16 Oct 2017

Budget-Friendly Skincare Review: Best Affordable Skincare For Students


I am writing this special review to put all my skincare items on a fair play ground. Sometimes it is "unfair" to expect a product that costs only a little to deliver a tonne. And it is also "fair" to expect something expensive to give great results. So when I do yearly "beauty awards", I am always stuck between "expensive-but-fantastic products" and "really-cheap-but-very-great" products. So I want to write this special review to share with you guys some of the awesome products that you can find at cheap cheap prices. This will also be helpful of some of the budget-conscious students and working adults who want to enjoy a beauty complexion without breaking their banks! I hope you find this helpful and let's begin with our review!

Full List of Products discussed are as below:


  • A.H.C The Pure Real Eye Cream For Face Season 5
  • A.H.C The Real Eye Cream For Face Season 4
  • Avene Thermal Spring Water
  • Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA++++
  • Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch
  • Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
  • Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++
  • Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
  • Enchanteur Double Moisture Body Serum
  • Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water
  • Hada Labo Arbutin Whitening Face Wash
  • Hada Labo Hydrating Lotion Light
  • Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel
  • Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Lotion
  • Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin
  • Innisfree Green Tea Mineral Mist
  • Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum
  • Innisfree Green Tea Sleeping Mask
  • Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask
  • Innisfree Wine Sleeping Mask
  • Mandom Bifesta Cleansing Sheets
  • Mandom Bifesta Eye Makeup Remover
  • Mise En Scene Perfect Repair Serum
  • Naruko Night Gelly (Rose / Tea Tree / Magnolia)
  • Nature Republic Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel
  • Nature Republic New Soothing & Moisture Aloe Vera Foam Cleanser
  • Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream
  • Petitfee Gold EGF Eye and Spot Patch
  • Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner
  • Pyunkang Yul Mist Toner
  • Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence
  • Senka Perfect Gel
  • Senka Perfect Whip Cleansing Foam
  • Skinfood Black Sugar Mask
  • Skinfood Rice Mask
  • St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub
  • The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%
  • The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
  • The Ordinary Buffet
  • The Saem Urban Eco Harakeke Emulsion
  • The Saem Urban Eco Harakeke Toner



Make-up Remover / Cleansing Oil / Cleansing Water


  • Mandom Bifesta Cleansing Sheets | Full Review
  • Mandom Bifesta Eye Makeup Remover
  • Senka Perfect Gel
  • Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water | Full Review

You don't have to choose expensive makeup remover because they are meant to be washed off your face anyway. My favourite and cheap makeup remover would be Senka Perfect Gel, you can choose the oil or water according to your needs and the amount of makeup you wear. I like how the Perfect Gel helps to melt away all sunscreen and foundation without a trace. A tube like this can last you for 4 months and it is only RM 19.90! Bifesta offers high quality, relatively gentle (although not as gentle as Senka) cleansing effects as well. I am particularly in love with its cleansing sheet and eye makeup remover. And finally the 300ml Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water, a cleansing water for sunscreen and lightmakeup remover that is super gentle, non-drying, effective and CHEAP (RM 20-25). It can last you for 6 months or so using once a day!

Foam Cleanser


  • Senka Perfect Whip Cleansing Foam 
  • Hada Labo Arbutin Whitening Face Wash  | Full Review
  • Nature Republic New Soothing & Moisture Aloe Vera Foam Cleanser

There are many cleansers around RM 15-25 but these three are my favourites. Senka is great for normal and combination skin whereas Nature Republic works best for skin that loves non-drying cleansing experience. You can get this from Hermo at as low as RM 12.50 with sales (buy 2 to get free shipping)! You can also go for Hada Labo if you have sensitive and dull skin for some gentle cleansing effects but at slightly higher price RM 20-25. Again, cleanser is something you rinse off your face so just a gentle one (and cheap one) would be more than enough for your daily need.

Wash-Off Mask / Clay Mask / Deep Cleansing


  • Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask
  • Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

I don't find clay mask necessary but I know many students with acne-prone and pores concern will be interested to learn about clay mask. I think clay mask offers temporary pores clearing solution but anything permanent comes from actives (like AHA, BHA) and better diet. There is a vlogger called Liah Yoo who offers a lot of useful tips on acne-prone skin which I will suggest you to explore. My bf has acne-prone skin and he enjoys clay mask once in a while. Out of all those he tries, Innisfree Jeju Volcanic line would be the most cost-effective. It doesn't have to be the clay mask, it could be the mousse mask or the colour clay. The line has a lot to explore but they are pretty affordable out of all that I have tried. My personal favourite would be the Make P:rem one which is a cleanser and clay mask in one. Finally, you can also read up more on Cosrx BHA Power Liquid for more permanent solution to your pores concern and blackhead. It is also one of the cheapest out there.

Scrub


  • Skinfood Rice Mask
  • Skinfood Black Sugar Mask

No other face scrub is as cheap and as good as Skinfood. You can choose either the rice for brightening or black sugar for sebum control. Both smell great and are gentle enough for all skin types. I have tried many ones from Primera, Innisfree, Natio, and so on but none is as cheap and as good as the Skinfood ones. I will continue to repurchase unless if I have new ones to try.

First Essence / Treatment Essence


  • Secret Key Starting Treatment Essence

First essence is a new skincare step, but it is an essential component of my skincare regime. Not everyone needs first essence if you have functional moisture barrier that can get rid of dead skin cells and renew on its own. First essence functions like an exfoliating toner in my opinion. It can brighten up your skin, enhance cellular renewal, and repair aging-related damages. It is also gentler than exfoliating toner and can help to tackle issues like blemish and hyperpigmentation. I have tried many first essences, from SK-II to Missha. The cheapest one you can try is Secret Key at around RM 50 or less. Missha is your next cheapest yet effective dupe if you cannot find Secret Key at cheap prices. To save your buck, you can also skip toner and just go for first essence to replace your toner and serum steps, especially if you are younger and have less skin concerns.

First Serum


  • Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum
The cheapest first serum awards go to Innisfree. Normally you use this if you have dehydrated and dry skin. It can quench your skin thirst within minutes and make your other products absorb better. It also supplies healthy oil and moisture without any stickiness. Not a must, but a good one to have. You can skip your serum step if you apply this too. It retails for RM 98 in store but you can find it at RM 65-70 at Althea or Hermo. Alternatively, buy the 160ml version at Innisfree outlets when it is available! It is much cheaper that way.

Toner

  • Hada Labo Hydrating Lotion Light
  • Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner
  • Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin
  • The Saem Urban Eco Harakeke Toner

I love toner. I own many toners. There are expensive and cheap ones. Out of all toners I've tried, I think these 5 fulfill the best affordable toner category. Hada Labo is a cult favourite especially this lightweight Light version at roughly RM 45 with discount. You can find Pyunkang Yul at Hermo and Wako Beauty at around RM 50. The rest like Innisfree and The Saem are around RM 50 basket too!

Mist


  • Innisfree Green Tea Mineral Mist
  • Pyunkang Yul Mist Toner
  • Avene Thermal Spring Water

My favourite mist is Laneige Water Bank Mineral Skin Mist. It smells great and feels super refreshing and hydrating on the skin. But that one is expensive. The closest you can get for Laneige is Innisfree's Green Tea Mineral Mist at less than RM 50. Alternatively, local drugstore Avene offers additional soothing benefits whereas Pyunkang Yul can double up as toner, and both are under RM 50!

Eye Cream / Eye Mask


  • AHC The Pure Real Eye Cream For Face Season 5
  • AHC The Real Eye Cream For Face Season 4
  • Petitfee Gold EGF Eye and Spot Patch

It's hard to find eye cream that is gentle, moisturizing with good ingredients. Normally you use eye cream to keep your eyes area hydrated. Eye cream normally doesn't bring any much reparative effects for your fine lines and wrinkles, nor are they helpful against dark circles so the only reason we use an eye cream is to moisturize your eyes area to stop it from getting worse. 

Among all eye creams I use, I fancy A.H.C the most. They are available at RM 50-60 from Qoo10 (and it is authentic) or Gmarket (official store) despite its high price tag in Korea (KRW 55,000). I think they purposely mark the prices high but actually sell them a lot cheaper to reseller or online. Go for the Season 4 if you have drier eyes area and Season 5 for sensitive and oilier skin. Other brands are either too pricey or obsolete.

Petitfee is another good one that you can use to moisturize your eyes area but I personally find them troublesome to use and I always forgot to use them anyway. But for those of you who like eye mask do check the brand out!

Sheet Mask

  • Naruko Sheet Mask
  • Pony Brown Sheet Mask
  • Mentholatum Botanics Sheet Mask

I think the cheapest sheet masks at good quality you can get in Malaysia would be Naruko, Pony Brown and Mentholatum. These are brands you can find in local Watson's, Guardian, and Caring Pharmacy. These do not apply to overseas users who mostly buy their sheet masks online, or have much cheaper options.

Anti-Aging Serum



  • The Ordinary Buffet
  • The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%


Anti-aging serum that works to anti-age are these The Ordinary serums. Buffet contains a number of peptides and amino acids to plump your skin and fill in all the wrinkles and lines whereas Retinoid works to tackle all your signs of aging from the root. Buffet costs around RM 80 whereas retinoid is only about RM 50-60!

Acne Treatment



  • Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch


I wanted to put LJH Tea Tree Essence and Naruko Tea Tree line but those aren't as effective as the Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch when it comes to real breakout. LJH and Naruko reduces the occurrence of acne whereas Cosrx reduces the size and adversity of acne. And it is seriously cheap at only around RM 15! 

Spot Treatment / Brightening Serum



  • The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA


The cheapest spot treatment and depigmentation serum goes to The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2%. It is similar to Kiehl's Dark Spot Solution at only 1/5-1/6 of its price so it is definitely something worth investment if you have freckles and acne scars. You can also check out Cosrx snail products but since I haven't tried that one in full size I don't want to include it here yet.

Moisturizing Serum



  • Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence


Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Power Essence is the cheapest but effective moisturizing serums I have ever used. It is cheaper than Hada Labo, Laneige Water Bank and Innisfree Green Tea. It is very moisturizing without being sticky or overwhelming. You can put up to 5-6 layers without feeling tacky or uncomfortable. Personally I like Innisfree Green Tea better due to its lighter texture and fresh scent but if you are talking about moisturizing serum then it has to be this Cosrx Essence!

Lotion / Emulsion

  • Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Lotion
  • The Saem Urban Eco Harakeke Emulsion

I am not a fan of lotion. Lotion is basically a daily moisturizer that is lighter than cream. It goes after your serum step to seal in all the nutrients and prevent moisture loss. My favourite are these three that cost you around RM 50-60. Innisfree one is more suitable for combination/normal skin whereas The Saem will work best for normal to dry. If you are living in a colder environment then cream would be a better option.

Cream



  • Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream
  • Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel


My favourite cream is Belif The True Cream - Aqua Bomb. Next are Primary Raw Azulene Gel Cream and Blithe Tundra Chaga Pressed Serum. But those are above RM 150, Blithe RM 189, which are very pricey I must say. The closest cheap dupe I can find for Belif would be Hada Labo Water Gel. It is super refreshing and hydrating and is a lot lighter than Belif! However, it is not as moisturizing hence is more suitable for oilier skin type. Nature Republic is another cult favourite at only ~RM 40. This is similar to Biotherm Aquasource Gel but is much moisturizing with a semi-matte finish that oily-combination skin will adore!

Sleeping Mask


  • Naruko Night Gelly (Rose / Tea Tree / Magnolia)
  • Innisfree Wine Sleeping Mask
  • Innisfree Green Tea Sleeping Mask

Well... I actually want to say Laneige Water Sleeping Mask since Althea always does 1+1 daebak sales. But if you are looking at actual prices, then Naruko Night Gelly and Innisfree Sleeping Masks are cheaper at around RM 50. Among all Naruko Night Gelly I have tried, I would recommend rose if you have normal/dry skin, tea tree for acne-prone and oily skin, and finally magnolia if you have dull/mature skin. Innisfree Green Tea works best for combination/oily skin whereas its wine counterpart is great for normal/dry skin.

Sunscreen


  • Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ PA++++
Sunscreen is a must for everyone. You must use a sunscreen even if you don't for brightening serum. It is better prevention than cure. Minimum amount of sunscreen requires for everyone's face is 1/4 tsp (1.23ml), which means a 50ml sunscreen should last you for about 40 days or 20 days if you reapply thorough the day. As such, it makes sense to go for only the affordable (but effective) ones. I tried more than 40 different sunscreens and the best affordable ones I would go for is Biore (RM 25), Cosrx (RM 45), Make P:rem (I got mine at RM 69 for 75ml), and Missha (RM 30+). I think the best (affordable) one remains Biore. You can opt for Hada Labo if there is discount too.

Hair Serum

  • Mise En Scene Perfect Repair Serum

I enjoy Mise en Scene Perfect Repair Serum. It smells great and has just the right consistency to nourish your hair without being too greasy. It also has light, rich, styling, and so on versions for those with different hair concerns. A must try and you can get them at cheap prices from Hermo, Wako Beauty, and Althea.

Body Lotion / Soothing Gel / Body Scrub


  • Nature Republic Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel
  • Enchanteur Double Moisture Body Serum
  • St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub

Again, body lotion, soothing gel, and body scrub are available at affordable prices sometimes so you don't have to get super expensive ones. I love The Body Shop because they offer great texture and scent but I understand that they are much pricier compared to those you can get from local stores Watson's, Guardian, and Caring Pharmacy. Among those I have tried, I love these Nature Republic, Enchanteur and St Ives products the most. They are only below RM 20 (Nature Republic retails for RM 14-15 at Althea and Hermo). St Ives does a great job exfoliating my skin (although this was supposed to be used on face), Enchanteur smells great and it is super moisturizing without being greasy at all. Nature Republic is a cult favourite that I think everyone knows about.

CONCLUSION

Before we conclude, let me define what constitutes "cheap", "budget-friendly" or "affordable" skincare. Basically, it is the below-average price I pay for a product in the same category, so there is no fixed $ for each category. Below are the prices that I think is "affordable" for its respective category. And many of the products mentioned above may not be the "best product of the year" but is definitely the highest cost-performance ones out there.

A guide to "best affordable skincare" range:

Cleansing Gel/Water (Oil tends to be more expensive): RM 20-25
Cleanser: RM 15-25
Toner / First Essence: ~RM 50
Lotion: ~RM 50
Eye Cream: ~RM 50
Serum: ~RM 50-80
Cream: RM 40-50
Mist: RM 20-40 depending on volume
Body Wash: RM 10
Body Lotion/Moisturizer: RM 10-20
Body Scrub: ~RM 15
Scrub: RM 20-25
Sheet Mask: ~RM 5
Sleeping Mask: ~RM 50
Sunscreen: ~RM 30

I was a student before so I know how it feels like to being a student while at the same time planning for your skincare budget. It is like luxurious for us! So do eliminate unnecessary stuffs if you are budget conscious or a student! Knowing your skin type helps a lot too! It will save you time and money experimenting on different products. Buying locally from Watson's, Guardian, Caring (forget about SASA, some of their brands are quite expensive) also save a lot because those tend to be cheaper than imported and lesser-known brands.

Normally students skincare can go like this: cleansing water --> cleanser --> toner --> lotion/cream --> sunscreen. You can add in acne treatment, moisturizing serum, spot treatment, sheet mask, and sleeping mask according to your need.

Well, that's all I want to say about budget-friendly skincare review. I hope you guys find this helpful and I will see you guys in my next post. I will talk about my 2017 Best of Beauty Awards soon so stay tuned for that!


[Disclaimer] All copyright of contents and images in this article is strictly mine.
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