Yes, affordable skincare brands do exist, you just need to know where you find them. You might think “drugstore brands!” but I don’t like Western drugstore brands (eg. Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, L’oreal) because they typically lack the actives and antioxidants my skin needs. Maybe if I was still 16 I wouldn’t care, but that ship has long sailed.
Today I’m sharing 5 brands I’ve used (or am still using) that are effective and affordable. Affordable can mean different amounts for different people, so for the post’s sake, I’ve limited to brands that have an average price of $20 or less.
- COSRX, simple yet effective
Packaging is not their strong suit, but you definitely get the bang for your buck with COSRX. I love that their ingredient lists are so simple (less chances of allergic reactions or irritations) and show the [high] % of the key ingredients. The product range is average, but they’re consistently releasing new ones, including a much anticipated snail essence toner! If you need a workhorse in your routine, COSRX is your go-to brand.
Products I love: Advanced Snail 96% Mucin Power Essence, BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid
- Naruko, something for everyone
A Taiwanese brand that is best know for their overnight jelly masks, they carry 9 different lines that cater to different skin types and needs. The NRK line is the least expensive and targets those who want a minimal skincare routine, but I prefer the original Naruko lines that contain proven ingredients to solve the targed issue. They always have specials going on, so take advantage to lower the [already low] prices even more!
Products I love: Their entire Rose Aqua Cubic line for some serious hydration and aromatherapy!
- Klairs, soothes and hydrates
This may be the most talked about brand on this blog, but that’s because everything I’ve tried so far (toner, serum, creams, scrub) has been solid. It’s just what your skin needs when it’s dry and/or irritated. Their brand consists of just 1 line, but it’s a line that works for all skin types. After all, hydration is the basics of good skincare. FYI their bb cream and concealer are also fantastic!
Products I love: Supple Preparation Toner, Midnight Blue Calming Cream, Rich Moist Soothing Mask
- CeraVe, gentle skin repair with ceramides
You didn’t think I’d forget my bae CeraVe, did you? This is the most accessible brand of the bunch, available in your local drugstore & grocery store. Packaging leaves much to be desired, but the ingredients are excellent (ceramides! niacinamide! hyaluronic acid!) considering it’s a drugstore brand. Don’t forget to check their site for $2 coupon for in-store purchases!
Products I love: Their foaming cleanser or hydrating cleanser for some balanced and gentle cleansing.
- Innisfree, all-natural goodness
If you like organic, plant-based ingredients, you’ll love Innisfree. I’ve only tried products from their Green Tea (Seed) line, but I liked what I used, and the reviews are generally favorable. Of the 5 brands, Innisfree is probably the most well-rounded in terms of product offering, packaging, formulation, and price, plus they’re carried by many online retailers.
Products I love: Their green tea line, especially the Green Tea Seed Serum.
I’m sure there are other great affordable brands out there, but sadly I only have one face that I can try products on. Honorable mentions include Hada Labo and UNT, both of which I tried a long time ago and liked well enough, and would love to try again in the future.
Hope you found this post helpful, and if there are any affordable + effective skincare brands you recommend, do let me know!