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  • Writer's picturePenn Smith

Budget Skincare Routine | You CAN have beautiful skin without breaking the bank!

Updated: Mar 14

I have said time and time again that you don't have to spend hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars on skincare products to see amazing results! As a self-proclaimed skincare junkie I have tried so many products on the market: from medical grade to ground breaking innovations to fun finds on Amazon - I literally have access to all of it! With all that "access" I still happily reach for many favorites under $25 😁

In my recent Youtube video I created the PERFECT AM PM routine for LESS than the cost of ONE high end product! I used SkinMedica TNS as my price point (yikes! $280!!) but I didn't need that much in my beauty budget. I was able to put together an amazing routine for nearly HALF the cost of that one product 🤯

If you love medical grade, or luxury department store products, or the Sephora skincare section that is GREAT. Do whatever works for YOU. I just want to reiterate that we don't HAVE to spend that kind of money to have beautiful, healthy skin. If we want to, well that's another story 😉

In this blog I break down all of these products with more info like ingredient decks, concerns, skin type and prices. Whether you like to keep it simple or add in a few extra steps this routine is guaranteed to be effective and budget friendly! This routine may also serve as inspo for swapping out a product so that you can spend on that expensive serum you love or that laser treatment you want or maybe that at-home device you would like to buy. It's all about options :) Here are some great options for you 🩷

XX Penn

Click to watch ⬇️


→Step 1: Cleanse

Bioderma Sensibio H20


Concern: dullness, dryness, pores, acne

Skin type: normal, sensitive, dry, oily or combination

What I love about this product: This is a wonderfully versitile product! I use micellar water to pre-cleanse, to wipe away conductivity gel after I ZIIP, to freshen in the morning when I don't want to wash my face...It is gentle and good for everyone. ***This may be your only "cleanse in the morning, you may like just a facial cleanser or you might prefer to skip your AM cleanse...that's up to you!

Prequel Gleanser


Concern: dryness, redness, acne, Rosacea

Skin type: normal, sensitive, dry, oily or combination

What I love about this product: What DON'T I love about this one?! This is a glycerin based cleanser making it extremely gentle while providing a thorough cleanse. The texture is unlike most cleansers: it looks like a traditionally gel cleanser but there is a bit of slip...That's the beautiful glycerin. Truly one of my ALL TIME favorite cleansers and I have tried them ALL!

→Step 2: Exfoliate

Minimalist PHA Face Toner


Concern: PH, pores, acne & congestion

Skin type: normal, sensitive, dry, oily or combination

What I love about this product: This little gem was a surprise find! At $10 I am BLOWN away by the quality of this one! This exfolaint will improve tone, texture, pores (thank you salicylic acid) while soothing ingredients mitigate irritation. What a FIND!

Drmtlgy Microdermabrasion Scrub

$20/2oz code Penn saves 20%

Concern: texture & pores

Skin type: normal, dry, oily & combination

What I love about this product: My favorite physical exfoliator! Great for gently buffing away flakes, as a lip scrub, pre-self tan...Just a gorgeous product at an amazing price 😍

→Step 3: Antioxidants

Antioxidant protection in the AM is so important- preferably a Vit. C!

Prequel Lucent-C Brightening Serum


Concern: brightness, firmness, elasticity

Skin type: normal, dry, oily & combination

What I love about this product: Next to my Drmtlgy vitamin C (my current fave) this is my next choice. It is a beautiful vitamin C in perfect packaging, with a perfect PH, amazing additional ingredients (hello ergothioneine, how are ya?) and at a very reasonable price. If you have been searching for a new C, this is a sign!

→Step 4: Moisturize

Prequel Urea Advanced Relief


Concern: dryness, roughness, itchyness, and flaky skin.

Skin type: normal, sensitive, dry, oily or combination

What I love about this product: One word: UREA!! I have been singing the praises of urea for years! It is a synthetic molecule (not urine folks) that hydrates the skin like no other while encouraging gentle skin turn over (the higher the percentage the more exfoliation potential: 10% is amazing for the face and body; 40% will peel your feet). This moisturizer is lightweight while being insanely hydrating. The bottle (like all Prequel products) is huge while the price is not. Amazing!

Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer


Concern: dryness, PH, firmness

Skin type: normal, sensitive, dry, oily or combination

What I love about this product: If you are dray and need a travel friendly option this moisturizer is gorgeous. Vanicream as a brand is one you can count on to be high quality at the drugstore. With squalane, ceramides and other humectants this moisturizer packs a punch! When I use this one I do not need to layer another hydrating serum!

→Step 5: Sunscreen

The #1 most important step in your AM routine!

Drmtlgy Universal Tinted Moisturizer

$29/1.7oz code Penn saves 20%

Concern: anti-aging, dryness & redness

Skin type: normal, sensitive or dry

What I love about this product: LOVE LOVE LOVE!! For years! Silky, dewy, refining gorgeousness! Sheer tint leaves zero white cast and added special ingredients protect from infrared wavelengths 😍

Just the best SPF I've owned. If you want less dewy try their physical tinted, perfect for a skin-finish with less hydration.

Skin Aqua UV Super Moisture Essence


Concern: sun damage

Skin type: combination, dry, normal, oily

What I love about this product: This is a gel cream SPF that dissapears in to the skin leaving no trace behind. I have loved it for years (and I am buying a backup before I post this blog!!). SPF 50 PA++++

The tube is convenient and the consistency is loved by everyone in my family 🩷


→Step 1: Cleanse

Use the same products as AM routine! I prefer a double cleanse at night- whether it is a micellar water then a second cleanse or it is a balm then a second cleanse...I take some time to really remove the day from my face 🤩

→Step 2: Vitamin A

This is the most important component!

Naturium Retinaldehyde

$32/1.7oz code Penny15 saves 15%

Concern: fine lines, texture, pores, firmness, hyperpigmentation

Skin type: normal, sensitive, dry or combination

What I love about this product: The consistency is perfection, retinaldehyde is the BEST OTC retinoid available (although adapalene is a fantastic choice as well. If you are acne prone you may want to check out differin). Vitamin A is where I believe our budget should "splurge". It is the ingredient that will help with hyperpigmentation, texture, collagen, fine lines and wrinkles. It is the superstar in our routines! This one is gentle enough that most people can tolerate it (start at .05 every third night and work your way up to more often and higher percentage IF your skin likes it).

→Step 3: Moisturize

Use same product as AM routine. That Prequel moisturizer is great for the morning (on the body too!).


Hydrating Serums

These can be used in the AM or PM routine.

Elf Triple Bounce Serum


Concern: dryness & texture

Skin type: combination, dry, normal, oily

What I love about this product: Just a great, hydrating serum at an incredible price. This really reminds me of Epicutis (hello $250 a bottle 🤯)

Iunik Beta Glucan Power Moisture Serum


Concern: blackheads, dark circles, dryness/hydration, oil control, pores

Skin type: normal, sensitive, dry, oily or combination

What I love about this product: Beta Glucan!! Beta glucan is a skincare superhero, renowned for its ability to soothe and hydrate the skin while boosting its natural defense mechanisms. This powerhouse ingredient, derived from oats and yeast, seamlessly integrates into skincare routines, offering a calming embrace for a radiant and resilient complexion. Sodium PCA is an excellent humecvtant as well. If you are seraching for an HA alternative, this is IT!!

Isintree TW Real Bifida Ampoule


Concern: dryness/hydration, dullness, redness, texture

Skin type: normal, sensitive, dry, oily or combination

What I love about this product: Oh Bifida how I love thee 😍

Bifida, a probiotic powerhouse, has the ability to fortify the skin barrier and enhance moisture retention. This friendly bacteria not only promotes a healthier complexion but also helps to diminish signs of aging, leaving skin visibly smoother and more youthful. If you want to add in some of natures DNA repair, bifida is a great place to start and THIS is my favorite affordable (hmmm. favorite all-round!) bifida product!

Find more amazing budget friendly options on my Amazon Storefront ⬇️

Penn Smith Skincare participates in the Amazon Associates Program.  This is an affiliate program and all Amazon links are affiliate.  If you choose to use them I will receive a commission.

FTC: Links in this post are affiliate ~ Please take note that all links on this page are affiliate and if you choose to shop from them I earn a commission at no cost to you. I appreciate your support!!!

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or skin related diagnosis or treatment options. Information on this website should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare/skin professional. The statements made about specific products throughout this website are not to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. It is important that you check labels to determine if a product is right for you. Before starting any treatment at home consult a health care or skin care professional to determine if it’s right for you.

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1 Comment

Mar 09

I have mild (very mild according to my dermatologist) rosacea. I would like to use a Vitamin A product but have had very drying results with previous products. Should I avoid what you recommended in this video or can you suggest one that may be a good fit for me. Thanks. Liz

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