Splurge or Save: Where to Spend Your Skin Care Budget

Are more expensive skin products ever worth it?

I’m a firm believer that anyone can build an affordable skin care routine that’s super effective and great. But if you’ve got the cash, why not use it?

There are some times where you should open your wallet a little more, and others where you shouldn’t. The trick is in figuring where to put that extra budget to use and where not to. By figuring out what is worth investing in and where it doesn’t matter, you can save yourself from literally washing money down the drain and help make the most out of your purchases.

If you’re ready to find out how to save your time and money in your skin care budget, read on!

Skin care products to save on

Most of us will want to save as much money as we can on our skin care wherever possible. These product categories are ones which you can get away with managing on a budget. They aren’t worth big money for a variety of reasons.


As something that actually gets washed down the drain, cleanser isn’t worth the splurge. It’s not on long enough to do much actual good for your skin besides getting it clean. Lucky for us, this means it’s ok to spend a little less of your skin care budget on your choice of cleanser! Anything that’s gentle and non-irritating will do the trick.

I recommend the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (which I used exclusively for years) or Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser.

Makeup remover

Seriously, it’s on your skin for a few minutes and gets washed right off! This is one place where you can really afford to use any makeup remover you like. There so special expensive ingredients that can go into a makeup remover to make it any better than a drugstore one. One of my favourites is the hilariously affordable Garnier Micellar Water.

Actives for acne and exfoliation

With the recent emergence of low-cost brands like The Ordinary, affordable active products are more accessible than ever. In addition, the simple but effective ingredients lists usually aren’t complicated by plant extracts and essential oils that only irritate your skin. Unfortunately most high-end skin care brands seem to sometimes pack in an excessive number of both active and filler/unnecessary ingredients into one product. I believe that adding one active at a time is the way to go when you’re a beginner, so choose cheap, simple products rather than jumping into the most high-powered expensive active you can find.

I could talk about active ingredients for eons, but some of my very favourite actives include Salicylic Acid or Niacinamide + Zinc for milder, congestive acne, Benzoyl Peroxide for more severe inflammatory acne, and Mandelic Acid for texture.


Now just because you spend a little less on a product doesn’t make it any less important of a step. Moisturiser is a daily essential for almost everyone, but by nature a good moisturiser should be basic and no frills, making it an ideal product to save money on. Seriously, if you’ve designed your routine right and your actives are doing all the heavy lifting, moisturiser is no place to waste any extra money. Find something appropriately moisturising and non irritating, and leave the fancy ingredients for other elements of your routine.

I recommend the Cetaphil Moisturising Lotion, Simple Hydrating Light Moisturiser and Cerave Moisturising Cream. You should pick between these by assessing your skin type and how much hydration you need.

Skin care products to splurge on

While I’m not a huge proponent of expensive skin care, there are some items for which I would suggest stretching your budget just a little. Sometimes you just want to buy something expensive and luxury – maybe as a gift for a loved one or just to treat yourself. But not all skin care products are created equal, and if you’ve got the cash to spare, your money would be put to better use buying something from the following categories.

Antioxidants for anti ageing

Be it a serum or a moisturiser, your antioxidant fix might be better off coming from an expensive source. The often better packaging and preservatives will make the antioxidant more stable against UV and air exposure that will break it down. Also, more expensive brands generally put a wider variety of antioxidants in one product, giving better results to maximise the anti-ageing effect. Plus, antioxidants are one step that is investing in the long-term health of your skin – so you’ll want to make it count.

I’ve heard good things about Sunday Riley JUNO Oil, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum and Clarins Double Serum.


I don’t think a pricey mask is necessarily better performance wise, in fact you can get great cheap bentonite clay and make your own awesome mask. But something about using a rich, beautifully fragranced face mask can feel so special! Plus, they last so long you’ll get a good use out of one purchase.

I wholeheartedly recommend my tried and true favourite Origins Original Skin, as well as Glamglow Supermud & Fresh Lotus Youth Rescue Mask.

In-office treatments

There are some things that a routine just can’t touch, and that when professional treatments come into play. Treatments can be pricey but they’re worth it as an investment in your skin. You should scope out the best local deals and sales to shop savvy. This category is what I’ve personally decided to put my extra money towards.

I recommend learning about the Hydrafacial and Laser Genesis, but there’s such a huge range and it all depends on what your skin goals are.


Don’t get me wrong, there are many fantastic budget sunscreen options out there online. My favourite sunscreen is pretty affordable even when ordered all the way from Japan. However, if you’re fed up with greasy cheap sunscreen you never want to put on, and its preventing you from getting the protection you need, try a higher-end brand. Oftentimes, they have the most elegant formulas. Plus, for the price they’re usually paired with extra antioxidant ingredients that can prevent sun damage before it happens.

Some wonderful cosmetically elegant sunscreens include Dermalogica Oil Free Matte SPF, La Roce-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light, Skinceuticals Ultimate UV Defense, and Glossier Invisible Shield.

Of course, you can build a routine that’s entirely budget or luxury if you want, but if you want to be a bit more thoughtful with your money I hope this helped you out! And if you’re looking for ways to make the most of the products you already have, look no further.

Do you have any favourite luxury skin care items that you can’t help but buy, even though they’re crazy expensive?


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