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If you want to take care of your skin but don’t have the budget – or the inclination – to blow a wedge of cash on skincare products, don’t worry.
As the skincare fans on our Style and Beauty forums will tell you, buying spendy, branded products doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting top quality.
One wise Mumsnetter advises: “I've tried high-end, totally budget and various in between, and have concluded that it makes no difference, so I never buy expensive stuff any more.”
And, of course, it all depends on what suits your skin type best anyway. Whether you have oily, dry, acne-prone or mature skin, there are plenty of value-for-money products on the market that will leave you looking your sparkling, fresh-faced best.
You may be looking for a budget facial cleanser, a cheap eye makeup remover or a body scrub for under £10. You may even be after a product containing retinol – a veritable skincare superhero. If that’s the case, read on for the best cheap skincare products for 2021.
1. Acure Brightening Facial Scrub
Price: £8.95 for 118ml | Buy now from Amazon
“Acure is great.”
A super efficient multi-tasker, this natural exfoliant does a whole load of work for your skin for around the price of a couple of drinks at your local.
French green clay cleanses away excess oil and breakouts, Organic sea kelp and lemon peel gently exfoliate your skin, and Madonna lily stem cells help to brighten your skin's appearance.
Mumsnetters rate Acure Organics beauty products, including Acure Brightening Facial Scrub, because they’re effective and reasonably priced as well as being cruelty-free.
2. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid
Price: £8.93 for 30ml | Buy now from Amazon
“I’ve been using this every night for the past week and have had no irritation at all. It seems to be a decent product for the money, and now hoping that it’ll work and iron out a few wrinkles!”
You may have noticed that many retinol products are on the expensive side but good news; you won’t need to take out a second mortgage to afford The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid.
The Ordinary is a cult no-fuss, affordable beauty brand, and they recently upgraded all their retinols to 'Granactive Retinoid' which is more effective against wrinkles and fine lines than their original retinol solution.
Do take care if you have oily skin though – this serum might not be for you as it’s in squalene.
3. Dots for Spots
Price: £5.99 for 48 dots | Buy now from Amazon
“I use Dots for Spots from Amazon. They're less than £10 a pack, and I couldn't live without them. Any hydrocolloid patch will do, and Dots for Spots seems to be the best at its price point. They pull out all the pus and, as a bonus, prevent you from scratching, either consciously or unconsciously. Plus, I really enjoy looking at how much pus comes out.”
Let’s face it, zits aren’t solely a teenage skincare issue. If you’re plagued by spots, you’ll know just how frustrating they can be. But dermatologists advise against fiddling with pesky pimples as it increases the risk of infection or scarring.
Hydrocolloid patches like Dots for Spots a safer alternative. Simply stick the miniature sticker-like dot patch over the offending spot and let it get to work, drawing out the pus within (boak) and speeding up the healing process.
You’ll be blemish free in no time, trust us. They’re 100% vegan and cruelty-free too.
4. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
Price: £7.60 for 236ml | Buy now from Lookfantastic
“I’ve been using it for a couple of years (face wash and moisturiser) and I love it. I wish they did refillable bottles as I’m gradually managing to get other plastics out of the bathroom, but I keep rebuying it as it’s just so good on me.”
Mumsnetters rave about the CeraVe skincare range, which has been developed in partnership with dermatologists.
A gentle and non-foaming gel containing protective essential ceramides, CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser removes makeup and dirt. Hyaluronic acid helps to retain your skin's natural moisture.
As well as being great on adult skin, CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser is recommended by parents on our boards as a simple, first cleanser for tweens. As this Mumsnetter advised: “My 11-year-old is using CeraVe face wash and moisturiser. I use the moisturiser as well – it’s lovely.”
5. The INKEY List Caffeine Eye Cream
Price: £8.99 for 15ml | Buy now from Amazon
“Fab and great value.”
Another cult brand adored by beauty mavens and Mumsnetters alike, The INKEY List range has apparently been developed by experts and scientists so you should be in completely safe hands.
This lightweight, hydrating under-eye serum promises to reduce the appearance of dark circles, fine lines and puffiness thanks to the added Matrixyl 3000™ peptide.
Use The INKEY List Caffeine Eye Cream in the evening as part of your nighttime beauty routine and in the morning in order to create a smooth base for eye makeup.
6. Nip+Fab Vitamin C Serum
Price: £10 for 50ml | Buy now from Amazon
“Brilliant! I love the Vitamin C Serum and really see a visible difference.”
Vitamin C can work wonders on your skin. Not only does it promote collagen production, helping to reduce fine lines and keep skin looking youthful, but it’s also a powerful antioxidant.
This means that it protects skin from free radicals caused by UV exposure, meaning it can work well on hyperpigmentation.
Nip+Fab Vitamin C Serum is a lightweight, non-greasy serum with anti-ageing green tea extracts. Reviewers say it smells rather overpowering but works well at brightening and refreshing skin.
7. The Body Shop Camomile Gentle Eye Makeup Remover
Price: £7.50 for 250ml | Buy now from The Body Shop
“I have tried so many eye makeup removers – expensive and cheap – and The Body Shop Camomile Gentle Eye Makeup Remover is the best. I love it so much – it removes everything, is gentle and not oily and no panda eyes in the morning!”
Mumsnetters and independent reviewers rate this bargain eye makeup remover from The Body Shop.
Despite being pleasingly non-greasy and light, The Body Shop Camomile Gentle Eye Makeup Remover is also capable of wiping away both waterproof mascara AND glitter, depending on how adventurous you tend to be with your eye makeup looks. It’s vegan-friendly too.
8. Sanctuary Spa Body Scrub
Price: £4.87 for 200ml | Buy now from Amazon
“Sanctuary Spa scrub is amazing. It feels like I've been to a spa, smells of essential oils and leaves my skin smooth and moisturised.”
If it’s been ages since your last trip to the spa, you don’t have to feel like you’re missing out. This glorious body scrub is very popular on our boards with Mumsnetters, who say it leaves skin soft and smelling gorgeous – no surprise given that i’ts laced with Sanctuary’s signature spa scent.
Good news for animal lovers – Sanctuary Spa are 100% cruelty free and this body scrub is also free from parabens and micro plastic beads.
Simply work Sanctuary Spa Body Scrub into your damp skin in the bath or shower before rinsing off. The grains of pumice provide extra exfoliating power so your skin will be left super smooth.
9. Avene Thermal Spring Water Spray
Price: £9.75 for 300ml | Buy now from Boots
“I always have a can of Avene Thermal Spring Water to hand as it's so soothing if my skin flares up!”
Yes, it’s essentially water in a can but it’s special water, rich in minerals, and the atomiser sprays out a fine mist to hydrate your skin without leaving it dripping wet.
Mumsnetters credit Avene Thermal Spring Water Spray as being ultra-soothing on hyper-sensitive and rosacea-prone skin types, as well as working a charm on sunburn and redness.
Perfect for cooling you down if you’re struggling in the heat, it’s small enough to pop in a handbag or beach bag, and is also a great hospital bag addition for mums-to-be.
Is it worth buying expensive skincare products?
The truth is that brand names, packaging and advertising can all lead to a product being placed at a higher price point than other similar products on the market.
Experts say that just because a beauty product is expensive doesn’t mean that it contains more effective active ingredients. A simply packaged product may produce better results on your skin type than a more expensive alternative.
If you’re willing to pay more for your skincare products, that’s obviously fine, but don’t feel that you’re missing out if you only have the budget for cheaper cleansers and moisturisers.
What are the best cheap skincare products?
Dots for Spots are a fabulous zit-zapping tool to keep in your bathroom cabinet. We love Soap and Glory Smoothie Body Milk it smells gorgeous and will get your skin ready for summer. The INKEY List Caffeine Eye Cream is the best budget eye cream we’ve found as it works wonders on tired, puffy eyes.
Which skincare brands do dermatologists recommend?
Judging from our online research, dermatologists really rate CeraVe products. We’ve included CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser as it’s a brilliant morning and night cleanser which should work well on most skin types.
Skin care experts also credit The Ordinary for producing top-notch skincare products at an affordable price point. We’ve included The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid in our list as it offers great results and incredible value for money compared to its competitors.
How we chose our recommendations
Our suggestions for skincare products under £10 came from recommendations on the Mumsnet forums and from consumer reviews on the web. We consulted independent review sites for opinions about products to ensure we were bringing you an honest summary of budget skincare products for women in 2021.
Why you should trust us
Mumsnet has been helping make parents’ lives easier since 2000 and, in those years, we’ve seen, tried and reviewed thousands of products.
We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.
Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.