There is no denying the fact that expensive doesn’t always mean better, when it comes to beauty products. Sometimes it can be worth shelling out big bucks for luxury skincare products with clinically proven ingredients, but what’s a skincare junkie on a budget to do? Find affordable alternatives that work just as well as their pricey counterparts, of course.
Yes, we are talking skincare drugstore dupes today. Great skincare doesn’t always have to cost a fortune! If we look carefully at the active ingredients in our high-end skincare favorites, many of them can be replaced by similar products easily available at the drugstores (without the hefty price tags and fancy packaging of course!)
However, please note that although these skincare dupes have somewhat similar but not the exact same ingredients as the prestige brands and in some cases, the feel & texture of the formulas can also be slightly different. However, you will still get most of the benefits from the cheaper substitutes.
So, here are the affordable alternatives for 10 high-end skincare favorites that won’t let you down…
1. Splurge: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90)
Save: Alpha Skin Care Intensive Rejuvenating Serum ($18)
Drunk Elephant products are always worth the spend if your beauty budget allows, and their Glycolic night serum is my favorite product from the line! With a combination of 12% glycolic acid, 1% salicylic acid plus an array of antioxidants, it’s an amazing super-charged exfoliating gel that treats everything from sun damage, blackheads, clogged pores, to uneven skin tone/texture, fine lines and other signs of aging. You can read my rave review here. The only downside? It’s not cheap.
So, if you are on a budget, try Alpha skincare’s Intensive Rejuvenating Serum that is just as effective with a 14% glycolic acid concentration. It’s also a light, silky gel formula like the Drunk Elephant’s version and works well for all skin types. It doesn’t have all those ‘extras’ like antioxidants and good-for-your-skin plant extracts but for under $20, this one is still a great beauty bargain!
2. Splurge: GLAMGLOW Youthmud Tinglexfoliate Treatment ($69)
Save: L’Oreal Paris Exfoliate & Refine Pores Pure Clay Mask ($9.99)
Glamglow’s face mask is like a spa facial in a jar that softens, exfoliates and lifts away impurities, leaving your skin with a healthy glow! You’ll feel your pores tighten and notice smoother, brighter skin in juts 10 minutes. The star ingredients in this mask are French Sea Clay and Volcanic Pumice Rock along with a blend of botanical extracts.
However, if you don’t want to commit to the $69 price point, choose L’Oreal’s Pure Clay Mask that also exfoliates & refines pores with the help of natural volcanic rock particles, 3 pure clays, and red algae.
3. Splurge: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $162
Save: Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Super Booster ($49)
When it comes to the best Vitamin C serums, SkinCeuticals needs no introduction! This antioxidant powerhouse features a super-concentrated formula with a combination of 15% pure L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin E and ferulic acid. It has a light-as-water texture that’s suitable for all skin types, including acne-prone. But the price tag…ouch!!
For less than a third of the price, the Paula’s Choice serum is quite similar, sporting a 15% ascorbic acid formula along with antioxidant ferulic acid, vitamin E and Hyaluronic acid for hydration. It also has a water-like texture and comes packaged in a dropper with an internal air restrictor (to help protect from exposure to light and air). This one is absolutely well worth the price!
4. Splurge: Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist ($48)
Save: Pixi Glow Mist ($15)
Tatcha’s dewy skin mist is the perfect pick-me-up for dull, dry skin! It’s a silky, fine mist moisturizer that can be used under or over makeup for dewy glowing skin anytime. It hydrates and refreshes skin with a mix of botanical oils, green tea and hyaluronic acid for a natural, dewy glow.
Pixi’s version offers the same hydrating and radiance-boosting benefits with 13 natural oils plus aloe vera and fruit extracts. So, you get the same result (glowing, luminous complexion) for one-sixth the price…what’s not to love?
5. Splurge: Clinique Extra Gentle Cleansing Foam ($20)
Save: Simple Foaming Cleanser ($6)
I love foaming face cleansers but it’s hard to find one that’s gentle enough for my dry and acne-prone sensitive skin. Clinique’s Extra Gentle Cleansing Foam is truly gentle and does not contain any harsh soap or drying detergent ingredients commonly found in some foaming cleansers. It does a great job of removing dirt, makeup, and oil, and rinses easily without leaving skin dry or tight.
On the drugstore front, Simple Foaming Cleanser is just as great at less than one-third the price! It’s a great beauty bargain that’s perfect for all skin types, including sensitive.
6. Splurge: First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads ($30)
Save: Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Exfoliating Face Pads (12.99)
First Aid Beauty’s Exfoliating face pads offer an easy way to tone and brighten dull skin while providing a smooth canvas for makeup application. They contain just the right amount of lactic and glycolic acid which makes them gentle and effective for daily use, even on sensitive skin.
Nip+Fab’s version is a more affordable alternative that gives your skin a similar boost and pick-me-up pep talk. Their radiance-boosting pads (60 count) are also soaked in exfoliating glycolic acid along with witch hazel and hyaluronic acid to soothe & hydrate. These pads contain fewer fancy plant extracts but leave the skin just as smooth as their pricey counterpart!
7. Splurge: Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask ($26)
Save: L’Oreal Paris Detox & Brighten Pure Clay Mask ($9.79)
Charcoal face masks are all the rage these days! And Origins Clear Improvement mask is one of the most popular ones out there. It deep-cleans pores and clears the skin of excess oil, dirt and environmental impurities with the help of Bamboo Charcoal and White China Clay, leaving your skin smooth and purified.
L’Oreal’s Pure-Clay mask feels just as indulgent and detoxifies dull, tired skin while being gentle and non-drying (I actually like it better for my dry skin!) Just like Origin’s version, it contains potent pure clays and charcoal that acts like a magnet to draw out pore-clogging impurities such as dirt, oil, and pollutants. This one is a must have!!
8. Splurge: Fresh Rose Face Mask ($62)
Save: InstaNatural Skin Brightening Rose Mask ($27)
Fresh’s face mask is a cult-favorite hydrating and toning gel mask infused with real rose petals and pure rosewater. The formula also boasts of cucumber extract, aloe vera gel and antioxidant-rich green tea to brighten and soothe dull skin. And it smells divine! It’s a refreshing and relaxing beauty treat that’s sure to please!
But if your beauty budget doesn’t allow the splurge, try InstaNatural’s Rose Mask that has a similar set of ingredients, including fresh rose petal extract, hyaluronic acid, and aloe vera. Plus, it contains Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Vitamin C and Lactic Acid that brightens and exfoliates for a healthy glow…score! This budget-friendly mask definitely works just as good (if not better!) for less than half the price!
9. Splurge: Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil ($32)
Save: Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Oil with Coconut & Argan Oil ($15.99)
If you like all-natural cleansing oils, Josie Maran’s Argan oil is a great option that melts away makeup easily while hydrating skin. It’s got a pleasant scent and vitamin E-packed formula doesn’t leave a greasy residue.
Burt’s Bees version does the same thing at half the price! It’s also all-natural, doesn’t leave an oily residue and easily removes makeup (waterproof too), while leaving skin super soft. I actually like the Burt’s Bees cleansing oil a little better because it feels lighter and smells great as well!
10. Splurge: Kiehl’s Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate ($54)
Save: Derma E Overnight Peel With Alpha Hydroxy Acids ($18.99)
Great for anyone with uneven, sun-damaged skin, Kiehl’s at-home peel formula is a leave-on serum that exfoliates, brightens and refines the feel of rough texture while visibly evening skin tone with continued use.
Derma E’s overnight peel is also a skin-renewing formula that does the trick with a blend of 5% glycolic acid and fruit acids. Although the blend of ingredients is a bit different, the final result is the same: softer, radiant skin with fewer age spots. Again, I actually prefer the Derma E peel as it’s more effective yet gentle and non-irritating on my sensitive skin.
Loving these drugstore skincare dupes? There’s more to come…stay tuned for Part 2 coming next week!
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