After trial and error, weeding through the hundreds of articles and Instagram posts, and rationalizing what’s right for my budget, I think I’ve finally found an affordable night skin care routine that works for me.
All of these skin care products are under $30 too! Can you believe? I’ll be honest and say that I’m usually skeptical of a cheap product, and will sometimes splurge if something pricier works better. Luckily there are more and more affordable skin care brands every day that don’t skimp on quality.
As I get older, I’ve become more conscious about what I put on and in my body. That goes for ingredients not only in food, but also my skin care. Some of the products I talk about in today’s post are considered clean products (vegan, cruelty-free, sustainable, plant-based, nasty-ingredient free, etc.), while others are not entirely clean. It’s all about balance, and I don’t think forcing yourself to strictly stick to an entirely clean routine is realistic all the time.
For example, I know that when I switch to a higher strength retinol in the coming years that it will not be a clean ingredient alternative. It’s going to be the real deal chemicals.
This also goes without saying, but just in case, I am in no way a professional. Consult with your dermatologist for a personalized skin care regime that works for your skin type. This is just a routine that I’ve found works for me and my combination skin at night.
From a gentle cleanser to a peptide-rich night cream, here’s my picks for an affordable skin care routine that won’t break the bank. All of these products can be found at a drugstore, Sephora, Ulta, or their respective online stores.
Skin Care Products Under $30
If you need a reminder or are unsure of the order in which you should do your night time skincare routine, here’s a refresher:
- Treat (serums or acids)
- Eye cream
Step 1: Cleanse
I can’t believe there was a time when I didn’t double cleanse my face at night after a full face of makeup. It has been such a game changer for my skin’s health and really does take all the grime off your face.
Before I would use a micellar cleansing water to remove my makeup and sometimes a normal cream-based cleanser after that. Sometimes it would just be one or the other. After the micellar water started to cause dryness, and other “jelly” marketed or foam-based cleansers did the same, it was time to switch to something more sensitive and hydrating.
I’ve found a holy grail first step cleanser in the Cocokind Facial Cleansing Oil. It takes my makeup off effortlessly and is packed with nutrient-rich oils like organic avocado oil and organic tea tree oil. My face doesn’t feel dry or stripped after.
I follow that up with a basic, gentle cleanser from Burt’s Bees. I love that their Sensitive Facial Cleanser is 99% natural and cleans my skin without causing irritation. If I haven’t worn makeup that day, I’ll just use this cleanser.
Step 2: Tone
Like I said, the double cleanse was a game changer, but so was toner. I hopped on the Dr.Thayer’s Witch Hazel trend a few years back and it noticeably improved the texture of my skin. However, we’ve moved on to something a little more concentrated and improved with the Inkey List Glycolic Acid Toner.
No joke, this toner has done exactly what is advertised. It has helped to reduce the appearance of pores in my nose and on my chin, as well as improved the overall texture of my skin. I don’t use it every night because it’s an acid exfoliant and I don’t want to go overboard. On nights in between I’ll use a simple rose water toner like this one from Trader Joe’s.
Step 3: Treat
There’s a few serums I alternate throughout the week, but pictured in the main photo here is the infamous The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion.
Unlike other pure retinol that can cause flaky skin and irritation, this granactive retinoid is a creamy, hydrating formula. I’ve experienced no negative side effects since using this 2-3 times a week. It immediately seeps into the skin as well and has been huge in decreasing the amount of pimples I was having trouble with before. I also think this, paired with the glycolic acid toner, is the reason I wake up with this “glow” everyone speaks about.
After the retinoid I follow up with The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid for extra hydration before moisturizing. I love using this hyaluronic acid at night, however when used in the morning, I found that it would pill under my makeup. Perhaps that’s a result of mixing it with other morning skin care products, but to be safe I’ve only used this product at night.
Step 4: Eye Cream
Some dermatologists say eye cream isn’t necessary until 30, but I’m trying to get a jump start on those pesky crows feet. Right now eye wrinkles isn’t my top priority or concern, but I do like the idea of keeping the skin around my eyes moisturized for better concealer application.
Because I’m not too fussy about eye cream yet, I went with another Cocokind product since I love their facial cleansing oil so much and didn’t want to do a ton of research. I love the smooth applicator on the Revitalizing Eye Cream. The formula isn’t too heavy and glides on the under eye well.
Step 5: Moisturize
When I’m looking for a new moisturizer, especially a night time moisturizer, I want something that provides both intense hydration and anti-wrinkle properties.
Derma-e is a fairly new-to-me brand, but it’s the best drugstore night time cream I’ve found. I’ve tried two of their moisturizers, including the Advanced Peptides & Collagen Moisturizer and the Anti-aging Regenerative Night Cream. Both are packed with vitamins targeted to decrease the appearance and production of fine lines and wrinkles. And at 2oz. each, you can’t beat the price of the size combined with the quality of the product.
Another moisturizer to note is the Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream. It’s almost triple the price, but it saved my dry skin during winter. The squalane provides that extra kick of hydration, too.
If you’re looking for an ultra moisturizing mask option, try the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask. Here’s some thoughts on my experience.
Step 6: Oils
After learning the power of squalane oil from the Biossance moisturizer, I quickly went on the hunt for a pure squalane oil. Biossance sell it in it’s pure form, but it’s not always in my budget.
Instead I turned to my new low budget favorite, The Inkey List, and found a 30 ML version of their own squalane oil. I apply this after my moisturizer and tap it all around my face. Because it’s an oil, my face is as slippery as a wet beach ball after application. And that’s just the way we like it.
If I’ve already used hyaluronic acid in a previous step, I won’t always use this at the very end. This can also be used on other dry areas of your body, like your cuticles or your hands. I always apply excess product to the back of my hands. They get wrinkly too, after all.
If you’ve found an affordable skin care regimen that works well for you, please share the wealth in the comments below. I’m always looking to switch up my products so my skin doesn’t get bored and reject the products that once worked.