Rant & Rave: Drugstore Skincare

Share: Tell us what you love and hate about Drugstore Skincare!

my answer: This is true of high-end, but they can be really obnoxious in scent! Sometimes with sunscreens, the texture doesn’t seem as refined, so it doesn’t apply as smoothly or dry down as quickly. I like the price point, which is a given, but this is really important, because you can use as much as you need–you don’t feel bad using it or feel like you should be conserving it!

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Sasha Avatar

I think some drugstore products work really well! I use CeraVe foaming facewash, stridex maximum strength acne pads (for exfoliation), neutrogena daily defense spf 15 for my day moisturizer and the Queen Helene Mint Julep mask (though the mint in it is sometimes irritating). I’m still on the hunt for a good evening moisturizer that moisturizes me enough without breaking me out but I’ve struck out with clinique and kiehl’s there too.

Overall I’m pretty impressed with the quality of skincare in the drugstore at reasonable prices. With the limited exposure to dermatologists I’ve had, most recommend products in that range unless you need serious prescription or professional only treatments. However, beware of alcohol in most products, even high end stuff. It dries me out and irritates my skin.

I also get some good items from my local healthfood store. That’s where I picked up the grapeseed oil, I get Thayer’s alcohol free witchhazel there that I use occasionally for toning but mostly for my legs after shaving, as well as Bentonite Clay for clay masks (Aztec Healing Clay).

Kate Avatar

Not sure if La Roche-Posay are drugstore or high end, but I recently started using the Cicaplast baume and it is the only thing I’ve found that hasn’t aggravated my acne and doesn’t make my oily skin look even oilier.

Greta Avatar

I have been super impressed with CeraVe’s line, especially their PM moisturizer. No fragrance, proven ingredients, and a lightweight, comfortable texture.

Mindy Avatar

One of my favorite drugstore brands is CeraVe. I love their AM SPF 30 moisturizer. I have gone through 5-6 bottles and I’m so glad they are closer to $15ea instead of $60ea!

I just hate how hard/impossible it is to get samples of drugstore skincare items.

Mariella Avatar

In Canada, many drugstores carry high end products (Dior, Clinique, Guerlain, etc.) but in speaking of “drug store quality/priced” products, I have found some really good products, including Eucerin Q10 face cream. It’s pretty much become my night cream of choice and once I finish my Clarins night creams, that will be all I buy. I use Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream (you’d be hard pressed to find a better product) and drug store nail polish remover and there are lots of other great skin care products in the “drug store price range”. I also agree that it’s a shame more samples aren’t available – I would probably buy more if I could try items for a day or 2 first…

Chelsea Avatar

I’m currently using mid-end stuff (Hada Labo Tokyo, from Ulta or Drugstore.com – I like the cleanser and serum, not in love with the cream, that might get returned), but I’ve had good luck with a lot of the drugstore brands. I used to use CeraVe on my face with great success (the hydrating cleanser, the CeraVe PM moisturizer), but my skin changed and it no longer works for me. I still use the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream for body cream though, so good.

There’s a drugstore brand called TriDerma I’m quite fond of, but they’re hard to find. They have a Facial Redness Repair moisturizer that works really well for me – it’s got arnica in it, which is supposedly good for rosacea, but can irritate some skin – it works for me though. It’s also got antioxidants, which is a definite bonus, and hydrates without breaking me out (I have extremely dehydrated, but breakout-prone skin). The Redness Repair cleanser is trash though. I also use their Intense Fast Healing Cream as eye cream.

I also love the Simple Soothing Eye Balm – really lightweight.

Rants? Fragrances and irritating things, just like in high end. L’Oreal is really bad for that (not surprising, considering they own Lancome, which is also super heavily fragranced, but if the Lancome stuff works for you, a lot of the L’Oreal stuff is extremely similarly formulated). I haven’t had good luck with Aveeno, and Cetaphil I find gives me a burning sensation.

Honestly, I have a hard time finding skin care that works for me at any price point!

Rikki Avatar

Well, they’re certainly more affordable since it’s something you use at least once or twice a day, and that stuff can be gone pretty quickly. Not a pretty penny when you’re using high end stuff. I recently bought two Seventh Generation Boost serums (BOGOFree) at Walgreens for $14.99 retail for one and they’re really nice! Really good for dry skin.

xamyx Avatar

I actually buy the majority of skincare items from health food stores. I use natural oils (almond, avocado, jojoba, olive, etc.) & pure shea butter. As for “true” skincare products, derma-e & Desert Essence are my go-to brands. I also use Aztec Healing C
ay as a mask. Argan oil is also a favorite, but I see no point in paying the big bucks for Josie Maran oils, when I can pick upnthe same size bottle for 1/4 of the price at Whole Foods.

I also prefer DS skincare to HE because for some reason, HE brands don’t seem as forthcoming with yhe ingredients as their DS counterparts. If I want to find the ingredients, I have to hunt them down on the internet, as the font on the packaging is miceoscopic, and often in a color similar to the background. When I do finally find them, I learn the ingredients are very inexpensive, and don’t warrant the price, or they aren’t things that were intended to be used on the skin (anti-freeze is a very common ingredient). Mineral oil is also very common in HE skincare, and I can’t justify paying more for that.

doroffee Avatar

I don’t like that I haven’t found a nice, rich night face cream from the drugstore yet… most are just like day face creams in a dark blue pot…
But I do love some crystal deodorants from the drugstores. Okay, not the healthiest, but they are the best for someone with excessive transpiration like me.
And about the funky smells… um, yeah. They are there. I especially hate the plasticky and artificial warm foodsy scents (cocoa, coconut, chocolate, cookies…)

Sasha Avatar

I’d recommend trying the CeraVe moisturizing cream or lotion. The cream comes in a pot and seems good for normal to moderately dry skin. If your skin is really dry though they also have a lotion that comes in a pump is more hydrating. Also check out Cetaphil or Eucerin Q10 depending on brand preferences.

Quinctia Avatar

Burts Bees makes an extra moisturizing line, and the night cream was quite heavy. There’s also a moisturizing mask in that line you might enjoy.

katie Avatar

eucerin cream in the pot..holy moly..i kid you not, it is thick like BUTTAH!
i never thought i’d find one like it, but that stuff whipped my super dry skin into shape fast!

kayce Avatar

honestly, i had this same problem! i have supremely dry skin and psoriasis and i found my holy grail moisturizer in a drugstore brand.

this past summer, i got an ulta gift card for my bday and decided to buckle down and use it to purchase a few facial moisturizers after loads of research. i got 2 “fancy” brands and a l’oreal one b/c it was so well reviewed and only about $10. guess which one won? l’oreal! i returned the other 2 in exchange for more pots of the l’oreal one lol! it’s called “l’oreal collagen moisture filler night cream” and it’s intensely moisturizing. i’ve been using it for months now and am just as happy today as i was that first day.

note: if you’re going to try this, it’s not the l’oreal day cream, age perfect, or revitalift ranges — just the plain old l’oreal collagen night cream. one huge downside is that much of l’oreal’s packaging looks the same, so you have to read carefully.

Aelita Avatar

love-Avene, Dermaglow(canadian brand that’s not in business anymore, but had some fab stuff, many many HGs) Bioderma, Nuxe
hate-La Roche Posay – too harsh for me, irritates my skin although positioned as hypo allergenic and suitable for sensitive skinโ€ฆ disappointment

Alison Avatar

You know… I must have the fussiest skin in the world, because I’ve never found a drugstore skincare product that my skin has agreed with, and I’ve tried LOADS! That said, there are still many high-end products that my skin aversely reacts to, but still, all of the skincare that works well for my skin has been decidedly mid-to-high-end in price.

Quinctia Avatar

I’ve not really found a good reason to venture outside of drugstore skincare. However, I pretty much only purchase brands like Alba Botanica, Avalon Organics, Burts Bees, etc, so the scents are good, as long as you like the scent listed on the package. Depending on the product, it’s the same or slightly more expensive than other drugstore brands.

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

I love Dr. LeWinn products. They are high end (oxymoron) for pharmacies but I believe they are made by Kinerase. Do not bother my skin.

Ryou Avatar

I like that I wouldn’t have to cringe at the price everytime I repurchase. This is especially true for staple products that I wear daily. Like you said, this helps with any hoarding/conserving impulses as well.

Jade Avatar

Two words: ALCOHOL DENAT. I struggle to find a drugstore product that doesn’t have that listed in the top 4 ingredients. I bought a Garnier moisturizer today because I can’t afford my normal one at the moment, so fingers crossed. I do love the price but the one area I hate skimping on is skincare.

kayce Avatar

i will say that almost everything in the boots no7 line has impressed me… with one exception so far (eyeliner), all of the boots no7 products i’ve tried quickly moved into my favorites, most especially the protect & perfect serum — one of the pricier items, but cheaper than any other primer i’ve tried, and far batter imo — and the skin illuminator in peach. in addition, l’oreal’s collagen night cream is my go-to moisturizer and since it’s reasonably priced, i don’t mind using it as much as i need it.

granted, these are the pricier side of drugstore, so i’ll name some of my cheap-cheap faves, too. carmex. it’s a given, but it’s a heavy lifter in my life (i even use it on my cuticles and hands in cold months) and it’s like $1.99 for a 3-pack. i’ve tried both elizabeth arden’s 8-hour cream and yu-be skin cream and i prefer carmex by a large margin. my other drugstore must-have is coty powder. i have dry skin so i don’t use powder much, but when i do, it’s coty. it has the smell you mentioned with many cheaper products, but it doesn’t bother me and in fact i kind of like it.

last but not least, aura glow moisturizing oil. OMG, this product! it’s between $6-8 depending on where you go, but it couldn’t be more worth it. it’s moisturizing capability is bar none, and it really does give my skin a glow — not a sheen from the oil, but a dried down inner glow. it’s amazing. most of their scents are blah to me, but the scent dissipates after about 20 min of wear, anyway. if you go googling this product, know ahead of time that it’s marketed as a moisturizer, massage oil, and “personal lubricant” lol. don’t be put off, tho — it’s the best body oil i’ve ever used and it’s non-greasy like fancy “dry” oils from more expensive brands. aura glow was some of the best money i’ve spent recently tbh.

shelley Avatar

I like a drugstore toner from the line Simple. And a sunscreen from Loreal. Other than that everything else is high-end because that is where I experience the most in positive results (no adverse reactions and overall lack of fragrance for many). I have had a few high-end duds but its a rare event.

Anne Avatar

I think of “drugstore” as meaning lower-price, even though some skincare lines sold in drugstores are priced closer or equal to products found in Sephora. The advantage of buying them in a drugstore, though, is that they are included in any blanket percent-off promotion. That’s when I buy Vichy’s SPF 50 sunscreen ($25.50 for 1.7 oz.). It’s lightweight, non-irritating, and not a bit oily. I use it only on my face–the rest of my body can stand less expensive sunscreens. (I like Trader Joe’s Refresh, which is also not at all oily and really does feel hydrating).

Unfortunately, some of the higher-priced skincare lines sold in drugstores have products that the FDA won’t let them sell without a prescription. Avene’s Diacneal/Triacneal products can be bought over the counter in Europe (at reasonable prices), but over here you have to buy them from a dermatologist (at higher prices).

Although I gravitate toward inexpensive skincare unless I know I can only get what I want elsewhere, my main beef with drugstore brands is that they try to appeal to a very wide spectrum of customers, whereas the more expensive brands tend to zero in on people with specific needs.

Kat Avatar

I absolutely love the Yes To Cucumbers Calming Night Cream. It’s a perfect Goldilocks everyday moisturizer: moisturizing, absorbs quickly, non-greasy, almost no scent, and it works great for my dry/sensitive skin. Also, I love that it has a pump applicator so I can avoid getting the contents nasty.

Unfortunately I haven’t had as much success with other drugstore skincare. I love the Alba Jasmine and Vitamin E moisture cream, but the fragrance is really overpowering. Which, I love Jasmine, but I can see why perhaps other people would not be thrilled to smell like a garden at night.

I really dislike the Alba Green Tea line, Simple skincare (the makeup removing wipes are so scratchy and ineffectual and the cleanser leaves an uncomfortable residue), and the Yes to Blueberries moisturizer. The worst for me was absolutely the Avalon Organics Vitamin C. I really wanted to like it because of the smell/the benefits of vitamin C, but the product practically gave me hives!

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