Budget Skincare | UK Pharmacy

Thursday, April 28, 2016

best budget skincare products uk

This rather extensive and exciting post is a collaboration with none other than the wonderfully knowledgeable Binita aka Hidden Harmony World  and together we are bringing to you all the best of skincare available from the pharmacy.

While I take care of the UK side of this, Binita's taking the reigns on reliable brands and effective products available in US which you can read here and also Australia, which will be up later this week...and you can be sure she knows her skincare stuff!!!

I love skincare generally but my heart well and truly lies in discovering the best performing products at the most affordable price points because, let's be honest, not all of us have £30-£40 to spend on each and every skincare product. I will be sharing some of my personal favourite chemist brands and products, products I wish to try, as well as other reliable brands, available on the high street anywhere across the country. My aim is to share the most inexpensive choices out there that contain skin loving ingredients and that actually work. I've avoided brands that might be easily available at the chemist but are priced a little high for my liking, so you can be sure this is budget friendly ;)

best skincare products from Boots and Superdrug
Blurry picture at Boots because the security guard didn't look too happy :-/

Almost all of my choices are from Boots and Superdrug as these are the easiest for me to access on the high street and would be for most. Apart from a few independent chemists and budget stores like Poundland or Savers, I don't personally come across any other places so I've mentioned only what I've used or can get my hands on to try.

This is all presented in the format of a regular skincare routine too so it's easy to navigate through...because it's a long one!


There are so many pleasant and effective cleansers easily available to us that I've had to further divide this section by types of cleansers. 

best affordable skincare products from UK pharmacy highstreet chemist drugstore

Micellar Waters

I never caught onto the trend properly as I found them a bit of a faff step but more recently I have begun to value having a bottle or two of the stuff around. Micellar waters are able to remove even waterproof makeup without drying out the skin, or used after cleansing to get rid of those last stubborn bits of makeup that the eye can't see.

Simple Micellar Water | £4.49 is one of the cheapest and best performing ones I've come across as is the infamous Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water | £4.99 which is a super generous sized bottle too. I'm also enjoying Good Things Acai Berry Multi-Tasking Micellar Water | £4.49 because it does a great job and also smells delicious! Superdrug Vitamin E Micellar Water | £2.99 is great for the face, though I find it does sting my eyes a little. I've yet to try SuperFacialist Probiotic Micellar Cleansing Water | £6.99 and the interesting new release Sanctuary Spa Foaming Micellar Water | £8.

Cream Cleansers

A cream cleanser is great for mornings or as a second cleanse as it cleanses the skin in a gentle way while providing some nourishment. They are designed to break down even stubborn, waterproof makeup and leave nothing on the skin when removed with a warm damp cloth, which helps to exfoliate the surface too.

Soap & Glory Peaches & Clean | £6 is a delicious scented option that comes in a whopping huge bottle (350ml = bargain!) that rids the skin of any grime. Another sweet smelling option is Good Things Manuka Honey Creamy Cleanser | £4.99 that is creamy enough to be massaged all over the face and neck and leaves the face looking radiant. A popular, affordable option is Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser | £3.29 which promises to cleanse deep down without drying out the skin. The most popular of course is Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish | £14 which I have yet to try. A formidable dupe for it comes in the form of No7 Beautiful Skin Hot Cloth Cleanser | £9.95 and one that I'm enjoying using is Superdrug Naturally Radiant Hot Cloth Cleanser | £5.99 which is rich and creamy, infused with plants extracts and leaves the complexion looking brighter though isn't suitable to use in the eye area. I've also previously tried Soap & Glory The Ultimelt Deep Purifying Hot Cloth Cleanser | £10 which I wished was more effective on makeup removal despite being a lovely, deep cleansing treat.

Gel Cleansers

This cleanser is somewhere between a cream and a balm, having the thickness of a cream product and the slip of a balm in clearing the skin of any dirt or impurities and most often these can be washed off with just water or wiped off with a warm damp flannel.

My current favourite is Botanics Hydration Burst Dual Action Cleanser | £5.99 which can be used as a balm and massaged all over the face for a very luscious experience, or mixed with water for a milkier cleanse. Super Facialist Salicylic Acid Purifying Cleansing Wash | review | £7.99 effectively deals with angry skin suffering from breakouts while Super Facialst Neroli Daily Brightening Cleanser | review | £7.99 has a gel texture that I wouldn't use for makeup removal but cleanses the face quickly and effectively. Though not strictly a gel cleanser, I am quite excited by the new Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Cleanser | £8.99 as I've yet to try a mud/charcoal cleanser from a pharmacy brand.

Cleansing Oils

Cleansing oils are a great way to break down makeup quickly and enjoy a facial massage in the process. Personally this is possibly my favourite cleansing method purely because it is so quick and efficient.

I love the light texture of Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Brighten Skin Renew Cleansing Oil | review | £10.99 which smells delicious and leaves the skin clean and bright. Good Things Argan Oil Cleansing Oil | £5.99 is another luscious smelling concoction that is thicker in texture and lovely to use. Although it contains mineral oils, No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Oil | £11 gets the job done and comes with a convenient pump bottle. I know Super Facialist Rose Miracle Makeover Facial Oil | £14.99 is meant to be used to pre-cleanse, but I find it far too lush to wash off (see Facial Oils section).

Cleansing Balms

Cleansing balms are much like cleansing oils but have a solid texture that melt into an oil and are a luscious way to cleanse the skin of any impurities, grime or makeup. I like to use a balm when I really want to treat my skin to a proper pampering routine.

Boots Botanics Organic Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm | review | £8.99 is an affordable gem as its performance is on par with some of the more expensive options. I will soon be picking up Sanctuary Spa Warming Cleansing Butter Balm | £12 as it contains a lovely mix of butters and oils and promises a deep cleanse and a glowing result. 


Gone are the days of harsh, stripping astringent toners and we are now spoilt for choice when it comes to a step that might involve some gentle exfoliation, soothing the surface of the skin or injecting a little moisture back in slowly.

Acid Toners

Growing in popularity are acid toners which gently exfoliate the surface of the skin, replacing harsh manual scrubs with a wipe over of acids that break down old skin cells, encouraging skin cell turnover and reveal brighter fresh skin.

My personal favourite is Nip + Fab Dragon's Blood Fix Cleansing Pads | review | £9.95 which contain salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid and is really gentle and keeps my skin plump and hydrated. I love using Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Extreme Pads | £14.95 a couple of nights a week which is a saturated pad containing 5% glycolic acid that is quick to use and very effective. The regular Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads | £12.95 are also good while being far gentler which makes them a great one to start with if using acid products for the first time, as is Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Pads | £5.75. An interesting offering comes from affordable makeup brand Freedom Studio Glow Tonic | £6 which I've yet to try. It contains many of the same ingredients as the cult classic product bearing the same name, but at a fraction of the price.  

Traditional Toners

These toners are poured onto cotton pads and swiped over the face and neck and help to cleanse the skin further while providing some moisture. I use these on the days when I wish to avoid acid products. They can help to neutralise the skin after cleansing or acid toning too.

Sanctuary Spa Pore Refining Toner | £2.99 is a great one for when I'm feeling extra oily or congested. There's also Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Cleansing & Toning Lotion | £3.59 which has antibacterial properties while unblocking clogged pores. The super inexpensive Boots Traditional Skincare Glycerin & Rosewater | £2.39 promises soft and moisturised skin.

Face Mists

A lovely way to soothe the skin in between steps or for injecting additional moisture any time during the day is to use a face spritz, that delicately applies a mist over the face and leaves the skin refreshed and hydrated.

I love using Superdrug Vitamin E Refreshing Toning Mist | £2.99 which is extremely hydrating and smells like summer. I'd like to try Avene Thermal Water Spray | £7 more for its soothing properties than anything else it claims. A classic is of course La Roche Posay Serozinc | £8.50 which helps to control excess oiliness and keep breakout prone skin clearer. In all honesty, if I was a bigger fan of rose, I would happily spritz my face with rose water to achieve the same hydration and soothing results that any face mist promises.


Another great category for pharmacy brands with a lot of my personal favourites coming from the shelves of our high street chemists. Face masks are a great way to deal with specific skin concerns or to pamper oneself with a lush skin treat. 

top budget skincare options from uk drugstore

Clay masks

These are generally best bought from pharmacy brands as clay is an inexpensive ingredient that works by drawing out impurities from the skin and clearing out the pores.

One that most people try in their teens and grow attached to is Boots Essentials Cucumber 3 Minute Clay Mask | £1.50 which is soothing while dealing with any congestion. Personally I find Super Facialist Salicylic Acid Anti Blemish Clay Mask | review | £9.99 and Good Things 5 Minute Facial Mask | £5.99 to be two of the most effective masks I've ever used, immediately addressing congested skin and breakouts and leaving a fresher looking, smoother complexion. For a more nourishing clay mask there's Nip + Fab Kale Fix Clay Mask | £9.95 which unclogs pores without stripping the skin.

Mud & Charcoal

Quick Fix Facials Anti-Blemish Mud Mask | £4.99 is another great affordable option if you have oily or combination skin while Quick Fix Facials Exfoliating Scrub Mask | £4.99 combines clay and glycolic acid in a granular scrub mask that is really quite effective on congested, oily skin. A luscious yet effective treat comes in the form of Sanctuary Spa 5 Minute Thermal Detox Mask | £10, the warming effect of which makes the whole affair rather more enjoyable. One I wish to try soon is Yes To Tomatoes Clearing Face Mask | £11.99 which is meant to be a deep pore treatment that moisturises the skin while it works away at purifying and decongesting. 

Hydrating Masks

Superdrug has two offerings - Vitamin E Moisture Mask | £2.59 and my personal preference Vitamin E Leave-On Moisture Mask | £2.99, which has a jelly texture and is great after using a clay mask or even layered on and slept in overnight. Nip + Fab Dragon's Blood Fix Plumping Mask | £14.95 can also be used as a quick treatment or overnight and the plumping, hydrating effects are undeniable. I really want to try Super Facialist Rose Intense Moisture Mask | £9.99 which promises a renewed, radiant complexion while hydrating and plumping the skin. 

Mask Packs

Single use masks are always an affordable treat to throw in the basket and 7th Heaven Masks | £1 offer a wide variety of ingredients and formulas to choose from. Since discovering them in my teens, I've yet to outgrow any of the peel-off masks. Superdrug | 49p - £1.29 dish out their own mask sachets too which are very similar to these and equally simple to use. And with sheets masks becoming more and more popular on this side of the world, I was quite excited to see Skin Republic Sheet Masks | £4.99 available here. I've also had Masque Bar | £9.99 on my to-try list for a while now. A super affordable discovery was from Savers, a small health and beauty store specialising in bringing branded goods at a lower price. Azure Internationale Spa offers a Vitamin E and a Collagen facial mask, and at less than £1 (if I remember correctly) they're an ideal skin treat that's easy on the purse-strings.


Although a solid cleansing, toning, serum and moisture routine is usually sufficient to keep my skin happy, every now and then I need a helping hand to deal with specific issues and that's where these additional treatment products come into play.

budget skincare options best affordable products

For breakouts and blemishes the masses cry out for La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+ | £15.50 and there's also the more budget friendly option in Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Spot Wand | £3.59 . I always have a tub or two of Sudocrem | £2.99 around the house as a mother, but sometimes I will resort to putting it on a particularly aggressive spot to calm it down.

To deal with pesky blackheads effectively I've always been a fan of Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips | £7.99 which reveal the most fascinating albeit gross array of goodies blocking up the pores.

When I have any extra dry patches anywhere on the face or body, or a sore nose I like using Superdrug Vitamin E Super Balm | £3.99 or the far more nourishing and protecting Botanics Organic Super Balm | £5.99. Vaseline | £2.19 is a classic concoction that I find more effective in ridding myself of itchiness and flaking skin rather than on my lips.


best budget friendly skincare products

I haven't tried many eye creams in general but two I enjoy using and have repurchased are from chemist brands. I love using Botanics Triple Age Renewal Hydrating Eye Serum | review | £9.99 because it is just that: a light-weight hydrating eye cream that keeps my eye area from becoming dry. I'll be trying Botanics Organic Hydrating Eye Cream | £9.99 next. My other favourite is Super Facialist Neroli Illuminate Eye Cream | review | £12.99 which tightens the eye area and is perfect as part of my morning skincare routine. Yes To Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel | £11.99 is cooling and can help with puffiness. No7 Restore & Renew Eye Cream | £16 promises smoother skin around the eyes while a more potent offering is Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum | £21.69 . When I begin to take my anti-ageing seriously, I'll most likely purchase La Roche Posay Redermic [R] Eyes | £24.50 which Hidden Harmony World herself has recommended to me for the longest time.


This is one area in which skincare pundits always advise splurging on, mainly because you want the best ingredients that penetrate the skin at the deepest levels whilst dealing effectively with your skin concerns. That doesn't mean there aren't any budget friendly options available, as long as you know what you want your serum to do and which ingredients will deliver the best results.

top inexpensive skincare drugstore products

When it comes to anti-ageing there aren't many serums available at a low price point but one of the most popular ones is Olay Regenerist 3 Point Serum | £31.49 which contains niacinamide and what Olay call a concentrated amino-peptide complex which hydrates, firms and reduces lines and wrinkles. I'll be purchasing Super Facialist Neroli Intense Facial Serum | £16.99 soon which contains hyaluronic acid and a skin firming peptide. I'm curious about Yes to Blueberries Intensive Skin Repair Serum | £15.99 which concentrates more on nourishing the skin while dealing with fine lines.

For brightening and evening out the skin tone, I use Boots Botanics All Bright Radiance Concentrate Serum | review | £6.99 for a boost of the skin's natural glow. I am also enjoying the results of the humble appearing Superdrug Naturally Radiant Glycolic Overnight Peel | £5.99 which contains a mix of fruit acids and actually packs a bit of a punch. Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Glow Boost Skin Serum | £16.99 is one I really want to try that claims to even out the skin tone and give a radiant glow. The much pricier Olay Regenerist Luminous Skin Tone Perfecting Serum | £29.99 claims to penetrate 10 layers deep into the skin! Maybe I'll wait till I'm a little older ;)

Onto hydrating serums and I'm currently loving Nip + Fab Dragons Blood Fix Plumping Serum | £19.95 which smells strange but instantly plumps and hydrates my skin. I think of it as a superfood jelly shot for my face. Another one that has the same aspirations is Superdrug Moisture Boost Facial Serum | £3.99 which I prefer using in the daytime as it isn't half as powerful but is great to layer under my moisturiser or oil to ensure my face stays hydrated for longer. On my list to try is Good Things Argan Oil Moisture Boost | £7.99 which promises to nourish while firming the skin.


Quite possibly my favourite of all categories, I love seeking out new facial oils at an affordable price point that contain great ingredients and nourish the skin. They may not necessarily offer other benefits as you might find in more expensive facial oils, such as anti-ageing properties or wrinkle-reduction, but as long as they're feeding my skin with goodness, I'm happy. I mainly look for actual essential oils in the ingredients and steer clear of any mineral oils as I often use these overnight as my last step in my routine.

top drugstore skincare products

For me it all started with Boots Botanics Organic Facial Oil | review | £9.99 and I still love it and use it often. It contains rosehip and leaves the skin looking plumper and feeling smoother throughout the day. It is more nourishing than Botanic Triple Age Renewal Facial Oil although I enjoy using both. Good things Argan Oil Perfecting Facial Oil | £6.99 is another budget friendly option which has a nice ingredients list although it won't change your life. The runny texture and delicious scent are not enough to properly nourish my skin unless I use 2 dropper fulls or add a drop or two of another oil to help give this some oomph. Still, it's a great option if you love layering an oil under your moisturiser and want something without anything nasty in the ingredients. One of my favourites is Super Facialist Rose Miracle Makeover Facial Oil | £14.99 because it is a seriously hydrating, nourishing treat for the skin and the perfect way to end a skincare routine, especially when I've used any acid products. It soothes my skin and injects moisture like no other at this price point. I've recently started using Sanctuary Spa Therapist Secret Facial Oil | £17.50 which is a blend of rosehip, sunflower, wheatgerm, frankincense and rose oils to protect and nourish the skin.


best uk drugstore skincare products

Day Creams

I like to keep my moisturisers cheap and cheerful during the day as I'm constantly washing it off and reapplying or wearing makeup so I'm not too fussed about its properties as long as it keeps my skin hydrated and isn't overly greasy.

I am currently in awe of Botanics Hydration Burst Day Lotion SPF15 | £7.99 which has a light-weight texture but packs a serious moisturising punch. The hydrating effects of this last all through the day and I don't get that skin thirsty feeling ever when using this. Similarly Superdrug Vitamin E Moisturising Cream | £2.99 does a good job and smells delicious too. Strangely I don't find the Vitamin E Intense Moisture Cream to be quite as nourishing on the skin. Olay Total Effects 7in1 Anti Ageing Moisturiser | £14.99 promises to be hydrating, non-pore clogging and all the while restoring the firmness in the skin. In preparation for the summer months, I want to try Good things Miracle Mattifier Lotion | £7.99 which claims to moisturise while absorbing excess oils which is just the kind of concoction I need in my life.

Night Creams

I only started using a designated night cream last year which I suppose isn't a crime since I've been using facial oils in their stead. Either way, I like thick night creams that absorb into the skin, that are of course hydrating and nourishing and that I can feel a slight tack from the next morning.

Botanics All Bright Hydrating Night Cream | £4.99 is great one for younger skins (myself included of course...cheeky!) as is Soap and Glory Beauty Sleep Accelerator Night & Flight Moisture Miracle | review| £13 which smells so yummy and allows me to wake up to beautifully smooth, plumper looking skin. My personal favourite is Super Facialist Neroli Super Lift Night Cream | £16.99 which does everything I want a night cream to do but feels like a luscious treat at the same time. I've yet to try Super Facialist Retinol+ Anti-Ageing Night Cream | £19.99 but I have high hopes.


For almost a decade I was never to be seen without a tube or 2 of Carmex | £2.69 about me, which isn't as nourishing on the lips as I believed back then but does offer relief from dryness. I love Lanolips Lemonade Lip Treatment | £8.99 which hydrates and softens the lips. Burt's Bees | £3.69 has a wide selection of flavours to choose from, all of which are nourishing, hydrating and soothing to use and my personal favourite is Pomegranate. 

Some Other Brands To Try

best skincare purchases from the highstreet drugstore pharmacy chemist

There are some other reliable brands to keep an eye out for with some amazing, effective and beneficial products available online, on the high street and some even at Boots. These tend to be a little pricier but some of their products are incredible and worth a mention. These include:
Antipodes, Embryolisse, PIXI, Hylamide, First Aid Beauty, The Body Shop, Lush, Mario Badescu, Balance Me, Balm Balm, Champneys, Indeed Labs, Trilogy, Caudalie, Bravura London, Merumaya, Emma Hardie, Nuxe, Ren, Melvita...

There are plenty of other amazing health and beauty stores with hidden gems waiting to be discovered and selling branded products at even lower prices all across the country. That just means there is so much more out there for us to discover.

best skincare products for students younger skin

Thank you for staying with me throughout this exhaustive post covering the best of budget skincare here in the UK. I hope you find it helpful in choosing some products that will benefit your skin without breaking the bank.

Please check out Binita's US version right here: Budget Skincare: USA Drugstore and you can expect another exciting instalment in this series in a few days covering all the best of budget skincare available in Australia.

best affordable skincare from drugstore

What are your favourite budget skincare products? Is there anything here that you wish to try? Is there anything you swear by that I need to add to my collection? Let me know!

Sal xxx
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