13 Skin Care Products Under $50 That Deliver Results

Incorporating “active” ingredients (like AHAs, BHAs and antioxidants) into your skin care routine can make a big difference and improve the overall appearance and health of your complexion.

That said, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the more expensive the beauty product, the more effective it is — these days, that’s simply not the case. There are myriad skin care brands and products at lower price points that are just as effective as pricey luxury items.

But while there are plenty of affordable beauty brands around, not all of them are made equally. It takes a lot of trial and error to find the ones that are as effective as they are low-cost, and the last thing you want to do is wreck your skin in the process.

That’s why we’ve made it easy for you to figure out what’s best for your skin (and budget) by finding the very best affordable, effective skin care products that won’t break the bank.

Below, we’ve curated a list of skin care products under $50 that actually work. Each of these is tried-and-true — with devoted cult followings, recommendations from dermatologists and glowing reviews. It includes brands like Paula’s Choice, The Inkey List, Maelove and more. Keep reading to find the one that best fits your skin’s needs while staying on budget.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.


Maelove The Glow Maker serum

Maelove’s Glow Maker serum has long being considered an affordable alternative for those who covet the ultra-pricey SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic acid serum. This cult favorite has the same balance of active ingredients, including vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid and hyaluronic acid. It drenches the skin in healing antioxidants that can help improve brightness and texture while infusing it with hydrating and nourishing botanicals.

Promising reviews: “Wow. I’m 61, and after two weeks of using this my cousin who I have not seen in 3 years told me my skin looked so smooth and bright.” — Debbie J.

“Amazing product! I’ve seen a massive difference since I started using The Glow Maker! It makes my skin glow and has helped with dark spots. I am going to continue purchasing!” — Robert S.


Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré face cream

This French drugstore-brand moisturizer is everywhere these days, beloved by influencers, models, makeup artists and our own staff writer Tessa Flores. It has a sensitive-skin-friendly formula that includes calming aloe vera, protective beeswax, nourishing soy proteins and skin-softening shea butter.

Promising review: “I’m 43 and live in Colorado and I’m not kidding when I say I have tried 20+ moisturizers in the past few years trying to find something that works in the winter for my super fair, super sensitive skin. I tend to break out easily with certain ingredients and fragrances, also often deal with flaking/redness. It has been so hard to find something that is moisturizing ENOUGH that doesn’t break out or irritate my skin, but still actually works. I’ve tried so many Sephora lines as well as Biossance and Caudalie, numerous drugstore brands in all price ranges, but this cream is amazing. Moisturizing enough to use as a night cream but not so greasy that you can’t wear it during the day under makeup, and super soothing for redness and irritation.” — KaritaG


Black Girl Sunscreen moisturizing sunscreen lotion SPF 30

SPF is a non-negotiable regardless of skin tone, but it’s not easy to find formulas that don’t leave a white cast. Makeup artist Kierra Lanice Wray just recently recommended Black Girl Sunscreen’s lightweight hybrid formula. It’s made with zinc oxide, aloe, lavender and shea butter and leaves skin dewy, soft, smooth and healthy — as well as protected.

Promising review: “I absolutely love this sunscreen and will forever repurchase it. It leaves my extremely dry skin looking super dewy. It is a necessary step before applying my makeup! The only downside for me personally is that i wish it was more than spf 30 but im looking to try their new hybrid formula that’s spf 50.” — Dom


Differin Adapalene gel

Dr. Shari Sperling, a board-certified dermatologist at Sperling Dermatology in New York and New Jersey, told HuffPost previously, “Retinol helps promote cell turnover, stimulate collagen, reduce discoloration and restore your skin’s natural texture and tone. Differin, which used to be prescription-only but is now available over the counter, is a great product for acne and anti-aging.” Use it to spot treat acne or all over to help prevent breakouts and help with overall skin health.

Promising review: “My dermatologist recommended this to me for the comedonal acne on my forehead. She said it could take up to 3 months to work, but within 7 days of using it, my forehead was mostly clear. I am thrilled and will keep using this from now on. I use a good moisturizer afterward and it hasn’t been drying out my skin.” — Olivia


Laneige lip sleeping mask

Laneige lip sleeping mask is a wildly popular lip mask and for good reason. It creates a seal on the lips that lets the product’s hydrating ingredients soak in. Wake up to soft, hydrated and thoroughly nourished lips of your youth with minimal effort.

Promising review: “I absolutely love this lip mask. I’ve tried other ones and this one is just so soft and stays on well but doesn’t feel sticky. The scent is nice and subtle. The chocolate one has a bit of a brown cast to it which does show more than the pinkish berry one. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the little silicone tipped spatula thingy – it is so nice to use. I like using that so much more than using my fingers. My lips have been a lot softer since I’ve been using this regularly. Since the chocolate is smaller, I use that one for travel mainly and use the pink more for night time when I’m home.” — Pandalu


Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA liquid salicylic acid exfoliant

Similarly to The Ordinary’s exfoliating treatment, Paula’s Choice uses a potent blend of BHAs to help gently resurface acne-prone, rough and dull skin. It can help to unclog pores, smooth wrinkles and even out skin tone. It’s less abrasive than other treatments, and also hydrates and smoothes out skin without causing damage or irritation.

Promising review: “I had wanted to try this for a long time so I finally got the travel sized bottle to give it a go and it’s been great. I disagree with the reviews saying it’s tiny, it is small but it’s the same ounces as my other serums but without the thick glass bottle and dropper. The travel sized bottle has lasted me a month at this point and has about a third left and I use it once a day. I would say if you used a cotton pad to apply it then it would probably go a lot quicker so I prefer to use my fingers immediately after washing my face. Anyways, this works miracles and hasn’t dried my skin out yet when using with a Hyaluronic acid serum over top. I’ve gotten compliments on my skin a lot and people thinking I’m wearing foundation when I’m not. I tried differin and tretinoin last year for several months each and never got results like this. I also am allergic to so so many cosmetics and this has yet to cause me to get the flaky rash that I so easily get around my mouth and eyes. My only tiny complaint might be that the texture can feel a smidge oily/heavy at first, but it really isn’t too bad and it sinks in after about 10 minutes to where you wouldn’t notice it more than any other skincare product. I also think I notice that less when I use it immediately after washing my face when my skin is still not totally dried out, which maybe helps it sink in quicker, I’m not sure. I highly recommend giving this a try though. For $13 you would definitely have enough product to see some results before deciding to splurge on the full size.” — Rhyann Wilson


EltaMD UV Clear tinted sunscreen SPF 46

Dr. Brendan Camp, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York, noted that this mineral sunscreen is great for people who have breakout-prone skin. This is the tinted version, but you can also grab a clear one if you prefer a natural, clean slate. It doesn’t clog pores or feel heavy and has a lovely soft finish that isn’t too oily. It’s the perfect combination of skin care and makeup.

Promising review: “I was prone to breakouts from other sunscreens which made me not want to wear them. Elta MD is a great dermatologist recommend sunscreen that keeps your pores clear while providing break protection and a tinted appearance. Great to wear alone or as a base layer in your make up routine. Will be buying again.” — Madi


Paula’s Choice Boost 10% azelaic acid booster serum

Azelaic acid is a must for anyone hoping to reduce the look of dark spots and fade acne scarring, while also targeting active breakouts with the help of salicylic acid. It’s a very effective, versatile serum that’s available at a very reasonable price. Many reviewers also note that it works wonders for those with rosacea.

Promising review: “Great product. This cream is a perfect solution for oily parts of my face. It blurs pores and makes my skin tone even. It was a great preventive treatment for my acne as well.” — Jane


First Aid Beauty hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid

Leave your skin bouncy and firm with this popular and highly-rated serum from First Aid Beauty. Camp stated that “hyaluronic acid (HA) is normally found in skin, and functions to attract water molecules to keep skin moisturized. Using an HA serum at night helps skin recover from environmental stresses from the preceding day.”

Promising review: “Bye bye wrinkles. I absolutely love their products. This hyraluronic Acid is the best non greasy fast absorbent. It leaves my skin looking bright. I love the way my face feels after using it and i can still apply my makeup after using without clumping or smearing. It has also done wonders for my aging neck. Get old stinks but this is making it a little less of a problem.” — Kelly McConnell

The Ordinary

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% exfoliating peeling solution

Hardcore skin care devotees rave about The Ordinary’s 10-minute chemical peel in a bottle. It’s a blood-hued exfoliating treatment that can help with acne, skin texture and dullness. It harnesses the power of both AHAs and BHAs like glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid, which exfoliate the skin and pores to help reduce congestion.

Promising review: “Was skeptical given the price. This is a miracle product. I tried it before going to bed one night, not thinking it would do much and I realized when I looked in the mirror the next morning that my skin was visibly smoother and less textured. I chalked it up to good sleep but after it happened a couple more times after using this product I realized it’s the serum that’s making my skin look so good. I had my mom try it as well and she said the thing. It does sting a little when applied (do NOT apply to wet or damp skin- must be dry) but it’s not bad at all for me. I use this weekly and my skin has never looked better!” — barb99


Image Skincare Vital C hydrating enzyme masque

While a face mask might seem high-maintenance, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a way to pop it into your routine even just once or twice a week. This is a great option for those who want the luxury skin care experience but don’t want to go into major debt trying to get the skin of their dreams. According to Sperling, “this mask is soothing, anti-aging, hydrating and is great for all skin types, including dry/dehydrated skin. It leaves the skin looking and feeling refreshed.”

Promising review: “After a year of use I cannot say enough good things about this product. I have a mix of dry and oily very sensitive skin. Most exfoliating products either give me hives, cause breakouts, burn, or leave the skin more dry than before. This product smells fantastic (pineapple/orange), is so unbelievably gentle, and leaves skin feeling clean and moisturized. It feels like a professional facial in a bottle. It’s helped reduce breakouts and even out my skin tone as well. I use 1-2 times a week on a wet face after the shower before any other products or just in the shower after cleanser. Worth every penny even if you don’t have an elaborate skin care regimen.” — KayliJean


The Inkey List 20% niacinamide serum

Niacinamide is one of those wonderfully versatile antioxidants that generally works well with a range of skin types and addresses everything from uneven skin texture to signs of aging and excess oil production. This Inkey List serum has a whopping 20% concentration of niacinamide along with hydrating squalene and zinc to help balance it all out. As Dr. Carmen Castilla, a board-certified New York-based dermatologist, mentioned in a previous article, “the 20% niacinamide concentration is relatively high and has the potential to be irritating. However, the formulation also has squalene, a fatty acid, which can help support the skin barrier and may prevent irritation.”

Promising review: “New added product for my routine! So I have used this product for about 2 months … It works! Before my face would be super oily and shiny at the end of the day, but when I would put this on every morning my face is completely not oily! it really works very well, a good bit will be good and it will be a little tacky. Put it on after all your serums and before your moisturizer.” — ClearCleanBeaut


Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Advanced repair barrier cream

For anyone seeking deep, restorative hydration, this barrier repair cream is a must. It’s great for dry patches, irritated skin and anyone who needs to add an extra dollop of moisture to their routine. Colloidal oatmeal and beta glucan soothe, reduce redness, smooth and support skin’s natural barrier. It’s just as nourishing and effective as pricey creams like SkinFix and Sunday Riley, but it won’t leave you panicking about the cost.

Promising review: “Love love love this moisturizer!! It has such a rich and balmy texture that relieves the dryness on my skin the second I put it on.” — hafsamlb

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