The Recession Beauty series on drugstore treasures continues! Today we focus on skincare. The drugstore aisles, in some cases, are better than the halls of a dermatologist’s office or cosmetics counters at high-end department stores. No matter what your skin issues are, you can find high-quality, reliable products at the drugstore.
We’ve got you covered from head to toe! Read on for the full round-up of the cream of the crop.
Best Overall Facial Cleanser:
Cetaphil Gentle Daily Facial Cleanser ($10)
I have yet to find a cleanser that works better for my skin, which is normal, with the occasional blemish. This stuff is so gentle, yet effective; it really keeps my breakouts at bay. I’ve tried medical-grade treatment programs from medispas and prescription creams from dermatologists, but nothing works to keep my skin clear and fresh like Cetaphil. I use it daily.
Formula 10.0.6 One Smooth Operator Pore Clearing Face Scrub ($6)
Gently exfoliates without irritating skin. A great weekly treatment to slough away dead skin cells. And how cute is the minimalist packaging?
Best Acne Treatment:
Neutrogena Rapid Clear Oil Control Foaming Cleanser ($8)
This cleanser foams like a traditional wash, giving you a deep-clean feeling. It penetrates to bust up breakout-causing oil, leaving behind clearer, fresher skin.
Olay Complete Moisturizer with SPF15 ($11)
Olay makes it easy to get sunscreen on your face daily. This super-hydrating moisturizer is gentle and effective. The lotion just sinks into your skin, with no greasy feeling. And you’ll be protected from damaging UV rays all day long, which is super important. You know how dermatologists are always saying that driving is when we incur a lot of sun damage? I smooth this lotion on my neck, chest, and arms, too, to get my daily dose of sun protection.
Best Anti-Aging Product:
Olay Regenerist Eye-Lifting Serum ($22)
If you’re seeking anti-aging support, the studies are true: Olay has been proven to be more effective at wrinkle-fighting than creams that cost hundreds. It outperforms other drugstore brands at fighting fine lines and reducing the appearance of deep-set wrinkles. Glamour awarded this serum a 2009 Glammie for being the best drugstore eye cream.
Best Spot Treatment:
ByeBye Blemish Drying Lotion ($10)
You’ve heard celebs rave about Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion. This is a lower-priced alternative that clears up pimples just as fast. It soaks up oil from a blemish to make it shrink quicker and heal faster. Dab this on zits before bed, and wake up with them noticeably smaller.
Yes to Carrots C the Difference Exfoliating and Soothing Mud Mask ($15)
This crazy-good mask refines pores with Dead Sea mud, avocado, and natural carrot juice. When you rinse off, you’ll notice more radiant skin. Use weekly to improve skin’s texture and help keep breakouts in check.
Best Overall Lotion:
Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Lotion ($11)
This ultra-rich lotion heals like a cream, without the thickness and absolutely no greasiness. It works to smooth, soften, heal cracks, and generally give you the skin you’ve always wanted. A lifesaver during winter.
Best Firming Lotion:
Nivea Q-10 Plus Skin Firming Moisturizer ($10)
Slather this on and watch your jiggle gradually subside.
Best Bubble Bath:
Johnson & Johnson Baby Bedtime Bubble Bath & Wash ($5)
Yes, it’s for babies. No, I don’t care — and neither should you! It’s so comforting, and faintly scented with lavender to help you sleep. It’s gentle enough for baby’s skin, so you know it’ll be easy on you, too.
J.R. Watkins Calming Bath Soak ($11)
The apothecary-style bottle and vintage packaging are enough to persuade anyone to buy this. Sink into a warm bath with a dash of this, and feel tension escape from your muscles as relaxation washes over you.
Best Body Cleanser:
Ivory Fresh Snow Body Wash ($5)
Creamy, moisturizing, ultra-comforting. A SugarSocial fave.
Best-Smelling Body Cleanser:
Tree Hut Coconut Lime Body Wash ($6)
Escape to a tropical island getaway without leaving your shower. This sudsy, coconutty cleanser will make you think you’ve taken a jaunt to the islands. Pour a capful under running water to scent your warm bath.
Loreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Gelee ($9)
I’m pale as a ghost, and have a hard time getting any self-tanners to show up on me. This gel works. It gives me a nice bronzy glow without harmful sun rays damaging my skin. Application can be tricky at times, because the gel is clear, but wearing latex gloves helps even everything out.
Best Hand Cream:
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream ($5)
The company’s original product, still a classic. If it could save the hands of Norwegian fisherman in arctic waters, it can do wonders for yours.
Best Skin Saver:
Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($6)
A skin miracle in a tube. This ointment does everything; speeds healing of cuts, scrapes, and burns; protects lips against windburn and chapping; and helps heal cracked soles. I even use it as a barrier cream before airbrush tanning! (Smooth in rough spots like cracked heels to prevent the tanner from concentrating in areas of dry skin.)
Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Lavender Pure-Castille Soap ($9.50)
Beauty editors rave about this effective, cheap, all-in-one cleanser that seems to have a bottomless pit inside the bottle (it lasts forever!). Available in 3 fragrances, plus an unscented version.
In light of the economic downturn, Recession Beauty is a SugarSocial series that features low-cost, budget-friendly products as an alternative to luxury or designer brands.