Budget Friendly Beauty Buys Your Face Will Thank You For This Winter

If you're like most people, them it's highly likely that taking care of your skin this year was right up there with nutrition, fitness, and mental health as one of your top New Year's resolutions. And why wouldn't it be? Skincare is one of the areas that I'm betting a lot of us could be doing a better job of, myself especially. I get it. You come home tired and exhausted at the end of a long work day and don't even want to think about standing in front of the mirror for a half hour removing makeup, exfoliating, cleansing, applying serums creams. You're still trying to decide if you want to make the effort of actually cooking something for dinner or ordering takeout, for crying out loud! Maybe you just survived the intense all-day and all-night slog that is midterms week and are lucky that you remembered to take breaks to feed yourself let alone apply moisturizer (I've been there). You're a full-time student with a full-time job and a hustle on the side. The bottom line? You are a busy woman with a million-and-one things going on who just doesn't have the time or the energy to add an intensive skin care regimen to the end of each day. 

I hear you, girl.

Finding time for skincare can be hard, and for many of us adopting a crazy 8-step a.m. and p.m. skincare regimen isn't really a realistic expectation for our lifestyles. Not to mention that it's not exactly easy on the bank account. There are, however, small changes that we all can make and products we can integrate into our daily routines that will make a huge impact on skin health and go a long way towards treating your face with a bit more kindness. I confess that I have never really done a good job of thoroughly cleaning my skin, and moisturizer was practically unheard of. In college especially it was often just a makeup removing wipe and then bed for me. Whoops...

That all is about to change, though. Having resolved to start taking better care of my skin and in trying out different products over the last few months, I have come to learn that finding a good toner and making sure to always moisturize before bed and before putting on makeup are essential. You have to do it. Just adding these steps has made a noticeable difference in the look and feel of my skin, it's insane. And these are things that are quick and easy to do! Honestly, the most annoying part is getting my face in the sink to cleanse it (which is something most of you, even the busiest of girl bosses, are doing every day anyway). The added steps of applying a toner and moisturizing are no big deal in comparison. Bonus points are awarded if your moisturizer includes SPF, another daily skincare must, however there are many makeup products out there now that include SPF so if you regularly wear foundation you have options for staying covered in the sun protection department, at least for winter. I would definitely double down on sunscreen in the summertime!

 With these things in mind, I'd like to share with you guys today some of my favorite products (so far) that have basically saved my face from total annihilation this winter. I still haven't tried a ton of different skincare products yet, and there are at least a dozen others I want to try out once I make my way through what I currently have, but I want to share my experience with the products I have tried so far. I've been loving a lot of these products this winter, in part because they are pretty affordable in comparison to many high-end products and thus totally friendly to my barista budget, but also because many of them are harsh chemical and cruelty free. Continue reading below to check them out!

Sugar Lips Polishing Scrub

For whatever reason, this fall and winter have been the worst seasons for my lips ever. They are dry, lined, and cracked all the time and need constant chapstick (I have lip balm all over the apartment and in all my purses and bags). That's where this sugar lip scrub from Skinn Cosmetics comes in (UPDATE: Unfortunately Skinn has discontinued this product but it's been replaced with a similar one here). It can be used to scrub and exfoliate your lips up to twice a week and helps remove all the dry and peeling skin cells from your poor chapped lips. It's hands-down been a lifesaver. It's made with a sugar and butter blend and has a warm, slightly tingly sensation when you use it. Depending on how chapped your lips are it may still take a week or two of scrubbing to completely eliminate the flaked and dead skin, but your lips will definitely be a bit smoother and more polished afterwards. Just don't forget to apply some sort of lip balm or treatment (see below). A pot is about $20 and should definitely last you a while!

Hanalei Lip Treatment

I got a sample of the rose-tinted Hanalei lip treatment in one of my Ipsy bags and while it's a little weird to apply (there isn't really an applicator on the sample size so you have to squeeze some out of the tube and then use your finger to rub it into your lips) it leaves your lips nice and moisturized while also providing a pretty rose-colored tint. The Hawaiian lip treatment is created using oils that are rich in antioxidants like agave and grape seed oil in addition to the nourishing kukui oil Hanalei is known for. Even better, the formula is paraben and cruelty free and makes a great follow-up to the lip scrub above. A full-sized tube will run you about $20.

Privai Matte Moisturizer

This matte moisturizer from Privai is another beauty sample that I received and I really like how light it feels and smells. Some moisturizers feel like they leave a weird film or residue on the surface of your skin but not this stuff! When I don't use a night cream (more on that below) this moisturizer is my go-to choice. It's an oil-free moisturizer, which is perfect since I tend to have oily skin, and also employs Vitamins A, C, E, sage extract. and grapefruit peel extract to help repair skin blemishes. Did I mention it also has anti-bacterial properties? It's one of the more expensive products on this list at $30, but it's a really great product and definitely worth it if you're willing to splurge a little bit.

First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser

I have been hearing a lot more about First Aid Beauty lately so I decided to try out their facial cleanser. When I first tried this cleanser I thought it was weird; it is supposed to be scentless but has a smell that sort of resembles the smell of baby skin (which I know sounds really weird but I can't really think of another way to describe it). It also doesn't foam up at all or leave any sort of sensation on your skin like many others that I've tried. It's SO gentle on your skin that as you're washing your face you're sort of looking at yourself in the mirror like um, is it working? 

You bet it's working.

All you have to do is look in the sink to see all of the dirt and grime come right off your face, it's like magic. Afterwards my skin feels smooth and tight as if I just exfoliated it, it's weird how such a gentle cleanser does so much. This formula is infused with a blend of botanical antioxidants as well as special pH-balancing properties that work to maintain your skin's natural acidity and reduce redness and skin irritation. If you have particularly sensitive skin this cleanser will definitely be for you. I will likely repurchase this once I get through the mini size that I have, I'm really impressed with it. The standard size is about $20 but you can also get a larger size for $32 and the mini for $10 if you just want to try it out.

Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic

I've talked about this glow tonic before, but it's seriously one of my favorite beauty products ever (I recently realized Pixi has a new rose tonic out now and I can't wait to try it). It's incredibly simple and quick to use. After washing your face, simply dampen a cotton pad with this Pixi glow tonic and sweep it across your eyes and neck. Done. It's a really simple step to add to your routine and doesn't take too much extra time or effort. It's girl boss approved! Even after you've removed your makeup and cleansed your skin this toner continues to clean your skin, exfoliating it and pulling off even more dirt, grime, and dead skin cells. It's alcohol free and gentle enough to not sting much if you have acne sores, plus it's also infused with aloe vera, ginseng, and botanical extracts to nourish your skin and provide a nice glowy complexion. It's my favorite skincare step, and has a nice fresh floral smell. Just like any exfoliant, your skin will feel a little tight and dry afterwards so be sure to finish with moisturizer. A bottle goes for $15-$29 depending on the size.

e.l.f. Nourishing Night Cream

This is the first night cream that I've ever tried, and for only $12 a jar I think this e.l.f. night cream is a pretty good value. It's paraben, sulfate, and phthalate-free and does the job of soaking into your skin and moisturizing a little more deeply than a regular daytime moisturizer. It's worth noting that a small amount of this cream goes a long way. If you over-apply this product it will leave a shine on the surface of your skin and also leave your skin feeling a bit oily when you wake up in the morning. I would say it's a perfectly decent night cream for a girl on a budget, but it's not a fantastic one. This became apparent to me when I got a sample from Sephora of Philosophy's Renewed Hope In A Jar moisturizer and all I can say about it is wow. I applied it for a couple nights in a row (I think it's a more generalized daily moisturizer and not specifically a nighttime cream but it served the purpose just fine) and it left my skin feeling and smelling amazing. The only kicker is that a jar of the Renewed Hope will run you about $39 for 2oz and a crazy $65 for 4oz, so when you compare it to the e.l.f. Nourishing Night Cream at $12 for 1.7oz there's a noticeable price difference.

Next I am definitely interested in trying out beauty products from the No. 7 line available at Target. They have many different options for night creams averaging about $22, so it might be a good mid-range compromise. Personally I am a huge fan of creams and serums that work on your skin while you're busy catching some much-needed Z's. Want to know more about what the big deal is about night creams? Verily Magazine wrote a really great article all about the importance of nighttime moisturizing and why it's a step that you should never skip.

Thanks for reading this post! Feel free to let me know in the comments below what your favorite skincare products are as well as give me any recommendations you may have. I really am not a beauty guru so I'm pretty helpless in this area!

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