>Beauty on a Budget: My Drugstore Skin Care Picks


If there’s one thing I love more than clothes, it’s beauty products. I think I inherited it from my mother, who has a makeup and skin care collection large enough to rival a small Sephora. She took me to Macy’s and bought me the Clinique 3-step at the sight of my first adolescent pimple, and I’ve been obsessed and hoarding collecting my own little beauty arsenal ever since. 
However, the recession has really put the breaks on my beauty budget. My days of waltzing into a department store and dropping triple digits on luxury skin care brands are on hold. In the meantime, I’ve found some really affordable and effective products. {And, truth be told, my skin looks and feels better than ever.}
Here’s the rundown of my drugstore picks that I use every day: 
1. Cetaphil Extra Gentle Cleanser ($10.99): Before I started using this cleanser, I always felt like when it came to face washes, lather = clean. Little did I know, cleansers that lather up are often really drying for your skin and can cause more harm than good. I apply this Cetaphil cleanser to dry skin like a lotion, than gently wipe off with a warm, moist towel. It removes every spec of makeup and doesn’t strip your skin (so no tight, itchy feeling after washing your face). 
2. Almay Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover ($5.99): I used to drop big bucks on Lancome eye makeup remover, but this one gets the job done for a quarter of the price. 
3. St. Ives Apricot Scrub ($1.49): This comes in a variety of formulas. I’m currently using the alpha hydroxy acid formula about 3 times a week to exfoliate. 
4. Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque ($2.99): I’ve kept a tube of this mask in my vanity since I was a teenager. I use it once a week to deep clean my pores. 
5. CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM ($12.99): I really like the consistency of this lotion — it’s not greasy and it absorbs really well into freshly-washed skin. I slather this on my face, neck, and chest every night before going to bed. 
6. J&J Purpose Dual Treatment Moisture Lotion with SPF 15 ($9.99): My daytime lotion that I put on every morning before I start my makeup routine. My skin is pretty fair, so daily sun protection is a must. I also use this on my chest and arms to keep my skin moisturized and protected during the day.
What are your tried-and-true, budget-friendly skin care favorites? 

Author: Keira Lennox

I'm a small town lady from the sunshine state with an affinity for bookstores, beauty counters and unfussy style. I spend my days running my flower shop, and my nights blogging about what I love and what I wear. (Or watching Netflix and drinking wine.)

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  • St Yves also makes an AMAZING moisturizer with collagen (St Ives Collagen Elastin Facial Moisturizer). It is incredibly affordable and I have found that it beats creams that are hundreds of dollars more!

  • >I use Cetaphil moisturizer at night because even though I'm in my 40s, most creams are too rich for my skin. I used Cetaphil cleanser for years, but switched to the cheaper drug-store knockoff called Life Gentle Facial Cleanser. It's available at Shopper's Drug Mart and Pharmaprix in Canada, but I have no idea about the U.S.My day "cream" is LaRoche Posay spf 60. Definitely not cheap, but available in drugstores and doesn't make me break out or give me the ghostly look that some heavy spfs do. (I am VERY sun sensitive due to melasma — yucky but harmless brown blotches).I will check out the St. Ives Apricot scrub and scour the (Canadian) aisles to see which of your other recommendations I can nab. The prices are right!

  • >Oh, I LOVE St. Ives Apricot Scrub…. I've replaced it with a Clarisonic recently (which I have mixed feelings on), but there's something about that gritty texture and rubbing it in to your face that is so… gratifying.

  • >I'm using St.Ives Apricot Scrub too! I used it both on my face and feet (cos it's so humid and sticky after wearing closed shoes here!). I also like St.Ives Mineral Clay Mask which I used twice a week.

  • >I couldn't agree more. I love my drug store beauty products. I couldn't live with out Cetaphil and St. Ives. I also love my Amlactin alpha hydrox lotion that i found at Walgreens. It's still a little pricey, but the bottle is gigantic.xoxo,courtney

  • >I love the St Ives and the Mint Julep mask too! I'm also a fan of Aveeno lotion for my body and face.-Samanthahttp://sincerelysamantha.com

  • >Aw, lucky you. I would have loved to try these specific items when I was still living in the US (I remember checking their labels), but it turns out most of them contain lanolin alcohol, which I'm allergic to… Now I'm back to Germany and using almost exclusively stuff from the in-house brand of dm, a drugstore chain that exists only in Europe (and that I really missed when I was living abroad)!Cheers,poet

  • >I have always had really sensitive skin, and it seems like most soaps and lotions make me itchy first then break out later. Several years ago I came across Cetaphil's Antibacterial bar soap, and its seriously a life saver. I use it on my face and body. It doesn't leave your skin dry and tight like regular bar soaps, just soft and clean!

  • >i am another cetaphil girl- starting using it when my dermatologist told me it was the best. :) I also use Clean & Clear's Morning Burst in-Shower facial. It makes your skin super soft and feel good when you use it.I use Clean & Clear Morning Burst face lotion or Oil of Olay all day face lotion and I use regenerist night cream. :) I am also a fan of the mint julep mask!

  • >Great products. I discovered Cetaphil 11yrs ago. My son's pediatrician recommended it for his whole body as a baby. Anywho, I love Ponds Cold cream for a makeup remover. It smells so good. I also opted for Walmart's version of St. Ives and it works just as well! Haven't used the Mint Juliep mask since high school, but I will try it and the two moisturizers that you mentioned. Thanks for the tips, now if I can just find a great mascara, any suggestions?????

  • >I also love Cetaphil (it blew my mind the first time I bought it and it told me I didn't have to use water to use it–great on a camping trip), St. Ives (I only use the Apricot scrub once a week, but I love the Green Tea scrub daily), and I have that same Mint Julep mask in my cabinet!!

  • >So happy to see another drugstore product-loving gal. I heart Cetaphil, almay makeup remover, and Queen Helene (the mint julep mask and the oatmeal and honey scrub, too).

  • >I love the Purpose lotion, its very gentle. I also love Aveeno products, I use their face lotion interchangeably with the Purpose.You know what works better than any makeup remover I've found? Olive oil. I swear by it, and haven't bought (or even used) makeup remover for the past six months since I've tried it. It takes off EVERYTHING (b/c its pure oil, lol) but it absolutely does not clog pores, its non-comedogenic. Its also totally natural. I put a few drops on my fingers and mostly use it for waterproof eye makeup. :)

  • >I use St. Ives scrub twice a week. It feels especially cleansing after a long day. Other than that, I use Eucerin gentle cleanser (I have very sensitive skin). It removes primer + foundation + blush + mascara easily and without drying/irritating my face. I highly recommend it!

  • >Well, hello, skin care semi-twin. I'm currently using the same Cetaphil cleanser, though I think I'll be switching back to an anti-aging cream cleanser for winter soon. I don't know what I'd do without Almay's eye makeup remover (though I prefer the pre-soaked pads); they're the best substitute for Lancome's Bifacil eye makeup remover that I've found so far. I also stopped using the Lancome version due to cost…unless of course there's a gift with purchase involved. :) I used the St. Ives scrub all through high school…not really sure why I stopped. Good picks!!