Luxurious Skin Care Products You Can Actually Afford

If a $7 moisturizer was good enough for Marilyn Monroe, it's good enough for me.

A great red lip, classic perfume, or slinky dress certainly all connote glamour. But decadence needn't be pricey. It's particularly easy to find luxurious but affordable skin care products. Here is my list of products for pampering at the end of the day or gearing up for a night out, including some with serious old-school cred.

1. Santa Maria Novella Soaps, $18

Santa Maria Novella is a legendary Florentine brand whose devotees have included Catherine de Medici and Hillary Clinton. I was lucky enough to visit the incredible pharmacy (still in its original spot in Florence) about 10 years ago and it was basically beauty heaven.

Their products can definitely be expensive, but my favorites are the $18 bar soaps. I’m a sucker for the Milk Soap in Rose and the men’s soap in Amber (which is rapidly becoming my favorite scent). Made with whole milk and triple milled, they have the richest lather, leaving my skin soft and hydrated.

2. Kiehl’s Crème de Corps, $11 and up

Kiehl’s has been a constant in my life for almost 15 years. This cult-favorite is rich and emollient, and does an amazing job of keeping my dry skin moisturized throughout the winter.

3. NIVEA Creme, $7

Dating back to 1911, NIVIA Creme is a classic. When you think of all of the fabulous women who have used it over the last 100 years (Marilyn Monroe and Lana Turner are said to have sworn by it) you can’t help but feel a little more glamorous.

I keep a small tin in my bag to soften my hands during the harsh east coast winter, and a tub next to my bed to put on my feet at night. I like to inhale the clean, floral scent every time I use it.

4. Pond’s Cold Cream, $5

I was first introduced to Pond’s as a young ballerina during a production of "The Nutcracker." The older girls taught us how to use the thick cream to remove our heavy stage makeup after a performance. Much like Nivea Crème, Pond’s is a product whose glamour is directly tied to its history. Released in the early 1900s, Pond’s has been a favorite for makeup removal and cleansing for ages. (The Rockettes are the newest face of the brand.) I don’t find myself on stage nearly as often as I used to, but whenever I break out my jar of Pond’s I’m instantly transported to those nights backstage.

All these products could be described as simple, even utilitarian. But, with their rich histories and cult reputations, they bring a sense of occasion when you use them.

  • What are some of your favorite budget products that bring the glam?
  • Who wants to help me find a perfume that smells like Nivea Crème? I'm obsessed with finding a scent that replicates it.