Under $30 Summer Skincare Survival Guide

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.

I’m going to go ahead and get all the usual caveats out of the way before I dive in. I’m not a dermatologist, none of this is sponsored, it may not work for everyone, yadda yadda yadda. You know the drill.

I’m just a thirty-something mom who has tried way too many beauty products to help my skin not end up looking like a wrinkled crepe by the end of the summer, and I thought someone else might benefit from some real-life, unpaid recommendations, too. Oh, and they’re all under $30-ish. (Read on to understand the -ish.)

For me, summer is all about getting the extra icky stuff out of my pores (think sweat, sunscreen, etc.) and keeping the moisture in them. I’ve linked everything here to Amazon, but almost all of it can be found at Target, Ulta, or your local drug store as well.

My Summer Skincare Routine:

Step 1 – Double Cleanse

I started double cleansing my face at night a few months ago, and it’s amazing to see the difference it’s made. I start out with an oil-based balm, Clinique Take the Day Off cleansing balm, and follow with the water-based CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser. The cleansing balm just makes all of my makeup, sunscreen, and sweat melt off my face so that the hydrating cleanser is going straight to the pores instead of fighting the makeup. This allows it to actually cleanse and hydrate because the balm took all the grit away already. (For reference: I only do the hydrating cleanser in the morning since there’s no make-up to remove then.)

Step 2 – Exfoliate

Three or so times a week, I follow my double cleanse with an exfoliating scrub. I love the Brightening Facial Scrub from Acure. It’s natural, does a fantastic job, and is under $10. Fair warning – it’s a funky dark green color and smells like the ocean because it’s made with clay and sea kelp. I’m telling you, though, it’s worth feeling like a sea urchin for 60 seconds because this stuff will make your face feel as smooth as a newborn baby’s tush. Pinky promise.

Step 3 – Toner

How many of you already want to skip to the next step? I KNOW! I started using toner about a year ago after skipping this step for nearly two decades. The last time I used toner was when I was 16 and used Noxzema pads. But another blogger turned me on to the Thayer’s Witch Hazel Toner, and I’m hooked. It’s the very first thing I put on my face when I’m done cleansing in the shower, and it feels like a drink of water for my skin. The $8 bottle I’ve linked here will last me a good three to four months, and it comes in lots of different scents. I’m a believer!

Step 4 – Moisturize

Okay, truthfully, you should probably do some serums and Retinol and whatnot before this last step, but I just haven’t found any that I’m loving enough to share yet. So, instead, I’m moving straight on to moisturizers. If you have a Retinol or serum recommendation for me, add it in the comments! I want to hear!

For moisturizers, I’ve got a save option and a splurge option here. I use the CeraVe PM Moisturizing Lotion as my everyday, and a few times a week, I’ll exchange that for the Clinique 72-Hour Moisture Surge Mask. Now, how am I keeping that second one under $30? Because I only buy the travel size! Since I only use it 2-3 times a week, the travel-size container will work for me for six weeks or so. I buy these in a three-pack on Amazon, so three travel size masks will last me quite some time.

Step 5 – SPF

Since it’s summer, we’ve got to end with sunscreen, right? For my face, I’m willing to go juuuuuuust a bit over $30, so I do splurge and use a teeny bit of the It Cosmetics CC Cream on the daily for my face. No matter if I’m running outside, at the pool, or just doing errands, this stuff gets the job done. A tiny bit goes a LONG way, so this tube will last me several months and, in my opinion, is worth the investment. If you don’t need the make up part but want a good facial sunscreen, CeraVe makes a great one that won’t leave your skin greasy.

If we’re at the pool, I’m a huge fan of Supergoop Mousse. It goes on quickly and protects beautifully. I used it at a lake house over Memorial Day, and it was the first time in years that I haven’t burned that early summer weekend. For my kids, I really like zinc oxide or mineral-based sunscreens. Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection has done well for us, as well as Blue Lizard.

If you’ve tried and loved (or not!) some of these products, please share in the comments. I love to hear what others are using, and I’m always open to trying new things as well. Happy summer, mamas!

Allison Ezell
Allison and her husband, Blake, grew up in Dallas and made the move to the 'burbs in 2010 when she began teaching middle school in Frisco. After attending Texas A&M University for her undergrad, Allison came back to Dallas in 2008 to pursue her Master's of Education from SMU. Over the last ten years, she has taught everything from preschool to eighth grade and has a huge passion for literacy. Today, McKinney is home for her family of five which includes Carter (7), Kate (5), and Brooks (3), who was adopted from China in 2016. When she's not chasing the kids around, she can be found drinking coffee, running, avoiding the laundry, traveling, or headed to a girls' night. Follow her self-proclaimed hot mess on Instagram!