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Continuing my series on cheap and cheerful skincare products, this post focuses on the combination skin type or those living in warmer and/or more humid climates. Or if heavy creams just aren’t your thing, you’ll find some great refreshing yet still effective skincare options here!
A reminder that when it comes to skincare, you really just need 4 steps: cleanser, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen in the morning. And if you have to splurge for a product, it would be serum – sure there are expensive products in all categories but with serums you get the best return for your pricier investment.
With that said, this post will keep everything, even the serums, under $25, with some options under $10!
Budget cleansers for combination skin
Definitely don't splurge on cleansers, and if you find one you like, buy in bulk to get an even better value for your money!
Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser
While it does lather nicely, it doesn't leave your skin feeling dry or stripped at all. The additions of ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid are nice, but keep in mind those do get washed off so they'll have little benefit on the skin. Still, this gentle cleanser does it's job well and respects our skin barrier with a low pH formula, and it's super affordable too!
If the Cerave is too boring for you, this is a great alternative. It has a gel texture with a light foaming action, gentle surfactants, and similar skin-supporting ingredients to the Cerave. The two also deliver similar experiences and results, but the Byoma does come in a fun yellow bottle that allows for refills!
If you struggle with congested skin or frequent breakouts, this lightly foaming face wash contains 2% polyhydroxy acid (PHA), which are gentle exfoliants that will help unclog your pores.
While PHAs are less irritating than AHAs, they're still an exfoliant so I wouldn't use this daily if you also have sensitive skin. Otherwise reviewers say that it's helped clear their skin and reduce their breakouts!
I'm a big fan of Bioderma's micellar water, they remove makeup surprisingly well and feel lighter on the skin compared to oils or balms. The Sebium version is specifically for oily and combo skin types, and feels even more refreshing than the regular version. I absolutely loved this when I traveled to Taiwan in the summer!
As I mentioned earlier, serums should be where you spend the bulk of your skincare budget. Luckily there are plenty of great serum under $20 - The Ordinary, Geek & Gorgeous, Naturium, and The Inkey List are all great brands to look at for more options!
The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics
All skin types can benefit from added hydration, and I love that this is not your typical hyaluronic acid serum. It's super lightweight, almost water like, yet adds a wonderful layer of hydration - which is perfect for combo skin. Even though I have dry skin myself, I love layering this for extra moisture without the extra heaviness!
Heimish All Clean Low pH AHA/PHA Hydro Vegan Essence
Combo and oily skin types can benefit from a gentle exfoliating product to help reduce congestion. If you're not using a cleanser with acids, then this is a great option. It also includes humectants and emollients to help nourish the skin barrier. I've been using this regularly and have not experienced any irritations!
Vitamin C's skin benefits are endless: brightening, collagen production, and antioxidant support are just a few of the main ones. There are a lot of vitamin c serum formulas, and this one is great for combo skin with its water-like texture and use of the most effective ascorbic acid form! Doctor Anne, a fellow skincare blogger with oily skin type, is a big fan!
A beginner friendly retinoid serum that features the milder retinol and bakuchiol, a plant extract with similar functions to retinol. What makes this particular retinol combo-skin-friendly is that it absorbs quickly and doesn't leave any sticky finish, all while delivering noticeable long term results.
Depending on how "oily" your combo skin is, you might not need a moisturizer or just need some in the dry areas of your skin. If you're just doing spot applications, then the options listed in the affordable dry skin care routine might be more suitable. Otherwise keep reading!
The Inkey List Omega Water Cream*
What I'm currently using now for the warmer spring weather! It has a light gel cream texture that spreads effortlessly onto the skin, leaving behind a slightly dewy finish. Don't worry though, the dewiness does dry down after a few minutes, leaving just soft hydrated skin behind.
This was not moisturizing enough for my dry skin normally, but on a trip back to Taiwan where the humid weather made my skin more oily, it was perfect! The cream texture is incredibly light which feels comfortable on the skin, plus it doubles as a wonder makeup primer!
This brand has come a long way since their $1 makeup line! This features great ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Squalane, and Peptides all in a lightweight gel cream texture. People rave about how silky this feels and that it keeps skin moisturized without any heaviness.
For affordable and effective sunscreens, Korean and Japanese brands are the way to go. They also have a lighter texture which combo skin folks will find more comfortable!
Innisfree Daily Mild Sunscreen
One of my favorite everyday sunscreens for it's high proven UVA protection! Unlike most Korean sunscreens that leave a dewy finish, this has a light lotion texture with a satin finish that combo and oily skin types will enjoy more. Doesn't pill and no white cast either!
The only item > $20 but hear me out, it's a really nice option if you prefer mineral sunscreens. First, no white cast because it's tinted, and second, the almost mousse-like texture feels so light and comfortable on the skin! It leaves a velvet finish that also blurs out minor imperfections.
I'm going to cheat and include this sunscreen again because 1) I absolutely love it and 2) it's the only one here with proven UVA and UVB protection! Slightly dewier finish than the Innisfree but still light enough for combo or even oily skin, though the latter might have to skip the moisturizer step. You won't be disappointed with this one!
The products don’t contain the typical comedogenic ingredients, and adding in some light exfoliation with PHAs or retinol can help with cell turnover, minimizing congestions and breakouts. Also sunscreen is a must, especially when using actives!
For combo dehydrated skin:
Look for products that provide lightweight hydration without heavy emollients. Both The Ordinary serum and the e.l.f. moisturizer are rich in humectants, which will help draw and retain moisture, and their light textures will still feel comfortable on your combo skin.
A brightening morning routine:
Vitamin C and sunscreen are your best friends in the morning regardless of skin type, and this routine has both covered. The Good Molecules moisturizer sets the canvas for the Bliss tinted sunscreen, which adds just a hint of coverage to finish your look!
Have you tried any of these product before? If you have any affordable combination skincare product you’d like to share, please let me know so I can add it to the list!
Author: Jenny Wu
Passionate about science-based skincare. Tested hundreds if not thousands of products since my 20's. Working regularly with brands like Dove, Ulta, CurrentBody, and MedStar Health to share my knowledge and experience in all things beauty. Learn more.
Skin profile - 30's,
dry/combination, focused on well-aging, hydration, and a healthy glow ✨