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I spent a lot of last year's Affordable Beauty Month talking about brands like the Inkey List and the Ordinary, and don't get me wrong: I still love them, but this year I wanted to spotlight some of the products you might not have heard of or might not have known you could get them whilst picking up your prescription, a tub of protein or even your weekly supermarket shop. Let's dive in...Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Skin Renew Cleansing Oil* | £12 | find it at: Boots, Ocado and Sainsbury's. This is a product I've used for around 7 years now on and off and it's still very purse-friendly, especially given it's often on sale at Boots. I'm not usually someone who reaches for a cleansing oil over a cleansing balm, but this is that one formula I keep returning to. It's a lightweight oil with a citrus scent and some antioxidant-rich plant oils, though honestly: for a first cleanse, very little of that will be getting into the skin so I just want a product that works and this absolutely does! The formula means you obviously don't have to spend time melting it down before applying it, so you can just massage this right on and within seconds your makeup and sunscreen will melt away. You can then emulsify it with a splash of water water to remove it and follow that up with a damp cloth if you like. It has a great ability to cut through everything whilst leaving my skin lovely and soft afterwards.
Q+A Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Cleanser* | £7.50 | find it at: Holland & Barrett. This is a non-foaming jelly cleanser, which is so hard to find (particularly at this price-point). It can be used in the morning or as a second cleanse after removing makeup and / or sunscreen in the evening. It has a super-simple formula with gentle cleansing agents, soothing aloe, glycerin and a hyaluronic acid derivative as humectants, pulling water into the skin. It's no-frills but it's affordable and effectively cleanses the skin without stripping it.
Aveeno Face Calm & Restore Toning Lotion* | £7.99 | find it at: Boots and Ocado. I did an entire review on Aveeno's facial skincare here but my standout was this weighty toner-lotion, which I don't hear many people hyping up. Ok, a toner isn't essential for your routine, but if you're like me and you like them and your skin appreciates the extra layer of hydration during the winter: this is for you. This is a really simple moisturising, softening formula with oat extracts to soothe and calm the skin, Vitamin E to moisturise and provide antioxidant benefits and glycerin for that hydration.
Skin Proud Jelly Bright Essence* | £13.95 | find it at: Boots. Again, this is a thicker kind of formula aimed at hydrating the skin, with a consistency somewhere between a toner and a serum. It's not an absolute essential, but it's a very nice to have. It's all about hydrating layers and this milky essence is great for that, and the hydration this product provides really lasts and the balance of ingredients actually locks it in. There are some ingredients in here to support the skin's microbiome, which I guess is a nod to the fermented ingredients that are a staple in Korean essences. The main ingredients are glycerin (for those humectant properties) and niacinamide, which is an ingredient with numerous benefits: it helps prevent the spread of excess pigment through the skin, it can regulate oil production and it can actually support the skin barrier by boosting up ceramide production. Just be aware that this product has quite a strong artificial sweet scent.
Skin Sapiens Face Cream | £11.99 | find it at: Holland & Barrett. Skin Sapiens is a pared-back skincare line that would be great for more sensitive skin types. I know this looks small but you are actually getting 40ml of product which is only 10ml less than a standard moisturiser size, so I think it's mostly just the compact packaging, which is actually a good thing in a lot of ways. What I enjoyed about this is that it's kind of like a lotion-gel, so melts down and feels very light but has an amazing emollience to it at the same time. It feels light, but with ingredients like Vitamin E, glycerin, fatty alcohol and soothing calendula extract, it's actually been a great day cream even on my winter skin! It really is one of those formulas that feels like a nice little hug for your skin. It has a minimal but effective ingredient list with no fragrance, so definitely have a look into this if you're in the sensitive-skinned camp.
Lacura Peptide Moisturiser | £6.99 | find it at: Aldi. I'm sorry, but can we please just take a moment to acknowledge the reverse pump packaging for a product that's under £7? This is actually quite an expensive component to manufacture and I've tried products many times more pricey than this that need this sort of packaging (airtight and opaque to prevent light and oxygen getting to the ingredients) but don't use it. Peptides are a very interesting class of ingredient with some well-ageing potential, but in the very least they're hydrating and skin-plumping. For this price, they're worth a shot and this contains 7 different peptides. For context, I see some brands charging several times this price, hyping up the peptides in their formula and they contain 1! This is that sort of thicker, water-based glycerin-y formula. I personally really like this as a humectant because it doesn't just evaporate off into the aether; this moisturiser has a bit of body to it and that's why I like it! It gives me plumper, more hydrated skin in a way that lasts all day. I really hope this one stays in Aldi's rotation because it's a steal.
e.l.f. Happy Hydration Face Cream + Hemp-Derived Cannabis Sativa | £12 | find it at: Boots. The more I explore it, the more I can't help but feel that e.l.f. is a little but underrated when it comes to skincare. This is the fragrance-free version of their Happy Hydration face cream with the added bonus of nourishing, anti-inflammatory hemp seed oil. It's formulated with glycerin, niacinamide, a couple of different peptides, fatty alcohol and panthenol - all amazing for soothing, hydrating and nourishing the skin. All that and it's honestly not heavy at all, it's actually kind of like a cream with a melting gel quality once applied. At the same time, my skin still felt soft and nourished after use. Happy, even...
Soap & Glory Cloud of Dreams Whipped Night Cream* | £9.95 | find it at: Boots.
This is a night cream with reverse pump packaging and it's really the texture for me that makes it noteworthy; it's fluffy but still somehow buttery and nourishing at the same it. It's not greasy or overly rich but softens and moisturises the skin. It's formulated with glycerin, fatty alcohol, Vitamin E, ceramides and cholesterol (which are fundamental components of the skin's lipid barrier). If you don't like fragrance, you might not enjoy the initial application but it does dissipate, and just to flag up: some people do break out from shea butter and coconut oil, which are both in here. My dry skin loves this when correctly formulated, as I find this product to be.
Weleda Skin Food | £12.50 | find it at: Boots, Superdrug, Holland & Barrett, Morrison's, Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury's. This is actually kind of a classic, but I don't think people realise just how many everyday places sell it! This is a great multipurpose cream-to-oil for dry patches on the face, body or hands. It's great to use before bed but can also be used to add a healthy glow as part of your makeup routine. Just be aware of strong medicinal herbal scent - it won't be for everyone!
Have you tried any of my picks? What are your favourite products you've found tucked away at the drugstore or supermarket?