If you’re a certain kind of person, there is little more satisfying than finding an affordable, yet equally (or almost equally) effective alternative to a pricey product you've been eyeing. This is especially true of cult-favorite skin care products, which get a bad (but usually true) rap for costing an arm, a leg, and your firstborn child. But when it comes to the
best cheap alternatives to pricey skin care products, the name of the game is quality, not necessarily outright mimicry: All of the alternatives listed ahead are, of course, cheaper than their luxury antecedents; but they’re absolutely loved, trusted, and proven to be effective on their own, comparison notwithstanding.
Finding a truly stellar alternative to a luxury skin care product requires a good amount of research, like reading and comparing ingredients lists to scouring Reddit and YouTube for in-depth reviews. I did that for you! Everything featured here has been vetted by me, my editor, fellow beauty writers, and the skin-care obsessed corner of the internet as being really, truly amazing alternatives to some legendary products. That said, I'm still a big proponent of doing your own due diligence to see if these products are stellar for
you, especially in terms of skin care. As Queer Eye’s Antoni said of macaroni and cheese, it is something that can actually be so personal.
Okay! Enough with the disclaimers. Scroll on for 22 of the
best cheap alternatives to expensive skin care products that you can get on Amazon.
The Best Alternative To Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream
If you have super sensitive, dry, or reactive skin, get yourself a ceramide cream like
this one from Holika Holika. Just like Dr. Jart+’s Ceramidin cream, this rich but blendable balm works to soothe and fortify your skin barrier; in turn, your skin will be better able to lock in moisture and fight off environmental aggressors that can exacerbate irritation. At about $19 for 2 ounces, you’ll get double the product for a fraction of the price of Dr. Jart+’s cream.
The Best Alternative To Drunk Elephant Marula Oil
Drunk Elephant's marula oil is a perennial best-seller, for good reason: This multipurpose, antioxidant-rich dry oil absorbs quickly, intensely nourishes without feeling greasy, and imparts a gorgeous glow on all skin types. But here’s a secret: Literally any pure
marula oil can do the same thing, so there’s no reason for you to spend $72 (!) on a single ounce. Instead, try this marula oil from Naturium. It also contains 100% virgin marula oil, but it costs about $16 on Amazon. Case closed.
The Best Alternative To Herbivore Lapis Blue Tansy Facial Oil
Herbivore Blue Tansy Oil worked wonders to soothe a particularly diabolical bout of hormonal acne I experienced a few months back — but as loyal as I am to the brand, I’m swapping my $72 bottle for
this one from Acure when the magical blue stuff runs out. It contains most of the same ingredients as Herbivore’s oil blend, including blue tansy, jojoba, and rose oil, all of which work together to clarify and balance oily skin while quelling redness and irritation. Like Herbivore, Acure is one of the “cleanest” brands on the market; unlike Herbivore, many of the brand's products are certified organic by the USDA — one of the toughest certifications a product can get.
The Best Alternative To Tatcha The Water Cream
belif moisturizer may not come with its own tiny gold spoon or be infused with actual 24-karat gold. But Tatcha devotees all over the internet deem this to be a one-to-one comparison to Water Cream, so I’m willing to overlook those particulars. Like Water Cream, this Korean moisturizer uses “water-burst technology” to flood your skin with hydrating ingredients like squalane, panthenol, and plant extracts for a seriously refreshing sensation. Also refreshing: This costs $30 less than a pot of Water Cream.
The Best Alternative To Biossance Squalane + Glycolic Renewal Facial
Like the Biossance Squalane + Glycolic mask, this
Andalou Naturals mask is the rare exfoliating mask that actually hydrates your skin while it buffs away dead skin cells. As a result, your skin will look next-level radiant, feel incredibly soft and plump, and won't feel like you just blasted it with sandpaper. Both masks harness the unparalleled exfoliating powers of glycolic acid, but the Andalou Naturals mask gets a boost from vitamin C and honey for even more brightening effects. Honey is also a powerful (but soothing) antimicrobial ingredient, so this is a great choice if you’re hoping to calm a breakout.
The Best Alternative To Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm
Speaking of honey, I am truly obsessed with Naturopathica's Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm — no cleanser makes my skin look immediately brighter and feel less uncomfortably tight and/or greasy (a problem my fellow combo skin-havers will understand) than this stuff. Shelling out over $60, however, is deeply painful, so I’m going for this $18
Forencos cleansing balm next. In addition to honey and propolis, this cleanser is spiked with fatty acid-enriched marula oil for more nourishment. Reviewers say it’s perfectly mild and non-stripping for dry, sensitive skin types, but it's tough enough to break down sunscreen and makeup.
The Best Alternative To SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
Vitamin C serums are infamously expensive, but perhaps none more so than the cult-classic, $166 SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. This
Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster isn’t an exact replica of Skinceuticals’ patented formula (that’s the point of a patent!). Remarkably, though, they boast the same concentration of vitamin C (15%), as well as vitamin E and ferulic acid, which further boosts and stabilizes the formula’s smoothing, evening, and brightening benefits. This doesn’t get the same universally glowing reviews as C E Ferulic does, but it's still a great, much more affordable alternative to pricier vitamin C serums.
The Best Alternative To Tata Harper Clarifying Cleanser
If you’re looking for a gently foamy but non-stripping cleanser like Tata Harper’s, try
this one from Honest Beauty. In here, AHAs work to resurface your skin and minimize the appearance of enlarged pores, while a gentler, plant-based derivative of salicylic acid whisks away acne-causing impurities. Pick this one up when the limited-edition Tata Harper Clarifying Cleanser disappears from the shelves.
The Best Alternative To Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream
Inspired by banana powder (the setting powder, not the processed foodstuff), Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream is beloved for its brightening and smoothing effects. Honestly, $39 isn’t too egregious for an eye cream, but
this one from Olay is even cheaper. It works equally well on the depuffing front, and its ultra-creamy but lightweight consistency feels really soothing if your eyes are feeling a little tired and tender after a late night. It has a slight “neutral” tint to it to help conceal under-eye circles, but it blends out beautifully on all skin tones.
The Best Alternative To Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel
Dr. Dennis Gross masterminded the at-home glycolic peel with their patented AHA/BHA peel pads. Since their debut two decades ago, other brands have followed suit with their own, less expensive, but equally effective peel pads. I’m partial to these
First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads for their extra-gentle formulation, which features aloe, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid to temper all the exfoliating acids (glycolic and lactic, plus plant-based toners) going on in here. Just like the Dr. Dennis Gross pads, these powerhouse acids work to both resurface and unclog your skin, so your complexion looks clearer and feels smoother with just one swipe.
The Best Alternative To Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum
Just like those peel pads, Drunk Elephant’s $90 night serum contains a potent combination of AHAs and BHAs to dissolve dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, then penetrate and clear out your pores. This
Bliss night serum does the same thing for almost a quarter of the price. Though in here, PHAs replace AHAs for a milder resurfacing experience, which makes this a safe option for people with sensitive skin. PHAs have been referred to as the “second generation of AHAs,” so their effects are comparable — meaning you’ll get the same glowing complexion, for way less cash.
The Best Alternative To SK-II Facial Treatment Essence
Nothing screams “I have three vacation homes, at a bare minimum” than the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, which costs a cool $185. The secret ingredient in there is galactomyces ferment filtrate, a yeast-derived extract that’s packed with antioxidants, amino acids, and other nutrients that help strengthen, refine, balance, clarify, and moisturize your skin — aka, everything you could possibly want from a product. This
Purito essence contains a whopping 92% of the very same extract, while 5% niacinamide helps promote a clearer, more even-looking complexion. Pretty wild that it only costs $18.
The Best Alternative To La Mer Creme de la Mer
Nothing screams “I have more expendable income than I will ever know what to do with in this lifetime” than Creme de la Mer, which costs anywhere from $335 to $2,400, depending on the size. Yeah, no. How about this
Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream, instead? It shares a core ingredient with Creme de la Mer (that would be seaweed, which has nourishing and skin-softening benefits). This deliciously smooth formula also contains collagen, elastin, and sodium hyaluronate, some of the best plumping, hydrating, and radiance-boosting ingredients in the known world. No need to dip into your savings for this one — it only costs $22 on Amazon.
The Best Alternative To By Terry Baume de Rose
When it comes to lip balm, it doesn’t get more luxurious than By Terry Baume de Rose, which the brand itself describes as the “Rolls Royce of lip care.” If you can’t swing $60 for a lip balm, consider this
Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm instead. It’s packed with nourishing and conditioning ingredients like shea butter, honey, and wild rose oil, and it shares By Terry’s signature velvety texture. It’s rich enough to use as an overnight lip treatment, but it’s totally gloop-free, so you can wear it comfortably during the day, too.
The Best Alternative To Image Ageless Total Pure Hyaluronic Filler
I swear by Image’s hyaluronic acid serum for its instant plumping and skin-quenching powers. But with almost 1,300 enthusiastic Amazon reviews, this
La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Serum proves to be a worthy swap for Image’s $70 serum. In here, pure hyaluronic acid gets a boost from vitamin B5 and madecassoside to help improve your skin’s elasticity and moisture. One reviewer said they saw a visible improvement in their skin’s dryness and dullness within three days.
The Best Alternative To Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask
LAPCOS Aloe Sheet Masks deliver all the same soothing and cooling effects as the Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask, thanks to aloe and cucumber extracts. But a five-pack of these cult-favorite sheet masks costs just $14 on Amazon, as opposed to $55 for a tub of Peter Thomas Roth’s mask. Stash them in the fridge before a night out, a day under the sun (with SPF, of course), or a sweaty workout. You’ll thank yourself later.
The Best Alternative To Dr. Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser
The ingredients list for this
BABOR Enzyme Cleanser is identical to the Dr. Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser, but it costs $40 less. This clarifying cleanser starts its life as a finely milled powder, which works up to a soft lather when it’s mixed with water. Two types of activated enzymes exfoliate and cleanse skin of excess sebum, makeup, and other surface-level grime, while vitamin C brightens and protects from environmental aggressors. Even though it’s free of stripping sulfates and relatively gentle, this is still best suited for folks with oily and acne-prone skin, or those who want to clear up blackheads.
The Best Alternative To Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream
Beloved by beauty bloggers and editors alike, The Rich Cream by Augustinus Bader may very well be this generation’s answer to Creme de la Mer. To approximate its ultra rich consistency and exceptional nourishing abilities, but not its $265 price tag, go for good old
Weleda Skin Food instead. A blend of oils rich in fatty acids rehydrate extremely dry, rough, and cracked skin, while beeswax helps restore your skin’s natural lipids and ceramides. You can use this stuff literally anywhere on your face/body, too — and since it's so affordable, you won't feel like you're wasting it.
The Best Alternative To Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water
At one point in history, you had to go to a French pharmacy to get your hands on a bottle of Bioderma micellar water. Now, you can probably find it in your local Duane Reade (thanks, global economy!), and it’s not terribly expensive. But it’s even cheaper to order a bottle of
Garnier micellar water on Amazon. It may not have the French thing going for it, but it does the same exact thing as its Gallic forebear: Thoroughly cleanses your skin of excess oil and the most stubborn makeup without drying out your skin, clogging your pores, or causing irritation. You can use it to clean your makeup brushes and sponges, too.
The Best Alternative To Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
Stash a tube of this hardworking
Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream in your desk/bag/car/medicine cabinet/all of the above and use it on (almost) any patch of skin that needs soothing, moisturizing, or protecting: knuckles, cuticles, lips, elbows, rashes, razor burns, scars, the works. It’s basically a normcore version of Elizabeth Arden's iconic Eight Hour Cream. The major difference is that Yu-Be Skin Cream is infused with camphor, so it’ll feel a little cooling and tingly.
The Best Alternative To Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask
Packed with both AHAs and hyaluronic acid, the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask works to gently resurface and hydrate your skin overnight. This
Neutrogena overnight mask doesn’t contain an exfoliating agent, but it’ll make your skin look and feel just as bouncy, replenished, and glowy in the morning as the watermelon mask does. Consider preceding it with those FAB facial pads or the Bliss overnight serum to fulfill the exfoliating quotient. You'll get a pack of 12 single-use masks with this order.
The Best Alternative To Mario Badescu Witch Hazel & Rosewater Toner
One final, virtually identical swap for your consideration:
Thayers Rose Petal Facial Toner. It contains all the same major ingredients as Mario Badescu’s toner — witch hazel, aloe, and rose, which work to clarify, rebalance, and soothe skin — but you’re getting more product for less money. Plus, Thayers lacks some of the additives in Mario Badescu’s toner that might be irritating for sensitive skin, like pentylene glycol and synthetic fragrance.