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My Skincare Secret Is This $17 Lotion—and Other Affordable Buys I Love


For anyone with dry skin, you know how it can be a struggle when you're battling some very patchy, rough, and/or cracked skin. You know, the times when your skin is so dehydrated that nothing you can do can make it feel moisturized, no matter how many products you're putting on, or how much water you're drinking. I've been dealing with dry and sensitive skin most of my life, with the occasional eczema flare-up, so I consider myself pretty well-versed in the various lotions and creams out there. I've probably tried so many in my quest to calm my irritated skin down during particularly dry spells (pardon the pun).

While I still haven't unlocked the secret to stopping my skin from having its dry moments, I do think I have a triage routine down now. It involves a rotating list of products, from gentle face washes to serums to rich creams. Plus, upping my water intake and making sure I'm eating especially well during that time.

But there's one product that I always turn to when I'm dealing with dry skin woes and for every day: Vanicream's Moisturizing Skin Cream. I consider it the holy-grail find, and my only regret is that I just discovered it about one year ago.

I was having a particularly bad dry skin flare-up last fall where my face was so dehydrated, patchy, rough, and it actually hurt. I think a lot of it had to do with the air being so dry in Los Angeles—I had moved back a few months before from New York City and I think my skin was still being acclimated to the lack of humidity. I was getting my eyebrows waxed one day and my aesthetician was shocked at how bad my skin looked. She thought I was having some allergic reaction. When I told her that I was slathering all the creams and serums I had in my possession, she suggested I go straight to CVS after my appointment and buy a bottle of Vanicream's lotion, which is formulated specifically for sensitive skin with no fragrance, dyes, or scary ingredients.

So I bought the lotion and the rest is history. My skin didn't miraculously recover in minutes, but after using the lotion for a day or two, I was feeling so much better. And because it was free of any irritating ingredients, I didn't feel bad about applying it a couple of times throughout the day. I love that you can use it on both your face and body, and that its consistency is not too thick, not greasy, and goes on so smoothly. These days I use it as a daily body lotion, and it's in my rotation of facial moisturizers for both day and night. Plus, the fact that it's just $17 makes it even better. I love being able to say one of my skincare must-haves is under $20.

Right now, it's even cheaper—just $14—at Dermstore, thanks to the retailer's epic anniversary sale (just enter the code CELEBRATE for major savings). And if you're going to add the lotion to cart, why not add some more affordable finds while you're at it? These are some other ones I love:

I use this gel cleanser every day and it never dries my skin out, yet leaves it feeling clean and clear. I love that it has natural ingredients like rosewater, mint, and seaweed extract.

If you're going to apply lip balm throughout the day to keep your lips plump and smooth, get one with SPF to protect against sun damage. Supergoop is one of my favorite suncare brands, and I like wearing this one along with lip color so I know I'm nourishing my lips and preventing any UV damage.

I recently discovered the healing and relaxing powers of face mists, and this water mist is a go-to. It's got minerals and silica to leave your skin feeling so calm and refreshed. You can find me using it throughout the workday as a little pick-me-up.

Bioderma's Sensibio H2O is another everyday favorite of mine. It leaves my skin extra clean, but not irritated or dried out. Normally I used it after washing my face in the morning and at night. It's also pretty good at removing makeup.

I have a lot of different moisturizers in rotation, and La Roche-Posay's face moisturizer is one of them. It absorbs really quickly and I don't think it's greasy at all. I tend to use it when my skin is feeling drier than normal because it's a bit rich, but doesn't feel too heavy.

EltaMD's sunscreens are widely recommended by both dermatologists and beauty editors alike, so you know you're getting a quality product. I like this formula because it's especially made with dry and sensitive skin in mind.

I can't say no to a soothing eye patch—especially when I'm running on little sleep or had a big night out. These five-minute masks perks me up in no time because they have caffeine and collagen to combat fatigue and puffiness.

While I wouldn't use these on monster zits, they work like a charm on smaller blemishes or pimples. They're also really good at reducing redness which is a big plus in my book.

I'm a bar soap convert and this gentle one is a favorite. You can use it on your face and body, but I tend to use it as a face cleanser. It's especially formulated to deal with eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin thanks to shea butter and chamomile water.

I'm a sucker for anything with colloidal oatmeal, so when I came across this mask, it didn't take much to convince me to buy it. The colloidal oatmeal in this calms irritated skin, and shea butter works to hydrate. Leave it on for 10 minutes and you'll feel instantly better.

The first time I tried this cleanser I got it as a sample and I used up the little tube in a flash. The cleanser feels both light and nourishing, and my skin always feels so fresh and clean afterwards. It's got greek yogurt, honeysuckle, and amaranth seed extract.

Sometimes my skin feels super irritated and angry after I scrub every trace of makeup off, but it never feels that way after using this remover. I think it's because it has soothing ingredients like aloe vera and green tea extract. It gets the job done on even the most stubborn makeup.

It's safe to use this toner every day—my skin never gets dried out from it. It has ingredients like lactic, glycolic, azelaic, and koji acids. My skin looks brighter and refreshed after using it.

When my hair is feeling limp or flat, I like spraying this product on to really give it some oomph and texture. It also has lemon and witch hazel extracts to absorb oil just in case you haven't washed your hair in a few days.

My dermatologist gave me some sample sizes of this cleanser a few years ago and I've been hooked ever since. It's just so gentle and creamy. I use this cleanser when my skin is feeling super dry because it's moisturizing.

First off, every time I put these eye masks on I immediately feel glam because they're rose gold. Secondly, I do notice a big difference after I leave them on for 15 minutes. My eyes look brighter and de-puffed.

I'm obsessed with this simple pink clay soap because it's especially made for sensitive and dry skin. And because it has natural ingredients, I like using it on my face and body. It smells pretty good, too, thanks to geranium and blood orange essential oils.

Natural deodorant can be a tough transition, but I find that Ursa Major's deodorant made it easier. It gets the job done, aka I'm not smelly after a hot day, and it doesn't dry my pits out.

When I'm not using my prescription eczema ointments, I reach for this cream. It helps with itchiness and flakiness, and is a nice break from my steroid medications. 

After reading so many rave reviews about this cult-favorite cream, I decided I had to give it a try. And I'm so glad I did. The rich cream keeps my hands super moisturized, especially if they're dried out from doing the dishes, or the effects of winter chill. I also use it on my elbows and any other particularly dry spots.

While I mostly use bar soaps these days, I still like to use this shower gel from time to time—probably because it has a really nice fresh scent. I also like that it's formulated with vitamins C and E to soothe and contribute to skin health.

The cool thing about this mask is it doesn't really feel like once because it has a gel consistency. It's so light and refreshing, and has ingredients like green tea, jasmine water, and bamboo to leave skin ultra-hydrated.

This body sunscreen is one of my favorites because it goes on so smoothly and absorbs well. It's also nice that there's vitamin C infused to provide some hydration. It's definitely a summer must-have for me! Next up, I personally guarantee these 25 products live up to their 5-star rating.