10 Skincare Luxuries for $10 or Less

Published in: Drugstore Beauty Finds, Guest Post, Skin Care

RadhikaAbout the Author
The following guest post was written by Radhika of Weekend Ramblings. You can also find Radhika on Twitter and Facebook.

10 of my favorite drugstore skincare treats

Shortly after finishing college, I started working a regular job — not an amazing job, but it was enough to allow my beauty habit to go somewhat unchecked for a while. Then, everything changed when life happened, and I quit my job and moved to the U.S.


It took me a while to find another job; my days of carefree shopping sprees were over, and to be honest, I didn’t take to beauty budgeting all that well. If you had called me a pampered brat, I would have had to agree. 😛

But something very good came out of that time. I discovered some excellent wallet-friendly beauty and skincare products, and not just those tempting cute packages strategically placed beside the checkout counter, or the last-minute dollar deals I add to my cart to reach the free shipping threshold (don’t tell me I’m the only one who does that!), but products I’ve consistently purchased over and over, just because I love them.

Here are 10 of my favorite skincare treats, each of them $10 or less, to leave your skin healthy, glowing and fresh, without making your wallet unhappy.

1. Shiseido Facial Cotton ($9.50)


I know, fancy facial cottons might be the last thing on your mind when you’re on a budget, but hear me out. Shiseido’s version is thicker and softer than the average drugstore cotton, and it doesn’t leave behind any stray fibers on my face.

But those aren’t even the reasons it’s on my must-have list. What I recommend using this for is something called “the lotion mask.”

It’s an idea I picked up from a book called the Japanese Skincare Revolution, by Chizu Saeki, and it’s a fabulously simple way to healthier skin. Here’s a video from the author, but to break it down…

Shiseido’s cotton is much thicker than regular drugstore cottons and withstands a little stretching. It also separates easily into thinner layers.

Start by taking one of the cotton pads, soak it in water, and squeeze out most of the water by pressing it between your palms.

Then, pour a few drops of any alcohol-free toner on it (I think rose water works great), stretch the cotton a bit, and separate it into three thinner layers.

Next, place them over your face, and relax for about 10 minutes. When you’re done, even after just one use, your face will feel hydrated, smooth, and have a noticeable glow.

Try it! It could be the best $10 I’ve ever spent, and if you have a Japanese store nearby, you might be able to find an even less expensive version of a similar idea.

2. Olay Daily Facials Cleansing Cloths ($7)


These are carried in most drugstores, and having tried many different cleansing cloths and washes — including some crazy expensive ones — I have yet to find one that leaves my skin in a condition as good as these.

If you’re new to them, here’s how they work: They’re small square towelettes that you wet, and when you rub them against your skin, they work up a lather. Just gently scrub with them to cleanse.

I use them like a washcloth, and then use lukewarm water to rinse off most of the lather from my face, before rinsing any residual cleanser with cooler water.

There’s not a lot to them, but I think these cloths really work only up to their potential if you follow the directions.

Thrifty tip: Half a towelette should be sufficient in most cases (unless your normal day involves mud-wrestling alligators). Just snip them in half and store. The smaller size makes them easier to use, and this way they last longer. Store in any air-tight container, so they stay moisture-free.

3. Lush Toner Tabs ($2)


I’ve tried just about every Lush product out there and have loved most of them. I’m a Lushie. My favorites, though, are their fresh face masks, which are made with natural ingredients. Pair them with one of Lush’s Toner Tabs, and you’ve got yourself a nice relaxing at-home facial, all for less than $10.

First the toner tabs, which look and feel like macro-versions of regular tablets (some have petal bits in them).

In the pic: Tea Tree Toner Tab, Vitamin E Toner Tab, and The Dream Steam Toner Tab.

To use one, just bring some water to boil, and pour it into a larger vessel. Then, plop a toner tab in and watch it fizz. Hold your face a safe distance away from the water, and let the steam (be careful!) rise up to your face. Do this for about 5 minutes.

The toner tabs fizz and bubble and fill the fragrant steam with essential oils to give your skin an extra boost.

Thrifty tip: You can break the tabs in half to get two for the price of one; half tabs seem to work just as well. 😛

4. Lush Face Masks ($7)


Made with fresh, natural ingredients, these face masks need to be stored in the fridge to keep them from spoiling before their already short shelf life of about 2-3 weeks. My favorites are the Cosmetic Warrior (for acne-prone skin) and Brazened Honey (for dull skin) ones. If you have dry skin, you might like the one called The Sacred Truth (it’s filled with antioxidants).

Thrifty tip: When you exchange five clean tubs, you can get a free face mask of your choice.


5. Crabtree and Evelyn Hand Recovery Creams ($8 each)


These are some of the best hand scrubs I’ve ever used. Fine salt and pumice granules provide the scrubbing power, while macadamia and shea nut butters soften and moisturize hands.

Plus, they smell awesome!


6. Crabtree and Evelyn Hand Creams ($8 each)


The perfect followup to the hand scrubs. Crabtree and Evelyn also makes these excellent daytime hand creams. I call them daytime creams because of how moisturizing, yet lightweight, they are, and how quickly they absorb, so no telltale fingerprints on cookie jars. Just saying. 😛

7. Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream ($6 for a 0.6-ounce tin)

This is not the size that you get for $6 (that’s a larger tin shown here) – this is a small sampler tin that I am currently using.

I have to admit, I don’t like dish washing, but even with the minimal amount I do, I manage to get really dry cuticles, thanks to dish-washing soap. My pick for a fabulous cuticle cream? Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter. I even use it as a hand cream, since my hands tend to get really dry. The lemony scent is strong, but it doesn’t bother me.

8. Lush Glorious Mud Body Mask/Scrub ($6.95)


Lush Glorious Mud is like playing in the mud for grownups. 😀

To use it, just wet your skin, and scrub with this muddy bar. That’s it. Leave it on for a few minutes, and rinse.

It’s probably the easiest way to smooth skin. It feels like rubbing a fine sand and leaves behind a muddy mess, but it washes off easily. It also adds a little moisturize to my skin. While I find the fragrance quite mild, if you have a sensitive nose, you might want to test it in-store before buying.

Thrifty tip: The bar dissolves super fast in water, so avoid submerging it for long or turning the water on it while using. I wipe my hands before I pick it up so no extra moisture gets on the bar. Or, you could just break it up into smaller chunks, and use those to avoid a soggy mess. Plus, it’ll last longer.

9. L’Occitane Shea Butter ($10)


Unlike the Burt’s Bees tin, this IS the size you get for $10. I prefer the smaller size, though, since the butter tends to get a little rancid if not stored properly, and I don’t use that much.

It’s also available in a larger, more economical tin that retails for about $40.


10. Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil ($9)


I have very dry skin, and most normal moisturizers just aren’t moisturizing enough for me. In my quest for a longer lasting moisturizer, I discovered after-bath oils.

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Oil fits neatly into the my sub-$10 slot. Apply this mix of sweet almond oil, wheat germ, and grapeseed oil to damp skin. You need much less oil this way, and it absorbs much quicker.



I love the moisturizing effect this oil has, but because of the lemon peel oil, it does have a strong lemony scent (which seems a lot stronger in the bottle than it does on me). I think this is a perfect after-bath oil, especially during the colder months.

There’s a wide world of affordable DIY beauty tips and trick out there, but partly because I have sensitive skin, and also because I don’t always want to spend the time, I prefer the convenience of these store-bought versions.

Even if you aren’t on a tight budget, I think all of these are awesome buys. 😀

Since we’re on the subject of bargains, what are your favorite budget luxuries?

RadhikaAbout the Author
This guest post was written by Radhika of Weekend Ramblings. You can also find Radhika on Twitter and Facebook.


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So far, 38 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. What a great post! I think I will have to pick up that mud bar next time I am at Lush. With Summer fast approaching I’ve been feeling anxious about baring my pale,dry skin. Hopefully this will help!

    xx Louise

  2. April says:

    Love this post! I like Revlon cuticle trimmers ($2-3)

  3. Joyce says:

    I’ve been using the Olay Daily Facial Cloths since high school. (gosh, I feel old >_
    Joyce recently posted … Review + Swatches: Pixi Lumi Lux Bronze Palette in No.1 Rosy Sunrise

    • Rads says:

      😀 😀 Me too..been a long while since high school 😀

      • Joyce says:

        The rest of my comment got cut off for some reason, =( but I just wanted to add that these facial cloths are really handy when I’m doing product swatches on my arms. Also, I usually cut then up in quarters and they last a very long time. =)

  4. Manu says:

    Radhika! You mentioned the Burt’s Bees Cuticle Cream! Me and my room mate swear by it….this wonderful little find has totally been a life changer for the both of us 🙂 I am completely unaware of Lush’s awesome (Especially since you called yourself a total Lushie) What’s your take on combination skin? Could you recommend a good Lush face mask/toner for me?

    • Rads says:

      It is awesome, isn’t it?!! Lush face mask..if you have blemishes or acne, try Cosmetic Warrior face mask..it smells a bit..hmmm..oddd..because it has tea tree in it (apart from garlic and egg 😛 :P) but it’s just great for treating the oily/acne problem. If you have sort of normal skin but it’s dull, then try Brazened Honey..it works great at brightening up dull skin and gives a bit of a scrubbing effect too. Toners..they have don’t have the alcohol-based toners..more like waters, and I sort of like the Tea Tree toner, but it’s very mild and you won’t see any drastic difference with it..just my personal opinion on it, though a lot of people like it a lot!

      Long comment..but hope it helps 😀
      Rads recently posted … Snapshot Love! Supermoon

      • Manu says:

        I know its been ages BUT i finally caved and got myself the lush brazened honey along with the full of grace serum and I think its amazing! I especially love love the serum! Thanks tons for your advice Radhika 🙂

  5. This is awesome! Will def be picking some of this stuff up!

  6. Ria says:

    Great choices! Mine are the Revlon colorstay (which you can find on ebay for less than $10) and the figs&rouge balms (best balms I’ve ever tried), again, less than $10 on asos. I just wish we had Lush here! *sigh*
    Have a good day!
    Ria recently posted … Peep toes pedi. And a cute bow. And stuff.

  7. Visakhi says:

    its such a lovely post… I have not tried anythng in this list, as these r nt available here.. But I will try to buy through my relatives 🙂

    • Rads says:

      Lush is the only in the list that I would get in India..the rest I get to use here in the US or have to ask people to get it for me 😀

  8. Advah says:

    Brilliant post, Radhika! I might have to go check out a few of those products this afternoon! 😉

  9. Ramya says:

    Great one Rads… adding 1, 6 and 10 to my list 🙂

    • Rads says:

      Hii Ramya 🙂 Crabtree Evelyn makes these hand remedy kits that have both the scrub and the cream in one small pack..try those if you find them 🙂

  10. Katrina says:

    I am totally a Lushie too! 😀 Love their products. BB Seaweed is my favorite of their fresh masks.

  11. LauraA says:

    Three cheers for the Burt’s cuticle cream–my husband had rough-looking cuticles and frequent hang nails that the Burt’s cured. His hands look a million times better, after he swiped my container of the cream. 🙂

    Also, the Shiseido cottons are wonderful. I love the fact that when I remove eye makeup and nail polish, I don’t have to battle cotton thread residue.

    Thank you for contributing–I’ve enjoyed this and all of your posts this past week.

    • Rads says:

      We don’t get Burt’s Bees back in India, so I have been buying their products like crazy now that I have access to them..and most of the products I have tried are so good, especially for the price! And, Shiseido cotton..always used to wonder what everyone was raving about until I got hooked 😀 😀

      I am so glad Karen let me write here…love MBB (and Tabs) 😀

  12. Jenny says:

    I´m enjoying a lot your posts Radhika! Thrifty tips for the Lush face masks: store them in the freezer, not the fridge, and they will last more than 2-3 weeks. When you´re going to use them, just take them out of the freezer 5 minutes before and the mask will be ready to apply it to the face. Also the effect of the mask is the same as when you store it in the fridge. I have used Lush fresh face masks almost 2 months after I bought them and they had the same effect and consistency as the day I bought them storing them in the freezer 🙂

    Another trick is using a foundation brush (I use one from a Sigma set) to apply the mask. I used to take the mask with my fingers and extend it all over my face with them and I got about 5 uses, then I started taking and applying my Lush face masks with the foundation brush and I get now about 8 uses of it!

    Btw, do you know a good but “cheap” moisturizer for normal skin (between $10 to $24)? I´m a little on a budget right now and I just finished my daily moisturizer & is a little expensive!

    • Rads says:

      Oh..it works the same is it..I read somewhere that the essential oils in the mask get ruined with storing in the freezer so never tried that! I don’t experiment much with moisturizers, but I did find the Olay Total Effects one sort of nice and also one from Melvita that I am trying out right now seems good. My usual moisturizer is Lush’s Dream Cream…I know it’s a body moisturizer but it works great for my face, and it’s such a HUGE tub 😀 😀

  13. Jen says:

    I LOVE the Burt’s Bees cuticle cream! Every time I take it out at work, my coworkers like to smell it. 😛 But it works so well and lasts forever!

    Great post!
    Jen recently posted … still alive

  14. Beauty says:

    Woww gr88 post and the skin care stuff you have talked about are quite inexpensive too….!!

  15. Nina says:

    I LOVE this list! Sad that my nose rebels at the scent of LUSH. :-/ Target sells a Vitamin E Oil thats my staple during what passes for winter weather here … cost me all of 6 bucks, and calmed the flakies down! 🙂

    • Rads says:

      Haaa ya Lush get that reaction from a lot of people 😀 My friend claims she gets a headache with some of their scents! Target sells Vitamin E oil? I need to try that out..!!!

        • Nina says:

          They do! It also works for kittycat scratches! One of my three furkiddos got overexcited and scratched me on the nose. When it wasnt wound-y anymore, I rubbed Vit E oil and it didnt scar!

          I get my cotton pads at a Japanese novelty store. Its three bucks a package and its soft and pillowy. 🙂

  16. Yin says:

    If anyone has a MUJI near them (NYCers, anyone?), they sell awesome but cheap cotton squares. ~$3.50 (prices go up and down) for a pack of 120. I swear by them, and they look identical to the Shiseido ones you post. I’ve sworn off drugstore brands forever now that I’ve found them. 😀

  17. Anita Strohl says:

    Do you know of any body lotion/oil that would be particularly useful by swimmers?
    I must swim but the chlorine is killing my over 50 skin.

  18. I like all especially this one Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil…

  19. Sanya Rai says:

    Oriflame Beauty Hollywood Lipstick – Rs 398. Beat it!

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