Affordable Skincare: What To Know & What To Buy

Affordable Skincare: What To Know & What To Buy


New insights and healthy competition mean not all the most effective grooming products come with hefty price tags. Here is SLMan’s guide to great products at the right prices…

Don’t Be Lured By Branding

“It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying a product because it looks or smells good. My advice is to spend no more than £30 on an individual skincare product. The high street is full of fantastic products that tick all the boxes. So many people still think an expensive product must be better than a cheaper counterpart, but this isn’t always the case – often, the extra price point is associated with more expensive branding, packaging and marketing costs.” – Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist

Do Your Research

“If you have problem skin – for example, you suffer from acne or rosacea – it’s worth doing some research into pharmaceutical options. There’s a huge difference between a cosmetic product and a pharmaceutical product, which can mean much frustration for individuals when they find their skincare problem fails to resolve with the ‘right’ cleanser or toner, leading to much chopping and changing of products, and lots of money being spent but little difference in skin quality. The Inkey List, The Ordinary and Superdrug’s B. Skincare range are good options for those on a budget.” – Anjali

Save On Cleansers, Spend On Serums

“As a general rule of thumb, cleansers and moisturisers don’t need to be expensive, but anything containing ‘active’ ingredients, such as serums, is worth spending more on. Active ingredients like vitamins A and C, need to be packaged correctly and be in the right formulation to see results. Some great high-street cleansers include CeraVe’s Hydrating Facial Cleanser, Biore’s Charcoal Anti-Blemish Wash and The Ordinary’s Squalane Cleanser.” – Anjali

Avoid Overly Fragranced Products

“Lots of cheaper brands mask the fact that their products don’t contain decent amounts of active ingredients by piling on fragrance and alcohol. Always look on the back of a product at the ingredients and avoid fragrance and alcohol where possible, as these can lead to irritation and inflammation. On the flip side, keep an eye out for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, retinoids and niacinamide.” – Benji Dhillon, skincare expert & cosmetic surgeon

Affordable SPF Does Exist

“There’s a misconception that suncare is expensive. La Roche-Posay, Vichy and Avène all do great SPFs at good prices. La Roche Posay’s Anthelios range is particularly good for men as the formulas are light, absorb quickly and don’t get stuck in beards.” – Anjali

Give Your Body Some TLC Too

“High street and pharmacy shelves are also packed with products for your body that are handy if you suffer from dry or sensitive skin. Products to try include Aveeno’s Daily Moisturising Body Cream and Ameliorate’s Transforming Body Lotion. Eucerin is also a brand to keep on your radar – its Dermatoclean Mild Cleansing Milk is a fantastic product.” – Anjali

Want in? These are the brands worth knowing…


This brand arrived in the UK just over two years ago and has quickly proved popular with both consumers and industry experts. Developed with dermatologists, its cleansers, moisturisers and SPFs are no-frills formulas that guarantee real results at accessible price points. Its range of foaming cleansers comes highly recommended, and there’s something for all skin types.

La Roche Posay

One of the great things about French pharmacy products is that they are often targeted to particular skin problems and types. La Roche Posay is good at this. Its Toleriane range is a good choice for those with sensitive skin, Effaclar is great for oily skin, while Rosaliac will tackle redness.

The Ordinary

From vitamin-packed moisturisers to silky-smooth serums, The Ordinary’s line-up delivers serious results on a £10 budget. Foregoing unnecessary packaging and misleading ingredients, each bottle makes it easy to see what you’re buying. Bestsellers include the fine-line reducing Buffet, moisturising Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution.


Using water from a thermal spring that has been of dermatological interest since the 19th century for its properties that treat atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and burns, Avène is ideal for sensitive and acne-prone skin. Hero products include the Hydrance Aqua-Gel Moisturiser (the ultimate non-greasy formula) and Cleanance Comedomed, a clever cream that contains a milk thistle-derived ingredient to reduce sebum and breakouts.

The Inkey List

Each product in The Inkey List family is based around a single ingredient, making it easy to ascertain exactly what you’re putting on your skin. A succinct collection of products formulated by experts and scientists, these are science-backed products at a seriously affordable price tag. From cleansers to blemish treatments, The Inkey List has everything you need.

Super Facialist

While this industry-approved brand has its own collection solely for men (the hyaluronic moisturisers are particularly good), its other ranges are also worth checking out. If you are prone to dull skin, the Vitamin C range is a good choice, while the salicylic acid line is a top pick for those prone to oiliness and breakouts.

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