5 Cheap Yet Sustainable Skincare Dupes (Because You Can Still Be Responsible While Scoring A Deal)

The price of skincare is going up as we continue to face inflation and a cost-of-living crisis. While we might have first felt the changes in the cost of housing, groceries, and energy bills, beauty and cosmetic brands are increasing their price tags too. In October 2022, The British Beauty Council noted that inflation was hitting cosmetics, beauty products, and skincare. They said that the cost of shampoo had increased by 8% over the year, and the price of shower gel had spiked by 11%. Facial moisturizer had also gone up by 11% while deodorant was 8% more expensive. Even toothpaste got hit.

Why the cost increase in these products? Two big reasons: the war in Ukraine was making it more expensive for businesses to run, and the coronavirus pandemic created job vacancies. Companies had to offer higher wages to prospective employees, thus raising the prices of the products themselves.

The British Beauty Council cited global surveys revealing that people were forced to reconsider what they bought in terms of skincare. Many stopped buying certain products altogether in order to cut down on overall costs, and customers reported that the cost increase stopped them from buying sustainable and eco-friendly skincare products in order to make more budget-friendly decisions.

In light of all of this, we're looking at ways to have it all. Instead of buying top-priced skincare, we've sourced several dupes that not only achieve everything their more expensive counterparts do, but are also sustainable and good for the environment. Here's what we've found.

How to find new favorites when you love Drunk Elephant

Thanks to the world of Reddit, fans have been able to commiserate about their own experiences with the spike in skin care costs, and what they've been able to find instead. On the subreddit for Ulta Beauty, people discussed the price increase for cult favorite Drunk Elephant. For those who love Drunk D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Bronzing Drops but can't afford the steep price tag, we've sourced Versed Skin's Mood Lighting Luminizing Glow Drops. They're a fraction of the cost, and they also offer the combination of a bronzing glow as well as skincare benefits, thanks to the hydrating presence of polyglutamic acid and the antioxidant-rich blackberry extract. Even better, Versed is committed to climate action as well as wildlife protection through biodegradable formulas and FSC-certified paper packaging.

For those who love Drunk Elephant's TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, we've found an alternative in Bliss' Clear Genius Liquid Peel. While the Framboos serum has AHAs and BHAs, Bliss' peel has an AHA, BHA, and PHA blend for much less. Not only that, but Bliss is a clean, planet-friendly brand. The difference, of course, is that Framboos is a serum while Bliss' peel is a treatment that should be done a few times a week. Another favorite dupe for people who want to use a product daily is Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. It's also a fraction of the cost, but only has BHAs, not AHAs. But Paula's Choice has a Green Policy and is committed to environmental care and responsibility.

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Cream has met its match

Another fan favorite was Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Omega-Rich Cloud Cream, but as fans pointed out on Ulta Beauty's subreddit, there was a notable price increase. What makes the product so popular is that it's full of Omega 3 Oil, Omega 6 Oil, and Fatty Acids that deeply hydrate and restore skin while you sleep. However, at $60 per 1.7 fl. ounces, this price point is out of reach for a lot of people.

Paula's Choice offers an Omega + Complex Moisturizer that rings in at $37 for the same size. It contains Omegas 3, 6, and 9 as well as ceramides to protect the skin's moisture barrier. The brand is environmentally gentle, with reported efforts made to reduce plastic packaging. They also have a recycling program with TerraCycle and partnered with both Tree-Nation and Cloverly to offset the carbon emissions caused by their employee travel, as well as shipments of their products.

Another dupe for restorative night creams is Weleda's Skin Food Face Care Nourishing Night Cream. The night cream is rich with sacha inchi oil, cica, and squalane to restore skin and costs $24.99 for 1.3 fl oz. Even better, Weleda is committed to sustainability and making its company future-proof for the environment. They also opt for glass whenever possible, to avoid plastics.

When you want the Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask

We love the Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, but it comes with a steep price tag, at $60 for 5 fl oz. What makes the mask so compelling is that it has pumpkin enzymes for exfoliation as well as alpha hydroxy acid (AHAs) that help to shed the surface of the skin. What's not to love?

Thankfully, we found a comparable dupe in Andalou Naturals' Brightening Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask, which costs $15.99 for 1.7 fl oz. The product has pumpkin puree, Manuka honey, vitamin C, and a glycolic AHA blend. Plus, Andalou Naturals has an environmental focus. They practice ethical sourcing for global sustainability, and they also make sure their packaging is recyclable and minimal so that there's no excess waste throughout the shipping process. The brand also boasts a Non-GMO Project Verified status, so there's a lot going for Andalou Naturals, including a reasonable price point.

How to get Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass products for less

We love Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Serum. This product targets redness and sensitivity and soothes irritation, but the only challenge is that it's $52 for 1.01 fl oz. We've found a very compelling dupe for this wonderful product: Purito's Centella Green Level Buffet Serum, costing $19.50 for 2.0 fl oz and promising many of the same benefits, such as reducing inflammation and boosting the skin's natural barrier. It has Centella Asiatica Extract — also known as tiger grass which is famous for its healing properties — making it an even more compelling dupe for the Dr. Jart+ serum.

What makes Purito such an attractive brand is its efforts toward sustainability. They use post-consumer recycled materials to reduce plastic and also use paper-based tubes for many of their products with the intent to eliminate plastic altogether. Purito also uses biodegradable boxes made from sugarcane fibers and prints with soy-based ink for easy recycling.

For those who love Dr. Jart+ products in general, Purito is a really good option because both brands use Centella Asiatica Extract, or "Tiger Grass," in many of their products. In fact, Purito has an entire line of Centella products, so those seeking sustainability and affordability can get everything they need there. Purito has a toner, eye cream, and recovery cream with Tiger Grass.

How to get an affordable, eco-conscious vitamin C serum

For those who love a vitamin C serum, there are options a-plenty, but many are really expensive. We love Ole Henriksen's Truth Serum, with vitamin C and collagen for hydrated and bright skin. The only problem is that 1 fl oz is $56. Another classic is SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, a vitamin C serum that brightens one's complexion and reduces fine lines. However, 1 fl oz is a whopping $182. Another cult classic is Drunk Elephant's C-Firma Fresh Vitamin-C Day Serum, but 0.98 oz is $78.

So, what are some options? Well, LilyAna Naturals sells a vitamin C serum that costs a friendly $29.99 for 1 fl oz. The brand is all about sustainability, with a particular emphasis on sustainable packaging to reduce waste. Another favorite, at an even more affordable price point, is e.l.f. Vitamin C Serum, which costs $16 for 0.95 fl oz. What makes e.l.f. such a compelling brand is its reasonable price point along with its focus on reducing waste in packaging. As Treehugger points out, e.l.f. created Project Unicorn to benefit the planet, specifically marine life. The brand is also careful to eliminate unnecessary packagings like vacuum-formed trays and secondary cartons. And at that price, we can certainly load up on some vitamin C serum.