5 Affordable Winter Skincare Products That Are Just as Good as Pricey Alternatives
These beauty dupes will save your skin—and your wallet—all season long.
Winter skin is bad enough on its own, but the high cost of products we turn to to get flakiness and windburn in check can feel like adding insult to injury. Even if our skincare routines are simple throughout summer, come winter, it always seems like those deeply moisturizing creams that promise to save our chapped skin cost a fortune.
Both fortunately and unfortunately, those high costs tend to have more to do with marketing than with the cost of ingredients used. If you know where to look, you’ll have no problem finding formulas with those same high-functioning ingredients at much lower price points.
To make your life easier and help save your skin this cool-weather season, we’ve rounded up five near-identical beauty dupes of the priciest, most recommended winter skincare products.
- Estée Lauder Advanced Night Micro Cleansing Balm vs. Banila Co Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm
- Mario Badescu Witch Hazel & Rosewater Toner vs. Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner with Aloe Vera
- Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment vs. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
- Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream vs. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
- Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm vs. Lansinoh Lanolin Nipplecream for Breastfeeding
Scroll below to see why each of these affordable dupes is just as good as (if not better than) the pricey winter skincare original.
Winter’s biggest enemy to skin is dryness, so the first line of defense should be a cleanser that doesn’t dry you out. Many facial cleansers, even those of the gel and milk varieties, can leave your skin feeling “squeaky clean” post-rinse.
Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Micro Cleansing Balm is a solid-form balm that melts into an oil-like solution upon touch and can remove oil, dirt, and even dead skin when massaged into the skin. With 50 perfect reviews on Sephora, you may be tempted to dish out the $47 for a 2.5-ounce tub, but we’d more readily recommend this affordable alternative.
Banila Co Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm has over 600 near-perfect ratings on Amazon, and contains many of the same key ingredients as the pricier version. Fractionated coconut oil and seed oils lift away impurities, and a gentle surfactant allows this balm to be rinsed clean with water. Plus, it’s a fraction of the price at just $17 per 3.4-ounce tub.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Micro Cleansing Balm
To buy: $47; sephora.com.
Banila Co Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm
To buy: $17; amazon.com.
One major key to locking in moisture during winter is the layering rule. Simply coating your face with heavy oil won’t be enough to keep your skin plump and healthy this coming season; instead, you need to make sure you’re priming with ample water-based hydration.
Mario Badescu’s Witch Hazel & Rosewater Toner is a cult-classic hydrating toner for its gentle, watery formula. Astringent witch hazel keeps oil production in check, while glycerin hold many times its weight in water, drawing hydration towards the skin, and rosewater and aloe vera soothe and support the skin’s functions. At $14 per eight-ounce bottle, this Mario Badescu fave doesn’t fall victim to the winter skin markup like some of the other products on this page, but we’ve found an alternative that’ll set you back even less.
Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner with Aloe Vera is Amazon’s number one best-seller in Facial Toners & Astringents, and it retails for just $9 per 12-ounce bottle. This Thayers toner employs all of the same top ingredients as the Mario Badescu toner, including witch hazel, aloe vera, rosewater, and glycerin. Plus, it has a cult following of its own, with over 5,800 near-perfect ratings from enthusiastic buyers.
Mario Badescu Witch Hazel & Rosewater Toner
To buy: $14; sephora.com.
Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner with Aloe Vera
To buy: $9; amazon.com.
When humidity levels drop, dry skin can build up more quickly, and the skin’s natural exfoliation capabilities can’t always keep up. Without overdoing it, it can be helpful to move it along with the help of a chemical exfoliant like lactic acid, which has the added benefit of being both an exfoliant and a humectant.
Sunday Riley’s Good Genes is one of the best-loved facial lactic acid treatments on the market, and for good reason. A balanced formula containing resurfacing lactic acid, brightening licorice root, and calming prickly pear extract gently buffs away dry skin while nourishing new growth. At $105 per one-ounce bottle, the treatment can be a difficult expense to justify, no matter how great the effect.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA uses the same multi-tasking hero ingredient as Good Genes: lactic acid. Its comparatively shorter ingredient list may not contain entirely the same supporting cast as Good Genes, but The Ordinary’s exfoliant is also formulated with replenishing agents like glycerin and Tasmanian Pepperberry. Plus, at just $7 per one-ounce bottle, it’s a way more affordable bet.
Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment
To buy: $105; sephora.com.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
To buy: $7; sephora.com.
The skin barrier is no stranger to winter’s icy grip. In fact, it’s when the skin’s outermost layer becomes compromised that we begin to feel the negative effects of season change—from dryness and itching to clogged pores and irritation. By strengthening the skin barrier, we can avoid a laundry list of negative skin conditions.
Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream contains ceramides, a lipid that makes up over 50 percent of the skin barrier. When winter takes its toll, we can restore the barrier by adding ceramides directly and replenish moisture levels. This product by K-beauty brand Dr. Jart+ puts ceramides at the center of its formula, which is also supported by other conditioning agents like shea butter and fractionated coconut oil.
CeraVe takes things a step further by putting ceramides at the center of its entire brand philosophy. Its Moisturizing Cream doesn’t skimp on the lipid content, and also serves up a heaping portion of hyaluronic acid, which can hold even more water weight than glycerin. CeraVe’s $15 per 19-ounce tub cost versus Dr. Jart+’s $48 per 1.7-ounce tube cost makes it a no-brainer.
DR. JART+ Ceramidin Cream
To buy: $48; sephora.com.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
To buy: $15; amazon.com.
From the wind and cold weather outside to the dry heat indoors, it can seem like all of the elements are conspiring to leave you with chapped, painful lips. Oftentimes, petroleum jelly like Vaseline isn’t moisturizing enough, but instead just adds a non-penetrating layer over dry skin. That’s why many people turn to lanolin-containing products like Lanolips.
Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm is a versatile wax that harnesses the moisturizing power of lanolin, an oil derived from sheep’s wool. Its natural conditioning properties make it a perfect fit for not only dry lips, but also scaly knuckles, dry elbows, red noses, and anywhere else that may need a moisture boost.
A surprising off-label source of this winter miracle ingredient is nipple cream, which savvy shoppers have long been using for their dry skin needs. Amazon’s best-selling nipple balm, Lansinoh Lanolin Nipplecream for Breastfeeding, is an excellent source of lanolin, and a fraction the price ($8 for a 1.4-ounce tube) of Lanolips ($17 for a 0.5-ounce tube).
Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm
To buy: $17; nordstrom.com.
Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream for Breastfeeding
To buy: $8; amazon.com.