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I recently realized my go-tos for skincare were wildly boujee and so I wanted to try out some less expensive products to see their effectiveness in comparison (a.k.a.: I could no longer afford the things I was buying. LAWL).
So lo and behold, I want to present the low end holy grail products that I’ve been working into my skin the last month or so, and that in return, have been working for ME.
Without further ado, these are the steps I’ve been taking when I clearly should be taking the 12 step program (for shopaholics... not alcoholism, just want to be ABUNDANTLY clear about that).
1) Makeup Remover: Neutrogena Makeup Removing Cleansing Lotion
This is only my first step to my skincare routine if I’ve got a full Pixi-glittered up face on, for obvious reasons. This stuff works miracles and I’m speaking on behalf of friends of mine that have also tried it. It’s exhilarating sharing a product and watching it work for people you know, too, because you feel like, “ya... I did that shit," as if YOU created the potion that takes off their mascara every night after a spinning class. What I love about this stuff is the consistency; it’s called something completely different, but I know it as the milky lotion that takes off my concealer, because it actually feels like a milky concoction: what I imagine half and half cream would feel like on your face (for whatever reason you have it there...hey, I don't judge). It is soothing as heyull and gets the job done in a matter of seconds. Literally one swipe with a cotton ball will result in even waterproof eye makeup disappearing with that one swipe. I’ve used my fingers too—it seems to have the magical ability to not irritate my eyes and if you know me IRL you know my eyes are sensitive to almost everything in LIFE and they’re constantly tearing up or reacting to allergies to certain products (fun, but not-so-fun-fact: colored eyes have the hardest time with sensitivity to light and products). So this highly impressed me, is what I’m saying. It also leaves your skin feeling baby butt smooth (what a visual) and doesn’t cause breakouts (a.k.a.: safe for sensitive eyes AND sensitive skin). I just beg of you to not use makeup remover wipes, because the amount of chemicals in each wipe are a ridiculously high count and since most people don’t wash their face after using cleansing wipes, they’ll stick to your face like glue till morning. The thought alone gives me anxiety, but it’s whatever dude—it’s your face. Your decision. Won’t try to convince you further (P.S. Please don’t do it).
2) Cleanser: Clean and Clear (Hydrating)
If you wanna be extra good to your skin, which I would always advise to do, I would always recommend washing your face with a cleanser after your makeup removing process even if it claims to get all the excess oils, dirt, and makeup off, because of the fact that the cleanser will give you that extra radiance and glow your heart so desires. Nothing low-end will quite give you that solution like the Clean and Clear cleansers—I recommend the moisturizing/hydrating one, but that’s solely because of my bias seeing as that solves my dry skin problem. The brand, however, has a line of cleansers that each partake to the individual's skin’s needs. They also have brightening, oxygenating, for oily skin, etc, etc. This one in particular is my go-to and can seriously quench your dry as$ face. It also feels so refreshing to utilize, and the beads in the formula also makes you feel like you are gently exfoliating on top of that. After using this one in particular my skin feels like I just put on a ten minute moisturizing mask and then someone is permanently following me around with a personalized AC system, but only blasting it on my face. You get me?
3) Daytime Serum: Moisturizing Milky Serum from Pixi
This serum is great, because it’s an everyday MOISTURIZING lotion, so if your skin is anything like mine you’ll really appreciate that. It’s ACTUALLY called a MILKY serum B-T-DUBS. I didn’t just name it that all on my own or photoshop it in the picture. It actually LOOKS like milk on your skin and smells like lychee—the fruit. You didn’t misread lychees. You are not going to smell like everyone’s canoeing nightmare, rest ASSURED. I definitely notice a significant improvement in the softness of my skin since the onset of its first application. It also has Vitamin C in it, which we know is as effective for anti-aging as MOISTURIZING benefits are, so hand in hand, you’re UNSTOPPABLE. And your fine lines are definitely custom cleared, because they’ve been HANDLED (hehe). It’s very wet-feeling, so like I say with any serum, apply with a light hand if you’re going to put makeup on top of it. The one thing I’ll say, and I know others that have reviewed it said, is that the dropper in particular begs the question of “WHY THO?!” Because it sucks. Period. It barely picks up any product and is way too big for the bottle size itself. You basically have to dab the remnants on the sides of it onto the sides of yo face. One very unfortunate backDROP: the dropper. I need to chill with these puns.
4) Nighttime Serum: Glow Exfoliating Overnight Serum by Pixi
The reason why I love this serum is because it exfoliates your face every night and when you wake up, you see the dead skin cells roll off your face when cleansing. Its main goal is to brighten and to help fine lines and I’m willing to bet that's why it has "glow" in the title. I'll even use this to exfoliate my undereye. There are different opinions on if you can exfoliate your undereye. Some people believe that it's taboo to do so, however, many dermatologists even recommend it. The way I use this is I take a Q-tip and I won't place it directly under the eye, because then you risk getting it in your eye and that will, you know, kind of hurt considering there is some hyaluronic acid in it. Trust, I'm unfortunately a little too familiar with the concept. You don't want to do it. I'll just place the Q-tip with the serum where it needs to be, basically where any fine lines or crows feet are. Since I have SOOO many in my early twenties, they’re easily located. I go in with a Q-tip, because, again, you want to be really precise not to get this in your eye. Thereafter they do recommend putting a vitamin C kind of serum or cream on top, which is where I just use the daytime one I was just talking about, and then on top of that any kind of eye cream will be beneficial. You really want to exfoliate this area, because it never reaps the benefits of exfoliated skin and when you do exfoliate it it really gets insanely soft with all the dead skin and milia wiped away (plus, concealer just looks WAY better). Obviously, I'm not saying to exfoliate it with an actual exfoliating scrub or peel off exfoliant, such as the Peter Thomas Roth exfoliating one or the Boscia one. That would be the solution to if you want super designer bags under your eyes. We're talking Chanel designer. That's why it's highly recommended to only use an exfoliant serum such as this one under the eye and around the eye crevices. Of course, I also place this every night all around my face. This is really just an extra tip and trick I'm giving you to put it under the eye. What I've noticed when using this is that it really helps out my fine lines everywhere and creates like baby buttery soft smooth skin. Every morning that you get to cleanse your face after using this at night is really cool to see almost like a whole mask of skin come off, as gross as that sounds; it's really satisfying, and then to later layer makeup atop it during the day is just awesome, because it goes on really smooth. I've noticed also ever since I've used it under the eye that my undereyes have never been smoother, and when I feel the area with my fingertips, I feel what I presume is soft like a baby’s bottom, which is exactly what you want under your eye. How many times can I compare skin to babies in inappropriate ways? Keep reading to find out! I can't stress enough that I feel the need to proclaim it really is a SERUM that you can put under your eye because, like I said, it's a recipe for disaster to utilize an exfoliating scrub under the eyes. That kind of movement is very dangerous and very likely to create the opposite effect, which is not what you want obviously: just fine lines and wrinkles. This is just what I've noticed the serum helps me the most with. It's always recommended when you're using a hyaluronic acid to put a sunscreen on top throughout the day. I would recommend wearing at least 50 SPF. 20 would be OK so long as you keep reapplying it throughout the day. Hyaloronic acid always makes you more sensitive to the sun. I'd even go so far as to put it directly under the undereye since you’re exfoliating that area now too. Even if you're using a tinted moisturizer with an SPF, now it's recommended if you're using the exfoliating serum method under the eye to use this under the eye as well. Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer SPF 20 is a fave for me, and if you want a full on makeup look the roll on face and body SPF from Neutrogena is lightweight and bomb as heyull!
5) Moisturizers: Neutrogena HydroBoost Moisturizer and Clean and Clear Cucumber Moisturizer Gel
The next step to this very low-budget, low-end skin care routine would be… Ding ding ding: you guessed it!—my favourite part!—a moisturizer, OF COURSE. So, what I recommend is the Neutrogena Hydro Booster moisturizer. I love this a lot, as you get so much product out of it for a crazy little amount of money in comparison. It gives you 50 ML and when I bought it on sale it was around $15 Canadian so… that's insane, because when you go to Clinique or other high-end brands like that 50 ML would be around $50 or probably a lot more TBH. This does the exact same thing as Moisture Surge from Clinique, as it is called the Hydro Booster for a reason—it is hydrating (ie: it's more of a for-dehydrated-skin than for-dry-skin type of a moisturizer). It also feels super refreshing and like your skin is wet for the first 10 minutes that you've applied it. And if you're anything like me, you love feeling like you constantly just got out of the rain. Because that's how much your skin is the embodiment of the Sahara desert. I swear, you guys, my skin feels like I’m constantly in the desert looking for a stream of water to quench its near-death dehydration. Bad moisturizers are when that stream is a mirage. But this one, I can assure you, is very real. The results you'll see with this are epic. I noticed when using this I didn't even need a nighttime cream, because this was so intensive. I woke up every day with my skin very soft and as plumped up as my pillows (JK, my pillows are very poorly taken care of, unlike my FACE).
The other moisturizer I recommend is something I've used on clients for a long time now and it's the cucumber moisturizing gel from Clean and Clear. Every time someone like a friend or client or family member went to use it, I’d receive the same comments on the smell. It smells like cucumbers and mint—DEEEELIGHTFUL. The only thing about this that would be seen as a setback money-wise is that it isn't great for sensitive skin. I know that one time my friend in makeup school put it on her mom and her mom complained that it was stinging and she said “oh no, Mom, you're FINE—you’re just DRAMATIC,” but then when she tried it on herself she was like… “OK, yeah, I see what you mean. I feel like I'm dying.” If you don't have sensitive skin this apparently works like a gem, however. My sister uses this every day and it works just fine for her, but I know that when I use it on clients I always have to ask if they’re sensitive to products. If you don't have a reaction, I know that this is a very intensive treat for your skin as well and it looks great under any kind of makeup. And, if you don’t combat the sensitive skin prob, it smells great and feels cooling on the face!
6) Eye Creams: L'Oreal Eye Defence and Nip and Fab — Viper Venom Eye Fix
I feel compelled to tell you that I am jotting down my thoughts right now orally via my voice-recording-note-taking-thingy-ma-jig on iPhone. So, long story short, I couldn't remember the name of the next eye cream we're gonna dive into, and I just voiced aloud “the next eye cream I really recommend is what the &%^@ is it called?!” but it actually wrote that. So, if you ever see a skincare line with that name, just know there’s a plagiarism lawsuit coming out and I’M involved. But, moving along. I did in fact Google the name of the eye cream that I was once living for and it's the L'Oreal Eye Defense. I love the cream, because it's not really for anti-aging or anything like that, but it does help out for fine lines and wrinkles. It's very good at hydrating the eye area and eye contour. It's very, very lightweight and just as effective as my Biotherm Aquasource eye cream that I love. It feels like a dupe for that, because it's the exact same texture which is pretty much why I picked it up and it really just sinks into the skin around your eye and hydrates (I’ll never use the vocal option again—it just auto-corrected to: "it stings and tears the skin around your eyes and hydrates"). This and the Biotherm one are both very wet-feeling and once the wetness dissolves, feel very refreshing. Plus, it's pink. And I like pink.
The other eye "cream" that I tried because even when I'm trying to cut down on my spending I think I'm boujee and living the high life apparently so I get two eye creams: was the Nip and Fab Venom rollerball for the undereye. It's actually said to be made with snake venom which I thought was amazing because even if it didn't help my undereye I figured I’d get some kind of snake power or be able to speak Parseltongue out of the deal. I didn't use this as long as the other eye cream because of the fact that I started using the exfoliating serum technique and it's not recommended to just use a rollerball after that. However, when I was using it, it seemed very effective. I used it long enough for the rollerball’s brand title to ROLL off the ball, so that must say something. What I liked about it was it was very lightweight, AGAIN. Apparently all my eye creams are lightweight. But for real, they are. Because no one wants to feel thickness under the eye when you already put concealer on every day. This left my under eye very wet so you have to give it a second or two before putting on makeup. I would recommend having this in your purse in case of emergencies but I don't always recommend roller-balls because they're just not as effective as a cream. Roller-balls essentially are better at making you look more wakeful, well rested, and taking away puffiness, whereas eye creams are better at fine line and wrinkle management and getting rid of bags and dark circles and those kinds of concerns. So it depends on what is best suited for YOU!
7) Vitamin Thermal Water from Vichy (Small Bottle: $8 CAD)
The last thing I recommend for an easy go-to affordable skin care routine would be my Vichy small version vitamin mist for the face. The bigger version is much more pricey so I would not put it in the affordable section; however, I have the smaller version and it's lasted me for a while now. I put it on before going to bed and before applying my makeup and my skincare routine every day. What I love about this is that it’s said to have a lot of vitamins which strengthens the barrier of your skin: vitamins from something volcanic I think. It’s supposed to have something to do with volcanoes — DON’T quote me on that. But you know volcanos seem strong so it makes sense I would strengthen the barrier of my skin with this (I'm such a consumer). I’d usually say that this is just super extra and you could just skip the step; however, I've noticed a drastic improvement in my makeup and my skincare after using this for a number of days. This is also one of those go to products you can put on before the gym. It's extremely lightweight (being a mist and all) and we know that we don't need anything too heavy when you're going to be doing jumping jacks and running all over the place and sweating galore. It's refreshing and wet enough to act like a moisturizer although there's no need to apply much if you’re going to the gym, since you probably wanna just wash your face anyway afterwards. That’s why I extremely recommend this for your gym bag if you're into that kind of thing—if you're not, that's cool too—I have months where I'm lazy; not even days, MONTHS.
I hope you guys enjoyed this article and it gave you the spring products you can look forward to maybe picking up at your local drugstore and not spending an arm and a leg on. I hope I helped out your bank account, PayPal, credit card debt, WHATEVER it is, in a way. And if there’s one thing you learned 1000 percent, it’s to not type your college essays using a voice recording device. No bueno.