragile, and easily irritated, she told me I needed something gentle and simple, without any actives, to soothe and calm. I only like the Gel-Cream from the HydroBoost line because it feels the most comfortable on my skin. I still use this any time my skin is freaking out and also before going to the gym since it doesn’t clog my pores.
- Differin Adapalene 0.01% Acne Treatment is a product that was once RX only, but now it’s available at Walmart for the lowest price I could find at $10.88 on rollback. My dermatologist had prescribed me a different big brand name adapalene topical treatment, and I paid an arm and a leg, even with my insurance. The Differen works almost as well for a fraction of the cost! Since my break outs are usually limited to period week, I tend to use the Differin as a spot treatment instead of all over the face. It works really well on wrinkles and fine lines as well, so it is a great multi-tasking skin care booster that you can treat as a serum.
- Clean and Clear Night Relaxing Cleansing Wipes smell heavenly, a hint of lavender. I have been using these for two years, and my dermatologist gave me the green light to keep using them. No break outs, even when I fall asleep without rinsing after on those very rare drunken nights. These wipes are so thick and fully saturated but not dripping wet. I find a lot of wipes too dry or too greasy. These are just right! Although they’re oil free, they are able remove all traces of waterproof mascara without stinging my eyes.
- Dove Body Wash Mousse with Rose Oil is something I decided to try because my friend Sabrina of The Beauty Look Book raved about it. I have extremely dry body skin so I normally stay away from foaming products, but I find this hydrating. The whipped formula is fun to use, quite plush and velvety which makes it a convenient double for shaving cream. It smells like a heavenly rose garden. This is, by far, the best affordable body cleansing product that I’ve ever tried! I plan to try the Argan Oil one next.
- L’Oreal Lash Paradise Waterproof Mascara is the best mascara under $10. Since it holds curl, lengthens, and doesn’t clump, I hoard this and use this on all my brides and bridesmaids. A lot of waterproof mascaras tend to flake off after drying, but this one does not. I test a lot of mascaras, but this is the best on the market for the price! I actually wear the regular (non-waterproof) on my lower lashes every day in the wintertime, but now that it’s summer I stick to the waterproof one.
- Beautyblender Micro Mini Sponges were a surprise find! I had no idea that Walmart carried them, so I was thrilled to get these discounted. I think these tiny ones are underrated because they are versatile and much easier to keep clean than the full-sized one. I use them for concealer, foundation, and contour. Once I received my order and was sure the quality was the same as all the other Beautyblender minis in my collection, I ordered a few more sets to keep in bridal kit. They’re way easier to keep clean and I find the size, when damp, expands to the perfect size for smaller faces.
- Eylure False Lashes are some of the very best in the business. I like all their natural styles and keep them well stocked in my kit, but their bigger layered styles suit my eye shape best. These Vegas Nay by Eylure Grand Glamour false eyelashes are only $4 which I think are quite a steal, making them my go-to pair for day to day wear. They’re light enough where I can wear them all day, but pretty enough where I can wear them alone or with eyeshadow.
- L’oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Les Macarons Scented Liquid Lipsticks in Mon Caramel, Guava Crush, and Praline de Paris. I don’t recommend drinking or eating while wearing these, but I absolutely LOVE the way they look on. I slowly build three layers, using my middle finger to firmly press the formula into my lips as it dries down. It helps the color adhere to the lips, creating texture and volume in a way that looks natural (without having to draw outside the lip lines).
- L’Oreal Infallible Waterproof Full Coverage Concealer is something I keep in my bridal kit lately. I use it like a foundation, since it is waterproof, and blend it out thoroughly on top of the Hydroboost Gel-Cream in addition to a hydrating primer if necessary. It works really well as a cream contour as well. I am highly impressed by this concealer and use it on myself! It reminds me of Tarte’s Shape Tape, but it blends out just as well and doesn’t oxidize whatsoever and is significantly more affordable. I mix shades Vanilla and Cashew with my Micro Mini Sponges by Beautyblender to create a seamless blend.
- Real Techniques Everyday Essentials Makeup Set is raved about by everyone online, so I finally caved. I use them mostly for cream products like foundation, concealer, and highlighter blush. Normally I find that synthetic brushes are a pain to wash, but these were a breeze. I really enjoy the largest fluffy brush for layering on base products and the smaller powder brush for concealer or highlighter. The construction of the brushes is top notch for the price and will be purchasing more in the future!
- Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish in Sheer Fantasy was a random splurge. Since I am an esthetician and touch people’s faces and skin, I no longer get acrylic nails and do my own manicures at home. I now prefer sheers since they are easy to apply and remove. Two thin coats of Sheer Fantasy exceeded all my expectations. The color is a slightly milky pale pink-nude, softening the appearance of my rather stark nail line. My nails look polished with minimal effort!
- Essie Gel Couture Platinum Grade Top Coat caught my eye while browsing through the gel polish colors. I wasn’t going to bother with the top coat since I change my polish every four days now to keep my nails short and pristine, but wow, it is an excellent dupe for the Chanel Gel Top Coat! I’m super impressed!! It dries quickly and it looks glossy without feeling thick or goopy. The glossy effect fades noticeably after four days, but I wash my hands constantly and use chalk when during my barbell work outs.
- Maybelline Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter in Molten Peach is another beauty buy that was influenced by Sabrina. I am not sure I love this as a highlighter but it does make for a beautiful eyeshadow! There are some larger silver shimmer particles that make it pop on my lids. I put it on my lower lash lines in my Best of Budget Beauty Buys Video for a brightening effect.
- EcoTools Bristle Bath Brush is my latest bath time essential because it keeps my back acne at bay. The summer skin struggle is real! I really enjoy backless tops, but racebacks and sports bras tend to trap sweat and clog pores. The bristles of this brush are soft but exfoliate the skin well so I use it every day now. My shoulder mobility is somewhat limited from sleeping on my right shoulder, so the long handle of the brush helps me reach the areas of my upper back that are difficult to scrub with a handheld loofa.
I am a creature of habit, but I keep an open mind and am always willing to try new products, especially skin care now that my complexion is calm and clear. I’d love to know any budget beauty buys that you can’t live without, so please let me know what you think I should try next in the comments!