Here’s a post that will please your purse (Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers!): three brilliant skincare products that form a very good, albeit very basic skincare routine, and the whole thing comes in at less than twenty pounds.
I did film this for IGTV (link here if you want to watch) but here’s the gist of the routine: an effective-yet-gentle cleansing balm, a hydrating serum and a soothing moisturiser that won’t leave a greasy residue. If you’re taking things back to basics then you don’t need much more than this.
(Although a sunscreen is absolutely essential if you’re going to be outside. Can’t stress that enough. I did write about my three favourites recently – here – but I’m trying to test more budget-friendly options as and when I get a chance to.)
If you’re new to skincare routines and haven’t a clue where to begin, what with all of the acids and the peptides and the antioxidants and the emollients and the pre-cleanses and post-peels and the prescription-strengths and the over-the-counter-strengths then I always try to pare things back to this: cleanse properly, moisturise properly and you’re off to a good start.
To be fair, my actual routine isn’t that much more complicated:
AM: Cleanse, Antioxidant Serum, Moisturise/Sunscreen
PM: Cleanse, Retinol Serum, Moisturise or Cleanse, Hydrating Serum, Moisturise
(You can read about my current skincare routine here)
You can see that I’ve just swapped the hydrating serum about a bit, because that’s my “treat” step of my routine and if I want to protect (under the sunscreen) then I use an antioxidant and if I want to prevent (as in lines and wrinkles and loss of tone) then I use my retinol. If I was worried about breakouts then my treatment serum would be a BHA (though the retinol works amazingly well for this too, I find) and if I was feeling dull and lacklustre and generally a bit meh in the skin department then I’d probably plump for a glycolic acid serum or toner.
I realise I’ve just massively complicated what was supposed to be a very basic post, but maybe it will suddenly all make sense! Cleanse properly – to remove dirt and sunscreen and so on – then use a serum to treat whatever concern you have and finish off by sealing it all in with a moisturiser.
Which is the premise of this very cheap and simple routine. So we have the Ordinary Squalane Cleanser which I’ve reviewed before here and you can get online for £5.50 here*. It’s just beautiful. Silky and soft but with enough gutsy hold to survive a few minutes of facial massage. Rinses off absolutely clean with no residue yet is supremely hydrating and excellent for absolutely all skin types.
Next, the Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid (find it online here* for £5.99); hyaluronic helps the skin to hold onto moisture and really gets it looking plump and fresh. There are loads of good, cheap options out there but I like the Inkey List one a lot and it’s so budget-friendly.
Finally, short and sweet, the Calming Moisturiser from Simple, which is £7.99 here*. I love the packaging! It looks like a travel-sized moisturiser but is, in fact, the same volume – 50ml – as most high-end moisturisers on the market. Those huge pots from Clinique? Same amount of stuff inside. I find this bottle very travel-friendly (when travelling was still a thing) and I like that I don’t have to stick my nails into a pot.
And there you go: three steps, basic, quality skincare, all for less than twenty quid. I do very much enjoy finding brilliant budget buys, so please do keep your own recommendations coming. Especially for good, non-chalky sunscreens at affordable prices…
Brilliant skincare buys that you can pick up in the supermarket. I won’t dilly-dally about today with silly introductions and off piste distractions because I have limited time: I just hoovered up a load of moths with the Dyson and I don’t want them flying back out of the pipe.
Can that happen? I mean, if the suction isn’t on, can insects climb back out of the hoover? God I hope not. That is the stuff of nightmares, isn’t it? It’s the natural world’s equivalent of that wet-haired girl climbing out of the well in The Ring. You just want to slam a lid down on it and hammer in a few nine inch nails.
Luckily for the insects I empty the Dyson outside, so they are (sort of) freed back out into the wild. Though how long a domesticated, well-fed moth would last in the open I have no idea. Going from a diet of cashmere and merino wool to, I dunno, dandelions. It would be like turfing an aristocrat from his club into the back alley and asking him to fend for himself.
“What? No Lobster Thermidor? And who are you, dare I ask? No, I can absolutely not spare a squid! A … quid? What is this quid you speak of?”
Where was I? Must concentrate. If you’re self-isolating and only getting supermarket deliveries, or if you’re trying to keep deliveries to a minimum, then here are some cracking skincare products you can buy at the supermarket. Both online and instore.
I should add that there are far more options than the ones laid out, but I am working with what I’ve got. Products I use regularly and ones that I’ve previously tested. Once we’re all out of confinement, I promise you that I will continue my much-praised (haha) Supermarket Sweep series. I think I only did ASDA and Sainsbury’s before I got totally distracted.
I’ve concentrated on Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Waitrose here – I’m afraid I’m not so up to speed with Lidl and Aldi – they were on my to-do list but it’s impossible to try stuff at the moment!
Note, also, that I’ve avoided the powerhouse ingredients here; you can get various bits and bobs with vitamin C and retinol, but I haven’t tested them extensively enough to give them a proper thumbs up and so I have kept this post to the basics: cleanse, serum, moisturiser.
The supermarket shelves are awash with cleansing gels and foaming gels and wipes and micellar cleansers: there’s a distinct lack of balm, oil and cream cleansers. But I’ve checked, and pretty much across the board you can find one good, rich, creamy cleanser.
At Sainsbury’s I’d go for the Superfacialist Rose Cleanser (it’s also at Amazon here*) which is just gorgeous. I’m a long-term fan and if Sainsbury’s is your supermarket of choice then you’re in luck, because you also have the delightful Balance Me range.
Pricier than your usual supermarket offering, Balance Me have loads of great products – including a very good vitamin C serum, actually. Which is annoying because I’ve just said I’d avoid the powerhouse ingredients in this post!
Balance Me’s Balm cleanser is a treat – unctious, soft, it melts down to an oil and rinses off clean. It’s £20 at Sainsbury’s or LookFantastic here*.
At Tesco, I like the Cosmeticism Cleansing Cream here and at ASDA I really like the hot cloth polish from NSpa, which I couldn’t find online but sincerely hope they have instore. It’s a great budget cleanser.
At Waitrose, you have about a zillion options. Seriously, they have loads of wonderful brands – my pick would be the Weleda Almond Cleanser, which I’ve reviewed here.
For the serum step I’ve gone for a suit-all crowd-pleaser, good old hyaluronic acid. L’Oreal have a new 1.5% version that has recently launched in the UK, see if you can find it – they definitely have it at Sainsbury’s and at Lookfantastic here*.
The aforementioned Vit C one from Balance Me is great – again, find it at Sainsbury’s, and also online here*.
Olay do a great serum called 3 Point Firming – I tested this extensively a few years ago and it was excellent. Lightweight, non-greasy, plumping, sits well beneath makeup, keep an eye out for it!
My most-used supermarket-available options are below. The Simple moisturisers are a new discovery for me (via Nadine Baggott) and the teeny bottles are deceiving – you get a standard 50ml inside them. Just nifty packaging. I would highly recommend the calming hemp version.
Simple Calming Moisturiser with Hemp, many supermarkets and online at Boots here*.
L’Oreal Revitalift Night Cream-Mask, at Waitrose here* and most supermarkets. I’ve banged on about this one for years and years – it’s my favourite L’Oreal moisturiser and they make a lot. It’s more plumptious and effective than many of the far more expensive “sleep masks” I’ve tried from luxury brands and, with the hyaluronic serum layered beneath, it leaves your face as wibbly and turgid as an overfilled waterbed.
If you’re in a spot dilemma and need something immediately, you could do worse than to throw some Clearasil Rapid Action Pads. I mean you could do a lot better, but we are talking fast fixes here and I’ve tested these out a few times before so I know they don’t burn the bejeezus out of your face. I wouldn’t use them all over, because I find them drying, but use on the spot-prone areas and then just leave them to get to work. They’re saturated in salicylic acid so they help to keep pores clear without being to aggro in the process.
OK, I see a moth head poking out of the pipe (not a euphemism) (would be a strange one) so I must go and empty the dust-catcher. I’ve just realised I did a video on this entire post (amazing that someone could actually forget something so important) and so I’ll paste that in below for your watching pleasure.
Please do leave me your own supermarket skincare heroes in the comments – I will definitely be reinstating my video series and so I need to get testing once I can nip to the shops to research and stock up. Especially give me your Lidl and Aldi recommendations!