While some products may truly be inferior, many times, you'll find no notable difference between a high-priced and low-priced product. Unless there's a wide gap in quality, subtle differences in similar products will only be significant to professional makeup artists or skin care professionals. Functionally and fortunately for the rest of us, there often is no difference. And when you get down to it, you simply don't need a dozen different types of cleansing products, regardless of quality.
To wash on the cheap, just use a washcloth, warm water and a generic, gentle cleanser. Choose an unscented one, because perfumes can lead to redness and irritation. Extra bells and whistles such as exfoliating beads aren't necessary to cleanse your face effectively -- a cheap, mild cleansing soap is all you need.
Find a similarly cheap moisturizer. Select a moisturizing cream or ointment rather than a lotion, as these are less likely to irritate your skin. As long as the product has lactic acid or urea in the ingredients list, you'll be in good shape. Avoid conditioners with alpha-hydroxy acid or retinoids, as these can cause irritation.
If you wear makeup, you can find cheap tubs of makeup remover -- you don't need anything fancy. If you really want to extend the life of the makeup remover, you can cut open the container as it nears empty to make sure you use all of it. Use modest (but appropriate) amounts of makeup remover, cleanser and moisturizer each time you cleanse your face.
As is the case when selecting new brands or products, you may have to try out a few cheap cleansers before finding one you like. But the recipe for a cheap face-cleansing regimen remains the same: a standard mild cleanser, a simple moisturizer, inexpensive makeup remover for those who need it, and a washcloth and warm water. Anything more is just spending extra money for marketing.
Read on for lots more information about taking care of your skin.