I’ll be the first to admit that I am quite the avid drugstore junkie. Until TIA came into my life, I never gave a flying hoot about what I put on my face, buying anything new and pretty I found on the shelves of convenient drugstores, usually disappointed in the results (or lack thereof). That's all changing now that I'm exploring better and more natural ways of taking care of my face and body, or at least trying.

Still, not everyone, myself especially, can comfortably shell out 100 hard-earned dollars for a moisturizer, regardless of how sexy and “guaranteed to work” a product claims to be. As a part-time TIA employee/full-time student, I am living on a tight (I am talking my size 12 trying to fit into a size 2 tight) budget, particularly now as the holidays have taken their toll on my bank account. Is it even possible to take care of my skin without soaking my face in toxic potions without breaking the bank?

My self-proposed challenge was to find a regimen that works for under $50, without resorting to harmful ingredients.  With that said, I ventured to one of New York's most fabulous and convenient institutions: Duane Reade.  Some Duane Reade locations now provide a “Skin Wellness Advisor” in their beauty aisles, so with the assistance of Sasha, one of Chelsea’s Duane Reade’s advisors, and plenty of patience going through hundreds of products on the shelves, I left Duane Reade with a basic skincare regimen.  In hopes to battle my skincare needs, I spent a total of $48.77 (some may argue that I am cheating as this is before tax) on a cleanser, moisturizer, and an eye cream. My loot is as follows:

Yes To Tomatoes Clear Skin Daily Clarifying Cleanser ($12.79)
Tomato, watermelon and red tea allow this cleanser to naturally purify and condition skin, keeping skin hydrated and balanced. Full of 96% natural ingredients, the Yes To Tomatoes line, part of the Yes To, Inc. brand, is targeted towards combination, oily, or acne-prone skin, so I am hoping it does not leave my skin too dry.  This product sounds promising, however it does contain sodium benzoate (though one of the last mentioned in the list of ingredients), which the Cosmetics Database finds concerns regarding cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, irritation and biochemical cellular changes.



Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 ($19.99)
Aveeno, considered a “green brand,” claims to contain natural and effective ingredients and is widely available in drugstores all over.  There were so many different versions of Aveeno moisturizers available, but I ultimately decided on the Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer as the package emphasized the inclusion of “natural light diffusers” that work to reflect light, leaving skin tone and texture even and, well, radiant.  A closer look of the ingredients leaves me perplexed as it contains a number of silicones, alcohols, and fragrance that can, at the very least, irritate the skin.  One of its actives, octinoxate, a moderate hazard, is also at the highest recommended level by the FDA at 7.5%.


Raw Essentials Chemical Free All Day Rejuvenating Eye Cream ($15.99)
My final selection was aiming to resolve a minor dark circle problem.  I’ll admit, most of my reasoning for choosing this eye cream was because all of the other eye creams would put me too far past my $50 budget.  The packaging indicates the product is “chemical-free, never heated above 115 degrees (whatever that means), and includes Mushroom Extract a natural skin-lightener”.  I took a shot.  Once I got home to investigate the ingredients, I was overwhelmed with how many different ones filled such a tiny pot.   Thankfully, many of them were natural extracts including aloe, coconut, sunflower, and the aforementioned mushroom, just to name a few.  Some ingredients to be wary of are potassium hydroxide and tocopheryl, both considered hazardous by the Cosmetics Database.

There were some hits and misses and the ingredients department for my bargain stash, but now it's time to go test these out and see--were my bargain finds complete losses? I'll report back.

Ingredients in Yes To Tomatoes Clear Skin Daily Clarifying Cleanser: Water (aqua), Lauryl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Chloride, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract*, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Extract*, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon) Seed Oil, Aspalathus Linearis (Red Tea) Leaf Extract, Maris Limus (Dead Sea Mud), Citric Acid, Phenethyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance

Ingredients in Aveeno Positively Radiant Moisturizer: Active Ingredients: Avobenzone - 3 %Sunscreen , Octinoxate - 7.5 %Sunscreen , Octisalate - 2 %Sunscreen Inactive Ingredients: Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Glycerin, Bis-Phenylpropyl Dimethicone, Arachidyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Panthenol, Benzyl Alcohol, Ethylene/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Behenyl Alcohol, Steareth-2, Fragrance, Steareth-21, Polyacrylamide, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Arachidyl Glucoside, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Laureth-7, Benzalkonium Chloride, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, BHT, Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Silica

Ingredients in Raw Essentials Rejuvenating Eye Cream: Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Candelilla/Jojoba/Rice Bran Polyglyceryl-3 Esters, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Stearic Acid, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Root Extract, Astragalus Membraneaceus Root Extract, Magnolia Biondii Flower Extract, Forsythia Suspensa, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Flower Extract, Coix Lacryma-Jobi (Jobs Tears) Seed Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Rose Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Prunus Mume Fruit Extract, Ganoderma Lucidum (Mushroom) Stem Extract, Acanthopanax Senticosus (Eleutheroginseng) Root Extract, Schisandra Chinensis Fruit Extract, Atractylodes Macrocephala Root Extract, Poria Cocos Sclerotium Extract, Trigonella Foenum-Graecum Seed Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Glyceryl Caprylate, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Glycol, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Potassium Hydroxide, Rose Canina Fruit Oil, Tocopherol, Calophyllum Tacamahaca Seed Oil, Zeolite.