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My 4-Part Philosophy For Spending On Skincare

I’ve always been a beauty junkie, but my love for all things beauty is often at odds with my minimalist lifestyle and penny-pinching tendencies. The eternal dilemma that I face is a compulsive need to add new and exciting products to my skincare regimen but also keeping to a small budget. It is my goal to have the luxury to experiment with products, all while ensuring that everything I get actually works and are value-for-money.

While I’m generally a drugstore girl for makeup, I like to invest in quality skincare products that will keep my skin hydrated and my wrinkles at bay. However, expensive doesn’t equate to better. Over time, I’ve learned to shop with a few guiding principles in mind in order to keep my beauty addict impulses at bay while maintaining flawless skin:

1. Stick to safe choices for moisturizer

I find that sticking to a safe choice for moisturizer sets the stage for the rest of my skincare regimen. Moisturizers do not need to be complicated. I look for simple, fragrance-free emollient products that soothe and hydrate my skin. Bonus if they contain hyaluronic acid (see the Indeed Labs Hydraluron for an amazing booster product).

Some of my favorites are formulas dedicated to eczema-prone skin or for babies, as they are gentle and calming for the skin — something I find really helpful to protect my skin barrier and keep my skin in good shape all year round. Some favorites include Aveeno, Physiogel, and Curel.

2. Beauty sets for treatments

For the rest of my skincare regimen, which can contain things like toners, acid peels, vitamin c serums, retinoids and clay masks, I let myself indulge in a rotation of products.

One way I let myself indulge in my obsessive need to try new “holy grail” or “cult-status” products is to get the Sephora Skin Wonderland set. Getting a skincare set with various best-selling products is also a time-efficient way to try the best products without falling into the hole (while enjoyable for a beauty junkie like me) of endless research into comparative reviews of various products. Otherwise, if I know and like a particular brand, I’ll try and spring for their gift sets on an annual sale.

Tip: When looking to purchase a value set, I make sure to look carefully at what exactly the set contains (and how much of it!). I tend to avoid sets which include too many cleansers and try to find those which include more serums or treatments (more value for money). I also want to make sure that any full-size product included is something I really want.  

3. Incorporating a multi-purpose oil in my routine

My skincare routine usually involves basic moisturizer (as noted above), a treatment product at night (retinol-based or vitamin c), and a face oil on top to lock it all in. I also include AHAs or BHAs once or twice a week to get a deep exfoliation. I am careful to stick to the photo-sensitizing ingredients at night and to use sunscreen during the day. The face oil really helps to lock everything in and tends to make my skin calmer and less sensitive to the treatments I use.

My preferences are for jojoba oil (very stable and non-comedogenic) or argan oil (I like to get mine on Amazon or Iherb). I also routinely use them mixed with conditioner for an intensive hair mask (slightly heated in the microwave is amazing) or mixed with body lotion when my skin needs the extra boost. Both are also great as cuticle treatments. You can also mix oil with your foundation if you like a dewy glow. On heavy makeup days, I use the oil as a first cleanse to dissolve all my makeup before reaching for my cleanser. The options are endless!

4. Shop strategically geographically

The K-Beauty trend has picked up tremendous momentum in the past few years. However, these products are often significantly marked-up in the United States. This is a universal practice. Brands will be cheaper at their place of origin. For instance, Bioderma is much more affordable in France.

In this regard, it is helpful to check out Asian beauty sites (for instance Wishtrend, Yesstyle, Sokoglam) and take advantage of their sales. These specific Asian beauty sites will usually be cheaper than mainstream beauty stores since they have a targeted product list and customer base. In addition, more and more Asian brands are offering international shipping, and it is sometimes better to buy directly from the brand and to also take advantage of any loyalty deals. It is also worthwhile to have things shipped to a friend or relative who lives in the region and get them from your friend/relative at a later date when you meet-up.

Ultimately, it is always helpful to do your research. Get educated on skincare ingredients (I recommend CosDNA) and look at reviews before you purchase anything (look at Sephora and Makeupalley). Tip: filter reviews according to age, skin type, and most recent (formulas sometimes change over time) to get a complete picture of what may work for you.

Ally G. updates her beauty blog regularly with product reviews and recommendations. She spends an abnormal amount of time browsing cat memes on the internet and channels the rest of her creative energy in writing dystopian fiction available on Amazon.   

Image via Unsplash

  • Alyssa

    I think we’re skincare twins! I have the same beliefs and practice practically the same routine (alternating retinol or vitamin c at night, moisturizer on top) and actually just bought the Sephora Skin Wonderland with my VIB 20% discount this week. I’m going to check out your blog!

    • PalePinkBeauty

      💓💓💓 yes!! So excited to receive mine this year! Hope the Luna is good 🙂

  • Erika Atkins

    Hey Ally!

    Love your philosophy on Skincare! Especially the fact that hyaluronic acid products gets a bonus 😛

    I had a question for you, how do you choose when to use a retinol or vitamin C based product for your treatment part of your routine?

    Also, have you had a chance to check out http://www.skincarisma.com? It analyses skincare products just like CosDNA, but also shows when ingredients have notable effects, like acne-fighting, brightening and anti-aging! Serious worth checking out 🙂

    • PalePinkBeauty

      Thanks for the recommendation! Always good to have additional sites to cross reference. I tend to rotate retinol and vitamin c every few months. Once I start using a new vitamin c product, I aim to use it up as quickly as possible since they don’t tend to store / keep well. I find retinol to be good for general anti ageing and vitamin c good at brightening and treating pigmentation, hope this helps 🙂

  • Melyn Bellatti

    Have u tried Illumaboost? This Vit C is packaged correctly. It is 40% stronger than skinceuticals. The price is good also

    • PalePinkBeauty

      The packaging sounds really promising, I’ll be sure to check it out thanks Melyn 🙂

  • Abby

    Do you happen to know what products should be used at night due to photo sensitivity besides retinol? Thanks!

    • Alyssa

      I’m not OP, but I’d say Vitamin C is best at night too unless you wear it under SPF. It’s a lightening agent so will make your skin very sensitive otherwise.

      • PalePinkBeauty

        Agreed! Vitamin C, AHAs and BHAs, benzoyl peroxide are common ones, generally products that aim to brighten exfoliate or treat acne may cause increased sun sensitivity. I wear sunscreen daily to be safe 🙂