KITK’s Beginners Guide to Skincare a.k.a. Yes, Budget-Friendly & Quality Can Coexist!
As promised, in today’s post, I’ll be sharing with you guys my Beginner’s Guide to Skincare, that’s both (mostly) budget-friendly & high-quality! Let’s be honest, skincare is expensive. Nowadays, it can be overwhelming & sometimes difficult to decide where to start, what products will work will with our skin types & provide the results we want & what to splurge on & what to go more budget-friendly with. That’s where I come in! I get a lot of messages from you guys about wanting to start slowly incorporating a skincare routine into your life, but not knowing exactly where to start.
Obviously, everybody’s lifestyle is different, from eating habits, to stress to exercise to relationships & all of these aspects of life may have more of an impact on our skin than you would think. That’s why everyone’s needs are different when it comes to skincare.
Skincare also depends in large part on the type of skin we have: some of us have oily or dry skin, while others may have combination; some of us have acne-prone skin, while others might suffer from blackheads, whiteheads, redness or hyper pigmentation.
The products that I’m going to recommend in this post are all products that I’ve done a lot of research about, used consecutively for months & provided amazing results for my skin. They are all products that I would 200% recommend to friends, family & you guys!
Before purchasing these products, I strongly recommend that you do a bit of your own research to know more about the ingredients they contain (to make sure they don’t contain anything you’ve reacted negatively to in the past) & to understand the skin concerns & results they target. Keep in mind that I’m recommending these products based on my experience with them & the results that I’ve seen from them on MY SKIN. You may or may not see the same results & you might find that other products will target your skin concerns better.
All this to say, do your own research, all while keeping in mind that I’m recommending these products with the goal of providing you guys with a list that I genuinely believe can & will work for most, if not all, skin types & concerns.
I tried to keep most of the products within a reasonable price range, but I do believe that there are some products that are genuinely worth splurging on in terms of quality & results. But, we’ll get into that soon! Aside from those, most of the products that I’ll recommend won’t make a hole in your wallet – I PROMISE!
BTW, I totally acknowledge that at this point, I do have a relatively expensive skincare routine going on. But, it didn’t happen overnight. I tried tons & loads of products, some more budget-friendly, others more pricey until I really found a routine that worked for me! I also realized overtime that there are certain products that are worth the splurge, while it’s still possible to get quality ingredients & splurge a little less on others. A lot of products are simply overpriced because you’re buying the brand or the package & that’s why I think it’s necessary to pick & choose the splurges!
This is a routine that can be used both in the morning & at night (with a few exceptions when it comes to serums & moisturizers, if you wish!).
Let’s get started!
Youth To The People Age Prevention Cleanser
Cleanser is always the first step in any skincare routine because it’s important to create a fresh, clean canvas for the other products you are going to apply post-cleanse. If your face is not clean, how are all the ingredients in your serums/moisturizers/oils going to penetrate your skin, blemishes, & pores & really work their magic if they’re being applied on a face full of sweat, environmental toxins, dirt & makeup? Short answer: THEY WON’T!
This is my all-time fave cleanser. I personally prefer to use it in the morning because of how refreshing it is – it literally wakes me up. There’s nothing wrong with using it at night too, which is why I’m recommending it as a universal cleanser! What I also love is how nourishing it is – it’s made with greens (kale, green tea, spinach & tons of vitamins, antioxidants & nutrients). It’s also really gentle, which makes it great for all skin types. While it will clean your skin & get rid of all the cr*p, it’s also super hydrating & won’t strop your skin of its essential oils. Basically, what I’m tryna say is that this cleanser is worth the hype!
IMO, $40 is definitely an affordable cost for a cleanser, compared to some other cleansers on the market! Most of them will retail for anywhere from $50-$60, while some will even reach closer to $100 (especially if they are made with more expensive essential oils). What’s great about it is that because it’s a gel cleanser, a little goes a long way so you’re getting your money’s worth!
For the past few months, I’ve also been using micellar water cleansers. I use them after my workouts, after sun exposure & on days where I wear more makeup than usual. What I do is I’ll take the makeup off first with the micellar water & then I’ll go in with my pricier cleanser to get rid of any residue makeup/sweat. This ends up saving me money in the long run & saves me the hassle of trying to scrub off all my waterproof eye makeup (& turning my face red in the process).
Once I go in with my gel/oil cleanser, half the job is already done! Personally, I believe a micellar water cleanser should be a part of any basic skincare routine, especially for those doing mid-day face cleanses, because IMO, cleansing your face with heavier cleansers three times a day is just too much! (Ever hear the saying “too much of a good thing”?).
What I also love about micellar cleansers is that you don’t need to rinse them off! All you gotta do is pour some of the cleanser onto a cotton pad & gently rub the makeup & dirt away! No need to use warm water, a towel or anything else!
Cattier Paris Rose & Aloe Micellar Water
This one is super budget-friendly. You can find it at most health food stores as it’s all natural & organic. The main ingredients in it are aloe & rose water & it’s alcohol-free. It’s gentle, refreshing, nourishing & super hydrating. It won’t irritate the skin or cause any redness.
Origins Canada Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief
This baby is my fave & is also alcohol-free! Yes, it’s a bit pricier but it’s because it’s made with a blend of natural mushrooms, which help boost resilience against environmental toxins & irritants along, as well as antioxidant-rich berry ferments to help neutralize the damaging effects of pollution. Like the Cattier one, it’s gentle, nourishing & super refreshing & won’t irritate the skin.
Thayer’s Natural Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Toner
PRICE: Around $15-17
I’m sure most of you have seen this one before – you can get it at most health food stores or order it online. Currently, I’m using the cucumber one, but I’ve also used the lavender & rose one. It’s alcohol-free & made with witch hazel & aloe vera.
It’s very gentle & hydrating. I believe toner is a necessary step in a skincare routine because it really sets the stage for serums, essential oils & moisturizers (especially if you’re going to be applying serums & other products with active ingredients). Toner will also take off any residue or leftover dirt that the cleanser didn’t catch & it will really help balance the skin’s pH levels.
The brand has been around since the 1920’s & it’s still thriving, so I think that says a lot about the brand, its quality & the results it offers to your skin!
To read more about why I think toner is an essential step in any skincare routine, click here: Everything You Need To Know About Toner From A-to-Z & My Top 3 Faves!
Essential oils, IMO, are another key component in a skincare routine because they’re super concentrated & provide tons of nourishment to your skin that you may or may not otherwise get from a serum or moisturizer that may contain certain concentrations of these oils, but not in sufficient quantities to make a heck of a difference. You can apply them before your serums, mixed in with serums or moisturizers or as the last step in your skincare routine, based on your preference, the benefits they provide & how your skin is feeling after a few weeks of using them!
BTW, you can actually get a lot of essential oils at Sephora (or essential oil blends), but they’re a lot pricier – you’re buying the brand & package. At health food stores, you can get most of these essential oils in their most natural form.
Cold-Pressed Organic Rosehip Oil
PRICE: Between $12 & $15
To read more about the benefits of rosehip oil, click here: A Breakdown of All (Well, Most) of the Skincare Benefits of Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Oil a.k.a. A-Freaking-Miracle-&-a-Half-That-Will-Make-You-Glow-Sans-Making-a-Hole-in-Your-Wallet!
Organic Sea Buckthorn Oil
PRICE: Around $15
Both these oils are super nourishing, hydrating, packed with antioxidants & amazing to combat redness, hyper-pigmtention & dark spots caused by aging or acne. They’re great for both acne & breakout-prone skin, as well as dry skin but also for anyone with normal, oily or combination skin because contrary to popular belief, sometimes you gotta fight oil with oil! When you apply oil to your skin, you create an environment that dissolves the oils on your skin without drying it out, which means that oils can actually help control the amount of oil the skin produces, moisturize dry & flaky patches & reduce breakouts in the long-term.
What’s great about Sea buckthorn is that not only is it packed with the generic healthy omega 3, 6 & 9 fatty acids, but it also contains omega-7, which is very rare! This makes it anti-inflammatory, great for balancing skin’s pH levels & supporting healthy cell turnover.
I talk about the benefits of sea buckthorn oil in this blog post, if you want to read more about it: My Top 3 (Kay, Fine, Maybe A Few More!) Skincare Products That I Simply Cannot Live Without a.k.a. The Token “Things I’d Bring On A Desert Island With Moi”!
I also speak about the benefits of sea buckthorn & rosehip oil regarding redness & hyper pigmentation in this post: Kelly’s Top-6 to Fight Skin Redness & Hyper-Pigmentation a.k.a. Hello Even, Calmed, Soothed, Clear & Radiant Skin! Basically, Hello “Skin-Goals”!
Cocokind Skincare Organic Chia Seed Oil
PRICE: Around $20
Contrary to the other two oils mentioned above, chia seed oil is a bit of a gentle exfoliator. It contains tons of omega-3 fatty acids & an ideal balance between omega-3 & omega-6, so it protects & nourishes the skin, while delivering antioxidants & phytonutrients. The fatty acid content also helps plump the skin & bring moisture to the skin & in turn, fighting the signs of aging, filling in fine lines & wrinkles & relieving dryness/peeling/chalkiness.
Chia seed oil also contains a natural source of B3 & zinc, both of which help fight clogged pores, breakouts & oily skin.
What’s also great about it is that it is infused with organic chamomile flowers, which makes it soothing, calming & super moisturizing. I especially love using this at night mixed in with my moisturizer & I love how quickly it seeps into the skin & doesn’t leave my skin feeling like there’s an oily layer or film.
Serums are the one product in a skincare routine that I don’t believe you should skimp on & that you need to go the extra mile for! They are worth every extra penny because the quality of the active ingredients compared to those in a cheaper alternative is incomparable!
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum (Boosted with collagen!)
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Vitamin C Serum
Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Vitamin C Serum
Vitamin C serum isn’t essential for everyone. IMO, a vitamin C serum should only be incorporated into a routine once you hit the age of 25ish (this is the age at which research has shown that collagen production starts to diminish & it becomes important to provide the skin & body with the necessary tools to stimulate its production).
What I love about the Ole Henriksen one is that it’s boosted with collagen. This isn’t a determining factor because vitamin C, by nature, will naturally boost collagen production anyway! But it’s a plus!
I started using a vitamin C serum about a year ago. I started out with the Drunk Elephant & used two bottles of it. I then decided to switch it up & try other brands in order to kind of shock my skin & see how it would react to other serums that contained similar ingredients, but some added ones, as well!. I think that in life, it’s important not to get your body or skin too used to foods, a product or a fitness regiment because slowly but surely, that routine will become less effective as the body will be too accustomed to it & will no longer have to work hard to process what you’re eating or what you’re asking it to do. This is why I really believe in eating a diet rich in a variety of healthy foods, changing up fitness routines & engaging in a variety of workouts from cardio to strength training to HITT & stretching, as well as changing up supplements, vitamins & skincare products to gage the skin & body’s reaction to new things.
Ever since I started using vitamin C serum, I have noticed substantial differences in the brightness/glow, firmness & reduced redness/dark spots/dullness in my skin. Vitamin C serums are packed with antioxidants, help repair the skin from damage caused by sun exposure & aging, bring luminosity, radiance & brightness to the skin, diminish discolouration & leave the skin looking more elastic, firm & overall youthful.
Drunk Elephant TLC-Framboos: This is a glycolic acid serum, with a blend of AHA & BHA (alpha-hydroxy & beta-hydroxy acids).
PRICE: $112 – $164 (depending on the size you choose)
It helps boost skin’s radiance, clarity & smoothness, resurfaces dull skin & lifts away dead skin cells. It’s a blend of glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric & salicylic acids & raspberry extract. It sinks into the skin so well & chemically exfoliates without drying out or sensitizing the skin. This serum helped a lot with my uneven skin texture & discolouration & helped reduce the appearance of pores/blackheads for me!
Due to its AHA & BHA content, it will also help fight the signs of aging, such as fine lines & wrinkles & reduce excess oiliness.
In general, AHA’s can be harmful & sensitizing to the skin if they are not formulated properly. What’s great about this serum is that DE added soothing plant extracts (such as horse chestnut, bearberry & white tea) & formulated T.L.C. at an ideal pH level for effective formulation.
Sunday Riley Good Genes
This is my all-time holy grail product of 2017!!!! I wrote an entire blog post on how it helped with my redness & hyper pigmentation, how it helped bring radiance, brightness & youthfulness to my dull-looking skin. One of the many consequences of my ED was that my malnourishment started to show in my skin – it was flaky, chalky, dark, uneven & very limpy. After using this product consecutively for almost a year now (with little breaks here & there), my skin has never been more plump & radiant!
I swear to G-d, I apply this at night & I wake up in the morning with the softest skin in the world. To read more about why I swear by this product (& the Luna Retinol Sleeping Night Oil), check out my full blog post here: All About Lactic Acid & Good Genes & Luna Sleeping Night Oil by Sunday Riley a.k.a. My-Secret-To-Radiant-Luminuous-Glowing-Red-Carpet-Worthy-Skin!
The main ingredient in this baby is lactic acid, which gently exfoliates (you won’t even feel it) dull, pore-clogging dead skin cells & reveals a smooth, fresh & younger looking skin tone. It will fight the signs of aging, all while helping reduce hyper pigmentation & dullness. It’s great for all skin types. BUT, if you have sensitive skin, as I explain in my more detailed post linked above, I would definitely ease into using this product by making it part of your routine every other night, as opposed to using it every night simply to gage your skin’s reaction to it. Some burning/irritation in the first few days of using it is normal (& I experienced it too, even though I don’t have sensitive skin), but if you see that it’s persisting for weeks, it might be a good idea to switch it up & try something else. I personally like to alternate between the Good Genes & either a glycolic act serum, or another serum!
PRO TIP: Get yourself a sample or two of this baby from Sephora before investing in the full-size one just in case you don’t react well to it. It would be a shame to splurge on something this pricey & not be able to use it in the end!
Youth To The People Age Prevention Superfood Cream
This one is made with kale, green tea & contains hyaluronic acid, which is super hydrating & actually retains & locks in up to 100x your skin’s moisture. It absorbs into the skin right away, leaves skin feeling soothed & refreshed & is jam-packed with antioxidants & phytonutrients to help fight free radicals, environmental toxins, redness & the signs of aging.
It’s super affordable, IMO, compared to a lot of other moisturizers on the market, especially since the ingredients are so natural & nourishing.
Egyptian Magic Moisturizer
If you want to buy one universal moisturizer to use during the day (but less of it) & night as opposed to investing into a day & night one, I would recommend Egyptian Magic. It’s probably the most hydrating & nourishing moisturizer I own. You can use it for & on anything, LITERALLY. It can help with rashes, eczema, psoriasis, burns, irritations, acne, breakouts, blackheads, sun-damage skin repair, wounds, for peeling after sunburn & can even be used as an all-over face/body moisturizer or after-shave etc.
It’s made with six ingredients, all of which (except one) are natural & derived from honey/bee properties, such as: olive oil, beeswax, bee propolis, bee pollen, royal jelly & honey. This makes it gentle & amazing for every type of skin – I haven’t spoken to one person about it that has reacted negatively to it. Obviously, I can’t speak for you – I don’t know how your skin will react, but in general, it’s very gentle & something that you can ease yourself into. It’s really all about trial & error.
It definitely has a bit of an oily texture to it & resembles Vaseline (feels like a skin salve). The logic behind this moisturizer is that all the ingredients in it are full of antioxidants, medicinal properties & vitamin C, which fights the signs of aging & helps boost collagen production.
The way I like to use it is as a moisturizer/sleeping mask. I apply it to my skin as the last step in my skincare routine at night & I go to bed with it smothered all over my face. I let it work its magic (literally) overnight & I wake up in the morning with the softest, smoothest & plumpest skin ever! (Similar to the way my skin feels after I use Good Genes).
I use it more often in the winter than in the summer time because of how hydrating it is as the temperature & cold weather conditions tend to dry out the skin. Read my full post about winter skincare & how to make some swaps here: My Go-To Guide For Winter Skincare Swaps a.k.a. How-To-Get-Your-Skin-To-Brave-The-Freeze-&-Still-Keep-That-Radiance-G(LOW)oing!
BTW, if you’re skeptical about it, trust me, I know where you’re coming from. TBH, I was a bit skeptical about this when I found out about it because it really does feel like you are applying Vaseline on your face in terms of how oily it is (which is also why I prefer to use it at night or on days where I know I’ll be home for the majority of the day!).
ALL THIS TO SAY, LOSE THE SKEPTICISM! GET IT. TRY IT. YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE. I would not hesitate to recommend this to ANYONE. Obviously, only you can gage out your reaction to it best – if you find it’s making you break out or causing any type of irritation, then it may not be the product for you. It’s not because a product is completely natural that it will work for everyone.
Lastly, if you have cystic or chronic acne, don’t be fooled. No product is going to solve it & make it go away entirely. It may help breakouts subside temporarily, but if you really want to cure the acne, you need to get to the root of the issue, which generally starts in the gut! BUT, it will definitely help with all the things that acne might leave behind in a natural way, and maybe more effectively than prescribed acne medication would, such as: redness, hyper pigmentation, dark spots, acne scars etc.
First Aid Beauty Coconut Skin Smoothing Priming Moisturizer
If you’re someone who likes a moisturizer that has some illumination & brightness to it (but not pigment), I would recommend this one! It has just the right amount of glow to it, all while containing very nourishing ingredients, the main one being coconut. It’s super affordable & makes for a great primer & base for makeup.
I personally like to use this after workouts to bring hydration back to my skin, post sun-exposure (because it smells like the beach!) & sometimes as a primer under my makeup.
For something more natural / sensitive: Weleda Skin Food
Kiehl’s Avocado Eye Cream
As you guys know, I’ve probably tried every eye cream in the book – safe to say I am big on eye creams because I have really bad dark circles (that have substantially improved over the course of the past year!). I personally like to use an eye cream with an eye serum, but that’s totally not necessary, especially if you don’t have bad dark circles. Some people don’t even need to use eye cream at all – it’s a personal choice based on your needs & what makes you feel best. You might feel like you’re already getting all the nourishment & hydration you need under your eyes from your serums & moisturizers & that’s totally fine!
If I had to recommend one universal eye cream that I think could benefit everyone & anyone, it would be this one. I used it all throughout summer 2017. Avocado is known for helping to firm up the under eye area, providing tons of omega fatty acids to nourish, rehydrate, de-puff & bring life back to the most sensitive area of skin on the face, fighting the signs of aging & filling in dark spots, wrinkles & fine lines.
It’s super rich, thick & creamy & super affordable compared to a lot of other eye creams on the market these days.
Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm
I use this all day everyday! I’m ranting away about how you have to keep your face & under-eye area nourished & hydrated, but the same thing goes for the lips, especially in the winter time!
I personally think that $22 is affordable for this lip balm because of the great ingredients that it contains (most lip balms will contain one & if you’re lucky, two essential oils/natural ingredients, but this one contains avocado, mongongo, cranberry & marula oil, as well as green-tea leaf & vitamin C, which makes it PACKED with antioxidants & helps ‘den lips fight the signs of aging, as well!
That’s it babes!
I hope this post was helpful & gave you some insight into why I think these products would make a great skincare routine, especially if you’re just starting out to experiment with skincare!
Feel free to leave a comment or feedback down below & don’t be shy to DM me if you have any other questions!
Love you all, xx!