The Affordable Acne Skincare Routine that Actually Works

Living with acne-prone skin can be more expensive to deal with than you think. Here are a few more affordable drugstore products I’ve tried myself and found to work with my skin type (which is very oily and sensitive), so maybe you can find some things you haven’t tried yet! My usual twice-a-day routine is to cleanse (with exfoliation), treat active spots, and then moisturize, but with some trial and error, you’ll be able to find a good combination of products that work best for your skin.

  1. It’s a surprisingly common misconception that people with oily skin don’t need to use a moisturizer after they wash their face. Totally wrong. When you don’t moisturize your face after washing, it just makes more oil itself so you break out even more. Look for oil-free moisturizers with no added fragrances or anything; I like this brand, Simple, which you can find at any drugstore. It’s very lightweight and absorbs quickly.

  2. This cleanser is more on the exfoliating side, so it may be a little harsher on drier skin. But it’s also oil-free, which is a must for anything I put on my face. Clean & Clear is always a trustworthy brand as well. I tend to reach for more exfoliating cleansers because my skin is just high maintenance and requires a complete purging of everything it encounters on a day-to-day basis, but do some research and find what works for you!

  3. This drugstore moisturizer’s a little more expensive than the other on this list, but it’s the one I’m currently using so I thought I’d include it. This one is great because it also contains a sunscreen and it’s starting to get warmer out, so a step to protect your skin is going to need to be incorporated into the routine once again fairly soon. CeraVe is super light and smooth, which makes it great for oily skin.

  4. I think it’s important to focus treatment on any active acne that comes up, so I always include some kind of direct gel such as this Neutrogena one. You don’t put this over your whole face, just active problem areas. This way you’re not over-stimulating your skin but still getting the healing process going.

  5. This is probably the best drugstore spot treatment I’ve found that works for me. Most likely because it’s prescription-strength and reduces redness and inflammation alongside fighting acne with a retinoid formula. It’s also not drying at all, which is great; goes on smoothly and doesn’t leave you flaky if you use too much.

Don’t be discouraged if some acne-treating products that work for others don’t work for you; all skin types are different. And be sure to switch up your routine every couple of months or so! In my experience, sometimes your skin just gets used to the things you’re using so they stop working. It takes a lot of time and trial and error, but take care of your skin!

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