Gen Z Says This Drugstore Skin Care Is Better Than Its Triple-the-Price Counterparts—Are They Right?

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Generational differences aside, everyone can afford to take a few notes from Gen Z. In addition to being champions of sustainability, inclusivity, and mental health awareness, the late ‘90s and 2000s babies are growing up with a simplified (thus incredibly advanced) approach to skin care, ushering in a new wave of accessible beauty brands that make caring for your skin cool and straightforward.

Top among them is Bubble—the science-backed skin-care brand churning out affordable and *effective* products designed to address the needs of Gen Z’s teenage skin (though folks of all ages can reap the benefits) while fighting stigmas around conditions like acne and hyperpigmentation.

About Bubble

Since launching in 2020, Bubble has been an absolute hit with Gen Z shoppers. It's got it all: A healthy mix of synthetic and plant-based ingredients that work, a lengthy “no-list” that reflects Gen Z’s uncompromising values, and fun, smart packaging that’s a joy to have in your bathroom. But the brand didn’t stop there. Through its Skin School—an info hub on the Bubble site that’s home to comprehensive articles on skin conditions, beauty buzzwords, a skin-type quiz, and more—Bubble is cultivating a community of fresh-faced (literally), conscious skin-care consumers, armed with the knowledge to take their skin-care routines (and by extension, their wellness) into their own, very capable, hands. It's so popular, it's been picked up by big-name drugstores and wholesalers like Walmart and CVS. literally a 10/10 i want to go back and get the hydrating one! and the pump is so cute it looks like a flower!!! @Bubble @CVS Pharmacy #dupe #fyp #foryoupage #viral #bubble #skincare #goviral #preppy #winterbreak #blowup #fup #cvs #find ♬ original sound - ?

So when Gen Z’ers took to TikTok to profess their love for Bubble, dubbing it a better, more affordable alternative to pricier, prestige brands like Drunk Elephant, we knew we had to test it for ourselves. Is Gen Z right? Is Bubble skin care as good as  millennial mainstays? Our consensus is a resounding "yes." Below, a breakdown of Bubble's highly effective, affordable skin-care line.

Bubble, Cloud Surf Water Cream Moisturizer — $16.00

The newest product in Bubble’s lineup, Cloud Surf hits your face with a powerful surge of moisture, wiping out thirstiness the minute it hits your skin. And it’s not just moisture; a burst of feel-good ingredients go beyond quenching skin to elevate skin’s texture and appearance, too. There’s celery seed extract and hibiscus extract to shrink large, oily pores, plus lilac extract to tone discoloration. Plus, it’s not sticky at all. While other gel-creams can get tacky once they dry, this one leaves a matte finish.

bubble slam dunk moisturizer and box on a blue background
Bubble, Slam Dunk Hydrating Moisturizer — $9.00

Bubble fans are saying Bubble’s Slam Dunk Moisturizer is a dupe for Drunk Elephant’s pricey Protini Polypeptide Cream ($68)—and we have to agree. Beyond the refillable hygienic pump that dispenses the perfect amount of product and preserves the moisturizer’s skin-loving ingredients, the pillow-soft cream feels identical to the Drunk Elephant favorite, deeply hydrating and nourishing skin for a comfortable, protected feel. It’s made with aloe vera to moisturize and soothe irritation, vitamin E for antioxidant protection, and avocado oil to nourish skin and fend off redness, making this cream your first line of defense against dry, flaky skin. And it’s under $20 opposed to Drunk Elephant’s whopping $68 price tag, which you just can’t beat.

bubble fresh start cleanser next to the box with bubbles around it
Bubble, Fresh Start Gel Cleanser — $9.00

Bubble’s Fresh Start Cleanser is a delight to rinse with, whether it’s first thing in the morning or before bed at night. The PHA-(polyhydroxy acid) infused gel cleanser does a little bit of everything: It provides the gentlest exfoliation to the outermost layer of skin to help combat congestion, supports an even skin tone and texture, and reduces excess oil production for clearer, more balanced skin. It hydrates and soothes skin as it cleanses too, leaving your face feeling clean and refreshed immediately after rinsing—not stripped of moisture. I’ve been using it as a first and second cleanse and my combination, blemish-prone skin is happier and clearer for it, so it’s a resounding “yes” from me!

bubble bounce back refreshing toner on a blue background
Bubble, Bounce Back Refreshing Toner — $13.00

Misting your face with the Bounce Back Toner is like hitting the reset button for your skin. In every spray there’s a burst of rosewater for hydration, sea water for matte-ficiation, sodium PCA and niacinamide for brightening, and willow bark extract to soothe redness and purify skin. Together, these skin-calming super heroes immediately quench skin while reducing excess shine. And the best part is, you can use it anytime. Use the micro-fine mist after cleansing in the morning or evening, or toss the handy, pod-like bottle in your bag whenever you’re in need of a refresh. Other major pros: it doesn’t have any added fragrance, nor does it have that astringent scent that other toners do.

bubble superclear serum on a pedestal
Bubble, Super Clear Serum — $17.00

Remember what I said before about having blemish-prone, combination skin? Yeah, that means the Bubble Super Clear Serum was going to be a must for me, and I’m happy to report that it still is. The daily acne serum packs an impressive 2-percent concentration of salicylic acid—a BHA (or beta hydroxy acid) that helps clear congested pores. Even more impressive, the Super Clear Serum contains hydrating squalane and glycerin to offset the drying effects of salicylic acid and soothe irritated blemishes, along with colloidal oatmeal to calm and protect skin. It’s the first thing I reach for in my nighttime routine whenever I start breaking out, and it consistently leaves my skin less angry by morning!

level up bubble moisturizer and box on a blue background
Bubble, Level Up Balancing Moisturizer — $16.00

The Level Up Moisturizer offers the balancing, lightweight hydration that folks with oily and combination skin crave. “It’s a silky gel moisturizer with niacinamide and yarrow extract that’s ideal for my combination skin,” shares W+G lifestyle editor and fellow Bubble believer, Erica Sloan. “It goes on clear and slick but never sticky and seems to soak into skin in seconds.” And she’s not wrong—my skin drinks this stuff up, and unlike other gel moisturizers that leave no trace of hydration once absorbed, the Level Up Moisturizer leaves my skin feeling balanced and hydrated all day long.

bubble over night mask on a ceramic pedestal
Bubble, Over Night Hydrating Sleep Mask — $20.00

“This overnight mask feels like luxury, and the results are pretty impressive,” says W+G’s editorial commerce director, Gina Vaynshteyn. “Its main ingredients are maple sap (helps protect the skin barrier), mandelic and kojic acid (gentle exfoliators that help brighten the complexion), and arnica (this calms down inflammation and redness). I deal with hormonal acne and some rosacea, so a hydrating cream or mask is a must after my retinol serum.” Vaynshteyn a has been swearing by this overnight mask all winter long,and says it leaves her skin looking brighter, clearer, and more plump by morning.

bubble day dream serum on a blue background
Bubble, Day Dream Serum — $17.00

Bubble’s Day Dream Serum spotlights two derm-beloved, skin-care powerhouses—vitamin C and niacinamide—to help support an even skin tone, smooth skin texture, combat dark spots (like acne scars, for example), and boost skin’s glow. Beyond its brightening benefits, though, reviewers agree that Day Dream’s multitasking formula addresses multiple skin concerns. “Brightening? Check. Antioxidants? Check. Hydration? Check. Barrier support? Check. Acne/sebum support? Check,” writes one happy Bubble user in a 5-star review. True to its name, the Day Dream Serum is a dream.

bubble deep dive mask resting on coral
Bubble, Deep Dive Mask — $18.00

Powered by fruit enzymes, azelaic acid, and a blend of alpha and polyhydroxy acids (AHAs and PHAs), the Bubble Deep Dive Mask is a once weekly exfoliating treatment that deep cleans pores and banishes dead skin cells to reveal softer, smoother, and brighter looking skin that lies beneath. Deep Dive’s cocktail of gentle exfoliants means that any skin type can use it—but the brand makes it clear that it should be only be used when skin actually needs to be exfoliated (no busted barriers here!) Not sure if you need a good scrub? Check the Deep Dive Mask’s website, which notes the telltale signs of needing to exfoliate (whiteheads, flaky makeup, dullness) so you know exactly when to use it.

bubble float on face oil
Bubble, Float On Soothing Face Oil — $19.00

A skin-barrier boosting face oil that every skin type can love? That’s Bubble’s Float On. The lightweight facial oil uses a blend of skin-balancing safflower seed oil, antioxidant and clarifying neem oil, soothing prickly pear, and nourishing buriti fruit oil to replenish skin’s moisture level, and leave it feeling calm and comfortable. What’s more, it does all of the above without feeling greasy and overwhelming on your skin. That’s why it’s earned the adoration of dry-skinned folks and those on the oily and combination side of things like myself. Use a couple of drops after your usual moisturizer whenever you’re in need of soothing moisture, or apply Float On as a skin-nourishing follow-up to one of Bubble’s face masks.

bubble break even toner
Bubble, Break Even Toner — $16.00

To help overwhelmed skin find its center, you’ll want Bubble’s Break Even Toner on deck. The daily toning solution is formulated with a blend of mattifying sea water, smoothing and brightening sodium PCA and niacinamide, gently exfoliating willow bark extract, and antioxidant-rich green tea extract to soothe redness and protect skin from environmental stressors like pollution. TLDR; the Break Even Toner is an all-around dream if you’re prone to excess oiliness, acne-scarring, or redness. Plus, the handy pump makes saturating a cotton pad simple and mess-free!

bubble come clean face mask on a yellow background with bubbles
Bubble, Come Clean Detoxifying Clay Mask — $19.00

Bubble’s Come Clean clay mask has over 400 reviews and a perfect 5-star rating, and it’s easy to understand why. The creamy purple clay mask uses mineral-rich clay to effectively cleanse pores of blemish-causing impurities, azelaic acid to gently exfoliate and clarify skin, and antioxidant-rich vitamin E and melia azadirachta flower extract, or neem flower extract, to protect skin from free radical damage. And unlike traditional clay masks, Come Clean’s gentle formula doesn’t dry out skin (which can oftentimes lead to more acne.) Instead, the mask leaves skin feeling balanced, clean, and refreshed.

bubble wipe out makeup remover on a blue background
Bubble, Wipe Out Makeup Remover — $16.00

Unlike teenage me, Gen Z actually removes their makeup before bed—and they do it with Wipe Out. The creamy makeup remover contains skin-loving ingredients like meadowfoam and raspberry seed oils, along with antioxidant-rich chickweed extract to effectively break down stubborn makeup and mascara. According to reviews, Wipe Out erases even waterproof mascara, and doesn’t burn or irritate your eyes doing it, which we’re positively thrilled about. Just massage about a pump’s worth onto dry skin to dissolve makeup, then wipe it away with a cotton pad or towel. Easy peasy.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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