Shoppers used to scope out the top skin care products at specialty and department stores, where they could be smeared and spritzed on with samples. Now the pursuit of hot beauty trends such as Korean skin care has shifted online, with consumers relying instead on reviews, photos, and ratings from other shoppers. Cheapism combed online retailers' makeup sections to find 10 of the most popular and highly rated skin care products under $20 for beautiful, healthy skin this season.
Korean beauty products have taken the country by storm in the past few years. Snail mucin is credited with being rich in nutrients and for healing damaged skin. Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule, a thick, gel-like serum, has won U.S. fans who say they've seen a difference in their complexions and received compliments on their glowing skin. Retailers such as Urban Outfitters sell the cream online for $38, but it's about $12 on Amazon, where user ratings average 4.3 out of 5 stars.
There is no fountain of youth, but Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Moisturizer ($14 from Walmart) may be the next best thing -- at least according to many reviewers. More than 2,900 customers have left feedback on the retailer's website, averaging out to 4.1 stars out of 5. This product claims to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, pores, age spots, and more by hydrating with antioxidants and vitamins (notably C, E, B3 and B5).
Mud masks may look funny, but they help firm skin and clear acne, oily areas, and toxins. More than 5,000 customers have rated the Pure Body Naturals Dead Sea Mud Mask ($15) on Amazon, where it averages out to 4.4 stars. Many reviewers credit the mask with helping shrink blackheads, clearing acne scars, and firming skin. Pure Body Naturals offers a satisfaction guarantee or your money back.
Moisturizer is a vital step in a daily skin care routine, and high-SPF creams protect against the sun's rays as well as nourish dry skin. A little color correcting helps too, whether it evens out skin tone, smoothes out the complexion, or covers up acne scars. Aveeno Positively Radiant CC Cream with SPF 30 ($13 on Amazon) comes in light or medium shades and uses a proprietary soy complex to brighten and perfect skin texture and tone. Users give it an average rating of 4.2 stars.
Chapped lips are a nuisance after a long winter of dry, cold weather. Lip balm can heal and moisturize but won't remove the top layer of unsightly dead skin. E.l.f. Lip Exfoliator ($3 from Target) is packed with oils from grapeseed, jojoba seed, and avocado, along with shea butter, for nourished, exfoliated lips. Nearly 1,000 customer ratings give it an average 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Vitamin C is essential to the production of collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm. It breaks down with age, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles. Pure Body Naturals Vitamin C Serum ($16 on Amazon) provides a daily dose and a three-month money-back guarantee. An average of 4.4 stars and comments from more than 5,900 reviewers suggest it successfully repairs a variety of skin issues.
A variety of factors can cause dark circles, crow's feet, and puffiness under the eyes, including genetics, lack of sleep, dehydration, stress, or poor diet. For people who are tired of looking exhausted, there's Oz Naturals' Super Youth Eye Gel ($17.50 on Amazon), which averages 4 stars from more than 4,000 reviews, including a few with promising before and after photos. The gel is made of natural, organic ingredients including aloe, plant stem cells, jojoba oil, and vitamin E.
Products with micellar technology cater to those with sensitive skin who need a gentle, alcohol-free cleanser. Micelles are tiny oil molecules infused into water, creating a two-in-one cleanser that removes oil, dirt, and makeup. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water ($7 from Target) wins an average of 4.9 stars from nearly 1,700 reviews. Many users mention the cleanser's gentleness and quick makeup removal without harsh scrubbing.
People who sunbathed a little too often in their teen or college years may be drawn to a wrinkle cream such as Olay Regenerist Fragrance Free Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer ($18 on Amazon). This luxurious cream permeates below the skin's first layer, where amino-peptides and vitamin B3 work to hydrate, plump, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. The best-seller promises results starting on day one and has earned high ratings from legions of reviewers on multiple sites.
A mask that feeds the skin with nutrients can also exfoliate with natural ingredients. The Skin Food Black Sugar Mask Wash Off ($7 on Amazon) works like other masks but distinguishes itself with black sugar. The mask sets after 15 minutes and doubles as an exfoliator, scrubbing off dead skin. Reviewers have rated the product an average of 4.6 stars and posted photos of their smooth skin. Many mention feeling refreshed after using this mask.