Save or Splurge: A Guide to Skincare Worth Spending On

With more skincare products hitting the shelves than ever before it's without a doubt becoming increasingly tricky to know where to spend our hard-earned money. Should we spend more than £5 on micellar water? And can cheaper acid exfoliators be just as good as more expensive ones?

This is the post that will hopefully answer these questions and more, with 8 categories deciding whether it's best to save or splurge to get the most for your money and your skincare routine. You can find the makeup version of this post right here!

Save: Eye Makeup Remover & Micellar Water
Both eye makeup remover and micellar water are the most basic formulas you can buy when it comes to skincare. But like everything you can spend anywhere from £5 to £50! For the simple reason that these kinds of products have no skincare value and are there solely to break down the makeup on your face there is no need to spend more than £3-5 on either product. My own budget favourites are Simple Kind to Eyes Eye Makeup Remover (£3.80) to remove eye makeup and Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water (£4.99) for the entire face. I also find bi-phased makeup removers that combine an oil with a micellar water (the ones that require shaking before use) to be more effective when removing waterproof makeup. Without a doubt a 'save' category... basically back away from the pretty looking By Terry Micellar Water! 

Save: Cleansing Oil/Balms
Although a luxury cleansing oil or balm can feel like wonderful on the skin most balms and oils do a good job of removing makeup as the oils within the formula are what dissolve makeup on the skin. Of course, you may simply prefer a more premium branded cleanser, I know I sometimes do, but if you aren't fussy then you can really save here! If you like a light cleansing oil (good for oilier skin types) then Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Facial Oil (£7.99) is a lovely option as it emulsifies on contact with water with ease and doesn't require removal with a flannel or muslin cloth. Or for a little more, the amazing Superfacialist Vitamin C+ Skin Renew Cleansing Oil (£7.33) which is a product I've used for years and cannot fault. As for cleansing balms, they do tend to be higher priced with not as many high street/budget offerings, however, Botanics Organic Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm (£8.99) works just as good as some expensive options and is definitely worth trying out. 

Toss up (kind of): Face Cleanser
For me a face cleanser is two things: a morning face wash to lightly cleanse bare skin and a 2nd cleanse in the evening to ensure all cleansing oil and excess grime has been thoroughly removed. So for that reason, a face wash doesn't need to cut the mustard when it comes to removing makeup (which is why a lot of face washes often get bad reviews for not removing makeup fully!). However, a good face wash does need to be formulated correctly, ideally being soap-free (free from sodium lauryl sulphates) and PH balanced. I won't go into the reasons why your face wash should be the right PH level (4.5-5.5) in this post but you should know that it makes the skin much happier! Surprisingly even higher priced face washes can often be a high ph (alkaline) although there are less PH balanced options when it comes to budget face washes, though there are some. 

My own personal face wash of choice which is PH balanced is La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel (£12.00) which is ideal for keeping blemishes at bay and is great for oily skin types - non stripping and balancing. Another really nice mid-priced face wash is the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser (£15.00) which shouldn't be overlooked as an overpriced millennial skincare product. Again pretty simple but importantly PH balanced and really effective! Receive 10% off your first Glossier order with my link -
If you are wanting to go really budget however the Simple Kind To Skin Refreshing Facial Wash £3.80 is the one to go for. It's no frills but it gets the job done and is importantly ph-balanced and SLS-free. As for more premium face washes it's still important to keep in mind the ph level and that it isn't loaded with fragrance to give it that 'luxury' edge. My absolutely favourite premium face cleanser is Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser (£35.00) which benefits from some really nice ingredients that balance out oily/combination skin type and oil production really well indeed.

Toss up: Acid Exfoliators
Another toss-up category that all depends on what you are looking for and your budget. For me incorporating an acid exfoliator into my skincare routine and ditching a physical exfoliator was a game changer as I found them less harsh on the skin yet with longer lasting results. Over the past few years, I've tried many AHA based products and I will be honest they all give similar results when used consistantly 2-3 times a week. Of course the star of the show is Pixi Glow Tonic £18.00 (in both the liquid toner and soaked pads) which is near to the top price you should be paying. But right down at the bottom we have The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution £6.80 which is just as good, but for that reason it is hard to get hold of as it sells out within 24 hours every time is comes back in stock - a bit annoying! So for that reason, I always recommend The Ordinary Lactic Acid £5.80 as it gives very similar results in that it smooths and resurfaces the skin but comes in a glass bottle and is more serum like. Nip & Fab is another brand that offers glycolic based skincare on a budget, though I do find their formulas to feel quite tacky on the skin so additional skincare over the top is always necessary. 

The one standout premium acid exfoliator that I found hasn't been 'duped' that is worth the extra spend is Filorga Oxygen Peel (£20) which impressively contains a micro-peeling cocktail of 6 different acids that exfoliate, keeping blemishes at bay and helping with ageing. It's without a doubt the best I've tried!


Save: Hyaluronic Acid
With dehydrated skin Hyaluronic Acid is one of my most favourite skincare ingredients to use. It gives instant results, both hydrating and plumping the skin and making it feel generally happier. Hyaluronic acid comes in all types of skincare from facial mists to liquid-y serums and creams. Although when spending more on a Hyaluronic based products the ingredient is able to penetrate the skin in a more complex way and deeper although the body still absorbs HA fairly fast so daily application is needed. For this reason, I personally feel it's best to save rather than spend here, and I have used more expensive options. A good budget option in a thin serum consistency is The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (£5.90) as it works in a very similar way to the much more expensive NIOD offering (their big sister brand) which I've currently using.

But if you prefer a more traditional cream the ultra lightweight yet hydrating Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturiser (£8.66) is a good one to try. This has been my own lightweight gel moisturiser of choice (I have an oily skin type) for the past 6 months and I've found it to be amazing at hydrating my skin. However drier skin types can also use it alongside their regular moisturiser or mix it with a facial oil for daily use. Other good Hyaluronic Acid based products include L'Oreal Hydra Genuis Aloe Water (£9.99) if you can get over the unnecessary masculine scent and B. Confident Hyaluronic Acid Spritz (£3.95).

Toss up: SPF
When it comes to finding a daily lighter than light SPF it's more about going for the right brand that does facial sunscreen well, over spending the same on a high street sunscreen brand. For a good facial SPF, you want to be spending around £10-£15 and looking at brands such as La Roche Posay and Avene which cater for all different skin types especially if you have oily or sensitive skin. For daily use under makeup I prefer a light fluid sunscreen that feels invisible so I opt for The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Essence SPF 50 (16.00) or La Roche-Posay Antheliod XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50 (£10.85). Basically, you want to ditch generic sunscreen brands that you see in supermarkets and spend your money on SPF products from long standing skincare brands instead!

Splurge: Facial Oil
For me, a facial oil is a pampering treat for the skin so I want it to feel that way with a nice smooth and rich oil. I also figure as so little is needed even a small bottle of facial oil is going to last 8-12 months, so to splurge it is! When first getting into facial oil I did go cheap and found the ones I tried to be a little lacklustre and on the thin/gritty side, feeling nice enough when warmed up but not really adding much moisturisation or giving me that post-facial oil glow. However, when I switched to trying facial oils from the likes of Decloer and Elemis that's when I noticed a difference! Think well-moisturised skin that doesn't feel weighed down and looks beyond glowing, even through to the next day. I also think as most facial oils contain natural ingredients you want them to be the best quality they can be. My current facial oil of choice is the fairly new Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Oil (£65), although I adore Decleor oils as well.

Splurge: Face Masks (unless you prefer sheet masks)
Now it may come as a surprise that I would suggest splurging rather than saving on face masks. However, if you are looking for a face mask to actually do something for the skin, rather than it being part of your pampering session, then spending a little more is key. You may find one pricier face mask that works wonders on the skin is better than having a stash of 8 face masks that won't do much at all. Although if you do want to spend less but are still looking for an effective face mask I would recommend trying the L'Oreal face masks as they pretty nice or for a little more The Body Shop Expert Facial Masks (£17) work really well. But high street face masks on the whole... more for pampering and that initial feeling of smoother skin. 

Along with simply looking at premium face masks I also think it's wise to know your skin needs and know which ingredients you should be looking for. For example, oily skin types greatly benefit from clay-based masks and dull skin always benefits from a face mask that contains AHA's. My own favourite face masks include - NIOD Flavanone Mud, Fresh Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy Boosting Face Mask and GlamGlow Supermud Mask, all of which gives noticeable results both on wash off and beyond.

Let me know your own save or splurge preferences when it comes to skincare. I'd love to know which products warrant spending on for you. 

Fee xo.

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