Best Skincare Under $30: The 2023 List Beauty Awards

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Whether it's your favorite influencer or your childhood bestie that you lost touch with but still stalk on Instagram every so often, we all have skincare inspiration. For those lucky enough to achieve radiant, blemish-free skin, it's no surprise to see their comments are flooded with "drop the skincare routine" comments. But, you might be a little disheartened to find out that creators and celebrities with the glowing skin of your dreams use products that are way out of most people's budgets. Historically, skincare has a bad reputation of being extremely expensive: not only does each high-end product cost a good chunk of change, but most routines have many steps calling for multiple products. While we can all agree that each serum and oil is worth its weight in gold, testing out a new skincare routine is a pricey investment that many of us just don't have the money for.

Luckily for our skincare-loving girlies, times (and prices) are changing. With the rise of viral "dupe" culture and many influencers dedicated to finding you the best products with a more palatable price tag, good quality skincare is no longer inaccessible. Some of the best, most effective skincare products on the market can be found at your local drugstore or neighborhood Ulta; all it takes is a little testing to find the best products for you.

If you're looking to switch up your skincare routine while saving quite a bit of cash, check out our favorite skincare products under $30 — and yes, we tested them, so you don't have to.

Read more about the 2023 List Beauty Awards methodology and all the top picks here.

Best overall: The Ordinary's 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Regenerative Oil

Serums and oils can definitely be a hit or miss, but this rose hip seed oil by The Ordinary is definitely worth the hype. The Ordinary continues to be a favorite brand amongst skincare enthusiasts because of their high-quality products and extremely reasonable pricing. A 1-ounce bottle of 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Regenerative Oil can be found at Ulta for only $10.90. That might not sound like much, but trust us, a little goes a very long way with this facial oil.

According to WebMD, "Rosehip oil contains carotenoids, which help keep your skin fresh and healthy by creating new skin cells. Rosehip oil also contains vitamin F, which helps trap moisture in your skin and protect your skin against damage." For those who struggle with blemishes and acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and even chronic dryness, this oil from The Ordinary might be the solution you've been searching for.

We recommend applying the oil after cleansing and moisturizing your face before bedtime. The product's directions state that it works best when layered on top of water-based skincare products, although we tested it with oil-based cleansers as well with no negative reaction. In addition to its many health benefits, TikTokers like user @curlswithalexa have found that rose hip seed oil is the perfect product to apply before a nighttime gua sha routine. Per their caption, this routine helps "sculpt their face and reduce puffiness."

Purchase the 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Regenerative Oil at Ulta for $10.90.

Best acne buster: Cosrx Master Pimple Patch Set

Whether you suffer from chronic acne or just the occasional annoying blemish, this Cosrx Master pimple patch set might just change your life. Pimple patches have seriously grown in popularity in recent years, but we have to admit we were skeptical about just how effective a glorified sticker would be at removing our blemishes. The Cosrx pimple patch set definitely proved us wrong.

Pimple patches have been found to help with drainage and irritation relief while acting as a "cover" for the blemish to prevent habitual picking (via Cleveland Clinic). While testing, we followed the directions exactly, applying directly to blemishes after our daily skincare routine. In just a few hours, the patch turned from a clear color to an off-white, indicating it was time to remove and replace the patch. Upon removal, the blemishes were noticeably smaller and less irritated. After reapplying and wearing overnight, the blemishes were completely healed. We were shocked to say the least, and definitely understand the massive hype around these viral pimple patches.

For only $19 at Target, you will receive 90 patches in various sizes, ready to shrink and heal all your stubborn blemishes. WIth these patches, just set it and forget it until those pesky pimples are gone.

Purchase the Cosrx Master pimple patch set at Target for $19.

Best cleanser: Clinique All About Clean Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser

When it comes to cleansers, there is no shortage of products on the market for you to choose from. That can be a great thing, especially considering the wide variety of needs people have based on their skin type. But when you're searching for an affordable cleanser that lives up to its many promises it boasts about on their colorful labels, deciding on the right one can be overwhelming.

Whether you have combination skin, are prone to excessive oil, or are particularly sensitive to harsh chemicals, we have found that the Clinique All About Clean Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser is the ideal choice by anyone's standards. With over 1300 five-star reviews, the gentle foaming formula comes highly recommended. It is available on Clinique's website at only $23.50 for 5 fluid ounces, or you can buy a travel size at Ulta for only $6.

While testing, we noticed that the foaming cleanser leaves users feeling particularly clean without any annoying residue or unpleasant chemical smell. It was extremely refreshing and hydrating when applied to dry, irritated skin, proving once again that good quality products don't have to cost an arm and a leg.

Purchase the Clinique All About Clean Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser at Ulta for $6.

Best moisturizer: Florence by Mills Dreamy Dew Oil-Free Moisturizer

When it comes to your skincare routine, a good moisturizer might be one of the most important products. Moisturizing is essential to maintaining a healthy, hydrated skin barrier — it's so important, in fact, that people tend to pay way too much for the promise of a good quality product. Luckily, we found an affordable option that we are sure you will fall in love with.

Our pick for best moisturizer is the Florence by Mills Dreamy Dew Oil-Free Moisturizer. You can get a 1.7 ounce bottle at Ulta for $18, and this is another great product where a little goes a long way. The formula is exceptionally creamy without feeling heavy, and it has a very pleasant fragrance reminiscent of flowers rather than chemicals. We are also happy to report that it left no irritation or thick residue on the skin after applying, and kept our face feeling hydrated all day long. While this particular moisturizer does not contain SPF, it is a great base layer of hydration, leaving your skin perfectly primed for your favorite sunscreen. Over 2,300 happy customers agree, giving this dreamy dew moisturizer a 4.7-star rating overall.

Purchase the Florence by Mills Dreamy Dew Oil-Free Moisturizer at Ulta for $18.

Best makeup remover: Tula Makeup Melt Makeup Removing Balm

By now, we should all know about the dangers of using a traditional makeup wipe to remove our makeup after a long day. For those who might not be aware, makeup wipes have been found to redistribute dirt and oils around the face rather than actually remove them, clogging your pores with leftover makeup while irritating your skin thanks to harsh materials and chemicals. If you're looking for a product that will erase even the heaviest makeup with ease without irritating your skin, we recommend Tula Makeup Melt Makeup Removing Balm. For just $28 at Target, this product definitely lives up to the name by practically melting off any and all cosmetics you've applied throughout the day.

We tested this product against a variety of makeup: First was the famous "no-makeup makeup" look consisting of bronzer, powder, a little mascara, and some lip liner. In as little as 30 seconds after applying, the balm began to visibly remove makeup. With a simple wipe of a warm, damp towel, it left us fresh-faced and ready to cleanse. Next, we tested it against a heavier makeup look, targeting everything from full-coverage foundation to a thick, winged eyeliner. It took the balm slightly longer to begin "melting", but resulted in the same removal of all makeup without needing to be reapplied. For those who wear makeup every day, you can easily get a good month to 6 weeks of use out of one stick, according to reviews. 

Purchase the Tula Makeup Melt Makeup Removing Balm at Target for $28.