The Stylist beauty team’s 8 favourite affordable skincare brands

Ever find skincare shopping a bit confusing? The Stylist beauty team shares its favourite high street skincare brands to help you sort the practical from the pointless…

Skincare. It’s probably the most important part to any beauty routine and yet, it’s an area that’s riddled in confusion.

When it comes to developing an effective skincare routine, it’s important to firstly figure out your skin type (which you can do with our handy guide). Once you’ve done this, you can create a regime filled with the steps and products you need to take.

But when you start shopping, it can feel like a bit of a minefield. With multiple brands releasing endless products filled with enticing promises, it can be difficult to sort the practical from the pointless. Add to that the fact that it can be easy to drop a lot of cash on unessential products (especially when expensive doesn’t necessary equal effective) and it’s easy to feel a bit lost.

So, we’ve rounded up our favourite affordable skincare brands to provide a bit of inspiration…

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Developed by dermatologists, CeraVe quickly earned cult status in the USA thanks to its clever, high-tech formulas. After various pilgrimages to stock up in Ulta any time we touched American soil, the brand finally launched into the UK just over two years ago. So what makes it so special? Each product is packed with beneficial ingredients, the main star being ceramides. While our skin cells produce ceramides naturally, boosting them helps protect the skin’s barrier and results in healthier skin.

  • Our pick: CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser

    Best affordable skincare brands: CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser

    Alongside its signature addition of three essential ceramides, this cleanser has 0.5% salicyclic acid to gently exfoliate skin while removing make-up, dirt and oil. It also contains hyaluronic acid for extra hydration. No wonder we can’t stop singing its praises.

    Shop CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser at lookfantastic, £9


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The Ordinary

When it came to skincare shopping, effective products were usually associated with expensive price tags. That is, until The Ordinary came along. A sub-brand of Deciem, The Ordinary was developed to deliver products that focused on pioneering ingredients at an accessible price point. To do this, it names each of its products after the key ingredient for full transparency. Since launching, it’s released countless sell-out serums and has amassed a loyal fan base.

  • Our pick: The Ordinary Salicylic 2% Masque

    Best affordable skincare brands: The Ordinary Salicylic 2% Masque affordable

    Stylist’s beauty editor Lucy Partington doesn’t really use face masks – but this one has seriously impressed her. As well as helping to dry out blemishes, she has noticed it reduces oiliness.

    Shop The Ordinary Salicylic 2% Masque at Deciem, £9.90


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The Body Shop

For most of us, The Body Shop was a key part of discovering beauty products when we were younger – and it’s one of the few that has stood the test of time. The Body Shop is still a firm part of our skincare routines, thanks to its effective formulations and clear skincare categories. From gentle cleansers and nourishing body butters to intensive moisturisers and soothing lotions, there’s a lot to explore across the brand’s offering.

  • Our pick: The Body Shop Drops of Youth Concentrate

    Best affordable skincare brands: The Body Shop Drops of Youth Concentrate

    A hard one to narrow down, but there’s a reason this serum sells once every 27 seconds. As well as helping to protect skin from indoor and outdoor pollution, it has been reformulated with moringa oil for extra environmental protection.

    Shop The Body Shop Drops of Youth Concentrate at The Body Shop, from £28


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The Inkey List

When The Inkey List first launched, the beauty industry was quick to draw comparisons between it and The Ordinary. Like the latter, the Inkey List also stems from a belief in no-frills formulas, ingredient-focused packaging – think retinol, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid – and affordable prices.

  • Our pick: The Inkey List Niacinamide

    Best affordable skincare brands: The Inkey List Niacinamide

    Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide works to reduces redness, excess oil and blemishes, while also improving uneven skin tone and protecting the skin against environmental aggressors. This particular formula also contains 1% hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated.

    Shop The Inkey List Niacinamide at Cult Beauty, £6.99


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Founded in 1904, it’s fair to say that Garnier has been around ages. Many people tend to focus on its haircare, but the skincare is equally as impressive and has something for every skin type. Plus, in recent years, the brand has turned its attention to focusing on sustainable ingredients and packaging, without compromising on its iconic formulas.

  • Our pick: Garnier Micellar Water Sensitive Skin

    Best affordable skincare brands: Garnier Micellar Water Sensitive Skin

    Micellar water is a great way to break down make-up and dirt before cleansing – and this one is particularly good. Developed for sensitive skin, simply soak a reusable cotton pad and sweep it across the face to remove make-up and impurities. A great, eco-friendly alternative to make-up wipes.

    Shop Garnier Micellar Water Sensitive Skin at Boots, £3.99


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Coined the number one sensitive skincare brand in Japan, Curél has also won a place in Stylist beauty director Shannon Peter’s regime. As its primary aim is to provide skincare that works for even the most sensitive of skin, the brand pays a lot of attention to testing any ingredients, colours or odours in its products and everything is packed by hand.

  • Our pick: Curél Intensive Moisture Facial Cream

    Best affordable skincare brands: Curél Intensive Moisture Facial Cream

    A bestseller from the brand, Shannon says, “It’s perfect when your skin is having a bit of a wobbly moment or you’ve overdone it with an acid or retinol. It’s packed with ceramides, which helps to rebuild a compromised skin barrier.”

    Shop Curél Intensive Moisture Facial Cream at Boots, £19.50


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When Dr Prosper Haller discovered the therapeutic properties of thermal water in the 1930s, Vichy skincare was born. To this day, the brand is known for offering clever and science-led formulas that are developed alongside health professionals, including pharmacists and dermatologists. But despite its innovative and effective formulas, it still maintains an affordable price point.

  • Our pick: Vichy Minéral 89 Eyes Hyaluronic Acid +Caffeine

    Best affordable skincare brands: Vichy Minéral 89 Eyes Hyaluronic Acid +Caffeine

    Inspired by the brand’s cult Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Booster, this eye serum contains the same hydrating hyaluronic acid and soothing thermal mineralising water but also contains caffeine to make the area appear brighter and fresh.

    Shop Vichy Minéral 89 Eyes Hyaluronic Acid +Caffeine at lookfantastic, £20

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La Roche Posay

Snoop through the Stylist beauty team’s skincare cabinets and you’re bound to spot a La Roche Posay product (or two, or three…). This French skincare brand comes highly recommended by dermatologists for its high quality formulations. What’s more, a lot of the products contain spring water, making them suitable for sensitive skin types.

  • La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+

    Best affordable skincare brands: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+

    Formulated for oily and acne-prone skin, this moisturiser contains niacinamide, glycerin and salicylic acid to reduce and prevent blemishes.

    Shop La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ at lookfantastic, £17

    buy now

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