Low-Maintenance Skincare Products for Under $20

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I am about as low-maintenance as it gets when it comes to makeup. It’s a fancy day when I’m wearing anything more than mascara! But one thing I have taken pretty seriously from a young age is skincare. Now that I’m in my 30s, it’s more important to me than ever to pay attention to my skin. Over the years I’ve tried products from a range of different price points, and I’m here to tell you that quality skincare doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Everything that I use listed below is under $20, and most are frequently on sale at various retailers.

Cleanser

Skincare products won’t be able to work if they aren’t applied to a clean face. A great option is La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Cleanser – it’s very gentle, removes eye makeup without irritation, and the bottle is huge and has lasted me FOREVER.

Treatments/Serums

I spent way too much time researching retinols – the apparent holy grail of anti-aging products – and so many credible sources pointed Differin gel, an inexpensive acne treatment that just recently became available over the counter. For me, it serves a one-two punch. Not only is the topical retinol helping to fade those pesky fine lines from the angry-mommy face I make way too often, but it also helps keep any hormonal breakouts at bay. It can be a bit irritating as your skin adjusts, but I promise it’s worth it! Start out using a pea-sized dollop 1-2 nights per week and work your way up to every other night. Retinols are not pregnancy safe, so keep that in mind for those of you expanding your families! They also increase sensitivity to the sun, so save these for nighttime use only.

For daytime, and on the retinol-free nights, I have been loving vitamin c serum. I used to swear by the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum, and while it gave me excellent results, the price tag wasn’t cheap. After switching to the Derma-E Vitamin C Serum, I haven’t noticed any discernable change, which makes me feel like it’s working just as well as its expensive counterpart! It’s loaded with skin-loving ingredients – the vitamin c helps brighten, the hyaluronic acid helps skin retain moisture and look plump, and vitamin e is soothing and reparative. A perfect cocktail of ingredients to cope with the dry, irritating weather!

Moisturizers

Did anyone else fall in love with the Drunk Elephant Protini moisturizer as part of the Sephora birthday gifts for 2019? It’s fabulous, but it comes at a hefty price. I did some research and found that the Acure Radically Rejuvenating Whipped Night Cream is a pretty darn close dupe to the ingredient composition! The main difference comes down to the texture, as it’s thicker and less gel-like than the Drunk Elephant version but still has the same amazing plumping, perfecting effects. I am also a big fan of face oils – there are so many types for all different skincare concerns and budgets, but argan is my personal favorite. I slather it on at least a few nights per week to wake up nice and dewy! Whatever moisturizer you use, make sure to also apply to your neck and chest, and put any residual product on the back of your hands.

Eye Treatments

I have stopped using any kind of special eye treatment in lieu of this creamy cocokind MyMatcha stick. It’s simply coconut oil, beeswax, and matcha powder and has done a great job of hydrating and brightening my eye area, as well as soothing any other pesky dry spots on my face and body. It is also an excellent lip balm! Pro tip – stick it in your bra for a few minutes to warm up so it slides on smoothly without tugging the delicate skin around your eyes. Since it’s coconut oil based, it gets firm in the cold weather!

SPF Products

Yes, friends, even in the dead of winter where it’s cold as all get out and it gets dark by 5 p.m., SPF is still a must. I have been loving Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50.

Exfoliators

This is vital because it helps remove any dead skin that get in the way of products doing their job. It’s important year-round, but especially so in these cold winter months that leave most people dry and flaky. In my younger days, I used gritty physical exfoliators (St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub, anyone?) but as I’ve gotten older, I opt for something less harsh – chemical exfoliators. My tried and true favorite is Pixi Glow Tonic, which uses a gentle glycolic acid to remove the top layer of dead skin cells. Using it about three times per week after cleansing has made a noticeable difference in my skin texture – it lives up to its name for sure! I have sensitive skin and haven’t had any irritation from this. For those that do like some grit in their exfoliation experience, Acure Brightening Facial Scrub is a great choice. 

Miscellaneous

Last, but certainly not least, is the ever-famous Aquaphor. I keep a tube in my nightstand to use on my lips before bed, on dry heels, cuticles, and as an added treat for the under-eyes when they’re in need of a little extra attention. It’s also gentle enough to use on my kids. 

Now tell me, what are your skincare must-haves?


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Courtney Pope
Courtney is a hometown girl who never planned on staying in Kansas or even having a family of her own, and now resides in Andover with her college sweetheart Zack (m. 2012), their twin daughters Ella and Emily (b. 2016), and their dogs Lady and Roscoe. She is a bank auditor for her 'day job,' and when she isn't chasing her toddlers or failing to conquer the never-ending piles of laundry and dishes, she enjoys going on dates with her husband, experiencing old favorites and new adventures through the eyes of her kids, iced coffee and hot tea, and devouring audiobooks and podcasts (savoring the rare paper book when time allows).