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If you’ve been sucked into the beauty world on social media, you may find yourself quickly becoming overwhelmed at the number of steps the ‘ideal’ skincare routine needs. Here, we cover the three essential items you need for an effective skincare routine – with 15 of the best affordable skincare products all under £20 for you to choose from.
Some TikTok influencers would have you believe that your skin is going to look dry and crusty unless you follow a 12-step skincare routine in the AM and a 24-step routine in the PM.
Now, if that’s your thing, you do you. Skincare is an act of self-care for some people. It feels luxurious, and it can be a huge confidence booster to have smooth, glowy skin.
However, for many people, those multiple-step skincare routines are intimidating, expensive, and simply not necessary.
For an effective, affordable skincare routine, the only three items you really need are:
Below, we’re going to deep-dive into what each of these products do, some amazing budget-friendly options that even beauty influencers swear by, plus a couple of additional products that aren’t necessary by any means, but can make a big difference to your skin at a small cost.
First: how did we come up with this list? To find the best rated affordable skincare items, we trawled through Look Fantastic, one of the biggest beauty retailers online, using a select formula. We filtered each category first by products under £20/$20, then searched only for products with more than 15 reviews over 4 stars. Finally, we sorted the items by popularity to find the top items and cross-referenced the reviews on Look Fantastic with reviews on Amazon, Ulta, and independent social media reviews (mostly Instagram and TikTok).
This carefully selected formula allowed us to find the top five cleansers, moisturisers, and SPFs that really do their job – with each item under £20/$20. That’s your three essential skincare products all for under £60/$60 – often far less!
Take a look at other frugal living changes you could make to your lifestyle.
A note on prices
The prices listed for each item below are the retail price. However, LookFantastic had deals for the large majority of products at a cheaper price, so this is definitely worth bearing in mind when deciding which one you’ll go for!
15 Best Affordable Skincare Products for Under £20
A cleanser, as the name implies, cleans your face. It’s an essential part of any skincare routine to effectively clean the grime of the day (you’d be surprised!), natural oil build-up, plus any makeup you’ve applied, completely off your face.
Warm water just doesn’t cut through the oils on your face. A cleanser is the only thing that will really work into those pores and leave your face actually clean and clear.
Cleansers tend to be more gentle on the skin and have a more moisturising element than a face wash – plus, cleansers dissolve the oils from your face at the end of the day – which a face wash might not be able to fully break down.
Budget-friendly cleanser options
- CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
Cost: £10 / $15
Reviews: 4.5 stars
Key info: The CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser is non-foaming, and described as hydrating and revitalising the skin while also cleaning it. The product contains three essential ceramides and is fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic. This cleanser is described as most suitable for normal to dry skin.
2. The Ordinary Squalene Cleanser
Cost: £5.50 / $7.90
Reviews: 4.2 stars
Key info: The Ordinary is highly praised worldwide for its minimalist format: essential ingredients, and no unnecessary extras. This cleanser is vegan, cruelty-free, and oil-free. The cleanser is described as a gentle emollient that targets make-up and oil build-up while keeping the skin smooth and hydrated.
3. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Facial Cleanser
Cost: £8.20 / $12.49
Reviews: 4.9 stars
Key info: This is a hydrating gel cleanser that activates with water. It’s described as best for dry or dehydrated skin and includes hyaluronic acid to keep the skin hydrated and soft. This highly-rated cleanser is also described as suitable for sensitive skin.
Shop Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Facial Cleanser.
4. Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser
Cost: £8.99 / $16.99
Reviews: 4.5 stars
Key info: This cleanser is a non-pore-blocking, dermatologist-tested cleanser that’s gentle on the skin and maintains your skin’s pH. Highly rated for it’s simple, no-fuss ingredients, this cleanser is ideal for sensitive skin and can be used daily.
5. The INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid Cleanser
Cost: £9.99 / $9.99
Reviews: 4.6 stars
Key info: Another brand that receives excellent reviews for its simplistic, effective product catalogue, the INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid Cleanser hydrates and cleans the skin while also optimising the skin’s pH. This cleanser is dermatologically tested, includes hyaluronic acid, is suitable for all skin types, and is vegan.
A moisturiser’s job is to hydrate the face, lock in essential moisture, and provide a protective barrier from the outside elements. Essentially, moisturiser is a must for keeping skin healthier, and for achieving a healthy, bright complexion.
Best budget-friendly moisturiser options
- The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors
Cost: £6.80 / $7.70
Reviews: 4.8 stars
Key info: This is described as a non-greasy formula with a supplement of multiple amino acids, fatty acids, hyaluronic acids and other compounds designed to hydrate your face for a healthier, brighter complexion. This moisturiser is vegan, cruelty-free, and free from alcohol, oil, silicone, and nuts.
Cost: £15 for 473ml / $14.50 for 340g
Reviews: 4.9 stars
Key info: This moisturiser is described as ideal for dry to very dry skin, with a non-greasy texture that locks in moisture throughout the day. The lotion contains three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid and is fragrance-free. This moisturiser has also been approved by the National Eczema Association. This product also comes in a smaller bottle.
3. Weleda Skin Food
Cost: £13.50 / $18.70
Reviews: 4.5 stars
Key info: This award-winning intensive moisturiser is described as ideal for use on dry patches of skin for deep-penetrating hydration. The lotion is made from sunflower seed oil and extracts of wild pansy, chamomile, calendula and revitalising rosemary extract. Users are advised that a little goes a long way, and it is best applied by patting on your face.
4. The INKEY List Vitamin B, C and E Moisturizer
Cost: £5.99 / $5.99
Reviews. 4.5 stars
Key info: This is described as a lightweight moisturiser suitable for normal skin types year-round. It contains ‘every essential vitamin’ for healthy skin and is designed to help balance the oils in your face. It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, and pregnancy/breastfeeding safe.
5. Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm
Cost: £9.00 / $12.50
Reviews: 5 stars
Key info: This moisturiser is fragrance-free, alcohol-free, non-comedogenic, and suitable for all skin types including infants and pregnant women. The lotion contains hydrating Panthenol and Glycerin to repair damaged skin and lock in moisture with a protective barrier.
An SPF is an essential skincare item that should be used every single day, without fail, to protect your skin from harmful UVB rays from the sun – even if it’s cloudy outside. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) protects your skin from these rays which can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and early ageing.
Best Budget-Friendly SPF Options
- La Roche-Posay Invisible Fluid SPF50+ Sun Cream
Cost: £18.00 / $36.99
Key info: Water, sweat and sand-resistant, this sun cream from La Roche-Posay is factor 50, and has an invisible, non-greasy finish. This simple SPF is designed to be for all skin types and receives high praise for its minimalist design that goes on perfectly under make-up.
2. CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF50
Cost: £15 / $18.99
Reviews: 5 stars
Key info: For normal to dry skin, this SPF is the CeraVe moisturiser and SPF combined, saving you one step in your AM skincare routine. The only downside, however, is that you may not want to be using an SPF in a moisturiser at night, which means investing in a separate moisturiser for the PM.
3. Bondi Sands Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+
Cost: £8.99 / $10.00
Key info: The Bondi Sands suncream is factor 50 and fragrance-free. The lotion is enriched with Vitamin E, ” defending the skin against environmental aggressors” such as pollution. It is water-resistant for up to 4 hours and is reef-friendly.
4. Garnier Ambre Solaire Sun Protection Face Fluid SPF50+
Cost: £12.00 / $16.60
Reviews: 4.6 stars
Key info: This suncream from Garnier is factor 50, cruelty-free, and infused with vitamin E and hyaluronic acid to keep the skin hydrated while protecting it from UV rays and environmental aggressors. The lotion is described as suitable for daily use, lightweight, and fast-absorbing.
5. grüum SPF50 Face Sunscreen
Cost: £6.00 / $8.30
Reviews: 4 stars
Key info: This sunscreen from grüum includes high UVA and UVB protection, is water-resistant and is described as lightweight and fast-absorbing. It’s also vegan, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic.