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- You don't have to spend a fortune to get great skincare products that work.
- The Insider Reviews team shared their favorite skincare products for battling acne — all under $25.
- Still on the hunt? You can find our 18 favorite skincare brands to shop here.
Skincare can be a sensitive topic. Everyone has different concerns, but ultimately, we all have the same goal of feeling and looking good in our own skin.
The truth is, despite all the magazines and websites telling you otherwise, you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on skincare to see results. Sometimes simpler (and cheaper) really is better.
I asked my coworkers to share the affordable skincare products they use and love, because who better to take advice from than a discerning bunch of product reviewers?
26 skincare products under $25 that we swear by:
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
As someone with acne-prone skin, joining the serum bandwagon seemed scary until I tried this product from The Ordinary. Although I experienced a slight tingling sensation on my skin right after the first few applications, the serum now goes on perfectly fine. The star ingredients are niacinamide and zinc, which help to minimize the appearance of blemishes and control oil production.
Within a day of my first application, I noticed one stubborn acne scar, in particular, had lightened up a bit. And after five months of using this serum, this product has played a part in keeping my acne at bay, evening my skin tone, and making a more radiant complexion. — Katie Decker-Jacoby, former Insider Reviews fellow
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
I've been hearing about First Aid Beauty all over the internet and didn't understand the hype at first. The packaging and formulation just scream 'typical moisturizer,' but that's what makes it a go-to for my evening skincare routine. Its ingredient list includes colloidal oatmeal, ceramides, and soothing eucalyptus oil, and its allergen-tested, fragrance-free, acne-preventing goop is pure moisture.
It's the simplest skincare product I've ever owned, but simply the most revolutionary for my skin as it has not caused a trace of acne. My father and boyfriend always ask me to use some if they are experiencing dry skin, which is fitting as the product is made to help relieve eczema irritations. A larger, more expensive option is available too. — Victoria Giardina, former Insider Reviews fellow
CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
As an avid Sephora and Ulta shopper, I was pleasantly surprised that this drugstore option was the perfect fit for my dry skin. My dermatologist recommended the CeraVe line to me for my skin type, and it never disappoints. Some face masks and serums irritate my skin, especially if you're like me and like to try out new brands, but CeraVe is the one constant skincare brand I use and will continue to repurchase. It never led to facial breakouts either and you can build up the foam to your preference with water. —Victoria Giardina, former Insider Reviews fellow
Rezamid Acne Lotion
I got really bad acne at 27 and a dermatologist recommended this product to me. It's a sulfur-based lotion that dries completely so you can wear it under makeup or to bed. I apply it to pimples as I feel them sprouting up and it knocks them back pretty effectively in a day or two. — Stephanie Hallett, senior personal finance editor
Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes
The most important step in preventing acne (if you ask me, at least), is removing makeup, dirt, and grime from your pores before you go to bed. I personally find these gentle makeup wipes to be the best for the job, but I also sometimes use Simple's Micellar Water and a reusable cotton pad if I have a little more time. The wipes are just super convenient. — Sally Kaplan, Insider Reviews executive editor
Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion
For cystic acne that comes around each month, I'll use this heavy-duty liquid. It's very watery so I have to layer it on almost like a serum, but it helps me get rid of angry red bumps faster and better than the brand's Drying Lotion; I find that the Drying Lotion is better for whiteheads. — Jada Wong, former Insider Reviews senior editor
Neosporin Original Antibiotic Ointment
For any whiteheads that I pick (sorry to all the derms I've loved before…), I try to heal it with a bit of Neosporin. At this point, that whitehead has become an open lesion, so an antibiotic ointment helps speed up the healing process. — Jada Wong, former Insider Reviews senior editor
I've been using this trick since high school, and it's still the fastest and most effective means I've found for healing blemishes I picked at. It speeds up the process, totally negates dryness, doesn't clog pores, and keeps me from touching them and introducing more germs. — Mara Leighton, Insider Reviews senior reporter
Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser
It's not so much that I've seen results from switching to this, other than that nothing with my face happens — in the best possible way. When I use this I have no concerns at all about how my face is going to look. Whatever this is made of, it's great. — Breton Fischetti, former VP of commerce
Mighty Patch Hydrocolloid Acne Absorbing Pimple Spot Dot
This is my go-to solution for those angry, pus-filled pimples that sprout on your face at the most inopportune times. The stickers absorb the nasty fluids from your pimples and you can directly see the results: When you take off the sticker the next morning (or even as soon as a few hours, depending on the nature of the pimple), the sticker turns white with the pus it has absorbed, and your pimple will have noticeably deflated.
Since they're clear, I've even worn them during the day to work, and no one bats an eye. Though they're more expensive than most other brands, I've found these particular patches to be much more effective at healing the pimple and they also adhere to the skin better. — Connie Chen, former Insider Reviews senior reporter
My life would have been drastically better in high school had these existed then. They're incredible at diminishing the size and severity of intense blemishes overnight — and it counteracts my tendency to pick at them, which keeps fears of new bad germs or longterm scarring out of the equation.— Mara Leighton, Insider Reviews senior reporter
Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser
Cetaphil is, quite literally, the only thing I put on my face (besides SPF, of course). I have very sensitive skin, so often beloved acne-fighting face washes cause me to break out more.
I've used Cetaphil's traditional Gentle Face Cleanser for years, but I recently switched over to the Gentle Foaming Cleanser, and I noticed a difference immediately. I have combination skin, so my forehead is oily and breakout-prone while the rest of my face is constantly dry. The foam formula is the perfect balance between combating the oil on my forehead without drying out the rest of my face. The first time I used the Gentle Foam Cleanser, I woke up genuinely shocked to see a pimple-free forehead without feeling tight and dry. Considering I put a total of two products on my face, I'm confident that Cetaphil is a champion for sensitive skin. — Emily Hein, Insider Reviews story producer
Muji High Moisture Light Toning Water
My face would look like an exoskeleton if not for this extremely moisturizing toner. Muji's skincare line is the brand's unsung hero, but I would write an entire musical about this product if I had the creative energy. It's extremely hydrating, gentle on sensitive skin, and doubles as both a toner and a moisturizer — especially useful during the summer when you really only want a thin, lightweight layer of product on your face. — Sally Kaplan, Insider Reviews executive editor
Saturday Skin Cotton Cloud Mask
Available at Soko Glam, from $6
Face masks are a fun, affordable way to treat your skin when it needs a little boost. I recently tried this Saturday Skin face mask and it did wonders for my jet-lagged skin. Beyond the adorable packaging, this super-moisturizing mask is packed with prebiotics and probiotics to give your skin serious hydration and radiance. — Remi Rosmarin, former Insider Reviews reporter
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
Mario Badescu's drying lotion is magic. It's an acne spot treatment that dries out whiteheads while you sleep so they're virtually gone by the next morning. A bottle of this stuff lasts me a good six months or so. — Ellen Hoffman, Service Journalism editor-in-chief
Fleur & Bee Rosewater Toner
I recently started using this toner from the totally vegan company because I was tired of dealing with my adult acne. I really like how subtle yet sweet the scent of rose-flower oil is and that it helps manage my oily skin throughout the day. Plus, I know exactly what I'm putting on my face. — Francesca Rea, story production manager
Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1%
Differin is a retinoid that, until recently, you needed a prescription in order to get. My dermatologist recommended it to me as a common workaround for a nearly identical prescription that typically retails for $233. Since using it, my skin's texture is the best it's ever been — no rough, uneven bumps. It also helped clear up my skin in only a few days while on vacation. It's my most-trusted over-the-counter topical treatment. You can find a full review here. — Mara Leighton, Insider Reviews senior reporter
CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion
Sometimes basic is best, like in the case of this simple CeraVe lotion. It's lightweight, but still very moisturizing and has a silky smooth texture that feels great on your face. As a result of my job and a genuine curiosity about skincare, I'm always trying new products with a range of ingredients. I love having this lotion as my control; its simple formula can be layered over everything, and I know I can always rely on it for consistently soft skin. — Remi Rosmarin, former Insider Reviews reporter
Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 15
I've used cheap drugstore moisturizers, fancy moisturizers that cost more than I'm willing to admit to the internet, and everything in between. And I've got to hand it to Aveeno; this is the only one I've used consistently since high school. I'm always surprised by how few of those fancy moisturizers include SPF, but this one does and it feels light and never greasy on my skin, which makes it one of my go-tos, especially in the summer. — Ellen Hoffman, Service Journalism editor-in-chief
As Ellen mentions, Aveeno really deserves praise for this one. I've tried my fair share of moisturizers in life (enough to enter Sephora VIB land in high school alone), and while I have my pricey lotion splurges, I'll probably never stop stocking this in my bathroom cabinet.
It adds a visible luminosity, makes my skin feel noticeably softer, and has never clogged my pores. It's a bit more expensive than other drugstore brands, but if you're going to shop on the cheaper end of the spectrum this is the best one you'll get. — Mara Leighton, Insider Reviews senior reporter
Tonymoly I'm Real Sheet Masks
When I went to Seoul, Korea for the first time, I was an ignorant person who had never used a sheet mask or any face mask, for that matter (I know, I know, insane!). Before I left, I asked my friends what I should bring back from my trip, and they all said the same thing: Tonymoly sheet masks. So I dutifully went to the busy shopping district in Seoul and wandered through skincare shop after skincare shop, laden down with free samples until I found Tonymoly and bought three packs.
I now use these sheet masks from Tonymoly regularly (especially in the winter) to hydrate my skin. Since the ingredients are plant-based and gentle, these masks don't irritate my skin, either. — Malarie Gokey, lead training coordinator
Aztec Secret Clay Mask
This cheap cult-favorite clay mask is a gem hiding out in the open. It's 100% bentonite clay, which sucks oil and grime out of your pores like a magnet. And, combined with apple cider vinegar, it resurfaces rough skin to a baby-smooth texture. Over time, the exfoliation can also even out your skin tone. It's gotten me to a place where I can go with or without makeup comfortably. You can find my full review here.
I use it for five to 10 minutes once or twice on my face every week, or more frequently as a DIY pore strip for my nose. I prefer to use it with apple cider vinegar rather than water, and I'm careful to never leave it on longer than the recommended amount so my skin doesn't start compensating for dryness by producing more oil. — Mara Leighton, Insider Reviews senior reporter
Brickell Men's Purifying Charcoal Face Wash
I used Brickell's Charcoal Face Wash for the first time after receiving it in a Birchbox and once the small sample ran out, I quickly purchased more. This is my go-to facial cleanser because unlike most cheap cleansers, it doesn't strip away moisture. The charcoal does a great job of deep-cleaning my pores and the blend of peppermint and eucalyptus oils gives a really refreshing and invigorating sensation. — Amir Ismael, Insider Reviews senior reporter
Noble Formula 2% Pyrithione Zinc (ZnP) Original Emu Bar Soap
If you want your face to feel squeaky clean (not an exaggeration at all) after just one use, try this exfoliating bar soap. It has 2% pyrithione zinc, which has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, so anyone who suffers from acne, eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis can benefit from using it. Other beneficial ingredients include olive oil to moisturize your skin, emu oil to combat inflammation and swelling, and calendula to heal dry, damaged skin.
I've been using it for over a month now and it's always soothing to use at the end of the day when I want to really clean out the oil and dirt that has accumulated on my face. — Connie Chen, former Insider Reviews senior reporter
I owe finding this in the landslide of products on Amazon to a recommendation from my dermatologist. It's the only bar of soap I've finished and then subsequently replaced in recent memory. It's unassuming, but it works exceptionally well. I use this just for my body, and the 2% pyrithione zinc clarifies while the oatmeal exfoliates, and the emu and olive oil leave my skin feeling moisturized rather than stripped. To put it simply, it does exactly what you'd want it to do. — Mara Leighton, Insider Reviews senior reporter
L'Oreal Paris Revitalift 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum
After a combination of traveling, stress, and way too many desserts over the holidays, I experienced one of the worst breakouts I've had in years. I tried all of my fanciest skincare products in an effort to clear it up, and while they sped up the process, they did nothing for the dark spots and scars that were left behind. After just three days of using this glycolic acid serum, the spots were less noticeable, and it even stopped some newer hormonal pimples that were attempting to pop up. The first few applications sting a bit, but to me, it's worth putting up with for the results. — Ashley Phillips, Insider Reviews style and beauty editor
Simple Kind to Skin Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15
I use Simple's Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 every day to protect my skin from the sun's rays. Just like every other Simple product, it doesn't have any dyes, fragrance, or weird chemicals that can irritate skin. It absorbs into my skin quickly and never feels greasy, either, which is important if you're super fair like me (aka ghost white or translucent) and absolutely have to wear sunscreen every day or risk a pink face. — Malarie Gokey, lead training coordinator
too cool for school Egg Cream Mask Set
With tons of hydrating and brightening benefits, too cool for school's Egg Cream Mask is one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day and simultaneously take care of my skin. The mask looks silly when it's on, but that's part of the fun with these things. — Ellen Hoffman, Service Journalism editor-in-chief
Mario Badescu Seaweed Cleansing Soap
After trying the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, I decided to try this cleansing soap. I like that it not only cleanses but gently exfoliates my skin in a non-abrasive way. It does smell a little bit like low tide, but hey, that means the anti-inflammatory properties of the seaweed extract are working. — Francesca Rea, story producer
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
I've tried lots of different micellar waters, but this classic French pharmacy buy is the best I've ever used. The water is soft, removes waterproof mascara from my lashes more gently and effectively than others, and leaves my skin feeling clean and hydrated — without any residue. It's been undefeated for the last couple of years for me, despite frequent competition. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
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Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at email@example.com.