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In 2017 I published 10 Budget-Friendly Products Inspired By the Most Popular Skincare of 2017, and since then that post has garnered a lot of requests for an annual update of the year’s trending skincare products. Although I was unable to publish one for 2018, I’m back with the 2019 edition!
Since 2017 the beauty industry has greatly leveraged influencer marketing, forcing a demand of luxury and high-dollar skincare – much to the dismay of many women’s wallets. A lot of the popular products I saw this year were ordinary products utilizing smoke-and-mirror marketing tactics thanks to chic packaging. But are they really worth the price tag?
I’ve selected some of the most popular skincare products of the year and found many comparable products for each. Although the ingredient formulations may not be an exact match down to the T, it’s worth remembering that the missing “miracle” ingredient won’t solve all your skin’s problems anyway. I recommend using a complete skincare regimen if you want real results – no single product can fulfill all your skin’s needs! Check out my blog posts below for tons of esthetician-approved skincare tips and take my skincare quiz to receive an in-depth skincare analysis and customized skincare regimen!
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The Luna Foreo Mini 2 Cleanser honestly seems like a silicone replacement of the Clarisonic. But who says your bare hands can’t effectively clean off makeup residue? Simply do as your esthetician would and cleanse twice – once to get all the makeup, and twice to get all the residual dirt and oil. But if you really want a cleansing device, there are tons of sonic silicone cleansers similar to the Luna Foreo Mini 2 on Amazon for much cheaper.
Yet another pricey electronic device that may wind up collecting dust underneath your sink. Although I absolutely love dermaplaning’s ability to produce the look of smooth and even-toned skin instantly, it’s definitely not worth $200. Most dermaplaning treatments come as add-ons at spas and just require a fresh razor blade to do! However, if you’re afraid to cut yourself, there are safer dermaplaning tools that are still considerably cheaper than the Derma Flash device. Eyebrow razors do an amazing job at this surprisingly – although the blades dull quickly, the cost-per-use is still worth it. And if you still want to ball out, the Michael Todd Beauty Sonicsmooth is a great sonic device that’s still half the price of the Derma Flash one.
If you’ve been reading this blog for some time now, you probably already know how I feel about the jade roller hype from my blog post Is Your Jade Roller Fake? The Truth About the Instagram Skincare Trend. Long story short: most jade rollers on the market aren’t even made of real jade, so unless you care about having real precious jade you can still get the de-puffing and cooling benefits from any old jade roller. However, for the price point of Herbivore’s jade roller, I’d expect one made of real jade, like this one from Beedewy or Energy Muse).
If you don’t care about authenticity or crystal energy and just want a pretty green roller, there are tons available for under $20 – some even include a gua sha tool, something I feel is even more effective for anti-aging and de-puffing benefits!
There’s not much of a difference in benefits between jade and rose quartz when it comes to facial rollers, but I find it odd that this popular rose quartz roller is more expensive than the jade one, especially since rose quartz is a very common crystal that isn’t anywhere near as precious as jade! You can find them for considerably cheaper elsewhere – you can even get a vibrating rose quartz roller for less!
For many years until recently it seemed like the Estée Lauder brand was becoming a thing of the past and only holding onto the older demographic, but it’s surely made its comeback thanks to influencers like Marianna Hewitt and Chriselle Lim. The company has also spent a fair amount of money on running clinical tests to use for promotional purposes, but I’m not fully convinced that there’s anything in this $100 bottle that Missha’s Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule can’t do – clinical trials or not. Again, there is no single miracle product (especially for anti-aging needs), but this $30 serum in tandem with dermarolling (aka microneedling) and vitamin C can probably reap the same results, $70 less.
Ok, admittedly, the Fresh Soy Face Cleanser is really good. But at almost $40, I still think you could do better to stretch that skincare budget. This cleanser helps control breakouts and regulates oily skin because it’s pH-balanced, and COSRX actually has a pH-balanced gel cleanser that has a lot of hype in the Korean skincare community. The formula is nowhere near similar to its Fresh counterpart, but if you’re looking for a 1) gel cleanser suitable for acne-prone or oily skin, 2) ph-balanced cleanser, and 3) a gentle cleanser that calms and soothes the skin, the Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser will do just as well at just under $10. You can even get a pack of 3 for less than the price of 1 Fresh Soy Face cleanser.
I adore Marianna Hewitt, and I really wanted to love the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask too. I don’t see anything wrong with the product, however, it didn’t do anything amazing for me – in fact, I wound up getting congestion, breakouts and oily skin from it (I’ll just chalk it up to my skin being picky about shea butter – an ingredient in Jet Lag). That said, aside from the benefit of the formulation being clean, there is nothing in it that warrants an almost $50 price tag. Niacinamide is one of the key ingredients in this formula, which is largely responsible for fighting inflammation, providing antioxidants and brightening the skin; however, this ingredient is cheap to come by and more effective in Deciem’s Niacinamide + Zinc serum. And the star player: chestnut extract (castanea sativa), which is known for reducing oxidative stress and reducing visible irritation. Although there aren’t many products with chestnut extract, I still feel less than $48 + tax you could get something that offers the same amount of hydration and protection against free radicals.
I don’t believe there’s a product that has a similar formulation to Jet Lag, but if you’re looking for certain benefits, you can find cheaper products. If you want an overnight mask, the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask is an amazing hydrating sleeping mask with niacinamide that brightens dull and uneven skin – and it has no shea butter – unlike Jet Lag – that is likely to cause congestion for oily skin. In fact, I’ve used it many times during wintertime as a moisturizer and have felt better hydration than my regular moisturizer – all without feeling congested or oily.
If you have normal to dry skin, the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Hydrating Mask is also a great option. Dry or thinner, aging skin can greatly benefit from the healthy fats from the avocado. It’s also one of Sephora’s clean brands. Check out this blog post at 15 Minute Beauty for a review on Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask vs. Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask.
For severely dry skin, Frank Body’s Glow Mask is worth a try – the caffeine in the coffee extract can help perk up tired or aging skin. I would recommend it for oily/acne prone skin since it has both shea and cocoa butter, which might lead to congestion, but super dry skin can benefit from it. Bonus: 99.79% of the formula is naturally derived, which means that the majority of the ingredients aren’t synthetic.
Supergoop is good. Like, good. But with so many amazing (and even better) Korean sunscreens that offer the same or even better broad spectrum (both UVA and UVB rays) protection for 1/2 to 1/3 of the price, it doesn’t make sense to spend $30+ on such a little amount of product. I actually wrote a post featuring my favorite budget-friendly sunscreens, and basically all of them are lightweight, mattifying, and non-greasy, which are the main selling points of Supergoop.
If you’ve never tried Korean skincare before, now’s your chance: my utmost favorite facial sunscreen Etude House Sunprise Sunscreen is $7.50 and gives you 1.85 oz instead of Supergoop’s 1.7 oz. I’ve been using this sunscreen for years, so if my oily skin stays matte even in 100-degree California weather, then you already know this is a must-have sunscreen. However, if it’s ever out of stock, the other selections below are still fierce mattifying contenders.
As much as I’m obsessed with the scent and cooling sensation of this mask, there are other alternatives out there. Don’t buy into the Instagram hype: if you can see past the cute packaging, there are other products that can deliver similar results. Once again, enter the Laneige Sleeping Mask. It’s $20 less, offers roughly the same amount of product, and has the same cooling gel sensation, along with significantly brighter skin in the morning. And while it doesn’t have the same Jolly Rancher scent, Laneige actually has a Calming Sleepscent™ infused with orange flower, rose and sandalwood to relax you and help you sleep. And trust me: it works.
I received a deluxe sample of the T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial in my Sephora Play box, and although I loved it, my eyes still bugged out of my head when I saw how much the full-sized item was. Deciem’s The Ordinary has an AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution that is 5% stronger (so leave it on for less time if you’re sensitive) and costs only $7.20! Truthfully, these ingredients are extremely cheap and that’s why Deciem is able to offer such an effective formula for under $10. If anything, the steep price difference just reveals how much price gouging is an unapologetically common practice in the skincare industry.
Here’s a super close product similar to Herbivore’s Lapis Facial Oil: the Acure Seriously Soothing Blue Tansy Night Oil. At only $12.99 it features the same ingredients (blue tansy, kale, argan oil, kukui oil, jojoba, yarrow, jasmine oil, and rose oil just to name a few) as the Herbivore counterpart, except for squalene. I believe Acure’s formula used to have squalene but wound up removing it (perhaps for legal purposes as both formulas are incredibly similar). That said, if squalene is super important to you, know that squalene is also a very cheap ingredient – you can pick up The Ordinary’s 100% Plant-Derived Squalane and have two products that still cost less than half of one Herbivore Lapis oil.
This is probably my favorite product to gawk at on this list. For $295, you could buy yourself a nice handbag that you could use for many years. We’ve already known La Mer to have great products with true luxury pricing, but when a single product reaches over $300 after sales tax, you really have to ask yourself why you aren’t putting that money towards a series of anti-aging spa treatments with your local esthetician. Even if La Mer is amazing, a series of treatments would be likely to yield more results – but that’s just my opinion as an esthetician.
There is no mirror formulation of this product, but there are many, many, many neck creams you can add to a preventative regimen of wearing sunscreen on your decollete and avoiding looking down on your phone in your lap. If you don’t already do those 2 things, you should start now. Regardless of preventative care, horizontal lines on the neck are sometimes genetic, which means that unless you get necklift surgery, no neck cream will make them go away. Learn to love them! No one will look at you and say, “wow, your neck lines are so obvious, they’re the first thing I see on you.” And if someone does, they’re just plain rude.
That said, here is a variety of neck creams $100 and under. Even a $100 neck cream is 1/3 the price of La Mer.
Now that you’ve seen them all, what do you think? Would you pay full price for these luxury skincare products, or would you be willing to try out these affordable alternatives? Let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and subscribe to my newsletter below for more affordable beauty.
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