Mammy's Guide to Budget Skincare Shopping

Ah, sure aren't we all stretched these days? With Enda and those lads trying to make us pay for the drop of water we put in our tae, sure don't we have to pinch every penny? Or 'cents', as they're calling them these days. The cut of it! I remember shillings, so I do...

But that's no excuse to let yourself go. Would you not put on a screed o' makeup? You look VERY tired, so you do, and I mean you're not getting any younger now, are you? 'Tis worse your skin is getting. In my day if you didn't look after yourself youdn't a hope of finding any manner of husband. And there you are now, 'single', and only getting older, waltzing around as though the site of your bare face is something we should all be putting up with!


I'm not blaming you for being a bit strapped, even if Mrs. O' Leary down the road DOES have a great daughter, and she an accountant. Married to a lovely fella, so she is. AND they just put a deck down in the garden. What!? Sure I'm only saying.

We need to deal with that rhino hide of yours if I've any chance at all of seeing grandchildren before I'm dead and buried, so I'm going to tell you how to make your money go further when you're shopping for skin creams and the like. 'Twas only the ONE skin cream we had when I was young. It was good old-fashioned BUTTER, and weren't we happy to get it?

  • Problem-Solve With Your Skincare

You need to be good and savvy to get anywhere in this life, and you're a cute enough little... em... person when you want to be! Have a good think about your skin. What are the major problems that come up over and over again with it?  What bothers you most about your skin and is it possible that one problem, like lots of oily congestion, is caused or worsened by another problem, like a slow rate of cell turnover in your skin? Remember that it's also possible your skin problems are caused by products you use, maybe even ones you've been using for donkeys' years.


This No 7 Youthful Glycolic Peel Kit (€33) packs plenty of punch and works out as a good buy. If you need to get congested or dull skin back on track, use this once a week for a month to encourage the healthy skin underneath dead surface cells to show itself. This is an at-home version of a series of glycolic facials. A facial is always lovely, but they can be very expensive. This is a good budget alternative!

  • Be Ingredient Savvy

I hope you wouldn't eat anything without knowing what's in it. That's how I once accidentally ate lamb mince on holiday. LAMB MINCE! Have you ever heard the like of it! I mean, I like to think I'm open minded - Theresa's sister's friend has a son who's a haridresser - but really! Lamb mince!

There are very few ingredients that are always bad for everyone - some people are just intolerant to some things, but, in general there are some ingredients that it's best to avoid. Expensive skincare can contain just as many crappy, corner-cutting filler ingredients as budget ones, but you'll generally find them higher on the ingredients lists of budget products, because beauty brand moguls need their profits! So watch out for

  • Mineral oil - Some people love and swear by this ingredient, but the molecules are too large to be absorbed by skin, and it doesn't do anything except act as a barrier. Sorry Vaseline fans, but it's a fact. If mineral oil is the first or second ingredient on the list, the product is not good quality. Mineral oil is a by-product created when petroleum is distilled into gasoline (and some other petroleum-based things).

Remember that companies like to hide the fact that they're jamming products full of this ingredient, so look for it under the following names - liquid paraffin, paraffinum liquidum, liquid petroleum, petrolatum liquid, petroleum oil. It's also occasionally called white mineral oil, or white oil.

  • Alcohol- I've ranted at length about alcohol in skincare products. Sometimes, certain forms are necessary, but watch out for certain alcohols. They increase oil production in the skin and cause dryness and flaking. Alcohol just isn't good for your skin. Again, if any of the following are high on the ingredients list, the quality won't be good, so avoid!

Watch out for: isopropyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol, ethanol, benzyl alcohol and denatured alcohol. There are others, but those are the primary culprits.

Of course there are loads of other ingredients which aren't very good, but the most common indicators of a poor quality budget skincare product are mineral oil and alcohols. Avoid sulfates, too, which cause products to foam. We don't like foam!


This normal Skin Oil Cleansing Method cleanser from MooGoo (€21.45)  is a great example of a nice ingredients list. There's no crap in there at all! It comes in oily and combination skin versions too.

  • Spend as Much as You Can Within Your Budget

The more money you have to spend, the greater the choice you have. Up to a point. Once you get over the €150 or so mark, you're not really paying for the product any more, but for brand prestige. If you can stretch to around the €20 mark for a mask or moisturiser, that will open up the option of brilliant mid-price affordable brands like La Roche Posay. €14 will get you an excellent oil cleanser from the SuperFacialist range in Boots which will last for months.

If you're paying under the €10 mark, be wary. It is very difficult -  though sometimes possible - to buy good skincare at that price. Always check the ingredients list. If the product is a moisturiser or oil, 99% of the time the first ingredient on the list will be mineral oil. And even though I give you a hard time, I'm your Mammy and I think you deserve better!

Now for you. You've no excuse to be going about with a big chapped head on you.


Share your tips for budget skincare shopping in the comments!

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