I Curbed My Skincare Spending With These 16 Cheap (But Effective) Products

I Curbed My Skincare Spending With These 16 Cheap (But Effective) Products



If you know me or you regularly check in with my stories (thank you!), then you know how seriously I take my skincare routine. My skin is stable now, but I've experienced frustrating afflictions from dry skin to hyperpigmentation and can say from experience that nailing down a routine that works for your individual needs is the first step to clear skin. It's taken some time (okay, a long time), but I finally identified a tried-and-true regimen that gets my skin back on track in under 30 days. The only problem? That regimen is seriously expensive.

When it's all said and done, my favorite high-end cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and masks cost roughly $1300 in total. I know. That's a wild number! I'm not proud of this egregious spending, but I count my lucky stars daily that I have PR pals who throw me a bone from time to time. But that doesn't mean I'm not constantly on the hunt for alternatives to share that are A) equally effective and B) a lot more affordable.

That's where Who What Wear's sister skincare brand Versed comes in. It's a haven of affordable, quality skincare that I've grown to rely on, especially recently. Not only does the brand house a comprehensive selection of innovative, clean, and vegan skincare, but it's super affordable to boot. If you typically turn up your nose at lower price tags, writing them off as ineffective, then I'm here to tell you you're causing undue stress on your pocketbook. Ahead, check out the 16 Versed favorites that rival the most expensive products in my routine and save me hundreds of dollars in the process.

An Honest Review of 16 Affordable Skincare Products




Approximate savings: $31

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: There are few cleansers out there that I can wholeheartedly justify spending big bucks on. You literally wash this stuff down the drain, so spending too much on this particular product has always been a pain point for me. This soap-free cleanser addresses that cost concern and also conditions my skin instead of stripping all the moisture out of it. I love it as a morning cleanser because the minty scent invigorates the senses. 

Approximate savings: $16

I'm big on double-cleansing with a balm at night, and this one works wonders on stubborn eye makeup and any other dirt and grime from the day. The balm melts down to a milky cleanser that washes the scent of eucalyptus oil and the softening nutrients of vitamin E over the skin. This one is a must-have. 


Approximate savings: $0

I'm not really a toner person, but this multipurpose micellar water has become one of my favorite additions to my routine. I prefer an oil to remove my makeup, but I find this hydrating milk so refreshing to run over my face in the morning when I've done a thorough cleanse at night and don't want to do a full-on cleanse again when I wake up. I like that it imparts algae extract, bamboo extract, and coconut water to balance the skin's pH instead of disrupting it with harsh acids.

Approximate savings: $0

Okay, so even though toner isn't exactly my thing, this one has managed to carve out a top spot among my favorite products. I'll occasionally do a more intense resurfacing peel, but I like that this one is less of a peel and more of a conventional toner that's gentle enough to use every day. It combines kojic and azelaic acids, AHAs, bearberry extract, and vitamin C, which are all perfect for evening out my skin tone.

Who What Wear | An Honest Review of 16 Affordable Skincare Products




Approximate savings: $126

Starting a new retinol product is always tricky because you run the risk of the dreaded purge—that is, dryness, itching, flaking, and even breakouts brought on by the ingredient. I'm not new to retinol, but I love the idea of a gentle alternative that will help, not hurt, the harmony on my face right off the bat. This unique, gentle formula blends microencapsulated retinol (which delivers the ingredient deep into the skin to mitigate surface irritation) and natural retinol alternatives arophira and bakuchiol for a texture-refining, skin-tightening boost.


Approximate savings: $146

Of all the products in my regimen, vitamin C serum is among the most important. It visibly brightens my complexion, helps even out pigmentation from blemishes, and provides antioxidant defense against environmental factors. Vitamin C serums can get extremely pricey, so this one is a breath of fresh air. Like other formulas that combine additional extracts to enhance their efficacy, this one brings in niacinamide, licorice root extract, sodium hyaluronate, and red algae extract.

Approximate savings: $0

Give your skin a collagen boost with this vitamin-packed powerhouse of a serum. I don't typically veer too far from my trusty vitamin C serum, but this one is a worthy detour. It promotes collagen production via vitamin C, peptides, and the anti-aging antioxidant resveratrol. Kiss fine lines goodbye.

Approximate savings: $38

No matter your skincare goals, there's nothing better than a hyaluronic acid boost to get your skin where you want it to go. There are HA serums out there that cost hundreds of dollars, so I love this one for its reasonable price point and ultra-hydrating abilities.


Approximate savings: $17

This lightweight moisturizer is perfect for daytime wear. It's a gel consistency but deeply hydrating with sodium hyaluronate and aloe leaf juice. 

Approximate savings: $152

If you're a fan of thick, luxe moisturizers, this is one you need to try. It's packed with skin-loving ingredients like vitamin E, squalane, and, my favorite ingredient, hyaluronic acid that create a soft pillow of moisture on the skin. When I use it at night, I wake up with supple, hydrated skin.

16 Affordable Skincare Products that Make My Skin Glow



Eye Cream

Approximate savings: $87

It's only recently that I got really serious about eye cream, but now that I know what's up, I'll never turn back. This one employs moisturizing nutrients like olive oil, algae extract, and peptides that all work in tandem to soothe and smooth my under-eyes. There are much pricier options on the market, and while some earn their price tags with impressive active ingredients and other features, this one definitely holds its own.

Approximate savings: $2

More vitamin C, please! This eye gel dries down to a slightly taught coating over the under eyes to make them appear lifted and tightened. On mornings when I'm feeling (and looking) exhausted, this gel helps perk me right up.


Approximate savings: $75

Stop everything and buy this right now. Seriously, it's a must-have! This overnight exfoliating mask contains lactic and glycolic acid, vitamin A, and soothing oils to reveal brighter, more hydrated skin by morning. I'm not joking when I say you'll see the effects of this peel after just one use. I take it with me whenever I travel to keep the miles off my face.

Approximate savings: $35

Thankfully, my days of serious breakouts seem to be behind me (for now), but when I see or feel a one-off zit brewing, I'm quick to hit it with a spot treatment to get it under control quickly. I love that instead of taking the approach of drawing out the impurities with harsh, drying ingredients (which, let's face it, I just can't stop myself from using from time to time), this treatment gel tackles the underlying inflammation with potent plant oils and salicylic acid.


Approximate savings: $38

How can anyone resist a product with the words hydrating and plumping in the name? I know I can't. I love to use a mask like this on an as-needed basis when my skin needs an extra hit of moisture and bounce. Thanks to the plant-based collagen that binds moisture to the skin, that's exactly what this mask does.

Approximate savings: $55

There's nothing better than the pore-cleansing tingle of a good clay mask. It's not something I like to use all the time, but when my skin is feeling even slightly congested, I reach for this kaolin and bentonite clay option. Charcoal also helps to further detoxify and clear all the bad stuff right out of your pores.

Up next, yes, vegan skincare works—these 16 brands are proof.