If You Have $20, Check Out These Deceivingly Indulgent Skincare Options
✨Gel moisturizers, serum sticks, sea salt exfoliators, and more. ✨
We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.
1. Hero Cosmetics' Superfuel Serum Stick cools your skin on contact 🧊 and leaves you glowing thanks to key ingredients like green microalgae, lactic acid, and elderberry fruit extract which keep oil under control and give your skin a big ol' boost of antioxidants.
Promising review: "I wear a mask every day for work and my skin started acting uppp 😩 I got this stick to see if it’d help and it is working WONDERS. I’ve used it for about a week and my skin went from super inflamed to smooth and soft! The smell is minty and is cooling on my skin. It leaves my skin feeling super dewy and feels really nice. Definitely a holy grail product!" —Victoria V.
2. Soap & Glory's Flake Away decimates dead skin with an exfoliating but gentle mix of sea salt, sugar, apricot seed, and shea butter. Slather it on all over your body and you'll feel slick as a dolphin after.
A few years ago — when I used to live with a roommate — I spotted this stuff in the shower and decided to "borrow" some (ty, ty Sam!). From the moment I opened the lid and got a sniff of it, I was SOLD. To put it lightly, the scent is intoxicating. Like really — I wish you could smell it through the screen. Second, it does what it's supposed to do. I apply it after shaving — rubbing it in circles so the crystals really exfoliate my skin — and it leaves my legs so smoothhhhhhhh. The scent also lingers for a really long time which I obvi love.
Promising review: "I needed something to exfoliate my back, shoulders, and arms. This is a great exfoliator. It's not too rough, but it gives great exfoliation. Once I opened the jar, I was pleasantly surprised with how great this product smells. Added bonus!" —kcs
3. Pacifica's Lavender Moon Rose and Chamomile Body Lotion combines lavender essential oil, sunflower oil, green and white tea extracts, arnica extract, and sea kelp so you can enjoy a relaxing aromatherapy session every time you use it.
Promising review: "I have always loved Pacifica but this Lavender Moon Body Lotion is really great as it has aromatherapy scents like lavender, chamomile, and rose which are super relaxing and calming before bedtime — especially after you take a night shower which I do." —target_4eva
4. Patchology's green tea-infused Perk Up eye patches depuff and brighten with one of *my* fave ingredients (in skincare and otherwise) — caffeine!!! 🍵 Just pop 'em on while you watch your fave Bravo show and sip a glass of Chardonnay (for good measure) while they work.
Promising review: "I absolutely adore these patches, they are like the #1 product that I repurchase again and again because I just can't get enough of them. They're the perfect pick-me-up in the morning and the best wind-me-down at night before bed after taking my makeup off. I leave them on for way longer than the recommended time because they just feel so good that I don't wanna take them off. The jelly-like texture of the patches is so satisfying and it has the most amazing cooling, refreshing sensation, it's almost menthol-like but it doesn't irritate my eyes at all. You HAVE to try these, I recommend them to everyone any chance that I get!" —Ulta Reviewer
5. Acure's Ultra Hydrating Green Juice Cleanser intensely moisturizes your skin with what's basically a smoothie for your face. Ashwaganda + basil + reishi + turmeric + a blend of kale, spinach, and spirulina = a balanced formula that'll leave your complexion extremely clean and refreshed.
Take BuzzFeed Shopping editor Genevieve Scarano's word for it! She says, "Having dry skin is *not* fun and my forehead, T-zone, and cheeks feel like a desert sometimes. This cleanser is like H2O for my face; it's packed with adaptogens and supergreens that help lock in hydration. I use this super smoothie to give my complexion a moisture boost and remove stubborn makeup."
Get it from Amazon for $11.13.
6. Bolden Brightening Glycolic Acid Toner combines glycolic acid and antioxidants to target dark spots, uneven texture, and fine lines. The brand says it's ideal for oily skin, blemish-prone skin, and those dealing with hyperpigmentation.
Bolden is a Black- and woman-owned beauty brand that creates products that work well for and empower women of color. They also offer a handful of other skincare solutions from moisturizers and cleansers to night serums and spot treatments.
Promising review: "As a first time buyer of Bolden, I’ve been raving about this to all of my friends that suffer from oily skin like me. This toner has been a game changer. It’s become a staple in my skincare regimen. With the summertime heat and humidity, my face would usually be a grease pan but since using the Bolden toner it has stopped the overproduction of oil. Plus it’s helped even out my skin." —Jenifer O.
Get it from Bolden for $19.50.
7. Biossance Squalene + Rose Vegan Lip Balm blasts your pout with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and Wakame algae which — if that means little to you 🙃 — basically just means it packs a powerful punch of hydration. Basically, if your lips could use some moisture + plumping, have at it!
8. Peach Slices Citrus Honey Aqua Glow delivers an instant wave of hydration with a silky formula that goes on more like a serum. The clean, fragrance-free product also calms, brightens, and evens out skin tone with the aid of annatto seeds, grapefruit, and honey.
Promising review: "This moisturizer has become my FAVE! It really makes your skin glow without looking greasy. It's so hydrating but lightweight. I can NOT believe this moisturizer is so inexpensive! I would buy this again over any of the $50+ moisturizers I've tried." —beatsbylizzie
This is my go-to moisturizer. I use it morning and night and love how lightweight and nonsticky it is. I have super sensitive skin and this has never broken me out or clogged my pores. It gives me a subtle glow and really seals in all of the serums and facial oils I use beforehand. You also can't beat the fact that it's $12!
9. Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant helps scrub away dead skin cells leaving behind such clear pores and a bright complexion, that people will assume you get regular $100+ facials! Apply it morning and night (after your cleanser and toner) and it'll leave ya lookin' as radiant as Ben Affleck when caught by the paps holding a whole tray of Dunkin' iced coffees.
Promising review: "I have acne-prone skin that is combo-to-oily with large pores, and this stuff has truly been a life saver! Like this is literally witchcraft in a bottle and my new holy grail! Ditch your harsh scrubs and give this a go... your skin will thank you." —Philena
Get it from Amazon for $10+ (available in two sizes).
10. Radha Beauty Rosehip Oil addresses all sorts of skin concerns (think: blemishes, fine lines, age spots, and scarring) thanks to its natural vitamin-, antioxidant-, and essential fatty acid-filled formula. If you're trying to combat more than one issue and want to keep your routine simple, try this baby out!
Promising review: "My new holy grail! I have super sensitive, acne-prone skin in a very dry climate. This stuff is seriously so amazing. I use it from my face to my toes. It has completely eradicated any dry skin I had and makes me glow. I’ve gotten so many compliments on my skin since I’ve started using it, even my boyfriend noticed! I love it after chemical peels, too. It gets rid of peeling and dry patches as well as soothing any redness. It’s a decent-sized bottle for what you pay!" —Brynnieb09
Get it from Amazon for $14.95.
11. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel gives your skin a big ol' gulp of hydration with a hyaluronic acid-based water-gel formula. Use it at night and you'll wake up with baby-soft skin.
Promising review: "I went from very dry, flaky, and angry skin to soft and supple in about one week. I noticed a change instantly. My acne has even started clearing up. Keep in mind I also added vitamin E oil serum to my skincare routine at the same time. I highly recommend. The product has a great consistency, is cooling/calming, light, and has a pleasant smell." —Victoria Couty
Get it from Amazon for $14.48.
12. Ole Henrikson Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner targets hyperpigmentation with a potent combination of glycolic and lactic acids that really seem like they should cost a whole lot more. The brand says you can expect to see results in as little as seven days but some reviewers say it works overnight!
Promising review: "I always get stubborn acne spotting on one part of my face. I have struggled to get rid of it all quarantine and this product really did the job. I wanted to buy the small one first incase I didn’t like it but I will definitely be repurchasing this in the big size." —Eyebrowqueen02
Get it from Sephora for $16+ (available in two sizes).
13. Kate McLeod's Body Stone is formulated to nourish and soften skin with a delicate mix of rose, frankincense, and neroli. If you've never used one before, it's super simple! Just warm it up with you hands and apply it to dry skin where it'll melt right in.
Kate McLeod is a former bakery owner and pastry chef who turned her attention to creating "skin food." For two years, she developed her body stones right in her kitchen mixing pantry-sourced ingredients like cocoa butter and avocado oil.
Promising review: "AMAZING!!!!!!! Melts into skin so incredibly. Never have I received this much moisture in my skin from lotions. My skin in a few uses is more moisturized and plumped up... I am hooked!!!!!" —Kristin
Get it from Kate McLeod for $14+ (available in two sizes and with a muslin travel bag or reusable bamboo canister).
14. Tower 28 SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray uses just three workhorse ingredients — good ol' H2O, sodium chloride, and hypochlorous acid — to put redness, acne, and dullness in its place. 🥊 Used faithfully both a.m. and p.m., it'll leave your complexion so even and glowing, people will wonder if you have a MUA on call.
Tower 28 is a Santa Monica-based clean beauty brand specializing in non-toxic, non-irritating vegan and cruelty-free makeup and skincare. Amy Liu, the founder and CEO, worked for 15+ years as a beauty exec before leaving to create products that would suit her sensitive eczema-prone skin.
Promising review: "This is a holy grail product. I swear I have glass skin now thanks to this spray. My texture, pores, skin tone, hydration, everything seems better. I love how it looks, how it smells, and especially how happy it makes my skin. I’ll be buying this for the rest of my life. I’ve already repurchased it twice. Worth the hype." —CBTarker
15. The Inkey List Salycylic Acid Cleanser combines 2% salicylic acid + 0.5% allantoin + zinc compound to unclog pores, exfoliate, and reduce oil production just as well as brand name formulas. Save major $$$ *and* get quick results? We love to see it.
Promising review: "Such an amazing product at an amazing price! I suffered with acne, huge pores, terrible oil, and a lot of hyperpigmentation on my face and neck. This product was the only thing that helped! I rarely get acne now, my pores are so much smaller and my face is less shiny!" —Ztanns
Get it from Sephora for $9.99.
16. Versed Dew Point Moisturizing Gel-Cream works well with all skin types, but *especially* oily skin. The green tea and aloe vera moisturizer quickly absorbs, hydrates, and soothes — all without leaving a greasy sheen.
Promising review: "I've been using this product for about a year now. This was the first moisturizer that my oily/combo skin did not retaliate against. It's so light and doesn't make my face feel overly wet when using the rest of my skin care routine with it." —Jessie0898
17. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution addresses a slew of skincare concerns from acne and uneven texture to fine lines and wrinkles. Once you slather it on, you'll probably wanna take a selfie or two 'cause you'll be looking like Kim Kardashian post-vampire facial.
Promising review: "Need this in my life! I have very oily and congested skin constantly. Ever since I introduced this into my routine, it gives me a fresh start by helping to clear out all of the gunk that my skin loves to hold on to. Helps remove the build up on my nose and around the more oily areas of my face and helps all of my other products penetrate my skin better. This is not a gentle peel for sensitive skin. You will feel a burn and tingle but it your skin needs it, it provides the deep exfoliation that you will need." —zplnd
18. Bliss Mint Chip Mania is a hydrating mask that creates a cooling sensation as it reduces redness and irritation and detoxifies your skin. Reviewers say it looks and smells just like ice cream. 😋
Promising review: "I am obsessed. My skin feels clean and hydrated after and the texture makes every OCD part of me happy. The 'chips' are not sharp and not exfoliating. They melt into your skin. The mask has never left my skin feeling dried — even when I forget and leave it on for two hours! I’ve repurchased this three times now!" —Myyskii
Get it from Amazon for $7.79.
19. Glow Recipe's Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser exfoliates with AHAs that are both easy on skin and tough on that leftover mascara you "forgot" to take off before sliding into bed last night...
Promising review: "This is a really unique cleanser! First off, it has a really nice light blueberry scent, I really enjoy it! Second, it has a really cool gel bouncy texture, and it foams up very nicely! I have sensitive combo skin and whenever I cleanse my skin with this I am really impressed! It has this ability to remove makeup SO WELL yet it is still SO GENTLE! It is a little pricey but I feel like it is worth it, and if your unsure just get the mini size to see if you like it! I would recommend!" —Sephora reviewer
20. New York Biology's Dead Sea Mud Mask targets acne, clogged pores, and dead skin cells that can leave your complexion looking dull and uneven. The formula is suitable for all skin types and it's *so* gentle, you can use it as often as you like.
Promising review: "I'm not joking, I thought this was just going to be a normal face mask but I was wrong. The application was smooth and easy. After waiting 10 minutes, I took it off and....my face was smooth as a baby's butt cheek, no lie. This made my face so soft and feeling refreshed and hydrated!!!" —olesya gordeyeva
Get it from Amazon for $14.99.
21. TruSkin Vitamin C Serum wards off wrinkles, evens out dark spots, and helps brighten your overall complexion with a 🍃plant-based🍃 blend of ingredients including hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, witch hazel, and jojoba oil.
Promising reviews: "I began using this product April of 2018. Two years later and my skin has been renewed!! I love this product so much. If you are of a darker complexion and suffer from hyperpigmentation I would definitely recommend this product. It’s been a lifesaver ❤️❤️❤️" —Kiara
"Never left a review before but with this product I just had to! I'm on my third bottle and my acne/scars have faded so much! I use it twice a day — both morning/night after washing my face — and I haven’t even felt the need to wear moisturizer while using this. My skin is pretty sensitive and used to be super inflamed/red but this serum reduced the redness a lot, within just a few days I noticed a difference and now my face is about completely clear way faster then I thought it would take, so happy with the results!" —CC
Get if from Amazon for $19.99.
22. Heritage Store's Castor Oil reduces inflammation, and intensely moisturizes hair and skin. The cold-pressed vegan formula can be used on your scalp, eyebrows, skin, and even mixed into your moisturizer to promote extra hydration. Reviews all agree it's a versatile skincare essential.
Promising review: "I’ve used many different eyelash serums, name brand, designers, cheap brands, etc. and this is the holy grail. I don’t use it consistently and my eyelash growth is visible. I try to use it every evening as often as I remember and it has worked just as well, if not better than those other serums — even prescription." —PickledCabbage
23. And La Roche-Posay's Hydrating Gentle Cleanser was made for sensitive faces as its milky formula preserves your skin's natural protective barrier and pH level.
Promising review: "I'm in my thirties, and I still have tricky skin — if I use anything too harsh, I dry out; anything too creamy, I break out. I feel like I'm in a constant back and forth between the two, to basically un-do what the last cleanser did. I saw this product listed in a BuzzFeed article, and gave it a shot. It's amazing. It doesn't dry out my skin like Cetaphil, and doesn't make me break-out like some anti-aging cleaners do. I had never even heard of this brand before, but now I'm a fan." —Julia R.
Get it from Amazon for $11.99+ (available in two bottle styles).