Welcome back to another segment of (Bad) Makeup Advice. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Skincare is too complicated so I don’t bother.
This phrase is said by 3/4 of my household on a regular basis. And it drives me nuts!
Skincare can certainly be complicated. I know this because I have rosacea and sensitive skin. It took me a long freaking time to figure out what worked for me and what didn’t work. There are many products I just cannot use because it either causes a major rosacea flair, acne, or hives. But I persevered because skincare is important!
To break it down in simple terms, what you need for skincare as a teenager is vastly different than what you need in your 30s, 40s, 70s, etc. However, that doesn’t mean it requires a PhD to understand or a sugar daddy to afford. And generic products can be just as good or better than the name brand alternatives. Don’t be a slave to name brands.
The most important aspect of skin care, in my opinion, is tri-fold:
- Biological factors affecting skin we can’t control: heredity and hormones, environment (pollution, weather).
- Biological factors affecting skin we can (probably) control: proper amounts of sleep and water, healthy diet.
- Products necessary for healthy skin: cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.
What is in our genes are really beyond our control. If you have heredity induced acne or hormone induced acne, you can’t do much to prevent it. You can only treat it. You also can’t do much about the wind or if your town has high levels of pollution in the air. But you can probably control your ability to get proper amounts of sleep (or at least a bit more sleep), drink enough water, and eat more vegetables and less french fries. The products are the three things you need at every stage of life. No one wants clogged pores. No one wants dry, wrinkled skin. And no one wants skin cancer.
As a teenager, if you are washing your face with a mild cleanser, maybe alternating with one with salicylic acid, applying moisturizer in the am/pm, and wearing sunscreen when you are outdoors, you’re golden. Aside from hormone or heredity induced acne, teenagers don’t need a ton of products. Use a textured wash rag as an exfoliant a couple times a week. If you do have acne, a low dose of a topical benzoyl peroxide is your friend. You don’t need all those other bells and whistles for a basic, budget-conscious skin care routine.
- Mild cleanser, $4.97
- Salicylic acid cleanser, $2.77
- Day/Night moisturizer, $4.92
- Benzoyl Peroxide, $3.13
- Sunscreen, $5.97
The total cost of these items is $21.76 and if used in the proper amounts, you can use the face washes for 2 months (because you alternate), moisturizer for 3 months, the benzoyl peroxide for 3 months, and the sunscreen for 1.5 months. That comes out to less than $120 per year. If you don’t have acne or spend less time than average outside, you don’t need as much of the last two items, dropping that price tag down by a considerable amount.
As you get a bit older, in your 20s and 30s, you need to add a few products to continue to help your skin be it’s best. You’ll need to add toner for sure. By this age, pores are becoming a thing. If you don’t have sensitive skin (lucky you), toner is super cheap. A simple witch hazel toner is $4.47 and I know by experience that the bottle linked lasts 3-4 months. If you have sensitive skin or rosacea, you shouldn’t use alcohol based products so you could try a mild toner for $2.67. It won’t last as long due to volume differences but it works well too and the price difference is negligible (about $2 difference per year).
Adding a stronger exfoliant to stimulate cell turnover and deep clean the pores might be a step for you here. If you have rosacea, skip the exfoliant and stick to the gentle wash rag. It will just make the redness worse. This scrub is only $1.97 and lasts a couple months if used twice a week. I need to stress here that unless you work in a very dirty environment (fast food where you are over a fryer most of the day, coal mines, etc.) or wear heavy stage makeup every day under stage lights that melt the makeup into your pores, you really do not need to exfoliate more than a 2-3 times a week. More than that is at minimum, wasting product. At the worst, you could actually be damaging your skin.
By your late 20s, you’ll need to add an eye cream to start combating fine lines, wrinkles, bags, and dark circles around the eyes. Lucky for us, ELF expanded their skin care line and now sells an eye cream for $10.00. My WalMart carries the same eye cream for $8.88. It must not be selling well but I’ve been using it twice a day for almost a month now and have really noticed a difference in the skin around my eyes. My eyelids are still oily as hell but the skin directly under my eyebrows and at the corners of my eyes are not dry anymore. After a month, I still have plenty of product. I’m guessing this will last about 3 months. You can add more products to this line up (maybe masks or pore treatments) but if you aren’t having any major skin issues, you really don’t need to at this point. Now, your skin care routine is up to about $180 per year.
Things get a bit more intensive in your 40s and up. You’ll want to add anti-wrinkle treatments like retinol products to keep fine lines and age spots at bay, maybe oils to combat excessively drying skin or other issues, and collagen products to keep the skin supple and help prevent thinning skin common with older ages. This doesn’t have to be expensive. As science gets better and companies become more competitive, OTC retinol treatments are becoming more affordable. The one linked is only $5.83 and will last for months, depending on use. One reviewer claims this lasts her over a year. I will be conservative and say it probably lasts 3-6 months.
The moisturizer I linked in the beginning is a collagen treatment so you could continue using it or step it up to a higher quality collagen moisturizer. I’ve heard good things about this collagen serum but I haven’t tried it with it’s $15.19 price tag yet. My conservative guess is that this lasts at least a month but reviews make me think you could get 2 months out of this product.
If you are on the oil trend, you could try these oils from Oil Essentials to promote elasticity, prevent acne, or treat dryness/age spots. These range in price from $4.64 to $7.15. No idea how long these last so I’m going to say 1 month. Adding all of this in with everything else, you’re looking at a price tag of close to $500.00 per year.
This is the stage of life when skin care can get expensive. If you are using cleanser, toner, collagen creams, oils, retinol, moisturizer, sunscreen… the whole deal, you can still do so for less than $500.00 per year. This is where I start to believe the bit about skin care being too expensive and complicated. But I still think it is worth it. And you do not have to spend $100 on a single item to get good results.
I think it is the order of operations that overwhelms a lot of people. Once you are in your 40s and up, the amount of products gets a bit excessive. This is the order that I would recommend:
- Cleanser (AM/PM)
- Exfoliant/Wash Rag (twice a week)
- Toner (AM/PM)
- Acne Spot Treatment (as needed)
- Retinol Treatment (AM/PM)
- Collagen Serums (AM/PM)
- Eye Cream (AM/PM)
- Moisturizer or Facial Oils (AM/PM)
- Sunscreen (AM)
Obviously, you can skip any steps that you don’t need. I only rarely use acne treatments, I don’t use retinol or serums, and I haven’t gotten on the oil train yet. Bonus points to anyone that is able to find/DIY 2-in-1 products. Many moisturizers have SPF included. Be aware that those price tags go way up with SPF but it might be better for your budget in the long run. Personally, I like to use an empty moisturizer jar, fill it about 1/2 full of my current moisturizer (the one linked at the beginning), and then fill it the rest of the way with sunscreen. Stir it up and voila, I have moisturizer with SPF. And I still have my non-SPF moisturizer to use at night.
Skin care can be expensive if you let it, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Figure out your skin type (normal, dry, oily, or combination), learn what products you can and can’t use based on the sensitivity of your skin, and develop a routine. You’ll figure out how long your products last, what is working well, what isn’t working for you, and where you can wiggle in the budget to try a higher quality product. Skin care is much more affordable than daily Starbucks, regular meals out at fast food restaurants, or binge shopping for books/makeup. 😀
Don’t forget that skin care is more than just your face. You should figure out a routine that works for your face, neck, chest, shoulders, arms, and hands. All of your body is important, of course, but those are the body parts that see the most sun (unless you are a beach baby) and suffer the most damage from sun, wind, and humidity. At a bare minimum, you should use a good body moisturizer and sunscreen on the rest of your body. Take care of yourselves folks.