Skincare buys under £10 that make a big impact on skin hydration and anti-ageing

What’s the difference between a £5 and a £75 tub of cleanser? Apart from a dent in your bank balance, the truth is very little, especially when both are washed off.

Personally, I don’t buy into expensive creams. Very often an inexpensive product can work just as well, because price is not always an accurate indication of effectiveness. That £5 pot may not look so pretty as a luxury cream, but you could be paying for a difference in packaging more than results.

Nowadays, most of us are clued up on ingredients and less seduced by that “miracle in a jar” claim. Whatever the price, there isn’t a cream that will have a dramatic impact on wrinkles or sagging – only clinic treatments like those you can get at our Harley Street Skin clinic can achieve this.

Lesley Reynolds, aka the Queen of Harley St, reveals the budget skincare products that actually work

I truly believe that what you do to your skin on a twice-daily basis is the most important thing, and using the right products is more beneficial than, say, having a facial. Of course, if you save on skincare and can afford to spend it on clinic treatments, that would be the icing on the cake.

In my opinion, there’s never been a better time to buy skincare on a shoestring. A boom in pharmacy brands and science-based mainstream products means there are so many ways to shop for effective skincare with hard-working ingredients at rock-bottom prices.

Here’s my savvy guide to products that will deliver great results but won’t break the bank…

Check the label

The ingredients list is where you’ll find the true value of the product. There’s no point saving money if all you’re paying for is a heavy dose of mineral oil. The first few ingredients listed on the label are the most important as they are written in order of their concentrations.

In a moisturizer or serum look for:

Vitamin C and E: helps boost collagen and fade sun damage.

Ceramides: good for anti-ageing properties.

Hyaluronic acid: hydrates and plumps skin.

Glycolic acid: to exfoliate and speed up cell turnover.

Shop smart alternatives

You don't have to splash the cash to achieve healthy, radiant skin
You don’t have to splash the cash to achieve healthy, radiant skin

If there’s an expensive skincare product you want or like, chances are you can get a budget version. Sometimes they are even owned by the same companies. The innovative technology used in high-end brands eventually trickles down to the less expensive lines owned by the same big beauty houses. Do some research and find out who owns what – it’s a great way of finding budget alternatives.

The best age fighter is cheap

If you buy nothing else, get the best anti-ageing ingredient of all – SPF. Choose one that’s at least 30+ with high UVA protection, as this will protect you from sun damage and slow signs of ageing like wrinkles and spots.

High street skin savers

Lesley shares her pick of affordable buys

Serum: Q+A Vitamin C Brightening Serum, £9 here

Q+A Vitamin C Brightening Serum
This affordable serum helps to brighten the skin

Helping to reverse the effects of ageing and boost collagen, vitamin C is a staple of high-end labels. This Q+A serum, costing less than a tenner, uses vitamin C, encapsulated by volcanic ash and hyaluronic acid, to provide excellent brightening benefits.

Day Cream: Lacura Caviar Illumination Day Cream, £6.99 here

Lacura Caviar Illumination Day Cream
Get luxury skin for less

This Aldi day cream has been compared to a designer cream costing nearly £300. It contains caviar extract, which is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals that pep up the skin. It’s also a good source of omega fatty acids, which help improve the top layer of skin so less water evaporates.

SPF: Altruist Dermatologist Sunscreen SPF50, £5 here

Altruist Dermatologist Sunscreen SPF50
The best protection for the best price

This SPF was developed by Dr Andrew Birnie, a consultant dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon, along with some of the best formulation scientists in Europe. It provides high quality, broad spectrum protection with a 5-star UVA rating. Hypoallergenic, water-resistant and non-comedogenic, this SPF is suitable for dry and sensitive skin.

Retinol: Inkey List Retinol Serum, £9.99 here

Inkey List Retinol Serum
Introduce this anti-ageing hero into your skincare regime

If you want an anti-ageing product that actually works, then you can’t beat retinol. It helps promote skin renewal and boost collagen production, leaving skin brighter, smoother and more youthful looking. The Inkey List’s offering is a great place to start if you’re new to retinol, or have sensitive skin. Formulated with stabilized retinol and granactive retinoid, it falls at the gentler end of the scale, and also contains hydrating squalane to help minimise the risk of sensitivity.

Cleanser: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, £8 here

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
A favorite with beauty fans on TikTok

Developed by dermatologists, this non-foaming cleanser uses ceramides and hyaluronic acid to deeply cleanse without stripping the skin, leaving it moisturised and comfortable.

Eye Cream: Boots Ingredients Caffeine Eye Cream, £5 here

Boots Ingredients Caffeine Eye Cream
Dark circles no more!

Like a double espresso for tired eyes, this contains caffeine to help de-puff and brighten the appearance of dark circles.

Night Cream: Nivea Naturally Good Night Cream, £5 here

Nivea Naturally Good Night Cream
Wake up with refreshed-looking skin

With 99% natural origin ingredients, such as organic argan oil, this is a brilliant budget overnight treatment for supple and refreshed-looking skin in the morning.

Mask: Garnier Moisture Bomb Hydrating Face Sheet Mask, £1.99 here

Garnier Moisture Bomb Hydrating Face Sheet Mask
A self-care-Sunday essential

This mask is infused with a whole week’s worth of hydrating serum, making it great for dehydration, dullness, fine lines and tired skin in need of radiance.

Body Lotion: Dove Care + Protect SPF15+Body Lotion, £8 here

Dove Care + Protect SPF15+Body Lotion
For soft skin with added protection

A nourishing body lotion as good as products three times the cost. It contains a blend of natural skin nutrients and essential oils to deliver 24-hour moisturisation.

Tinted SPF: Simple Protect ‘N’ Glow Radiance Booster SPF 30, £7.99 here

Simple Protect 'N' Glow Radiance Booster SPF 30
Use alone or as a primer

This radiance booster not only protects against UVA and UVB rays but also pollution and blue light. Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive, it’s great either used alone or as a primer.

Mist: Revolution Skincare Hyaluronic Essence Spray, £4 here

Mist: Revolution Skincare Hyaluronic Essence Spray
A summer must-have

The moisturising, calming formula can be used to soothe sunburn, reduce redness after a reaction or keep you cool in hot weather. The atomiser distributes a very fine mist, so it can be applied over make-up.

For more information on Lesley and her team of doctors visit

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