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NOW READING I Tried the $50 K-Beauty Skincare Challenge — Here’s What Happened
June 26, 2018

I Tried the $50 K-Beauty Skincare Challenge — Here’s What Happened

When a self-professed big spender takes on the K-beauty skincare challenge of recreating her entire skincare routine with just $50, you know it’s not going to be easy. But then again, this is K-beauty. Will she be able to do it?


You know, I don’t think I appreciated living in Asia until I moved back to the U.S.


Like the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. And honey, let me tell you, I miss paying $300 a month for rent and eating pad thai for a dollar from the old lady who cooks outside of her apartment. Everything in the States is too damn high.


Let’s face it, in today’s economy, we are all trying to save money. I’ve actually been on a skincare spending freeze for a while because I have at least three boxes of skincare and only one face, so I’m trying to work with what I have before I move on.


K-Beauty Skincare challenge


So in the spirit of saving money and being fiscally responsible, I thought it would be a super fun challenge to see if I could replicate and create a basic (not basic like boring, basic like good, general) routine for under $50. I am normally the “YOLO spend money like it’s going out of style” queen so I wanted to see if it was possible to recreate my routine using more affordable products. This means a cleansing oil, foaming cleanser, toner/essence, chemical exfoliant, moisturizer, and sunscreen. These are the non-negotiable steps in my routine. Let’s see how I did on this $50 K-beauty skincare challenge!


Cleansing oil: Innisfree Apple Seed Cleansing Oil, $11.80


Innisfree Apple Seed Cleansing Oil K-Beauty Skincare challenge


This cleansing oil used to be my JAM when I lived in Korea. I must have gone through at least four bottles of it. It removes makeup almost instantly and smells like fresh apples. WIN.


Foaming cleanser: Innisfree Blueberry Rebalancing Cleanser 5.5 pH, $5.90


skincare superfoods K-Beauty Skincare challenge


Well, I am ALL about that low pH life, and this cleanser is hella affordable. It has a lot of positive reviews — all about how hydrating it is and how it doesn’t dry out the skin. Plus, the packaging is that super chic minimalist vibe that I love. Hashtag #skincareshelfie, anyone?


Toner/Essence: Etude House Soon Jung pH 5.5 Relief Toner, $7.50


K-Beauty Skincare challenge


This toner brings our total up to $25. WHEW. I didn’t know our good sis Etude House had it in her, but homegirl brought us an affordable, low pH, 97% natural ingredient toner that is weightless, calming, and mega-hydrating. It has no mineral oil, no artificial fragrances, no artificial dyes, no silicones or surfactants.


Chemical Exfoliant: A’Pieu Intensive Aqua Peeling Swab, $3 each


K-Beauty Skincare challenge


The A’Pieu Intensive Aqua Peeling swabs aren’t necessarily the most economical choice ($3 for one is kindaaaa steep), but listen, they DO work. They are giant Q-tips soaked in an 8% AHA/BHA concoction, so you get a sweet 2-in-1 exfoliating situation. I got to try these back when I lived in Thailand and they are FANTASTIC. Baby soft skin? Check. Gets rid of those pesky hormonal whiteheads? Check. Incredibly easy to use? Check. Check. Check.


Moisturizer: Swanicoco Herbs Snail Care Emulsion, $12


K-Beauty Skincare challenge


Swanicoco had me at herb snail. Snails are the second ingredient, and they’ve also added in some rice bran extract for brightening, and hyaluronic acid for that much coveted bounce to the skin. This moisturizer is apparently is also for sensitive, dry, AND oily skin types, which means we can all get our snail on for the low. Hooray!


Sunscreen: A’Pieu Pure Block Aqua Sun Gel, $10

K-Beauty Skincare challenge

With exactly $10 dollars left, I’m going with the A’Pieu Pure Block Aqua Sun Gel. It has a high SPF50+ PA+++, and as we can tell by the name, is a lightweight gel texture. Gel sunscreens are my jam because a) they typically aren’t greasy like most sunscreens, and b) they typically don’t give off that dreaded white cast. People also say it wears well under makeup and it absorbs quickly — two more wins in my book!


And there we have it, folks! A complete, comprehensive skincare routine for just about $50. It CAN be done!


Would you be able to take on the $50 K-beauty skincare challenge? What are your favorite affordable skincare products? Let me know in the comments!



Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.



I've been looking for a cheap toner and the Etude house might be it :D As a newbie, I'm not excited about breaking the bank on new products that fail to work on my skin. So this is super helpful for some starter ideas. I am mostly happy with the choices I've made so far with COSRX and that was all based on Fiddy's blog and reviews/editorial here :) I just replaced my cleansing oil with the innisfree one mentioned here, too! Yay. Hopefully I like it as much as you do!

Just FYI, if you are interested in multiple items from the Soon Jung line, Etude House sells a little "Soon Jung Skin Care Trial Kit" with sample bottles/tubes of the Toner, Emulsion, Cream, and Balm. It's available on eBay and some other sites.

Of course, the regular-size versions are pretty economical here on Beautytap, so if you're mainly interested in the toner, it makes more sense to just get that! :)

Thanks! Yeah, I need to probably try some samples of more things before buying full sizes in general. A whole trial kit might be worth just to have for travel, too! :)

I'm glad the Blueberry cleanser made the cut. I've turned a lot of friends into low pH converts thanks to that one. I love how it smells (and that it foams up like crazy with my whip maker). And that A'Pieu sunscreen is one of my go-to items as well. Nicely done, Sheryll.

Love the idea of showing how great skincare can be affordable (though I also love my higher end products so I'm not sure I would be able to limit my routine to $50). I've really enjoyed the A'Pieu Sun Cream and the CosRx Low pH Morning Cleanser. Also sheet masks. Love sheet masks.

I wish you had actually tried out all of the products though--after reading the title ("Here's What Happened"), I was expecting more personal reviews on these products. Maybe an idea for a future post? :)

This is a great idea! Thank you!

Great choices! I've heard good things about the entire Etude House Soon Jung line (cleanser, toner, emulsion, cream, balm, etc.) and they are all very affordable. And they're geared for sensitive/damaged skin, so they should be a safe choice for most people.

That Innisfree blueberry cleanser is next on my list of cleansers to try! I hope I like it, since you really can't beat the price. :) Another good choice is COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser, which I would recommend for normal-to-oily skin. It's a bit more expensive, but also a larger quantity than the Innisfree ($11 for... Read more

My skincare budget would be doomed without the Innisfree & COSRX cleansers. Though I find I have to use less of Purito's cleanser because it's a lot thicker, and it's comparably priced with COSRX's.

Yes, I want to try the Purito cleanser as well! All the Purito products look tempting, actually -- the ingredient lists look comparable to more expensive brands, and I've seen a lot of positive reviews.

I know! i have all the Purito products in my cart right now... I am loving the sea blackthorn cream and it makes me want to add so many more of their products to my routine!

I'm waiting to try the Galacto Niacin Essence to see how it compares to the COSRX Galactomyces Essence.

AND now there is a sale on purito products so hitting purchase on that cart!

I am a spender roo when it comes avout skincare routine lol... I will try to do my own routine at 100€ (because I want a whoole routine with mask and exfoliation for example) , or maybe 80 to see 😁