How to Build a Skincare Routine Using Budget-Friendly Products

This is a highly requested reader post that I’m excited to share with you! If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that I personally made the decision to invest in my skin with medical-grade products about five years ago. My early 20s were hard on my skin (read: stress and acne), and I can honestly say it’s been one of the best investments of my adult life.

That being said, I’m 100% aware that medical-grade skincare and its costs aren’t feasible for everyone. In this post, I’m sharing my recommendations for building an effective skincare routine using products that can be found online or in-store at places like CVS, Target, and

Affordable Skin Care Routine Template: AM and PM

If you’re just getting started with a skincare routine, here are the products I recommend buying for AM and PM and the order to use them in.

MORNING: Cleanser, toner, serum, vitamin C, eye serum, moisturizer, sunscreen

EVENING: Cleanser, exfoliator, toner or acne pads, serum, eye cream, retinol, moisturizer

Simply choose one product from each category based on your budget and needs (acne-prone, etc.). Masks can be incorporated once a week or as needed.

Here’s a collage of the over-the-counter skincare products I recommend—scroll down for product links organized by category!

Drugstore-Friendly Skin ROutine

Over-the-Counter Skin Care Picks By Category


Thayer’s—Not convinced? Read the reviews

SK-II—An ‘essence’ that can be used as a toner

Dr. Dennis Gross Peel—Resurfaces skin and keeps breakouts at bay


CeraVe—Drugstore and dermatologist favorite

BeautyCounter—Good for all skin types


St. Ives Apricot Scrub—Smells delicious and leaves skin smooth!


Alpha Skincare Renewal Gel—Best for acne

Alpha Skincare Renewal Serum—Best for anti-aging

Eye Creams

Coffee Bean Cream—Has caffeine like many high-end brands

Avene Soothing Eye Contour—Hydrating and gentle


Olay Micro-Sculpting Cream—Bestseller at Amazon, Target, and CVS

Cetaphil Daily Moisturizer—Great for all but acne-prone

Vitamin C

Drunk Elephant C-Firma—Brightens skin, prevents sun damage


EltaMD Sunscreen—My everyday sunscreen


RoC Deep Wrinkle Serum—Find it at Target

Peter Thomas Roth Infusion PM—Gentle yet effective


Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Mask—Smells like pie and improves texture

Queen Helene Mint Julep—Soaks up excess oil & so affordable

Lesosett ClayThe mask for acne flare ups

Interested in More Skin Care Posts?

Interested in learning more about my skin care experience and tips? Here’s my full AM and PM skincare routine and my experience with microneedling. What are the best affordable, over-the-counter skincare product you’ve used? What are you skincare troubles and woes? I’d love to hear in the comments.

The Best Drugstore Skincare Products