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My Top 6 Skincare Items (on a budget)

My skin has gone through some weird phases, it has to be said. For as long as I can remember, it’s been oily A.F. I suffered from the usual teenage acne, and each month when that TOTM comes, hormonal acne still rears its painful head. I would say in the last six months to a year, it’s turned more towards combination skin, so finding products that also treat dry patches is still a massive learning curve. (side note – if anyone has any recommendations for combination products, please let me know via insta DMs!

Despite having graduated nearly a year ago, (almost) every single aspect of my financial mindset is DEFINITELY that of a student. (Apart from makeup and a very specific John Frieda shampoo and conditioner set which they seem to be slowly phasing out… 💔) When it comes to skincare, when I find something that works, I stick with it. I think I just happen to be lucky that they’re all under £10 LOL. (Apart from the spot cream which is 1000000% worth the £16 price tag I promise xoxo)  

So without further ado, let’s dive right in. 

1) Garnier SkinActive PureActive 3 in 1 Clay Wash/Scrub/Mask

Price: £3.69 from Boots

Full disclosure, I wear A LOT of makeup. I’m talking primer, a decent layer of foundation, mattifying powder, contour, blush etc. etc. and that’s just my face.  

This Garnier facewash is the ONLY one I’ve found that’s powerful enough to get it all off in one go – It’s a nice creamy texture, and the Zinc extract and the exfoliating beads (made from pumice stone so okay for the environment! 🙌) make my skin feel super clean but not tight. Don’t get me wrong, I love a double cleanse from time to time, but cba on a nightly basis! 

I should say I do also use a Liz Earle cloth from the Hot Cloth Cleanser range as that acts as another helping hand in makeup removal. 

Bit of a nightmare, since COVID-19 this has been sold out EVERYWHERE. I have no idea how or why, but I’m siphoning my last bit for as long as I can whilst I’m going makeup free while WFH, so that brings me onto my ‘honourable mention’ of the list…

Honourable mention: 

Neutrogena Clear & Defend Facial Scrub

Price: £4.99 from Boots

Whilst mourning the lack of Garnier 3-in-1, I came across this facial scrub. I was a bit sceptical as I had flashbacks to 16 year old me, trying every single bloody Neutrogena product under the sun, them not working and then wondering why I couldn’t be as carefree, spot free and happy as the smiling “teens” (👀) in the adverts. 

BUT, I looked at the ingredients and for the price, I thought why not? I’m not really wearing makeup that much while WFH (thank god for the ability to turn the camera off on Google Hangouts), but OBVIOUSLY I still want to wash my face, and this seems to be doing the job (touch wood?). 

The consistency is a bit thinner and more gel-like than Garnier’s 3-in1, but it’s oil free and the exfoliating beads are also made from cellulose which again, isn’t bad for the environment (I think…). It also smells nice, lightly sort of medicinal, but I don’t think it would do the job with a full face of makeup. (Have you tried Estee Lauder’s Double Wear? That is not coming off for love nor money.) 

2) The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser 

Price: £5.50 from Cult Beauty

I bought this on a whim when I was looking for stuff that was a bit more suitable for combination skin. Another side note – I LOVE Cult beauty for their huge range of brands and their Cult Beauty Edits section! I feel like a proper beauty/skincare nerd but it’s so interesting. 

Anyway, back to the cleanser – according to the Cult website, I use this wrong (LOL). You’re supposed to rub the cleanser in your palms to warm it until it melts into an oil, then massage into dry skin and rinse with warm water. I feel really triggered and weird if I apply any kind of cleanser to a dry face (don’t ask me why, I have no idea) so I just ignored those instructions… 🤪

I only use this cleanser after I’ve been for a run or had a workout (whenever my face is sweaty basically…) and I use it on damp skin when I’m in the shower. It goes into a kind of creamy foam which feels really gentle on your skin, but at the same time feels like it’s working hard and doing a decent job. Afterwards my skin feels clean and soft, which I assume is due to the squalane itself. 

3) Garnier SkinActive PureActive Matte Control Anti Blemish Face Moisturiser

Price: £7.39 from Boots 

As many others that are blessed (cursed?*) with oily skin will know, it is SO HARD to find a moisturiser that doesn’t make your skin feel more oily and cause you to  break out in spots. 

Another winner from Garnier, this moisturiser is a little bit expensive for the amount you get, but I have to say it’s SO worth it. It’s a small tube but you don’t need loads of product to feel the payoff, and it really does do what it says on the tin. It reduces shine completely (so unheard of in the moisturiser department!) and makes pores appear smaller/more ‘blurred’. 

It smells nice and ‘clean’, not too heavily scented and the texture is a cooling gel. It has Airlicium (I have no idea either) and Salicylic Acid (I know and I LOVE) which really helps skin to feel moisturised but not break out. The only note I’d add to this is that it doesn’t work too well under my makeup, so I tend to use it at night as it soaks in pretty quickly. 

*Also JK, my oily skin is annoying at times but apparently we’ll show signs of ageing less quickly than others… #win

4) Revolution Skincare Colloidal Silver Serum 

Price: £9.95 from 

On the home stretch and we’re onto serums now! I’ve loved Revolution ever since they appeared on the makeup scene, and the moment that they broke into the skincare game, I was hooked. 

The Colloidal silver serum is the first of two serums on this list, and is described as a blemish defence serum. In other words, I use this when my skin is behaving itself to try and maintain the good skin days!

I find it really helps to condition and smooth my skin, but I think I’m (over)generous with my application as I always go a touch red afterwards! This doesn’t have a scent to it, I’ve not tried it before makeup, only ever before bed, but I think depending on what foundation you use, it might work well… 

5) The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum

Price: £5.00 from Cult Beauty

The Ordinary has made another appearance as the fifth and final product that I can’t live without. I love this product because it feels SO full of #goodness. 

I apply this when it’s that TOTM or when my skin is playing up for whatever reason. The Zinc regulates oil production and reduces blemish causing bacteria, and with a couple of days’ use, my skin feels calmer and more even. I apply this at night (always) – it does take a while to fully soak in, and sometimes feels a tiny bit sticky, but it’s a v.small price to pay for such a great product. 

I cannot get over the PRICE. Living in London, it’s rare you get anything for a fiver, let alone a brilliant skincare product – I highly recommend this if you’re just starting out into the world of serums as it’s pretty easy to apply, has no scent and the bottle lasts for ages. 

6) Balance Me Congested Skin Serum 

Price: £16.00 from Birchbox

Okay, so this product is waaay more expensive than the rest (sorry) but I couldn’t let it go without a mention. I got it as a Birchbox sample a few years ago and I thought it was incredible.

It works SO well on my hormonal acne (i.e. painful red lumps that never come to a head) – if I’ve applied it in the morning, even by the end of the day my skin has calmed down. 

You can apply this all over but I only use it for specific spots themselves. Usually, I’m not convinced at all by “natural” ingredients (chemicals work for a reason, y’know…) but this has gone a long way to changing my mind. It smells AMAZING with woody and floral notes and is super light when you apply it – you barely need any product at all for it to make a difference. 

If like me you only plan to use it for lone spots themselves, the price tag is definitely worth it! 

So there we have it! My top 6 skincare products on a budget, with an honourable mention to Neutrogena. If you want to know more about any products, just let me know on insta or email me! Soon I’ll do a post on my top 5/6/10/20,000 makeup products because I’m even more obsessed… 

Thanks for reading! 



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