Clean start
August 4, 2010 3:21 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite not-so-expensive facial soaps, shampoos, conditioners and/or body washes? (If you can order them from Amazon that is a big, big plus!)

I have been using the same old boring Head & Shoulders since I was a child. I also use Clean & Clear facial soap and some random bar soap.

I did try out some random soaps from places like the Body Shop but it was fairly expensive and even though they all smelled really good, I didn't feel very clean/the smell didn't last very I went back to the products I was brought up on.

Now some of my friends order products from Lush and though I'm sure they're fantastic, I have limited funds. SO I was wondering what askmefi recommends for a girl who likes not-overpowering fruity and/or clean, fresh scents.

Some background: I do have dry skin/scalp so moisturizing versions are also preferred. I also have slightly wavy but generally well-behaving hair, IOW no frizz but sometimes it gets kind of flat. Oh, and being able to order it from Amazon (I have that 2-day free shipping student thing) would be amazing too.

I consider paying over $20 for something that isn't jumbo size expensive. But if you say it's really worth it I'll look into it. :)


P.S. Recommendations for lotions are great too :)
posted by pulled_levers to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (50 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Everything I use is available at any drugstore for cheap. Which is great, because I also happen to love it. I'll occasionally use fancy stuff if I'm staying with friends or family that have it, but honestly, it's all too froofy for me and just doesn't feel right.

Aveeno (the green one) for lotion
Dove Daily Moisture Therapy for shampoo and conditioner
Dove Deep Moisture body wash
Neutrogena Blackhead Eliminating Daily Scrub

What's even better is that Costco has all of it (well, not the face wash) in jumbo never-need-to-buy-more size, which caters to my laziness.
posted by phunniemee at 3:31 PM on August 4, 2010

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 3:34 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

I like the EO line of mostly organic products--many with tea tree oil. Pricing is pretty reasonable and the scents are pleasant, not too strong--I've got allergies and don't have a reaction to their stuff. Plus it works as advertised. They have soaps, shampoos, lotions, etc. and, as you can see by the link, are available on Amazon.
posted by agatha_magatha at 3:39 PM on August 4, 2010

I'm in love with the Burt's Bees shampoo and conditioner. I use either volumizing (pomegranate and something) or moisturizing (raspberry and something). That's all I use on my hair, actually. I wash it and condition it. I just got a trim, and the stylist remarked about how healthy my hair was, and asked what I used. (She then tried to sell me the expensive products from the salon. Seriously, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:40 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

cetaphil gentle skin cleanser for my face and private areas. personally, i really like the smell.

sweet pea or cucumber melon products from bath and body works, only purchased during their semi-annual big sale.
posted by nadawi at 3:42 PM on August 4, 2010

I use CVS brand facial wash/scrub... they're just like their corresponding name brands but half the cost.

Bonus? You can return them with receipt if you decide you don't like it after using it for awhile. Even if the bottle is 90% empty.
posted by mittenbex at 3:43 PM on August 4, 2010

Are you looking for products that will feel indulgent without breaking the bank? Or are you just looking for something cheap that will work well? In other words, why do you want to stray from your usual regimen -- because you don't like the way it works, or because you don't take any pleasure in using the drugstore products?

If you could clarify, I think it's an important distinction. Lots of people are going to come in here and recommend Cetaphil products -- and I love Cetaphil and think it works great, but using it doesn't "feel" the same (on a psychological level) as using something fancy from Lush (even though it might work even better).
posted by pluckemin at 3:43 PM on August 4, 2010

Not quite a body wash, but St Ives' apricot scrub (in the tub) is fantastic as a body scrub. I love it way more than the fancy Kiehl's stuff a friend gave me, and it's dirt cheap.
posted by OLechat at 3:45 PM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

I love this St. Ives Olive Cleanser for my face. And apparently, unbeknownst to me until just now, it is SUPER cheap on Amazon.
posted by a.steele at 3:49 PM on August 4, 2010

Ombra's citrus sage shower gel is practically the definition of clean and fresh. Plus it's available at Amazon and not particularly pricey.

As for Cetaphil: if you're accustomed to using C&C products on your face (you said cleanser but I don't know exactly which cleanser you're talking about, and that may make a difference) Cetaphil won't get your skin as clean-feeling (in my experience, at least) without the use of a toner afterwards. I'm guessing that maybe you use it because your skin is on the oily side in which case Cetaphil might not help simplify your routine.
posted by thisjax at 3:52 PM on August 4, 2010

Response by poster: pluckemin: After having used the same products for so long, I really want to try something new. I guess what I'm looking for is your favorite bang-for-the-buck product OR a product that may be a bit pricier (<>
Something to keep in mind is that though I may have tried my friend's shampoos/soaps/lotions once or twice, I've pretty much stuck to the same thing all my life so I don't really know what "fancy from Lush" feels like (or if I have used it I don't remember).
posted by pulled_levers at 3:52 PM on August 4, 2010

Response by poster: em, I don't know why a part of my post was snipped off, but what I wrote was "....maybe a bit pricier (under 30 bucks a bottle) but you swear by. I just don't have the disposable income to try everything so I wanted to know what your favorite products are."
posted by pulled_levers at 3:55 PM on August 4, 2010

oh, and on the cetaphil front, even though they say they don't make generics or whatever on their bottle, i've never noticed a difference between the branded and the generics. currently i'm using the target generic of it. i just buy the actual cetaphil for the pumps and screw it onto the target bottles for refills.
posted by nadawi at 3:56 PM on August 4, 2010

I personally love Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, which prides itself on being all organic and fairly-traded. They make a big emphasis of refilling the bottles--buy a big one, and seek out a drum at a local drugstore for a cheap refill. It's great, and they're not very expensive! ALL-ONE!
posted by a sourceless light at 4:02 PM on August 4, 2010 [5 favorites]

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E, is pretty much the only body lotion you'll ever need. $5.70 from Amazon. This is coming from someone with long-standing emotional dependence on Biotherm, Vichy, and the like in all other areas of skincare. I found this one a long time ago and nothing else I've ever tried works half as well, at any price point. Smells wonderful and lasts for ages too.
posted by mireille at 4:02 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I could live with exactly five bathroom products: Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap (liquid), St. Ives Apricot Facial Scrup, Tom's of Maine Fennel Toothpaste, Original (un)flavored Listerine, and L'Occitane CADE Shaving Soap.
posted by holterbarbour at 4:15 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Jason's Lavendar Satin Shower Body Wash and Shower Gel. No SLSs. and a great, relaxing fragrance.
posted by Mertonian at 4:23 PM on August 4, 2010

Personally, I'm not crazy about Lush stuff. The few things I've tried have just seemed like "too much"... too smelly, too greasy, too messy & too darn expensive for what you get. I've experimented with other higher-end products over the years as well, and I've rarely found anything that seemed really worth the price to me. I'm not particularly cheap but I do like to feel like I'm getting something extra awesome if I'm paying extra money.

I've settled on a pretty dirt-cheap regimen, just because it turns out I like the cheap stuff better. My skin is on the dry side, and my hair sounds a lot like yours... slightly wavy and sometimes lacks body.

Face - I wash with plain warm water on a washcloth if I'm not taking a shower. If I am showering, I use whatever body wash I happen to have in the shower on a scratchy-scrubby washcloth thingy to exfoliate my face and body.

Lately I've been using Caress Daily Silk body wash, it works fine but like every other supposedly moisturizing wash I've tried, it doesn't do anything special in the moisturizing department. But it's as ok as anything else I've tried and it smells decent.

I moisturize my entire body, including my face, with baby oil while I'm still wet in the shower. I use baby oil to shave my legs which gives me a really smooth shave with no rashes.

For shampoo & conditioner, I like Suave Green Apple. It smells nice without being overpowering and the combination leaves my hair soft and shiny. I've tried other "flavors" but the strawberry is too sweet for me, and the peach doesn't smell like much of anything.

My favorite lotion is the original Aveeno. Actually, even off-brands of this lotion work fine. I've used Aldi's version and liked it, and right now I have Jewel's Equate brand. It all seems the same to me. It's unscented and really seems to soothe dry itchy skin.

For the occasional hormonal pimple, I dab it with hand sanitizer. If I catch it when it's just starting out it completely heals in a day or two without getting big and nasty. I've googled this to see if anyone else is using hand sanitizer for acne and I keep seeing people claim that it will dry out your skin. This, I think, is bullshit. I can't wash my hands very often because even the so-called moisturing soaps dry my skin something fierce. I use sanitizer on them several times a day and the skin stays soft and nice, not dry at all. Sanitizer is alcohol-based, yes, but it is also chock-full of moisturizing ingredients that actually work.

I could probably pick up everything I use for less than $20. The most expensive thing I buy is Schick Xtreme 3 razors (12 freaking dollars for 8 razors!) because my skin is crazy-sensitive and anything else gives me a godawful rash.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:24 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

As for Cetaphil: if you're accustomed to using C&C products on your face (you said cleanser but I don't know exactly which cleanser you're talking about, and that may make a difference) Cetaphil won't get your skin as clean-feeling (in my experience, at least) without the use of a toner afterwards. I'm guessing that maybe you use it because your skin is on the oily side in which case Cetaphil might not help simplify your routine.

Regarding Cetaphil: I've found the Gentle Skin Cleanser to give me less of the "clean-feeling" than the Daily Facial Cleanser, which is why I prefer the Daily Facial Cleanser.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 4:25 PM on August 4, 2010

Go to Makeup Alley's product review section and browse "Best Values" - you'll discover all sorts of stuff, including recipes for making your own products on the cheap. For example, the "beach hair" spray I use is mostly water, with some sea salt and small amounts of hair gel and conditioner mixed in. I recently started oil cleansing with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and castor oil, and it works pretty good so far. You can make a face mask with 99-cent uncoated aspirin dissolved in water.

As for regular products, my favorite lotion is Gold Bond Ultimate Healing - it makes my skin feel moisturized but not coated in grease. (On preview, Palmers is great stuff too.)

Suave generally makes good shampoo and conditioner in a variety of scents, and their stuff is among the cheapest in the drugstore.

If you're looking to splurge, I'm really into Philosophy's shower gels, particularly in the various Grace fragrances - they're fresh and clean and pretty without being overpowering. They're pricey but they feel indulgent.

(As much as I love Lush, they don't give you much bang for your buck. If you're ever in a store, though, ask for a sample - they're pretty friendly with the samples.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:27 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I could swear by this routine:

Start with Avalon Organics Facial Cleansing Gel, then use Alba Botanica Facial Toner. In the morning, I use the Clean & Clear Finishes Pore Perfecting Moisturizer SPF 15, and at night I use the Clean & Clear Advantage Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer Salicylic Acne Medication.

I get a small amount of acne on my face and an even smaller amount on my body, so I use Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash in the summer and Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Body Wash in the winter.

Right now I'm using L'Oreal Professional Volume Extreme Nutritex Shampoo and L'Oreal Volume Extreme Conditioner, but I haven't been using them for a while. I can say that they're pretty great so far.

As far as body lotions go, I stay away from stuff with alcohol (Cetearyl Alcohol), but anything else works well with me. The alcohol irritates freshly shaven skin.
posted by two lights above the sea at 4:45 PM on August 4, 2010

Oh, and I don't know how sensitive your skin is, but I've found that products with SLS made me break out even more. I tend to stay away from them now. I came to that revelation here.
posted by two lights above the sea at 4:52 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love Lush face cleansers - they're not too expensive, really, when you factor in how long they last. I use the Herbalism one and pay around $15 every 2-3 months for it, and my skin has literally never looked or felt better. A lot of the Lush stuff is really pricey for what you get, but I think their face cleansers are actually a pretty good deal.

I also really like Dove lotions - their scents, I feel, stick with you, and they have little body sprays in the same scents as well for an extra boost.

For a super super cheap body scrub, I use brown sugar mixed with a bit of oil - no preference. It does the trick to get all the dry skin off and moisturizes too.
posted by kerning at 4:57 PM on August 4, 2010

I don't see a mention of bar soap for the shower, but I love love love Trader Joe's Oatmeal & Honey soap. It's relatively inexpensive, lasts a long time, is gentle on my lady parts and smells and feels great. As an added bonus, I've found that it leaves far less soap scum behind than other kinds of soap, which means less scrubbing of the bathtub!
posted by platinum at 5:17 PM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

+1 for Lush's herbalism. Over the recent past my wife has become a bit obsessed with the Lush product line and I have benefited by proxy. Herbalism was basically a magic awakening for my skin.

Also, as you've mentioned using Head & Shoulders, if you need some scalp treatment I can also recommend the Snake Oil scalp treatment. It smells some kind of awful, but it works wonderfully. They recommend a shampoo called Soak & Float along with it, but I have not tried it.

It takes a little extra math working out the shipping charges, but if you're ordering from the United States I suggest you actually use the UK site. After subtracting the VAT and considering a relatively decent exchange rate, the real dollar price of the majority of products tends to be around 25-30% lower than the US prices.
posted by hominid211 at 5:29 PM on August 4, 2010

Couldn't agree more with platinum about TJ's Oatmeal & Honey soap! I've never actually liked a bar soap before I tried their product.

Yes to Carrots products are sometimes available on Amazon Prime, sometimes not. I prefer the carrot shampoo, but here's the conditioner as an example. Note: I am not stylish, but I am very, very picky about scents, and I think this one smells delicate and natural and wonderful.
posted by tantivy at 5:32 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Suave pomegranate shampoo for both shampoo & body wash in summer. ($1.25)
L'Oreal Kids mango conditioning shampoo (see above) for drier parts of spring/fall ($2.50)
Add Noxzema for moisturizing face wash in winter ($3.50)
Ultra Brite toothpaste, which you can get for as cheap as $.97. It's made by Colgate I think and has hydrated silica and fluoride, which is pretty much all you need. I buy like 6 of them every time I go to the store because I hatehatehate running out of toothpaste.

So none of these is probably worth ordering online; OTOH they're available everywhere, effective, nice-smelling and cheapCheapCHEAP.

But here's my fantasy bathroom:

Nature's Gate peppermint toothpaste (unsweetened - for reals!)
Body shop citrus ginger shampoo/conditioner (oh, never mind. looks like they discontinued it)
Dr. Bronner's Almond
posted by toodleydoodley at 5:39 PM on August 4, 2010

Nthing Cetaphil and Aveeno moisturizers.

My shampoo recommendations will mean nothing to you, because we have totally opposite hair/scalp types.

I like colgate for toothpaste because you can't lose the cap.

I prefer bar soaps in general because they usually have little or no plastic packaging (and for quirky reasons I can't quite explain in the scope of AskMe) - I go back and forth between Dr. Bronner's and Dove.

For hand soap (and some cleaning products) I like Mrs. Meyer's, especially the Basil scent.

If I need something and don't already have a go-to brand (or the store doesn't have said product in stock), I will almost always choose something from Kiss My Face.

YMMV of course, but I have never had good luck with Suave products.

Re the mention of feelings, aesthetics, and a product that works vs. a product that makes you feel good/luxurious/whatever -- decanting your drugstore products into plain containers might help with that. Also, if you have any leeway in terms of what will work for you, pick something that smells nice (or is unscented). Nothing feels less luxurious than nasty artificial "Breezy Garden Mist" scents.
posted by Sara C. at 7:57 PM on August 4, 2010

Have you considered making your own? I switched from store-bought stuff to using a facial scrub made of sea salt and jojoba oil. It's cheap, and there are a ton of recipes out there.
posted by ghost dance beat at 8:37 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I used to use LUSH years ago, before they had any stores in the US. Very few products are worth the price they charge nowadays- the only thing I'm willing to shell out for is the Creamed Almond Coconut Smoothie, because I've never found anything else quite like it, scent and texture-wise. However, their propylene glycol soaps are quite drying to me, so I spend my luxury soap money on Villainess soaps and scrubs (smooches). They're cheaper, but made with much better ingredients and the scents are a bit more grown-up, but still yummy. I make my own lotions, but Villainess makes a nice lotion too, and the best thing is that if you like a soap scent, you can usually get a matching lotion in that fragrance as well. Her mud masks are quite nice too.

If you have a Whole Foods near you, you can go and sniff the testers for nearly every product they sell. Some things will be expensive, but there are occasionally good deals. And at least you can decide if you adore some pricy item's scent before you buy.

Face care, I use the oil cleansing method with jojoba, and DMAE Serum from Silk Naturals ( I bought the sample size first, so knew I liked it before I shelled out for the big size).
posted by oneirodynia at 8:55 PM on August 4, 2010

I have dry-ish curly hair. I use Aussie hair products (way cheap - like drugstore cheap), and people often tell me how good I smell.
posted by anshuman at 9:36 PM on August 4, 2010

On the practical side, I've found that TRESemme's shampoos and conditioners do much nicer things to my hair than other comparably-priced brands. And I'm another fan of St. Ives' apricot facial scrub (I use the kind with 2% salicylic acid).

But on the expensive side: once, several years ago, I tried a friend's Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Cleansing Foam. I swear I still think about it sometimes, remembering exactly how smooth, silky, and utterly luxuriant it was. Having always been one to buy my products at CVS and balk at price tags over $7-8, I was surprised to realize that there's basically a whole other world of skincare products out there. NOT a cheap world, mind you..but it's not just the same stuff with fancier brand names tacked on. So maybe that's something to keep in mind as a splurge for some future day when you have more money, and are sick of sampling drugstore brands?
posted by ootandaboot at 9:52 PM on August 4, 2010

I'm totally in love with Palmer's cocoa butter lotion. It's really moisturizing and it makes you smell like you're made out of chocolate in a very non-fake way- and it's pretty inexpensive. I've also found basically the same stuff at Wal-Mart under the Black and Beautiful brand- I think the same company makes them both because the lotions are identical, but the Black and Beautiful version is even cheaper!
posted by MadamM at 10:20 PM on August 4, 2010

I like Dove's brand of stuff. They have a fairly new line of coordinated scents. You can get your shampoo, conditioner, body wash and deodorant all in the same scent (I like the citrus line).

I also really like Neutrogena's stuff. I love the scent of their body wash and shampoo. It's not really considered expensive but it is more so than Dove, so I don't get it very often. I usually get it in Winter as it's a heavier scent.

I cheat on facial cleansers. I just use whatever shampoo I'm using on my face as I'm washing my hair. I get lots of compliments on my skin.
posted by deborah at 12:00 AM on August 5, 2010

I really like Marseilles soap. You can often find it (I have found brand irrelevant - it's all about the process) at places like those "world market" kinds of stores.
posted by mdonley at 1:04 AM on August 5, 2010

I'm loving Neutrogena Grapefruit face wash right now. It was not expensive but you get a lot for your money. E45 body moisturiser is really good, it keeps the skin nice and supple and moisturised for a long time after, and it's cheap as chips - but I'm not sure you can get it where you live.

I usually save on bath and shower products but spend a little more on moisturisers etc. I like Soap and Glory. Their Wrinkle in Time face moisturiser is really good. But my absolute favourite face cream is Olay Total Effects. It's not cheap but, where I live at least, can often be found on offer because it's so popular.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:07 AM on August 5, 2010

E45 body moisturiser

Typo. I meant E45 body lotion.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:10 AM on August 5, 2010

Echoing what oneirodynia said, Lush has sort of ceased to be worth the price now. It was great in the olden days when the Canadian dollar was weak and there were no stores in the US. Shampoo bars for $4? Yes please! Shampoo bars for $10? Not so much.

Lush also has a bad habit of retiring something as soon as you fall in love with it - although they've brought a lot of it back as a website only purchase. If you're not big on things being overly scented you won't like Lush. You can smell a Lush store from several blocks away.

(Oh and damn you oneirodynia! I had no idea that Villainess existed and now I do and I'm already broke.)

Anyway. My favorite drugstore conditioner is Folicure. It smells like peppermint, makes my scalp tingly, and leaves my hair preposterously soft. They make a shampoo too, but I haven't tried it yet.

Try Neutrogena T-Gel for shampooing. It might be less harsh than the Head and Shoulders.

Speaking of the Body Shop, the best shampoo/conditioner I've used from there is the hemp line. Smelled amazing, worked great. I'm just too cheap to get it right now.

Neutrogena Dry Touch SPF 1000000000 sunscreen is awesome. You're using sunscreen on your face every day, right? Right??
posted by elsietheeel at 7:56 AM on August 5, 2010

Oh and please don't use that apricot scrub. It's so bad for your skin. All those little bits of ground shell are sharp and cut your skin. If you need to exfoliate just get a cheap washcloth and use some elbow grease.

And I forgot to link to my favorite facial soap: Ägg Tvål.

And finally, good for anything and everything, Smith's Rosebud Salve.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:04 AM on August 5, 2010

Canus Goat Milk Soap, original scent. Oh my god. This stuff is cheap and wonderful and I ordered 24 bars of it last year, I liked it so much.
posted by millipede at 8:20 AM on August 5, 2010

I like those "Brilliant Brunette"/Blonde shampoos and conditioners, I think they were salon-inspired at first but I find the generic versions good too, but I'm not super picky either. I think Finesse is still pretty good if you want silky hair, and it smells nice.

I'm a big fan of Caress' body wash that looks bright gold in the see-through container, but I'm naturally golden/tan so YMMV. It rinses easily and leaves my skin silky without any nasty fake fruity smell. I've been using it loyally for something like 5 years now, switching up only on occasion when I get nab Pangea's hella expensive body wash on sale.

You know the small Chinese grocer's shops in every town? They have Bee and Flower sandalwood soap for something like 49 cents a bar. I can't stand soap but I make an exception for this kind and this kind only (don't like Bee and Flower's other scents). It is one of the best smells in the world to me. But maybe that's just me.

Also, I think you can get away with crappier hair cleaning and conditioning products if you switch them up regularly (we're talking like every other day or so, just have 2 or 3 different kinds always in your shower) and do occasional deep clean and deep condition treatments (I do that about once a month). I've used Breck and all sorts of random crap, doesn't seem to bother my hair too badly if I just do those two things.

By the way, your hair type sounds like my husband's and he used to use Pert religiously too. He switched to Aussie Moist and likes it (it has a coconut smell). He's no-nonsense bare bones about grooming and recently switched from Ivory bar soap to Ivory's aloe body wash. It's as simple and clean as it gets, if that's what you're looking for.
posted by ifjuly at 8:34 AM on August 5, 2010

Just saw your price limit--it's a bit on the edge but you might consider philosophy's 3-in-1 shampoo/body wash/bubblebath things. They last a long time in my experience, and they're especially terrific for traveling 'cause you only need to bring the one bottle for everything in the shower save a razor. They come in every scent imaginable too. I wouldn't recommend them for every single day--probably not moisturizing enough for your scalp--but a good option in rotation. Feels really treat-y similar to Lush, at least to plebe me ha.
posted by ifjuly at 8:42 AM on August 5, 2010

I think giving Lush shampoos a chance would be worth a shot. Yes, a shampoo bar is nine dollars, but it lasts sooooo long. I've never had such good results with a shampoo and although the scent lingers in my shower for a little while, I can't detect a scent at all in my hair by the time I get to work (others can't either).

Nth-ing the Trader Joe's oatmeal and honey soap. It's about $1.29 for two bars. I have almost frequent skin break-outs unless I'm using this soap. It's like magic when the break-outs go away.

For facial cleansing, I use Lush's Ocean Salt. OK, this one is expensive, but you don't have to use it every day to reap its benefits and I'm going on nearly a year with this small pot and I still have half of it left. And it smells and feels very clean and amazing.
posted by bristolcat at 8:44 AM on August 5, 2010

Oh, if you make sure to dilute like hell, you can use Dr. Bronner's in the shower. Or so I hear. A thing of it will last you a looooong time.
posted by ifjuly at 8:47 AM on August 5, 2010

And if you want moisture and it doesn't seem like body wash is cutting it, they might still make those "skin conditioner" things--you rub them on after washing your body and halfheartedly rinse off, like hair conditioner for your body. I think they're supposed to work by sealing in moisture before your skin dries off. You could achieve the same thing with body oil too. Then you could just use a cheap cleanser and not worry about how moisturizing it is.
posted by ifjuly at 8:51 AM on August 5, 2010

I swear to god this will be my last comment, just in response to now seeing your replies and clarification...

you may want to check out Marshall's/TJ Maxx for body wash and shampoo products. They routinely carry pricey stuff at half the cost or less, so it's my favorite way to try expensive stuff I'd otherwise never risk at full price.

Also, I don't know how much it costs and I feel cheesy as all hell mentioning it, but I received a body wash/lotion/fragrance set of Victoria's Secret Very Sexy years ago and damn it was the best damn body wash and lotion ever. Don't know if the formula or price has changed since then though.
posted by ifjuly at 8:56 AM on August 5, 2010

One of my recent drugstore finds is Bodycology. It's like a B&BW knockoff line (similar scents and packaging, at half the price). I have shower gel and body cream in both Cherry Blossom and Fresh Waters - neither are heavy scents but they last longer than other body washes I've used. The body cream is very moisturizing; the shower gel foams up a lot and makes my skin quite soft. (The regular body lotion isn't worth it though - the bottle is hard to squeeze and the lotion formula itself is nothing special.)
posted by flex at 9:52 AM on August 5, 2010

For the face: olive and castor oil, as per the Oil Cleansing Method.
posted by emeiji at 11:03 AM on August 5, 2010

Not available on Amazon (sadly) but my all-time favorite cleansing product is Body Essence's Ultra Moisturizing Tea Tree Oil with Olive Oil & Protein body wash. It used to be about four dollars for 28oz at Brooks drugstores, now I can only find it here (still crazy-cheap). It leaves skin clean, soft, and smelling fresh but not too girly.
posted by cranberry_nut at 12:42 PM on August 5, 2010

I know I'm a bit late to this, but budget skincare is my obsession and I only just caved and got a meta account despite years of lurking.

Here's a list of things that seem to me to be universally quite popular (going by reviews) and I've found to work extremely well. All are available from your local drugstore or supermarket (and pantry, in some cases) and very cheap!

St Ives Apricot Scrub

Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask

Queen Helene Oatmeal & Honey Scrub

the Oil Cleansing method EMEIJI linked to above is fantastic

Sweet Almond Oil on a cotton pad to remove eye makeup

Ponds cold cream cleanser for makeup removal for your face

Nivea Creme (the kind in the blue tin) for a luscious face moisturiser. The key is in the application - put a tiny pea sized drop on palms and rub together vigorously until it "melts" a bit, then pat on face, don't rub! Also fab as a body moisturiser!

Palmers Cocoa Butter products are great for body creams

Neutrogena Sesame Body oil/cream are great and smell so good I could cry everytime I use them.

Sugar + Olive oil = a fantastic body scrub. Dollop some honey in and you have extreme pampering!

1 package of powdered milk + essential oils of choice = a decadent bathtime

YMMV, but I hope you get some great results!
posted by shazzam! at 1:39 AM on September 4, 2010

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