Guide to Skincare On A Budget

What up, what’s happening folks! Over the last 3 months or so, I’ve graduated from the basic take makeup off and wash face routine to a more refined, multistep routine of skincare. The catalyst for this big change happened when I realized that I should really invest in good skincare. Truthfully, I wanted to develop a routine so that I wouldn’t have to spend a ton of money on foundation, concealer, etc. I don’t have anything against makeup; I do believe it is another form of personal expression that can be used to boost self confidence. Makeup and skincare do go hand in hand because when one has healthy skin, the process of applying makeup goes by a lot smoother and the end product will look 100x better. Having healthy skin provides a solid base for makeup, so having a skincare routine will help achieve just that!

I love to do all my research before I purchase products, so this caused me to go in a rabbit hole of reading through various guides on how to change up your skincare routine. I even learned about the 10 steps of Korean skincare and even adopted some of the steps into my own routine. After spending hours reading through different reviews and guides, I adopted my own system of taking care of my skin. Before you go out and start buying products, it is important to find out what type of skin you have. There are a plethora of online quizzes you can take to help you out! Once decide on your skin type, read up on different products that will be beneficial for your skin. From there, you can read reviews on different products and really customize your own system based on your skin’s needs.

Fair warning, I go into depth in this post. So sit back, relax, and get some tea because you’re in for 15 minute class (not really, but it’s longer than my usual posts). I will be outlining my nighttime and morning routines and explaining my steps, as well as reviewing the products I use. Before I continue, I just wanna put out a disclaimer and say that I am not a licensed dermatologist or esthetician. I am just genuinely curious and interested about skincare. Also, this post is NOT sponsored, all thoughts are my own! Throughout this post, you’ll find that most of the products I use can be found at Target, Walmart, CVS, etc. Here is my guide to starting your skincare routine:

My Nighttime Skincare Routine

1. Makeup Removal

This is probably the most important step because it gets rid of the makeup from the pores, letting them breathe, and allowing the skin to regenerate itself during sleep. I used to use only makeup remover wipes, but soon realized that this isn’t as effective as using a cleanser like micellar water. Although this may sound fancy, it’s really simple. Basically, the idea of micellar water is that is has micelles that are attracted to dirt and oil out, drawing these impurities out of the skin. Sisters, I gotta tell ya: THIS STUFF REALLY WORKS! It’s super effective and gentle at the same time! The best thing about micellar water is that it can work on any skin type and won’t irritate the skin like makeup wipes can.


I use Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-In-One Waterproof Makeup Remover. It retails for $6.99 at Target and is 13.5 Fl oz. What I love about this makeup remover is that is also doubles as a cleanser. So even on the days that I don’t wear makeup, I’ll still use this before I cleanse. I also love that this micellar water is capable of removing waterproof eyeliner without being heavily rubbed in. Seriously, all you have to do is saturate a cotton pad with this water, press gently over eyes and swipe off. The feeling of seeing a clean eyelid and all the darn eyeliner on the cotton pad is truly glorious!

2. Cleanse

The second step of my system and the simplest. The point of cleansing is that it takes the makeup removal step further by ensuring that there isn’t makeup residue leftover. If there is, cleansing will get rid of it!


The cleanser I use is the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. This cleanser is gentle enough for my sensitive, combination skin and leaves my skin feeling oh so fresh! I use it both in the morning and at night. I find that 1 pump is more than enough to create a good lather so I only use half a pump. Because of this, I feel that the 16 Fl oz bottle I have will last me a while. You can get this product for around $9.99 at Target and most drugstores (prices may vary).

3. Tone

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never even used toner before this past summer! To be honest, I was scared to use toner because I didn’t want it to strip down my skin of all the oils, leaving my face feeling like the Sahara Desert. After reading up on the topic of facial toner, I’ve learned that the use of toner is totally up to the person’s discretion. While not terribly necessary for skincare, facial toner can be beneficial for those with oily skin and/or clogged pores. Gone are the days that toner was only seen as a drying astringent. Today, toner can consist of a variety of different formulations specific to the different skin types.


The toner I use is the Shea Moisture African Black Soap Problem Skin Toner. It comes in a 4.2 oz spray bottle and retails for $9.99 at Target. The main key ingredients of this toner are African Black Soap, Tamarind Extract, and Tea Tree Oil. This product is meant to clean pores and control oil and shine. I find that it does exactly that! In the past two months of using this toner, my skin has had less breakouts and looks visibly clearer and more radiant. What’s also great is that it smells amazing, like a minty aroma with hints of citrus. If you have oily skin, I’d recommend this toner!

4. Exfoliate

The purpose to exfoliating is to remove the top layer of dead skin cells in order to stimulate higher cell turnover from the skin cells in the underlying dermis. This results in restoring facial clarity and brightness. There are two types of facial exfoliants: physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation. Physical exfoliation is when you manually scrub the dead skin layer off your face. Chemical exfoliation is when you use an exfoliate containing active ingredients Alpha Hydroxy Acids or enzymes that will chemically break down the dead skin cells.

I am quite new to this step and have been using a sample size of Clinique’s 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula. I exfoliate at least 2 times a week. Since introducing this step to my routine for the past month, I’ve noticed that my skin is noticeably brighter and softer. There are so many types of facial exfoliators out on the market, so you’ll definitely be able to find one that fits your skin type and price range.

5. Essence/Serum/Treatments

This step is where the fun starts! The purpose of an essence is to prepare you skin for the next step in the skincare routine and help in the skin regeneration process. Contrastingly, serums are similar to essences, but are more concentrated in active ingredients. Using both an essence and serum isn’t absolutely necessary and you can decide for yourself which works better for you. I personally haven’t used an essence or a serum yet since I’m still doing my own research about them.


I added treatments on this list because this is where I apply my acne spot treatment. The products I use for this step are prescribed by my doctor and have 1% Clindamycin phosphate and Retin-A cream. I apply the Clindamycin 2x a day (morning and night) and the Retin-A cream at night. I find that the more consistent I am in doing this step, the faster my breakouts go away.

6. Moisturize

The last step of my nighttime routine! This is by far the easiest step because literally all you do is apply moisturizer to your face. The moisturizer I am currently using is the Nivea Soft Crème. It has Jojoba Oil and Vitamin E, so it is SUPER moisturizing! It’s also incredibly wallet friendly; the 6.8 oz tub goes for around $5.39 at Target.

nightcreamMy first impression of this moisturizer was that it is a thick crème; it does leave a dewy sheen after application.  I don’t really mind this because I only use this moisturizer at night before I go to bed. When I wake up in the morning, the dewiness is gone probably because my skin as already absorbed the moisture by then. Overall, I am a fan of this moisturizer. It gets the job done, is fairly cheap, and will last a long time.


For this step, I like to put on a mud mask after cleansing or exfoliating (depends on the day I do exfoliate). The mud mask I’ve been using for the past year is one I got from TJ Maxx for around $5. The reason it’s lasted this long is because I only mud mask weekly. Since I have oily skin, I feel like mud masking really cleans out my pores and keeps the oil at bay. It also brightens my skin and makes it feel thoroughly clean without leaving it feeling tight or over dried.


My Morning Skincare Routine

1. Cleanse

I use my Cetaphil facial cleanser to remove any leftover acne spot treatment residue.

2. Tone

I spray 2 pumps of the Shea Moisture African Black Soap toner onto a cotton pad and gently swipe my face and neck. Sometimes I’ll skin the cotton pad and just spray the toner to my face and pat in.

3. Treatment

Following the toner, I apply my clindamycin gel to areas that need to be treated.

4. Moisturize

I use a different facial moisturizer in the mornings because my night moisturizer leaves my skin looking shiny. I use the Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer for Combination Skin. This moisturizer comes in a 4 fl oz bottle and is $9.59 at Target.

dailymoisturizerWhat I really love about this moisturizer is that it leaves my skin with a matte finish after application. It also doesn’t really have a scent, so it is perfect for everyday use. For my oily skinned sisters, I highly recommend!

5. SPF

I always make sure to put on SPF before I leave the house, no matter the weather. I use the Eucerin Daily Protection Face Lotion (SPF 30). I’ve been using this product for years and consider it a staple. It is a fast absorbing lotion and doesn’t leave a greasy finish. It’s also good for sensitive skin. I do find that I have to be careful with how much I apply because it can sometimes leave my skin looking ashy. When is does happen (and it rarely does), I just spend more time blending it into my skin.

You’ve made it to the end of the guide! I hope you find this helpful in creating your own skincare routine. Although I went into depth about the products and steps in my routine, I wanna disclose that drinking a lot of water, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and exercising does wonders to maintaining healthy skin. No product, no matter how expensive, will ever be a replacement for these things. Healthy skin is the product of how we take care of our bodies, so it is important to place value in self care.

Until next time!


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