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There’s a time and a place for everything, including spending all your hard-earned cash on a cure-all cream for wrinkles. Whether you’re in the mood to splurge or save, consider this your go-to guide to navigating the beauty aisle without blowing your entire budget on just one thing—unless, of course, you want to.

RELATED: The 6 Best Serums for Every Skin-Care Concern


Splurge: Cleanser – Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser

If you’re going to spend $82 on a face wash, please, make it this all-natural delight. The lightly scrubby texture does double duty and exfoliates dead skin cells while whisking away the day’s grime, and a dose of pink clay keeps blackheads at bay. In our humble opinion, it’s worth the sticker-shock.

Buy it ($82)


Scrimp: Cleanser – Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel

Gentle AHAs plus a non-foaming formula equals this gentle-yet-effective favorite. It’s exfoliating without being harsh, leaving behind nothing but a soft, clean face upon first rinse. It smells like a tropical dream, too.

Buy it ($14)


Splurge: Moisturizer – Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer

Think of this day cream as a protein smoothie for your face (without the nasty aftertaste, of course). Aside from being hydrating, it’s made with a blend of nine peptides to combat the loss of tone and firmness that comes with aging, and it even reduces sun damage with each use. We’re also suckers for the fun packaging and pump dispenser, but that’s beside the point.

Buy it ($68)


Scrimp: Moisturizer - Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Fast-absorbing? Check. Won’t clog your pores? Check, check. Lasts all day? Yep, we’ve found the holy grail of drugstore moisturizers. It doesn’t hurt that it’s packed with hyaluronic acid and feels like a cool drink of water for your skin.

Buy it ($17)


Splurge: Serum – Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

This cult-y oil is brightening, hydrating, balancing, anti-aging…and good for pretty much any skin type. At least three of PureWow’s editors give it a rave review, and we believe the hype. A blend of 22 active botanicals (the brainchild of former winemaker April Gargiulo) leaves your skin so impossibly glowy, you won’t feel bad about the hefty price tag.

Buy it ($185)


Scrimp: Serum – Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate

OK, you caught us. This one’s not exactly a scrimp, but if you still want to boost brightness and hydration (but for a fraction of the cost of Vintner’s Daughter), this blend of ginger root, sunflower and tamanu oils will do the trick. Bonus: It’s surprisingly lightweight, so even oily skin types can benefit from its antioxidant wonders.

Buy it ($47)

RELATED: The 18 Best Face Serums You Can Buy for Less Than $30


Splurge: Eye Cream – Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Intensive Eye Contour Cream

According to the brand, this rich cream fights the “five types of eye-area wrinkles” (we definitely have more than five), thanks to a blend of hyaluronic acid and squalane. We love that it’s moisturizing, smoothing and works well under makeup, and thankfully, a little goes a long way.

Buy it ($60)


Scrimp: Eye Cream – Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream

Those French pharmacists know what they’re doing when it comes to skin care. This gentle eye cream is chock-full of hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, which protect your delicate under-eye region while plumping and hydrating to minimize fine lines.

Buy it ($27)


Splurge: Retinol – Clark’s Botanicals Overnight Rescue Cream

The name says it all: This all-purpose treatment uses a time-released retinol to shrink pores, smooth texture, reduce wrinkles and banish dullness. But it’s also gentle enough for daily use, so you don’t have to worry about the dreaded peeling and redness that accompanies some harsher vitamin A products.

Buy it ($98)

RELATED: Help! What’s the Difference Between Retinol and Retinoids?


Scrimp: Retinol – Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1 Percent

Sometimes the best things come in inexpensive packages, and this wrinkle-slash-acne treatment is one of them. It’s actually a prescription-strength retinoid that’s now available over-the-counter (bless us all), and while it’s tough on zits, clogged pores and creases, its version of vitamin A (adapalene) is a lot gentler than other options you might get from your derm. You can bet we’re stocking up.

Buy it ($12)

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