Here Are The Cruelty-Free Skincare Essentials You Need If You Don’t Know Where To Start

Following my blog post on the products I miss using since going cruelty-free, I’ve had a fair bit of feedback from people asking me to recommend the products I like that they can purchase. Totally fair shout; I definitely want to be celebrating the products I love that are cruelty-free and ten out of ten in my eyes. So I figured it would be great to start with the basics, for the people who don’t know much about skincare but want to know what works and what doesn’t.

This post was actually inspired by my friend, Hannah. She’s very content with using a makeup wipe before bed and leaving it at that – she cares about her skin but doesn’t care for the hype around beauty products, the ridiculously vast selection to choose from or for spending £60 on a serum. She just wants to grab and go. I get that. So Hannah, this blog post is for you. I’ve tried to compile the most affordable products I’ve tried and tested that I think can be compiled into a starter kit for anyone new to skincare. All of these products worked on my oily skin and my dry skin, so unless you have major skin concerns these are the best all-rounders I’ve found.

Quick note: you definitely don’t have to use all of these and create a six-step routine for everyday use. That’s just silly. The most important components are the cleanser and moisturiser – so long as you do those two steps, I think you can pick and choose when it comes to the others. Obviously, I’m no skincare expert, but I think those two are essential as they ensure that your skin is clean and that you’ve added a protective layer at the end. And voila! You can get on with your day.

Make-Up Remover: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

I find this cleanser to be the best cruelty-free option for removing makeup, particularly eye-makeup, quickly and easily. I apply it to dry skin, massage my face and then use a wet cloth to remove it. The Milky Jelly Cleanser can also be used as a face cleanser, which I find works best on combination skin, but can make dry skin tight and gives some people little forehead bumps. Either way, it’s easy and affordable and I used it for months and loved it so would highly recommend!

Cleanser: Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish

It’s a similar concept to the Milky Jelly Cleanser – you rub it on and then remove it with a damp cloth. I love this stuff, it’s so gentle and leaves your skin clean but not stripped of moisture. I go back to it time and time again. It’s also available in most large Boots stores, which makes it so easy to get hold of if you’re in the UK like me. Anyway, it’s an oldie but a goodie and having used it on oily and dry skin, I’d definitely recommend it as an affordable all-rounder.

Exfoliator: Pixi Glow Tonic

If you’re looking for clear, glowing skin then chemical exfoliators are a great addition to your skincare routine. They’re definitely not a necessity, but if you are keen to glow, tighten and keep acne at bay then they’re a good option for you. As a fellow newbie to chemical exfoliators, I’ve found the Pixi Glow Tonic to be great. It’s a friendly, beginners version which eases you in – not to mention it’s a lot more affordable than some of the other options on the market. You also get a lot of product for your money, which means it lasts ages once you have it. I apply mine every night, taking a cotton wool pad of solution and swiping it over my face, then leaving it for a minute or two to sink in before going onto the next step in my routine. If you’re into it, I’d really recommend.

Toner: Anything From Lush

I’ll be honest here; I think you can take or leave toner waters. I personally don’t see any benefit when I use them, however, if you’re keen then I’d recommend the Lush ones that are available. They are simple formulas and contain ingredients that do the job – for example, the antibacterial properties of the TeaTree Water make it great for oily skin. To be honest though, if you’re trying to create a short-but-sweet routine I’d give toner a miss.

Serum: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid

I love this stuff. It’s a simple hyaluronic acid that helps your skin maintain moisture, keeping it from getting dehydrated and sad. Let’s be real, nobody wants their skin to be sad. It’s also an absolute steal at only five pounds a pop. The Ordinary do a whole bunch of affordable serums and treatments, but the Hyaluronic Acid is a great all-rounder. If you have spots, I’d recommend their niacinamide solution for blitzing them without dryness (it’s a magic potion I’m telling you) and if you have dry skin then they do a rosehip oil and a bunch of others that could help. Head to their website and work out what you need because it’s all fantastic and at such a great price.

Moisturiser: The Body Shop Vitamin E range

This is a new addition to my routine but I think it might be the best and most affordable moisturiser I’ve tried since I went cruelty-free. I’m currently using the Aqua Boost Sorbet and it’s amazing – super hydrating and cooling for when your skin is irritated by the cold weather, but mattifying and gel-like so it would sit well on oily skin too. I’ve been so impressed by it, and I can’t wait to try the other moisturisers in the Vitamin E range. Oh, and worth mentioning that it’s now only £8.50, which for quality skincare is an absolute steal.

Mask: Glossier Moon Mask

This one is for my dry-skinned, lacking in lustre friends out there. Sometimes you just need to slap a mask on your face and read a book while you wait for it to recover, and if it’s one of those days then this is the mask for you, my friend. I promise I’m not just a fan of the name. I personally opt for the moisturising Moon Mask as it sorts all of my new found dryness out, however, if you’re looking for one to help calm a breakout then the Lush’s Cosmetic Warrior is fab, and also Glossier’s Mega Greens Detoxifying mask too.

I hope this post helps you out a bit with improving your cruelty-free skincare game! There are, of course, a hundred and one amazing products out there, but this is my summary of the accessible, affordable ones that I feel will agree with the most skin types. Let me know what kind of cruelty-free posts you’d like to see in the future by dropping me a tweet or a message on Instagram.



  1. March 29, 2018 / 12:21 pm

    I started using cruelty free products about a year ago! I really like the brand Yes To. as they are an affordable drugstore brand and have really lovely products with 95% natural ingredients!
    I picked up a Botanics day cream from Boots the other day and that’s lovely too.
    I’ve been looking to try some new cruelty free products, so I’ll definitely be taking these into consideration!
    Really enjoyed reading this post, and I love that more people are choosing cruelty free!

  2. March 31, 2018 / 1:04 pm

    adding to this I would warmly recommend Mellisa skincare products. They are organic and cruelty free (of corse) and super affordable. It’s a Danish brand though and I am not sure if you can find them in other countries

  3. Jessica
    April 5, 2018 / 10:05 am

    One thing it took me ages to find a product/line that suited me was shampoo/conditioner so any tips there? I found the first few brands I used made my hair so static. I usually have pin straight, normal hair – no frizz, very little dryness but my hair went beserk when I stopped using the drugstore cruel (sulphate full!) brands. Maybe it was a sulphate purge? Is that a thing…?

    REN are a really good medium-range brand who cater for every skin type. A lot of their products are also vegan and lots of their masks are really effective whilst being gentle.

    Also The Ordinary 12% vitamin C serum is a great intro into using a great ingredient!

  4. Anna
    April 15, 2018 / 2:01 pm

    I’m thinking about trying the Pixi Glow Tonic… It’s a shame you can’t get Glossier products in Germany. I really wanna give them a try.
    Also I think the link for the moisturiser isn’t working..? Or is i cause I’m not from the UK? Anyway, gonna find it myself 😀

  5. April 15, 2018 / 3:28 pm

    Thank you so much for your recommendation! I just start to pay attention to the products I use, so your post is super helpful to me! Will you consider doing a cruelty-free makeup essentials?

  6. Stefi McMaster
    May 7, 2018 / 7:41 am

    All of superdrugs own brand products are cruelty free and usually a lot cheaper than any of the branded products. Great for essentials ☺

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