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Ideal Skincare Routines For Every Budget

November 17, 2023

Starting a new skincare routine may seem extremely overwhelming due to the vast amount of product brands out there and endless ingredient lists. Not to mention deciding what your own skincare budget should be. Then on top of this, there are hundreds to thousands of prominent micro-influencers advertising brands on social media.  When choosing products, it is important to have an in-depth understanding of your skin type and how clean the products are.

I’m going to walk you through three skincare routines: from minimal and budget-friendly, all the way to the most ideal routine that spares no expense. We realize that “budget-friendly” may mean something different to everyone, so even if you find some of the pricing listed here too high, we hope the general information on what to include in your routine is helpful enough to set you on the right path.

In the world of skincare, it’s all about balance and finding what works for you! There’s something for everyone and sometimes, less it more—let’s jump in.

By: Kaitlyn Hunter, NP


To make things simple, let’s break these skincare routines down into three tiers:

  • Tier 1: Minimalist/Very budget-friendly
  • Tier 2: Starting Medical-Grade/More of a Budget
  • Tier 3: Full Medical-Grade Routine/Maximum Budget
Photo of five different elta md brand skincare products lined up on a white table with a white background

A Minimal, Budget-Friendly Skincare Routine (Tier 1)

To start a Tier 1 routine, you will simply need three products: Cleanser, Moisturizer, & Sunscreen.  I like to call this routine the ‘Core Three’. This is a starter routine for anyone looking to get into skincare. All three products are used in the morning and just the cleanser and moisturizer are used at night.

It is important to avoid most drugstore brands as they are full of fragrance, dyes, and parabens. These are ingredients that will flare acne and exacerbate sensitive skin.  I highly suggest checking out EltaMD in this tier, as EltaMD is medical-grade with a very reasonable cost.  An EltaMD cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen can cost less than $120.

View a breakdown of one of our esthetician’s AM & PM Skincare routines.

Starting Medical-Grade Products, More of a Budget (Tier 2)

To start a Tier 2 routine, you will use all of the same products in Tier 1, along with incorporating one ‘treatment’ product. Treatment products can include: Vitamin C, Retinoids, Eye Cream, Toner, etc. Typically a Tier 2 routine will include 3-4 steps total in both the AM & PM.

Vitamin C is great for skin-brightening, retinoids are great for pore size and oil production, and eye cream is great for undereye discoloration and skin laxity. If you are unsure which ‘treatment’ product to add, visiting a local medspa and talking to a professional may help. At Atalo Aesthetics, we welcome walk-ins for skincare product purchases and typically have samples you can take home to try a product out for a few days and see how your skin responds to it!

An Ideal Skincare Routine, Budget is No Concern (Tier 3)

Tier 3 is a complete customized routine that covers Tier 2 plus an additional treatment products that may benefit the skin. Typically this comes to 5-6 steps total in the AM & PM. This may include the Core 3 mentioned in Tier 1, plus ALL of the treatment options listed in Tier 2- Vitamin C, Retinoid, and Eye Cream. Tier 3 routines may need to be adjusted seasonally. Tier 3 also provides the skin the best coverage between in office treatments such as facials.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram as we’re always sharing skincare product recommendations, along with tips and treatment breakdowns!


Regardless of where you start, a medical grade routine is best!  Rather than starting at Tier 3 with cheaper, OTC products, start with clean, medical grade products in Tier 1. Work your way up through the Tiers until you have achieved the results you want!

Additionally, you can always schedule a complimentary consultation with one of your providers if you need help finding the right products for your skin type or concerns. It can take time to find the right products that work for your own skin, as everyone’s body responds differently. Give yourself a good 2-3 weeks with a product to decide if it’s working! Check out Mackenzie’s video here where she talks all about why you should give new products time to settle in! And again, we’re here to help when you’re ready.