Posts Tagged ‘Skin Care’

Budgets & Beauty, When To Save & When To Splurge On Skincare

December 24, 2008

First of all, I hate the term “beauty supplies.” Maybe I’ve read The Beauty Myth one too many times. I haven’t come up with an alternative term, however. Toiletries? Maintenance Supplies? The shit that helps us look younger/older/prettier/less hungover/less tired/brighter? A better version of ourselves? Things that make us feel good? I don’t know, I’m very conflicted about this, not least of all because I love products.

On the spectrum of maintenance, I fall somewhere in the middle, probably leaning a tiny bit toward the high end. I like makeup and bubble baths and blow outs. But, I’m also incredibly lazy, and these rituals often fall by the wayside.

The difficulty of budgeting really hits home when you realize you’ve run out of moisturizer, or your roots begin to show, or your hair dryer poops out. “Beauty” products can be ridiculously expensive. So, when is it worth it? When do you throw down $35 for facial powder? Do you ever?

Some women have very unchanging, reasonably priced routines. Some women wear no makeup at all. Others spend far too much on crap that they don’t really need and, more importantly, are overpriced.

If you find yourself on a budget (like me) and your supplies are beginning to dwindle (like mine), then this guide is for you. These are, of course, my opinions and recommendations. I am not proclaiming to be any kind of expert, but I have learned a thing or two since slapping on my first mascara at 13. The guide will be published in separate posts focusing on skin care, makeup, hair and body.

First up is skin care.

Image: Corbis

Problem Skin

If you have problem skin, this is the one area where it’s perfectly reasonable to splurge a bit. By all means, give Cetaphil and Dove soap a try. But if basic drugstore options don’t do the trick or make things worse, you’ll need to move up and onward. Problem skin can be a huge source of insecurity, and everyone, men and women, should do what they can to fix the issue. And, for women, better skin means far less makeup is necessary.

Ignore magazines.  It’s their job to shill products. One month Brand X is the best option, the next month it’s Brand Y that does the trick. If you are having issues such as acne or extremely dry skin, see a dermatologist. If you have serious acne, see if your insurance will cover a medical esthetician.

You can search for dermatologists online at the American Academy of Dermatology’s website.

I don’t have issues with my skin now, at 29, but I did when I was younger. Pretty run-of-the-mill stuff, but I was desperate to fix the problem and tried a lot of things. On the Rx side, the one medication I remember liking was Differin. I have fairly sensitive skin and medications like Retin A were far too strong. Visit for more information on Rx acne treatments.

Skin Care – Moderate to Expensive

Test out products if you can. More expensive skincare lines, like Dermalogica, offer mini sizes for their basic products. You can likely get samples of skincare products at cosmetic counters, but I have stayed away from these lines. They tend to have more perfume than other brands and and can be quite hard on even moderately sensitive skin.  The only exception I have found is Clinique.

I recommend visiting the Mario Badescu site and filling out their short questionnaire about your skin. The company will send you a packet of sample-sized products they feel suit your skincare needs. I love their products, they are in the mid-price range and lovely on the skin. My favorite item is their Drying Cream. Whenever I get a zit, I slap a bit on in the evening and it will have shrunken down by morning, with no dryness. This shit is incredible. My boyfriend even uses it. Best of all, it’s only $12 and I’ve had mine for about 4 years.

Also, celebrities have a big boner for MB.  And that has to mean something, right???  Even Judy Judy likes them!

Image: Mario Badescu

I use Dermalogica, and I love it.  It’s not cheap but when I can afford it (and I usually try and find a way) it’s worth it.  If you’re interested in learning more about this brand, check out their website.  You can purchase Dermalogica from eBay, just make sure to check feedback and selling history before bidding.

Skin Care – Budget

As for drugstore brands, I think Cetaphil, Aveeno, Neutrogena and Oil of Olay are the best bets. Cetaphil cleanser is great for dry, sensitive skin. And, their moisturizer works well on a variety of skin types. I am currently using Oil of Olay moisturizer, as I ran out of my Dermalogica. It’s been great.

Please stay away from those awful toners and skin pads packed with alcohol.  It’s awful for your skin, and doesn’t help with acne.

For anti-aging, something I am just beginning to think about, look for products with alpha hydroxyl or glycolic acid. But, please, tread lightly or consult a doctor. And, above all, wear sunscreen. That should be a no-brainer.


When to splurge:

  • If you have problem skin.
  • If your doctor recommends a product.
  • If you have tested a product and found that it works very well for you.
  • Splurge on a decent sunscreen option for your face.

When to save:

  • If you have no serious skin problems.
  • Save on a basic cleanser with alpha hydroxyl acid.
  • Mario Badescu Drying Cream, it will last forever.
  • Skip toners, especially ones with alcohol.

Never skimp on:

  • Moisturizer
  • Sunscreen
  • Sleep
  • Water