The 11 Affordable Skincare Brands That Actually Work

Up until a few years ago there was a major misconception that good quality skincare products had to be expensive. Some skincare experts say that expensive products are pricey for a reason, whereas others swear by the affordable dupes of skincare classics. 

The thing is, if you know a thing or two about product development, you'll know expensive really doesn't always equal effective. Often the factors that bump up product prices are things like marketing and distribution costs, clinical trials for new ingredients, fancy packaging, and long ingredient lists. This means that if a brand is prepared to cut down on a few of these costs - for example using minimal packaging, keeping ingredient lists small, and using ingredients that have already been tested, they can offer up more affordable products to you, the customer.

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(Image credit: @CHRISSYFORD)

In recent years, this has been exactly what's happened, and following the launches of affordable skincare brands like The Ordinary, Beauty Pie, and The Inkey List, it's become much easier to balance product efficacy with a tight budget. If you're looking for the best affordable skincare brands, keep scrolling.

1. Byoma

Based on the principle that a strong and healthy skin barrier is beneficial to all skin types and concerns, Byoma simplifies skincare with its capsule collection of barrier-boosting skincare products. The range prides itself on high-performance, clinical formulas that put the focus back on you and your skin's most basic functions. 

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2. Beauty Pie

While some affordable skincare brands might have to scrimp on certain ingredients or packaging, Beauty Pie cuts its costs elsewhere. Through the brand's membership scheme (£10 a month or £59 for the year), you can get your hands on high-end formulas for a fraction of the price. By cutting out 'the middle man' (this includes advertising and distribution to retailers), Beauty Pie can provide skincare that rivals products ten times its price. 

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3. Versed

Versed is living proof that you can do affordable and results-driven skincare without compromising on the claims that skincare shoppers care about (sustainable, vegan, and cruelty-free). The brand only launched four years ago, but the range is already full of hero products in #shelfie-worthy packaging that won't max out your credit card.

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4. The Inkey List

So you're already clued up on the must-have ingredients for your skin type, but you haven't got the time to go searching for them in every skincare product you see? Meet The Inkey List - the brand's affordable but effective products hero ingredients you already know and love, like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides.

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5. CeraVe

This developed-by-dermatologists brand has a cult following in the U.S., and has proven just as popular in the U.K. thanks to its hard-working formulas and low price points. In fact, it's highly unlikely that you'll ever hear a bad word being said about this line of skin barrier–strengthening products. They're beloved by estheticians, beauty editors, and skincare bloggers alike, so if you're on the hunt for expert-approved products on a budget, look no further.

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6. The Ordinary

This game-changing brand was the first to introduce single-ingredient skincare products, which not only changed our skincare routines but also how we consume products in general. If you're wondering how something so cheap can still be effective, don't be concerned - minimal ingredient lists and basic packaging are what keep these prices low. The ingredients themselves are just as good quality as those you'll find in their more expensive counterparts. 

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7. La Roche-Posay

Whether you've got dry skin, breakout-prone skin or anything in between, this classic French pharmacy brand has got you covered. The targeted and affordable skincare line has long been a favourite with beauty insiders, and in recent years, cult products like the Cicaplast Baume B5 have found new fame on TikTok - for very good reason. 

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8. By Beauty Bay

Beauty retailer Beauty Bay first launched its own skincare brand back in 2020, a capsule collection of skincare basics designed to take the hard work out of building a skincare routine. Like The Ordinary and The Inkey List, the brand shines the spotlight on its trending ingredients - think cica, azelaic acid, and squalane - but makes it easy to figure out what's best for your skin type.

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9. Revolution

Although it's better known as a makeup brand, Revolution has an impressive collection of skincare products, none of which cost more than £16. Most recently, they collaborated with beauty editor Sali Hughes to launch a line of premium-quality but super-affordable skincare essentials. If you're looking for skincare that doesn't break the bank, then join the many diehard users who've been fans of the products for years. 

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10. E.l.f.

With four skincare collections, each designed to target a different skin concern, e.l.f. is fast becoming one of our go-to brands for budget-friendly skincare. With all the basics covered - cleansers, serums, masks, and moisturisers - you'll find everything you need to build a super effective skincare routine for under £50.

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11. The Body Shop

The Body Shop was one of the first brands to bring affordable but effective beauty products to the masses, and their skincare range continues to be a go-to for those who want premium-quality products, minus the price-tag. Vegan, cruelty-free, and packed with botanical extracts, the products draw their benefits from some of nature's best ingredients.

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This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated. 

Freelance Beauty Editor

Grace Day is a beauty editor and content creator. She has over 10 years of beauty-industry experience, spanning editorial, retail, and e-commerce, which gives her a unique understanding into how people shop for their beauty routines.

While studying for a history degree (specialising in the history of beauty) and working as a beauty adviser in department stores, Grace started writing her own beauty blog in order to share the products she discovered while dealing with acne. After graduating, she moved to Beauty Bay as beauty editor and content manager. Grace is currently a beauty contributor to Who What Wear. She has also written for Hypebae and PopSugar and works as a brand consultant and copywriter.