Recession Living 101: Get healthy skin on a budget

Photo Caption: Zara Aleksanyan
Photo Caption: Zara Aleksanyan

The makeup counter at my favorite department store used to be my sanctuary. It was a place where I could get the blessing of a salesperson, who could provide a proper diagnosis of what skin care products are best suited for me. The salesperson, equipped with a sales pitch laced with fancy words like “non-comedogenic” and “combination skin” could pretty much sell me anything with a label that was best pronounced with a French accent.

Were the products in the bottles miracles, or did I just pay for a brand-name label in a pretty package?

With the economy in the toilet, I didn’t want to go into more debt on the account of my toiletries. I hit the ground running toward the nearest drugstores to find comparable products that were budget-friendly.

Here’s a skin care regimen that incorporates a cleanser, toner, exfoliator and moisturizer all for less than the price of the three-step program offered at department stores.

• Cleanser: Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser
This cleanser is fragrance free and dye free and gentle enough for the most sensitive skin. It comes in two different formulas: one for normal to oily skin and another for dry and sensitive skin. It leaves your skin clean and smooth, without leaving your skin feeling facelift tight. Comparable facial cleansers at the makeup counter, such as Philosophy’s Purity Made Simple (8 fluid ounces), will run about $20. The price of the budget cleanser is $6.00 at Ulta.

• Exfoliator: St. Ives Naturally Clear Apricot Scrub
Experts agree that exfoliating is the key to reveal healthier, radiant skin. St. Ives Apricot Scrub is specifically designed to clean pores and combat annoying blackheads. St. Ives also has a gentle formula for sensitive skin. Exfoliators such as Cosmedicine’s Medi-morphosis Self Adjusting Exfoliator (3.4 fluid ounces) are $38 at a department store. St. Ives is priced at $3.50 at Target.

• Toner: Neutrogena’s Clear Pore Oil Eliminating Astringent
Many heated debates among beauty editors and dermatologists alike have taken place over the necessity of a toner. The verdict is if you like it, buy it. If you have sensitive or dry skin, skip it, since the alcohol concentration in the product may aggravate your skin. The brand-name toners like Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion will cost about $11.50 for a 6.7 fluid ounce bottle. My drugstore version cost $5.00 at Ulta.

• Moisturizer: Eucerin Sensitive Skin Everyday Protection SPF 30
Moisturizer is essential in any skin care regimen. Moisturizer containing SPF is vital to your health. Not only does it prevent cosmetic pre-mature aging, but it also prevents skin cancer. Eucerin is a non-greasy formula that can be worn under makeup or by itself. It may not look as attractive as its high-end competitors, but it offers protection and is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Because moisturizers are a necessity in any skin care regimen, they are priced high in the department store world, usually at more than $100. That is of course if you buy the kind made out of the foreskin of baby penises, like Skin Medica’s TNS Recovery Complex. It’s actually made out of biochemically engineered hormones that mimic the kind found in infantile foreskin, which is purported to work miracles. I bought mine at Target for $10, and better yet, it’s foreskin free.

• Night cream: Olay Night of Olay Firming Cream
I admit that I already use night cream. I have been hesitant in the past to make such a purchase, not only because I feel incredibly vain, but also because it hurts my wallet. After all, anti-aging creams are what’s keeping the beauty industry afloat during these hard times. Besides, after I wash my face at night, I like to moisturize my skin.Pretty packaged miracles in department stores such as Korres Quercertin & Oak Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream is $52 for a 1.35 fluid ounce bottle.  Olay’s night cream is $7.00 at Target.