2020 gave us an opportunity to re-evaluate what’s really “essential” in our lives, and that sentiment extended to our beauty routines. As we worked to pare down our multi-step regimens into something decidedly simpler, we also realized that there’s no need to shell out the big bucks for the sake of our hair, skin, and nails. Thankfully, the beauty industry delivered some seriously potent products that get the job done for $20 or less.
Below, the best new hair, skin, and nail drugstore beauty products that launched in 2020—and that we’ll be taking with us as our “new essentials” into 2021 and beyond.
Best drugstore beauty products of 2020
Garnier’s on a mission to go green with its products, and these reusable pads will make you say buh-bye to cotton balls for good. Douse them in micellar water or cleansing oil, use ’em to wash your face, then toss them in the wash.
Shop now: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Eco Pads, $9
We were over the moon when Neutrogena released its newest foray into haircare earlier this year, especially when we realized the brand was bringing its beloved Hydroboost formula north of our faces. This shampoo uses hyaluronic acid to treat dryness in your scalp and strands, and leaves hair nourished and shiny.
Shop now: Neutrogena Hydrating Shampoo for Dry Scalp and Hair, $9
3. Peacci Vanilla ManiPedi Mask, $20
Our hands (and feet) could use a little extra moisture these days, and this mask delivers. It’s made with skin-soothing niacinamide and Vitamin E, and an easy, under-$20 treat to give yourself a spa-quality mani/pedi at home.
Shop now: Peacci Vanilla ManiPedi Mask, $20
Using natural tapioca starch, this lighter-than-air dry shampoo is the cure for all those hair washes you skipped during quarantine. It’s powered by nitrogen, making it totally ozone safe.
Shop now: Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Water Dry Shampoo, $14
For only $14, this drugstore diamond will keep even the driest winter skin quenched all season long. It’s made with a hydrating triple-threat of humectants, occlusives, and emollients, which work together to give skin all of the moisture it needs. It’s no wonder a derm and an esthetician both swear by the stuff.
Shop now: Burt’s Bees Truly Glowing Night Cream, $14
The latest edition to Herbal Essences’ Bio:Renew line is made with aloe and bamboo to strengthen and nourish strands, leaving them smooth, strong, and frizz-free.
If you have yet to master the art of the at-home mani/pedi, this kit is all you’ll need to finally be able to give yourself a salon-quality treatment. It includes two nail clippers (one for your fingers, one for your toes), a cuticle pusher, five emory boards, a buff and shine board, and a pair of stainless steel cuticle scissors—all for under $20.
Shop now: GSQ by GLAMSQUAD Manicure + Pedicure Set, $17
Start your a.m. skin-care routine with a daily dose of actives by way of this gel formula. It’s got Vitamin C, glycolic acid, and fruit enzymes that clear away dead skin cells and allow your complexion to shine.
Shop now: RoC Multi Correxion Revive + Glow Gel Cleanser, $12
The Inkey List got into the hair-care game this year with a line of under-$17 products, and this salicylic acid treatment is the perfect exfoliating formula to treat the flaky, itchy scalp that comes along with dandruff.
Shop now: The Inkey List Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Scalp Treatment, $12
10. 100% Pure Nail & Cuticle Oil, $18
Give your cuticles a little love with this oil, which is made with blue tansy, Vitamin E, and jojoba oil to soothe dryness and strengthen brittle nails—aka exactly what you need after all the hand washing you did in 2020.
Shop now: 100% Pure Nail & Cuticle Oil, $18
11. CeraVe Foaming Cleanser Bar, $5
Ditch the bottle for CeraVe’s latest cleansing bar, which is formulated for use on both your face and body. Thanks to kaolin clay, it will absorb excess oil (which makes it great for acne-prone skin), and is soap-free and non-comedogenic so it will de-gunk your pores without clogging them.
Shop now: CeraVe Foaming Cleanser Bar, $5
12. SWAIR Showerless Shampoo, $14
Unlike traditional dry shampoo, which is meant to soak up dirt and oil, this water-free cleanser is designed to stop it before it starts. When you spritz it on your scalp, (it goes on clear, BTW) it works to repel gunk. Another bonus? The brand estimates that if you swap in Showerless Shampoo twice a week for your usual lather and rinse, you’ll save at least 312 gallons of water each year.
Shop now: SWAIR Showerless Shampoo, $14
This ultra-hydrating serum from this derm-beloved drugstore brand is exactly what our winter skin has been yearning for. It uses hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, and Vitamin E to deliver moisture deep beneath the surface of your skin for lasting effects—up to 48 hours.
Shop now: Cetaphil Deep Hydration 48 Hour Activation Serum, $18
This “master cleanse” delivers a deep clean for your scalp using ingredients like witch hazel and tea tree oil, which will clear away gunk and product buildup. The tri-tip design makes it easy to apply to any hair texture or protective style, and delivers a nice, tingling feeling so you know it’s working its magic.
15. Pond’s Rejuveness Serum, $8
In 2020, the brand behind your grandmother’s favorite cold cream got into the retinol game with its anti-aging “Rejuveness” line. Its hero product—this skin tightening serum—is made with retinol and niacinamide to stimulate cell turnover, fight off fine lines and wrinkles, and protect the outermost layers of your complexion.
Shop now: Pond’s Rejuveness Serum, $8
Dove launched its “Amplified Textures” line this year to deliver products that really work on natural hair. This mask gives curls and coils the moisture they need with honey, glycerin, and coconut oil.
Shop now: Dove Amplified Textures Moisture Spa Recovery Hair Mask, $7
Use your cleansing step to completely resurface you skin with this 3.5 percent glycolic acid formula, which will melt away dead skin cells to leave your complexion smooth and fresh. It’s also got aloe to soothe irritation.
Bar beauty formulations got better than ever in 2020, and Peach led the pack with its personal care products. This conditioner bar delivers hair nourishing ingredients so effectively, it rivals the bottle.
These power-packed peel pads are made with AHAs, antioxidants, and fruit enzymes. Swipe them over your skin for an instant refresh that will gently remove dead skin cells and leave your complexion instantly brighter.
These self-heating, single use serums are great for curly and coily textures that need a little moisture. With a mix of jojoba and lavender oils, the warm serum is able to penetrate follicles to protect against dryness and fend off flakiness and itching on the scalp.
Shop now: Pattern Jojoba Oil Hair Serum Self-Heating Packs, $15
Now that you know all about the best drugstore beauty products of 2020, check out the video below to see which drugstore products a derm uses in her own routine.