On a recent trip to Mexico for a wedding, I forgot my skincare. Noooo! I yelped as I opened my suitcase to find only my clothes. What was I to do without my (overpriced) serum, (nearly as overpriced) cleanser, and brightening moisturizer? Never one to seek out affordable skincare, I catastrophized that my 40s skin would suffer.
But that weekend, I rarely thought about my skin. I made do with what I could find: coconut oil to cleanse, green tea to tone, and a pump of my friend Burt Bee’s moisturizer. My skin looked hydrated and, I must say, pretty darn good on that trip. When I got home, my arsenal of expensive products had a new rival: my new, unexpectedly affordable and more minimalist skincare approach. It made me realize that good skin doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Featured image of Inge Theron by Teal Thomsen.
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Affordable vs. Luxe Skincare: Finding What Works for You
Of course, I’m not saying that a gorgeous natural serum filled with actives isn’t worth the price. Sometimes it is—if that feels right for you. But this moment of panic led me to see that skin doesn’t need a fancy price tag to glow. There are fantastic affordable skincare options that are efficacious and luxurious—and this goes for products catered to 40s or older skin, which is my camp. I’ve researched and tried dozens of products and found many affordable cleansers, serums, and moisturizers that are clean and rival the efficacy of many of their expensive counterparts. And they make my 41-year-old skin glow.
What exactly do I mean by affordable here? Every product I love, which I outline here, falls under $40.
Affordable Skincare for Your 40s—What to Use
Our skin is going through changes in our 40s. Holistic skin expert Kristina Holey points out that around 35, we begin to see the markers of this shift: We lose collagen and elastin, have more visible expression lines, and noticeable sun damage.
To counter this (or rather, to honor this), I learned from Holey that we must be impactful with the micronutrients we feed our 40s skin. This includes delivering a robust mix of active ingredients, including essential fatty acids, niacinamide, vitamin A (retinol), and vitamin C that work synergistically to replenish and heal.
I consider these nutrients whenever I try a new product, no matter the price tag. I always ask: Is this product delivering one of the essential nutrients or services—i.e. cleansing, toning—my skin needs? If so, how does it make my skin feel after I use it?
The following products all check at least one major skincare box, from cleansing to delivering micronutrients. And yep, they all fall under $40.