A Skin Care Routine that Won't Make Your Wallet Bleed

All photos are those of the author.

If there’s one thing I’ll never understand, it’s my skin. It does what it wants—when it wants—with a devil-may-care attitude. I’ve been endlessly stressed trying to figure my skin out and find an easy, affordable and, most of all, effective routine. Lo and behold, after many empty tubes and countless dollars, I’ve found a skin care routine that finally works for me. So, if you too have student fees siphoning all your savings and are looking to try some budget-friendly products, keep reading!

HERB DAY Cleansing Foam in Lemon, $7

$7 for 170 mL… do I hear the heavens singing? Don’t be deceived by the wallet-friendly price tag—this cleanser is jam-packed with a combination of fruit extracts to cleanse and calm your skin. It comes in a multitude of different types depending on your skin needs. Personally, I use the lemon variety for its brightening effects and ability to fade acne scars.

Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera, $13.07

I know a lot of people favour astringent toners to get rid of any dirt or residue—trust me, I do too—but I think a hydrating toner is key for restoring any moisture that might have been lost from when you cleansed your face. What I like about this toner is that it pairs a variety of hydrating ingredients such as aloe vera, glycerin and rose water to plump up your skin and prevent any flaking or dry patches. 10/10 would recommend.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $5.90

Niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) is a holy grail for anyone suffering from congestion and skin blemishes. In many ways, it’s been a life saver for my textured skin. Because niacinamide targets the overproduction of sebum, it does an awesome job at de-clogging pores and balancing skin, which is what I personally like about the product. In general, it can treat a variety of skin issues from dry skin and wrinkles to acne breakouts and pigmentation—all for the low, low price of $5.90! Crazy, right?

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, $8.90   

A bad habit that I haven’t quite gotten rid of is pimple popping. We all know it’s bad: it leaves scars, it aggravates the skin, and it makes you more likely to get another pimple. But honestly, I could care less. It’s just too satisfying to give up, you know? And that’s why I’ve really come to cherish alpha arbutin. The name might sound like it’ll burn your skin off but really, because of its low concentration (2%) it’s a fairly gentle serum that effectively fades dark spots. It’s also paired with hyaluronic acid (another scary name that isn’t all that bad), a substance that is naturally present in the body. It has the stunning capacity to draw in moisture and calm irritated skin. An added bonus is that hyaluronic acid makes an amazing primer before makeup, so you’re basically getting two products for the price of one!

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, $7.70

If you haven’t already noticed, I’m obsessed with The Ordinary. Their prices are unbeatable and they offer free shipping over $25? Yes, please. But besides that, their products align with what I value in my skincare: simplicity and efficacy. This moisturizer is exactly that: simple and effective. The rich but non-greasy moisturizer is suitable for all skin types and is especially great for locking in moisture. I use this as the last step in my routine because it does a great job sealing in any serums or ointments. Definitely check this one out if you’re looking for a budget-friendly, well-rounded moisturizer!

It’s been a long and expensive process to figure out what it is my skin needs, and although I haven’t quite achieved “perfect skin” (if such a thing does exist), I’ve made a lot of progress in making my skin work with me. I think that’s all we can ever really ask of from our skin. I hope my skincare regime provides some insight as well as some budget-friendly products to try out!

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