I’m a grown adult with not one but two (!!!) savings accounts, and I know that by now I should have some Very Expensive face cream to recommend, but the truth is, I am frugal. I believe that if you find a good product for a good price, you shouldn’t have to feel bad about not being able to name-drop a more sophisticated alternative.
I was 16 when I first started to care, just a little, about skin care. Like most of my magazine-reading peers, I used all the teen-marketed products from Clean & Clear. I still wash my face with Morning Burst once in a while because of the way it smells — it brings me right back to high school mornings, waiting for the bus at dawn.
Back then I didn’t have a specific moisturizer, so I used my grandma’s. Her vitamin E cream was a coveted staple that she used not only on her face but on her legs as well. If you ever saw my grandma from the back, judging by her calves alone, you’d think she was no older than 20.
The cream came in a simple white jar with a big golden “E” on the side. The contents were thick but not heavy.
It not only soothed my skin from the stinging caused by exfoliators and harsh products — which I stubbornly insisted on using even though they were way too strong for my sensitive skin — but also melted right in, keeping my young skin soft, supple, and glowy.
My most audacious use case? Feet. It miraculously saved my dry, cracked heels with ease.
Over the next 10 years, I flirted with samples of fancier face creams from Sephora. Belif’s True Cream Moistu rizing Bomb ($38) was a favorite, as well as First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream ($32), which you might call this vitamin E cream a dupe for. When I moved miles away from a Walmart, and thus miles away from my holy grail cream, Ultra Repair was my go-to.
Earlier this year I moved to a more suburban part of Queens, and I recently had the time to fully scope out the local Dollar General.
Their candy section was impeccable and their seasonal decor cute, but the real treasure was in their beauty section. Before me, glowing in all its glory, was a two-pack of my treasured vitamin E cream for the quaint price of $3.85.
Newly unemployed, I’m looking to this cream as a promise of a moisturized winter that will cost me nearly nothing. It’s giving me hope that in dark times, light will find a way to shine through.
Fruit of the Earth: Vitamin E Skin Care Cream
Get it via Amazon ($7)
Kaitlin Stevens is a writer from Queens, New York, who enjoys covering culture, film and television, health and wellness, as well as personal essays. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.