How to Create an Effective Skin Care Routine On a Budget
Ever since celebrities and influencers popularized “Get Ready with Me” videos on social media, my news feed has been besieged by ads for an array of luxury skin care products, all of which talk a big game and sport an even bigger price tag (I’m looking at you, 24-karat-gold anti-aging skin mask). Not good for me, when I need to keep my skin care routine on a tight budget.
While there’s no denying that quality often comes at a cost, the products in your skin care routine do not need to come in exorbitantly expensive rare metal form to be effective. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, by just adopting a simple, three-step regimen that includes cleansing, moisturizing and protecting your skin, you can help reduce skin care costs while keeping your complexion healthy.
The great news is that there are lots of ways to save serious cash without sacrificing radiant skin. Here are some tips to help you keep your skin care routine in shape when you’re on a budget.
Simplify Your Routine
Limiting the number of products you use is a smart way to save on skin care, since using several products at once — often offering similar benefits — can quickly become expensive. Using multiple products can also irritate your skin, which makes blemishes or signs of aging more noticeable.
A great way to cut back on quantity is to opt for dual-function products, such as a moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen. Just make sure the sun protection is broad spectrum and has an SPF of 30 or higher, and remember to reapply it every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.
Another “multi-tasking” favorite is an end-of-day cleanser that serves as a makeup remover, moisturizer and cleanser all in one.
Get more mileage out of your products
Those precious bottles of serums, scrubs and balms will last a lot longer and give you a bigger bang for your buck if you apply them strategically. For example, moisturizer is more effective when applied to slightly damp skin. The moisturizer traps water in your skin, helping it to look younger and brighter.
You can further optimize your serums by using a foam cleanser to remove oils from your skin before applying the serum. This cleansing step ensures the serum can penetrate your skin better, allowing you to use less. However, be sure to wash your hands before doing so, and follow other good hygiene practices to keep your beauty products and skin care tools clean.
Proper storage is another important way to ensure your skin care products enjoy a nice long shelf life. Store the products in cold, dark and dry places, away from moisture and light (so not in the shower and not in a window). You can keep them in your fridge and enjoy the bonus of a cool, soothing sensation when you apply the formula to your skin. Opaque jars and containers tend to allow the product inside to last longer, allowing you to use every last bit before buying a replacement.
Use Fingers, Not Sponges
If you use a sponge to apply treatments like tinted moisturizer, keep in mind that sponges tend to absorb a product. Over time, this can add up to a significant amount that you could have otherwise used on your skin. Applying product with your fingers, on the other hand, won’t waste or absorb as much.
Finally, you can conserve product by assessing your skin’s needs based on your physical environment. You don’t need to deploy your complete skin care arsenal every day if you’re staying at home and indoors; you can cut back some product application to just once a day, with smaller amounts. This is because you’re likely not wearing as much makeup when you don’t go anywhere, and your skin has less exposure to aggressors like pollution, so there’s less product to remove from your skin.
Seek out lesser-known brands
It’s no secret that designer brand names can charge more than off-brands for the same product, but the price hike doesn’t always translate to superior results. With some internet sleuthing—including reading lots of customer reviews—you might discover a lower cost alternative.
Think about what your skin type is. If you have sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to speak with your dermatologist about a product you’re eyeing — whether it comes from an off-brand or a luxury name — before you integrate it into your routine. Be sure to read the label to identify variations suited for your skin type. Make sure the product label reads “non-comedogenic” and “won’t clog pores” before you buy.
Your Kitchen Just Might Have the Cure
For the ultimate budget-friendly skin care routine, look no further than your kitchen for items you already have that can double as beauty regimen (and natural haircare) ingredients. This abundance especially comes in handy when you’re planning a DIY spa day at home.
You can use cocoa to create a mask that’s rich in antioxidants, or uncooked oats to whip up a mask that’s full of saponins, a naturally powerful cleanser. Crushed ripe blueberries make for another key ingredient that, like cocoa, protects against free radicals, and vitamin C from fresh lemons serves to brighten the complexion.
Look for other DIY mask recipes that include honey (a humectant that boosts hydration), egg white (which contains proteins that tighten pores and firm the skin), and sour cream (a form of lactic acid that both hydrates and gently exfoliates). Throw a fresh papaya in the blender or food processor with plain Greek yogurt to create a face mask that combats wrinkles.
One of my favorite at-home treatments is to pamper the delicate skin around the eyes using cucumber. Grating the cucumber releases the active enzymes even more; wrap the grated pieces in a paper towel, compress and apply to the eye area for a soothing and de-puffing effect.
To fight breakouts, try a toner made from steeped tea leaves or an exfoliating brown sugar scrub.
Now you’re armed with tips and tricks to make the most out of your skin care budget. With a few simple adjustments, you’ll be enjoying a healthy, radiant complexion without the 24-karat price tag.