Once upon a time, I didn't give a sh*t about skincare. I'm what you'd call a lazy girl with zero patience for a 10-step skincare routine. Plus, I thought expensive skincare was a scam, another capitalistic ploy to convince us we needed five million different products to have our best skin ever.
I also thought I was pulling a fast one on the skincare industry with my organic oil cleansing and natural products. My poor friends would wince as I bragged about using baking soda to exfoliate my skin, egg whites as a blackhead sheet mask, and glycerin oil as my daily moisturizer. But I didn't care! I was a bride on a budget, and I wholeheartedly believed I had cracked the code on an affordable wedding skincare routine! Plus, I was saving the environment AND money without succumbing to the capitalist forces of the beauty industry + wedding industrial complex.
…And then I mcf*cked up my skin one month before my wedding.
Here's how I created an affordable wedding skincare routine on a budget:
It's simple, budget-friendly, and doctor-approved! Before I get into the affordable wedding skincare products I used, let's talk about the unavoidable and perhaps most expensive cost first…the dermatologist.
See your dermatologist for affordable wedding skincare
Before I ruined my skin with my DIY efforts, I dreaded dermatologists. A few years prior, a previous derm strong-armed me into an expensive Accutane regimen that I didn't need. Since then, I was convinced all dermatologists were set on pushing their expensive skincare agendas on me. Plus, just seeing a dermatologist just felt like a luxury expense I couldn't afford while wedding planning.
Fortunately, my new dermatologist was all about practicality. She asked me to bring in all my skincare products and, God bless her, withheld the instinct to punch me in the face when I brought in an enormous Ziploc bag filled with bottles of Whole Foods brand oils, witch hazel, and rose water.
Instead, she said, “Yeah, you don't need all this.”
Thinking she was going to make me take out a mortgage on a 20-step Korean skincare regimen, I quickly made it clear I wasn't interested in anything extensive or expensive. Have mercy; I'm just a working-class girlie with a wedding to pay for! To my surprise, my dermatologist laughed and confirmed that the skincare industry is indeed a money-grubbing monster. I didn't need a long or pricey skincare routine to have nice skin!
She sent me on my merry way with a short list of over-the-counter products and one prescription for antibiotics to help with any acne. Since I had insurance, I only had a $50 co-pay, and my pharmacy was able to hook me up with a cheap generic version of my prescription. To me, $50 was a bit expensive, but ultimately having advice from a medical pro and getting great results made it well worth it.
If you're trying to create an affordable wedding skincare regimen, seeing your dermatologist at least once needs to be a part of that. A good dermatologist can point you in the right direction for budget-friendly products, plus write you any necessary prescriptions to help you achieve your skin goals for your wedding day. If all goes well, you shouldn't need re-occurring checkups or continuous pricey refills. Just be honest about your wedding skincare budget and your time commitment so your doctor can meet you where you're at!
Here are the affordable wedding skincare products my derm recommended:
My dermatologist recommended these staples for the most basic wedding skincare routine! I have to use oil-free products because I have sensitive, oily skin, but each of these brands should have something for every skin-type.
Affordable wedding skincare tip #1: Get a cleanser
My dermatologist was selling this Glytone brand at her office, and holy sh*t, it made a HUGE difference on my skin. I'm talking smooth, even skin tone, and significantly less acne. Before you balk at the price, one bottle can last you a whole year. That's because you use a little drop, not even a full pump-worth (as told by my derm!). This affordable wedding skincare cleanser is a more cost-effective investment than the drugstore cleansers you have to buy every month.
For my normal to combination skin besties, you'll want to go with this gel cleanser.
If you're on the dry skin side, Glytone has a cream cleanser for you!
Affordable wedding skincare tip #2: Moisturize
Letting you in on an affordable wedding skincare secret…you can use CeraVe PM moisturizer during the day. It's basically regular schmegular moisturizer, just without sunscreen! Use it in the morning and at night. When your skin is regularly moisturized, your wedding makeup will go on smoother!
For my sensitive and oily skin folks, this stuff is great for affordable wedding skincare! But make sure you get the Gel-Cream specifically, NOT the Water Gel version. They look similar but I sweatergod they're not. I think it's because the Water Gel has fragrance in it, which, if you have sensitive skin, will sting you like a mother. The Gel-Cream is a great example of a little going a long way. Just dab a little on your fingertips and you'll get a face full of coverage. High-five, budget babes!
Affordable wedding skincare tip #3: Sunscreen
If you are lazy like me and don't feel like layering sunblock over your moisturizer, CeraVe's AM moisturizer is a fast and easy 2-in-1 option.
If folks with melanin are looking for affordable wedding skincare, my dermatologist recommends the Elta MD Clear Tinted sunscreen. It doesn't leave a white cast, so you're not walking around looking like Casper. It also makes it look like you have makeup on, in a good way! I've definitely skipped foundation sometimes, put on eye shadow, and walked out the door. I've also found it quite moisturizing and have used it in lieu of moisturizer because, as I said, I'm LAZY.
Another one for my melanin cuties, but I think all skin-types will love this sunscreen for affordable wedding skincare. This Korean brand is lightweight, no white cast, and moisturizing enough to wear on its own! Generally, I love Korean sunscreens for this reason. More double duty means less products you have to buy!
Affordable wedding skincare nice-to-haves:
These are things you don't need in order to have nice skin, but they do help!
Vitamin C serum helps brighten and even out any hyperpigmentation you have going on. I hadn't realized how dull my skin was after oil cleansing and exfoliating with baking soda for so long (what the heck was I actually thinking?). I started adding Vitamin C serum in between cleansing and moisturizing, and DAMN! I didn't know my skin could…glow? IDK if it's glowing or if it's brighter, but in any case, it looked better. It's a lot like taking a Flintstone vitamin. Do you absolutely need it? Not really. But if it's in your budget, supplemental vitamins are always a good thing. The Naturium Vitamin C Complex Face Serum is a big win to add to your affordable wedding skincare routine, especially because this product has been hailed by derms for being a budget-friendly and effective option! And that's a big deal since most good vitamin C serums run over $50!
Retin-A cream, also known as tretinoin, is only available via prescription by your dermatologist. This falls under “Pricey but lasts a looooooooong time and does wonders for your skin” category. I've had one tube prescribed to me a year ago, and I'm still using it (you only need less than a pea-size for your whole face). The bennies of Retin-A are amazing, like treating and preventing acne, and producing more collagen, which is what gives you that plump, glowy skin while also decreasing fine lines. This is a worthwhile product to have in your affordable wedding skincare routine because, in a way, it helps you buy fewer products. Think about it! The healthier your skin is, the fewer skincare products you need to combat skin issues, and the less money you'll spend on wedding skincare!
So, if you want affordable wedding skincare, you'll need to:
- See your dermatologist! If they're pressuring you to buy a product or do a treatment that's not in your budget, find a new derm. A good derm will help you figure out what's right for your skin and wallet!
- Find your go-to daily cleanser.
- Moisturize day and night.
- The sun is not your skin's friend. Wear sunscreen.
Hey Suki, how was your skin on your wedding day?
My skin was lovely on my wedding day, thanks for asking! I was surprised at how powerful simply cleansing and moisturizing could be. My skincare routine is still simple, and my skin is still awesome, if I do say so myself. As for my organic Whole Foods oils, they're somewhere in a kitchen pantry.
In an industry where we're pressured to buy, buy, buy in order to look or feel good, this affordable wedding skincare routine proved to me that you don't have to drop fat stacks to feel beautiful on your wedding day. Hopefully, this list helps take the pressure off and creates a pathway for healthy habits and routines that benefit you long after your wedding!