Better Skin Care — for Less

by Jane Wangersky | December 16th, 2011 | Women's Beauty, Women's Fashion

Until I was nearly 30, I bought all the skin care products the magazines said I should — except for moisturizer, because I couldn’t see how adding more oil to my complexion was going to help anything. But the rest — medicated soaps, complexion sponges, astringents, toners, cold cream — I bought them all. I also bought lots of acne medication, because, even when my teens were far behind, the pimples kept springing up overnight.

Finally, I read Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal, by Paula Begoun. A former consumer reporter and makeup artist, the author knew for certain something I had only suspected — to put it bluntly, I was wasting my money and making my skin worse.

The book recommended some cheap but effective products to use for skin cleansing. I tried them, my acne disappeared, and I’ve never looked back.

If you want to try this, you’ll need:

First, a cleanser that won’t irritate your skin and start it producing oil all over again. Ms. Begoun recommended Cetaphil, which is still great, but in the years since, lots of drugstores have come out with copycat products that also do the job. What you’re looking for is a bottled liquid probably labeled  “gentle cleanser” or something similar — and it’ll be in the skincare section, not cosmetics. Its main ingredients should be water and cetyl alcohol. The first time you wash your face with it, you may not feel anything is happening. But it’ll get the dirt off and leave your skin healthier. Expect to pay a moderate price.

For exfoliating, or washing off dead skin cells, you’ll need something stronger. And you’ve probably already got it: plain old baking soda. Just mix a spoonful or so with some of your cleanser, scrub your face with it, and rinse off thoroughly. It may help to wash again with plain cleanser.

If you miss your toner/astringent and the clean feeling it gave your face, buy a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. This disinfects very gently and may even lighten blackheads, not that you have any, of course. Be careful at the hairline unless you want blond streaks. Drugstores and even dollar stores carry peroxide — sometimes in the hair care section.

I’ve never tried the suggestion to use milk of magnesia as a facial masque, but it’s an interesting idea. This you’ll find with antacids and other stomach treatments.

Saving money and helping your skin go hand in hand.

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