It’s no secret that I am a fan of medical-grade skincare. I will be the first to tell you that drugstore alternatives to medical-grade products are not going to be as effective or last as long as their pricier counterparts. However, we all have different budgets and want to spend money on different things so I’m always looking for items at a variety of price points.
If you are just looking to get into skincare or want to save money where you can, then this post is for you!
When to Save Money with Drugstore Skincare
If I were only going to spend money on one thing, it would be investing in a high-quality vitamin c serum. If I were going to save money on my skincare, I would choose drugstore cleansers, toners and eye patches!
My Current Skincare
If you are looking for my favorite items, check out my current skincare favorites and my tips for the order to apply skincare. You can also view my top products from each skincare category at any given time on my skincare page.
Pixi skintreats Overnight Glow Serum // The Ordinary – AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution // No7 Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED serum boost sheet masks // Eau Thermale Avène Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Balm // Pixi DetoxifEYE Facial Treatment // Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water // Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Moisturizer // Acne Treatment Differin Gel // CeraVe Eye Repair Cream for Dark Circles and Puffiness // Aquaphor Healing Ointment // Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser // Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Anti-Wrinkle Serum with Retinol // Olay Vitamin C Brightening Eye Cream // Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic // The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA // Unscented Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes // Vichy Pure Vitamin C Serum 15% // La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Best Drugstore Serums
Pixi skintreats Overnight Glow Serum // Gently exfoliates to reveal a healthier & more even skin tone as it helps reduce the appearance of fine lines & fades superficial sun damage over time. I have used it for a couple of nights in a row but never tested it fully. It does contain glycolic acid which works to simulates cell turnover, aloe vera to heal & soothe and cucumber to calms puffy skin.
The Ordinary – AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution // This is a great exfoliating serum! It helps to fight visible blemishes and improve the look of skin texture and radiance in just 10 minutes. Packing a whopping 30% AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and 2% BHA (beta hydroxy acid) not only exfoliate the surface of your skin but really deep clean the pores and minimize breakouts. It also smooths the look of skin texture for a more radiant look. The Ordinary definitely doesn’t feel like drugstore skincare because it actually works.
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Anti-Wrinkle Serum with Retinol // This lightweight, silky retinol serum absorbs quickly to help smooth fine lines and texture, brighten and even skin tone, and fade the look of deep, stubborn wrinkles, including crow’s feet. Personally, I would opt for this product if I was trying to find a low-cost but heavy-hitting retinol. But if you really need a drugstore retinol, reviews on this Neutrogena one have been great!
Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic // This tonic is also good at gently exfoliating, soothing skin (thanks to aloe vera) and preventing irritation that can come from exfoliating.
Vichy Pure Vitamin C Serum 15% // I have never tried this personally but it’s a highly-rated drugstore facial serum with dermatologist grade 15% Pure Vitamin C, Natural Origin Hyaluronic Acid & Vitamin E and antioxidants to help brighten & firm skin. You have to remember that formulation is key in the efficacy of a vitamin C and that how things are stored are a big deal. I personally would probably use Beauty Counter before this one and Obagi above everything else, but wanted to include it as a low-cost alternative!
La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Serum // Hyaluronic acid is definitely a serum where you can opt for drugstore products. This anti-aging facial serum contains pure Hyaluronic Acid + Madecassoside & Vitamin B5 to help your skin look more hydrated & visibly replumped.
Best Drugstore Moisturizers
Eau Thermale Avène Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Balm // Lipid-replenishing cream nourishes, soothes and calms dry, itchy skin prone to atopic dermatitis and eczema. Helps rebalance microbiome while supporting skin’s defense system for a healthy skin. Safe for entire family.
Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Moisturizer // Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Moisturizer penetrates deep into skin’s surface layers. Olay’s proprietary blend of vitamin B3 + retinol complex hydrates skin for 24 hours for a bounty of benefits. You’ll see visible improvements in fine lines and wrinkles, smoothness, brightness, firming, dark spots, and pores. Retinol24 delivers all of these benefits with virtually no irritation.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment // One essential solution for many skincare needs. Chapped lips, dry hands and cuticles, cracked heels and feet, friction and minor burns. Different from a lotion or cream, this multi-purpose ointment protects, helps and soothes to restore smooth, healthy skin. If you’re picking up any skincare at the drugstore, make sure to add Aquaphor to your cart.
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA // Another winner from The Ordinary. Natural Moisturizing Factors from The Ordinary is a cream formula that offers non-greasy surface hydration that acts as a direct topical supplement of NMF components, elements that keep the skin well-hydrated.
Best Drugstore Cleansers
Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser // When I was in my early twenties a dermatologist told me that if I started using retin-a that I would still look 25 when I was 40. He also said that all I needed was a good cleanser, a retin-a and an SPF. The jury is still out on the looking 25 in 5 more years but I can attest to this staying power of this drugstore face wash! It’s my #2 drugstore skincare find, behind the Pixi DetoxifEYE patches.
Ponds Cold Cream // My grandmother has used this cold cream for decades and well, her skin looks amazing to be 85!
Unscented Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes // Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes are merciless on makeup but softer than silk and super gentle, designed for sensitive skin. These improved makeup remover wipes are made of softer-than-silk fibers, gentle cleansers, purified water, and skin-loving ingredients like Vitamin B5 and vitamin E. They lift away dirt, grease, impurities, makeup — even waterproof mascara — effectively, while hydrating and nourishing skin.
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water // While this isn’t a true toner it does help to make sure your skin is free from all debris and is great to use after cleansing. I often use this in my double-cleansing. It is gentle on skin and can be used to remove face makeup and waterproof eye makeup.
Best Drugstore Masks
Pixi DetoxifEYE Facial Treatment // These are one of my top-3 eye patches and a must-have in your beauty routine. They de-puff like patches 10x their price and they’re the best drugstore skincare find. The hydrogel format adheres to skin easily to deliver essential nutrients to the delicate eye area. DetoxifEYE water-based gel-form patch depuffs and revives skin with maximum hydration.
No7 Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED serum boost sheet masks // I have ordered these to try based on reviews I found while researching for this post. Apparently after one use, your skin look smoother and texture will feel improved. After just 2 weeks of use, skin looks younger and the appearance of fine lines is visibly reduced.
Best Drugstore Skincare Treatments
Acne Treatment Differin Gel // All reviews on the internet point towards this being the best drugstore acne treatment! It clears breakouts where they start and prevents new acne from forming, which ultimately restores skin’s texture and tone. Differin works differently than other acne treatments by normalizing skin cell turnover and effectively targets two primary causes of acne, clogged pores and inflammation
Best Drugstore Eye Creams
Olay Vitamin C Brightening Eye Cream // I really think Olay’s products are fabulous. This drugstore eye cream is said to instantly reduces the appearance of dark circles & hydrates to reduce fine lines over time. I honestly think that an eye cream is one of those things where even drugstore products do help, but consistency is key!
CeraVe Eye Repair Cream for Dark Circles and Puffiness // This is probably the highest rated drugstore eye cream on the market. It visibly reduces the look of dark circles and contains 3 essential ceramides to repair and restore the protective skin barrier. CeraVe Eye Repair Cream utilizes patented MVE controlled-release technology to help replenish ceramides and deliver long lasting moisturization.