8 Cult-Favorite Skincare Products That Are Worth the Splurge (& 8 Cheaper—Still Incredible—Alternatives)

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

There’s a time and a place for everything, including spending all your hard-earned cash on a cure-all cream. 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.

The 6 Best Serums for Every Skin-Care Concern

skin care splurge save olehenriksen find your balance oil control cleanser

Ole Henriksen Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser

If you want to save on cleanser

A blend of AHAs plus a generous lather equals this gentle-yet-effective cleanser. It’s exfoliating without being harsh, leaving behind nothing but a soft, fresh face upon first rinse. The minty scent is especially invigorating in the mornings.

skin care splurge save tata harper regenerating exfoliating cleanser

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser

If you want to splurge on cleanser

If you’re going to spend $88 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.

skin care splurge save the ordinary natural moisturizing factors ha

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + Ha

If you want to save on moisturizer

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

skin care splurge save drunk elephant protini polypeptide firming moisturizer

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer

If you want to splurge on moisturizer

Think of this day cream as a protein smoothie for your face. 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.

skin care splurge save glow recipe watermelon glow niacinamide dew drops

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops

If you want to save on serum

For an instant boost in brightness and hydration but for a fraction of the cost of some pricier serums, this blend of niancinamide and hyaluronic acid will do the trick. Bonus: It leaves behind a dewy glow, so you can use it in place of your highlighter.

skin care splurge save vintners daughter active botanical serum
violet grey

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

If you want to splurge on 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.

skin care splurge save saturday skin wide awake brightening cream illuminating eye cream

Saturday Skin Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream With Avocado

If you want to save on eye cream

This brightening eye cream is chock-full of peptides, hyaluronic acid and date seed extract to protect your delicate under-eye region while plumping to minimize fine lines. The gel cream formula absorbs quickly and layers well with makeup.

skin care splurge save shiseido benefiance wrinkle smoothing eye cream

Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkleresist24 Intensive Eye Contour Cream

If you want to splurge on eye 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.

skin care splurge save the inkey list retinol anti aging serum

The Inkey List Retinol Anti-aging Serum

If you want to save on retinol

Sometimes the best things come in inexpensive packages, and this wrinkle-slash-acne treatment is one of them. This top retinol is tough on clogged pores and creases, but gentle on your skin thanks to its slow-releasing formula and squalane. You can bet we’re stocking up.

skin care splurge save kate somerville retinol vitamin c moisturizer

Kate Somerville +retinol Vitamin C Moisturizer Cream

If you want to splurge on retinol

This triple-threat treatment uses a combo of retinol, vitamin C and wild gooseberry extract to smooth texture, reduce wrinkles and banish dullness, while protecting against future damage. 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.

skin care splurge save innisfree balancing toner with green tea

Innisfree Balancing Toner With Green Tea

If you want to save on toner

Apply this fast-absorbing toner after cleansing to rebalance your skin's hydration levels. The refreshing formula delivers lightweight hydration while nixing shine (thanks to green tea harvested in Jeju Island, Korea).

skin care splurge save amorepacific botanical soothing toner

Amorepacific Botanical Soothing Toner

If you want to splurge on toner

Like a drink for thirsty skin, this hydrating toner delivers panthenol and hyaluronic acid to plump and soothe your complexion after cleansing. Use it morning and night by sweeping it over your face and neck with a saturated cotton round.

skin care splurge save the ordinary 100 organic cold pressed rose hip seed oil

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil

If you want to save on face oil

We love this pure, cold-pressed rosehip seed oil from The Ordinary. In addition to being incredibly moisturizing, it's also been shown to help with any redness or hyperpigmentation leftover from past acne marks.

skin care splurge save biossance squalane vitamin c rose firming oil

Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil

If you want to splurge on face oil

The grande finale to your skincare routine? Why, a luxurious face oil, of course. This one is loaded with sugarcane-derived squalane oil and vitamin C to visibly brighten skin and give it a soft glow without feeling overly greasy.

skin care splurge save mario badescu facial spray with aloe herbs and rosewater
ulta beauty

Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs And Rosewater

One place to save

This floral face mist features rose extracts and clarifying thyme extract to help keep your pores clear and hydrated. Spray it on before your face lotion for an added boost of moisture and in the afternoon to refresh your makeup.

skin care splurge save tatcha violet c radiance mask

Tatcha Violet-c Radiance Mask

One place to splurge

Gentle acids are essential for reviving tired skin without stripping moisture. A thick layer of this creamy treatment will do the trick, thanks to superfood antioxidants and two types of vitamin C. (And who could resist that bright purple hue?)

Want to know which buzzy products are *really* worth buying? Sign up for our shopping newsletter to uncover our favorite finds.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...