10 best skincare products under £10
Beauty buys doesn't have to break the bank, we've found the ultimate skin saviours on a budget
As the lucky testers of a lot of skincare, we’re often asked whether there really is much difference between so-called ‘premium’ products and the budget drugstore offering. It’s true that when you buy the former, you are paying for a brand name and fancy packaging as well as, hopefully, quality ingredients and experience, and results to match.
Such ingredients, experience and results are more difficult to find on a budget, but it can definitely be done. We’ve been testing products that all come in at under £10 to find those that can compete with the luxury market at remarkably good prices.
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Lush Ultrabland: £8.25, uk.lush.com
You can’t beat an oil-based balm or cleansing oil removed with a hot flannel to dissolve the day’s makeup and grime, all without stripping the skin of moisture. Lush’s is the most efficient we tested, tackling even waterproof eye makeup with an ease we couldn’t find elsewhere for less than £10. Its blend of almond oil, beeswax, honey and rose is super soft and nourishing, and we are complete converts.
CeraVe Moisturising Lotion: £9, lookfantastic.com
This American drugstore brand finally landed in the UK last year, and we love the Moisturising Lotion. It is fragrance-free and decidedly unfussy in both packaging and formula, but my goodness it works. Its consistency reminds us of E45 lotion, but its moisturising effects, with ceramides and hyaluronic acid, are far more long-lasting. A very close second for our Best Buy.
L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Cleansing Milk: £4.99, Boots
A lot of budget cleansers are of the foaming variety, which gives a satisfying squeaky-clean feeling, but also leaves skin dehydrated and tight. This cleansing milk – a slightly obscure term for a thin cream – lifts dirt from pores and leaves skin soft and nourished. It's best used as a second cleanse after using an oil or balm to remove makeup.
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution: £6.80, theordinary.com
2018 was quite a year for cult brand The Ordinary, resulting in its founder and co-CEO being removed from his position. Drama aside, its stripped-back, science-focused products remain some of the best available on a budget. Our pick is its Glycolic Acid Toning Solution, a liquid exfoliator that removes dead skin cells to improve skin texture and appearance. Use in the evening after cleansing and before applying serums and moisturisers.
The Inkey List Rosehip Oil: £6.99, Cult Beauty
If you’re a fan of The Ordinary but have been put off by the controversy, The Inkey List is one of a small number of new brands taking a similar stance on skincare. Most products feature a key ingredient such as vitamin C, squalene and retinol, and all cost less than £10. Its Rosehip Oil is an antioxidant and hydrates and reduces redness. While fairly lightweight, like most oils it is best used at night as it takes a while to sink in. Make it the last product you apply before bed, and skin will be plump and glowing in the morning.
Revolution Skin Fine Line Correcting Serum 0.2% Retinol: £6, revolutionbeauty.com
Some products are more difficult to find on a budget, and serums are the toughest ask. Your best bet is a brand in the vein of The Ordinary, such as The Inkey List, Garden Of Wisdom (all listed here) or Revolution. Highlights include its 10 per cent Matrixyl serum, Multi-Peptide Serum and this, 0.2 per cent Retinol. As the only proven anti-ageing ingredient, retinol is worth introducing to your skincare routine – to reduce the appearance of fine lines and to improve skin tone and texture, and this is a mild and very accessibly priced introduction to it.
Garden Of Wisdom Niacinamide Serum: £9, victoriahealth.com
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is having a bit of a moment in skincare as it is known to help acne (by regulating oil production), wrinkles (by boosting collagen and elastin production), hyper pigmentation (by blocking the accumulation of melanin) and sensitivity (by improving the lipid barrier that protects skin from environmental aggressors) – definitely worth giving a go for £9. Garden Of Wisdom’s range is similar in its minimalist ingredients-based concept to The Inkey List and the like, and the majority of its products are priced under £10.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Cleanser: £7.99, Boots
Neutrogena produces a lot of under-appreciated really good skincare products, including its Hydro Boost range, with hydrating hyaluronic acid, for face and body. The Gel Cleanser is a gloopy, clear, fresh-scented face wash that has a very gentle, milky lather when massaged into wet skin. When used twice a day for a week it made a significant difference to our testers’ winter-beaten dry skin.
Super Facialist Pore Purifying Clay Mask: £9.99, superfacialist.co.uk
Super Facialist’s range features some great products that feel more expensive – in both experience and results – than they are, hovering around the £10-£20 mark. The Purifying Mask contains salicylic acid to exfoliate and clay to draw out excess oil, plus avocado oil to minimise the drying effect of clay. A generous layer left on for five minutes twice a week was enough for our tester to see a visible improvement in breakouts and congested pores.
E.L.F. Prep & Hydrate Balm: £9, elfcosmetics.co.uk
A real chuck-it-in-your-handbag hero, E.L.F.’s twist-up stick balm glides across the skin, leaving it moisturised, protected and plumped. While it’s marketed as a pre-makeup moisturiser and primer, we like it best used as a remedy for dry patches that spring up throughout the day, such as round the nose, or on dehydrated cheeks and foreheads. It also works on elbows, cuticles, lips – you name it. A word of warning: it does contain shea butter, so isn’t suitable for those with acne-prone skin.
The verdict: Skincare under £10
Lush’s Ultrabland was our favourite, this combined with L’Oreal Paris’s Cleansing Milk and CeraVe’s Moisturising Lotion are the basic building blocks of a nourishing and effective skincare routine, and the three together will cost you less than £25 on the high street.
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