Aside from my new found passion for plants, my first passion was skincare. Afterall, I am a Licensed Esthetician. Working in this industry, I have learned many things outside the textbook. Product knowledge is a huge one! Typically, I work in medical spas rather than day spas. And with that comes knowing several expensive skincare lines. These lines are not the typical luxury skincare lines you can find at Nordstrom or your high end department store. These are medical grade, clinical products that you can only find in a doctor’s office. One main concern I hear from my clients is how expensive these products are. The question that is always asked is if there are any affordable, low cost skincare products that perform just as well, if not better. I’ve compiled a list of the best budget friendly, drugstore skincare dupes that you can switch out for expensive, medical grade products without compromising the performance of the product.
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Obagi360 Exfoliating Cleanser vs Neutrogena Hydro Boost Exfoliating Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid
Obagi360 Exfoliating Cleanser ($39.00) works to scrub away dead skin cells to promote healthy cell growth, maintain an even complexion, minimize fine lines and wrinkles and invigorate dull skin. This product is gentle enough to use daily for all skin types.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Exfoliating Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid ($9.99) works just as well for more than half the price! Common problems with drugstore products is that they have a tendency to strip away the natural oils of your skin. I find that this cleanser does not. Exfoliate away the dead skin while maintaining hydration in the skin with Hyaluronic Acid.
I have personally used both of these products and honestly, in a blind test, I would not be able to tell the difference. They both have tiny beads that break up make-up and oil all while gently exfoliating my skin, leaving me with a refreshed complexion. I personally would recommend using this product in the shower while your skin is soft and pores are opened for a deep cleanse.
Revision Soothing Facial Rinse vs Thayers Witch Hazel with Lavender
Revision Soothing Facial Rinse ($33.00) is a calming alcohol free toner that refreshes your skin after cleansing. This toner will keep your skin balanced, moisturized and nourished with a blend of antioxidants.
Thayers Witch Hazel with Lavender ($10.99) is the most common, if not the best, drugstore skincare dupe out there for toners. It is a natural botanical skin toner that cleanses and moisturizes the skin without leaving your skin tight. Lavender will calm irritated, inflamed skin to reduce redness and oil production.
More often than not, I recommend all my clients get Thayers Witch Hazel. It is inexpensive and probably the best toner I have used. During days when I am just lounging around at home without any makeup, I often will put some of the witch hazel on a cotton ball to refresh my skin throughout the day. I am acne prone and I find that the lavender in this product helps reduce redness of any blemishes that pop up.
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Obagi Professional C Microdermabrasion Polish + Mask vs M-61 Vitablast C Scrub & Mask
Obagi Professional C Microdermabrasion Polish + Mask ($83.00) is gold in a jar. This 2 in 1 product not only exfoliates dead skin but it also acts as an at-home mask. Formulated with 30% Vitamin C, this polish + mask heals damaged skin, lifts hyperpigmentation and leaves the skin with a healthy glow.
M-61 Vitablast C Scrub & Mask ($44.00) is a very similar 2 in 1 product that is half the cost. Formulated with Vitamin C and E, this product will not only buff away dead skin cells, but it will also protect your skin from environmental stressors. Though it may not be your typical drugstore price, this is a great second option for those looking for drugstore skincare dupes.
If I had to pick one or the other, I would hands down pick the Obagi Professional C Polish + Mask. It is my holy grail product! For the extra cost, I do believe it is worth it. There is a lot of product in the jar that will last a long time and, with my own personal experience, I have seen dramatic results when I use this product. Because I have acne prone skin, I often breakout with blemishes that scar almost every time. This polish has lifted the damaged pigmented skin leftover from that blemish leaving me with a more even complexion.
Image Clear Cell Medicated Acne Masque vs The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque
Image Clear Cell Medicated Acne Masque ($34.00) is formulated with 2% Salicylic Acid. Salicylic Acid targets the oil production in our pores by drawing out impurities and drying up blemishes. This is a potent masque that should only be used sparingly throughout the week. Using this product too often for too long can cause some minor irritations. Believe me, it has happened to me before.
The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque ($12.00) is also formulated with key ingredients such as Salicylic Acid, Charcoal and Kaolin Clay to combat your facial needs. This product aims to improve skin clarity and smoothness. This masque should only be used for those who are oily and acne prone.
If you have the extra money to splurge on the medical grade version, I would always suggest that. However, The Ordinary’s products are excellent drugstore skincare dupes that will do the job just as well. Please remember to use a mask only one to two times a week. If you are sensitive, these masks are not for you.
iS Clinical Hydra-Intensive Cooling Masque vs glo Skin Beauty Soothing Gel Mask
iS Clinical Hydra-Intensive Cooling Masque ($85.00) delivers powerful hydration while providing a refreshing, cooling sensation. This masque is ideal for all skin types, especially sensitive, dehydrated skin. What I like most about this masque is that it is great to use at home after an intense in-office treatment or even after a sunburn.
glo Skin Beauty Soothing Gel Mask ($44.00) is a very similar post procedure gel mask. Refreshing cucumber soothes and hydrates the skin all while reducing puffiness, redness and skin irritation. Just another amazing product to use after an intense treatment or sunburn. This product may not be available at drugstores, however you are able to purchase it here or at a local salon/spa.
As a professional, I have used both of these products in the treatment room. These are my go to products when a client comes to me with sensitive, dehydrated skin. If throughout the treatment a client has a reaction, both of these products immediatly take down the redness and bring the skin back to normal. I highly recommend both products to keep in your home for those days when your skin is begging for a pick-me-up.
Biopelle Tensage Radiance Eye Cream vs COSRX Advanced Snail Peptide Eye Cream
Biopelle Tensage Radiance Eye Cream ($87.00) has a very unique ingredient that makes it unlike most eye creams on the market. This product is formulated with snail eggs which has been found to dramatically diminish the signs of aging. This eye treatment does it all. It improves puffiness, dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles.
COSRX Advanced Snail Peptide Eye Cream ($28.00) Just by the name, it sounds like this product is very similar to Biopelle. Which it is in many ways. This product is formulated with 80% snail mucin that decreases puffiness, produces collagen, eliminates dark circles and restores hydration around the delicate eye area. All of this at a fraction of the price makes this a great option for best drugstore skincare dupes.
I really do enjoy the idea of both products and they both seem to work well. Biopelle does have one advantage- which is that it has a light tint to the cream. This is an added bonus as it can act as a cover up or primer for under the eyes. The only downfall to the tinted eye cream is that it is not necessary for at night.
Image Vital C Hydrating Anti Aging Serum vs Mario Badescu Hydro Moisturizer with Vitamin C
Image Vital C Hydrating Anti Aging Serum ($72.00) Although this product is labeled as a serum, in reality, this product is the perfect moisturizer for all skin types. Key ingredients such as Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid give your skin that drink of water it needs everyday. This is Image Skincare’s #1 selling serum and for good reason. It smells amazing too!
Mario Badescu Hydro Moisturizer with Vitamin C ($18.00) We have all heard pro’s and con’s about Mario Badescu. I’ve never had any issues with their products and I do recommend them as drugstore skincare dupes. This formula is lightweight so it is great for oily skin. If you are looking for a moisturizer that can improve skin tone, protect from free radicals and restore hydration at a budget friendly price, then this is the product for you!
It seems silly considering how amazing both products are, but I would prefer Image Vital C Hydrating Anti Aging Serum over Mario Badescu Hydro Moisturizer with Vitamin C. There is not a specific reason why besides the fact that with my background, I tend to vote for medical grade, clinical products. I’ve even got my husband hooked on the Image Vital C Serum (SHH! Don’t tell him I said that!). The studies and science behind medical grade products show that there are overall better long term results when it comes to skin health.
EltaMD UV Replenish SPF 44 vs Coola Organic Face Sunscreen SPF 50
EltaMD UV Replenish SPF 44 ($33.50) If you know anything about taking care of your skin, then you know that daily sunscreen application is an absolute must! EltaMD is tried and true. They have a wide range of products for normal/dry to oily/acne skin that includes tinted and non tinted versions. UV Replenish is great option for all sky types with a high SPF.
Coola Organic Face Sunscreen SPF 50 ($32.00) is another fantastic option for all skin types. I like that this product does not feel heavy on the skin as some other sunscreens do. This is lightweight, sheer and looks amazing under makeup.
As you can see, the price points on both these products are very close. If I had to recommend one product for daily sunscreen use, I would probably recommend EltaMD. They have so many different sunscreens all at different SPFs and tints. Although, Coola is right up there for the best drugstore skincare dupes.
Best Drugstore Skincare Dupes
Phew. You made it to the end! Did you survive? I barely did. When it comes to skin health, please make sure you are using quality products that are safe. I have heard horror stories of products causing severe irritations and reactions to someone because they weren’t quite sure what they were using. Remember: quality over quantity! Sometimes cheaper is not better and vice versa. If you have any questions, I highly encourage you to reach out to me!