Skin Care: How to Save and When to Splurge

Beauty may be only skin deep, but achieving it can plumb the depths of your bank account.

Do you really need to shell out big bucks to get results? Read on to find out when budget beauty products work just fine and when you should spend more on yourself.

Where to save

  • Shampoos: Focus on ingredients rather than cost. Experts suggest looking for ingredients such as glycerin and nut and seed oils. Meanwhile, avoid isopropyl alcohol and sulfates.
  • Conditioners: The key here is to match the conditioner with your hair type.
  • Facial cleansers: Inexpensive brands can be just as good as the costly stuff.
  • Toners: You need toner only if you have extremely oily skin and don’t already use another product to control the oil.
  • Body lotions. Again, the less costly stuff is generally just as good as the stuff that costs a mint.
  • Exfoliants. The best facial scrub I’ve found is St. Ives’ apricot facial scrub, which costs less than $5 at any drugstore. Or search the internet for recipes to make your own and save even more money. I mix baking soda with a little water to make a paste and use that as a scrub.
  • Moisturizers: For everyday moisturizing, you don’t need a fancy cream. Most moisturizers use the same basic ingredients to do their job well.
  • Sunscreen: The cheap stuff can be just as good as more expensive brands.

Where to splurge

If you have conditions like acne scars, sun or aging spots, or deep wrinkles, your best bet may be to see a dermatologist who can recommend treatments or pharmaceutical-grade products. However, they can be pricey and aren’t usually covered by insurance. For example, asked dermatologists what they would recommend for skin problems and got these answers:

  • Wrinkles: Prescription retinoid or a fractional ablative laser treatment
  • Redness: Topical antibiotic or monthly KTP laser treatments
  • Dark spots: Prescription hydroquinone cream or fractional nonablative laser treatments
  • Dull or rough skin: Over-the-counter products or chemical peels

Ways to save

Buying inexpensive products will save you a ton, but you can save even more with these tips:

  • Use less: You need only a dime- or nickel-sized amount of product.
  • Mix and match: You don’t have to use the same brand for all of your skin care products.
  • Buy in bulk: If you love a product, see if a warehouse store like Sam’s Club or Costco carries it in a larger size for a lower per-unit price.

Have you found that skin and hair care products at the drugstore work as well as the much more expensive brands? Let us know in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Kari Huus contributed to this report.

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