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Treating your skin right is so important all year round, although summer is an especially crucial time of year for smart skincare. And while there are so many pricey products and treatments on the market, don't be fooled -- you can take great care of your skin on a budget by following a few simple rules. In honor of the fast-approaching start of summer, here's our best advice for getting quality skincare at the lowest prices.
1. Start with an affordable mild cleanser. A daily face wash should be the foundation of your skincare routine. Choose one that's gentle enough to use twice a day, but not one that costs as much as a night out on the town. Surprisingly, there are a handful of brands available at drugstores that work just as well as -- or even better than -- pricier boutique brands. Two favored by dermatologists include ultra-gentle and non-irritating Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($7.99 at Drugstore.com) and Oil of Olay Age Defying Renewal Cleanser ($5.49 at Drugstore.com) for those seeking anti-aging results.
2. Ask an expert for a skin check -- and a reality check. Assuming you have adequate health insurance, a visit to a skin doctor can end up saving you plenty in the long run. Make a dermatologist appointment and ask for a full-body preventative skin check (for suspicious moles and any other worrisome issues). Then, ask your doctor for product recommendations that won't break the bank. Chances are, he or she can recommend a simple, affordable regimen -- and you'll avoid all the tempting over-promises, confusing language and other tricks advertising agencies use to push their expensive product lines.
3. Beware the site-specific products. When choosing your skincare products, pay attention to ingredient labels -- and remember that ingredients found in many undereye and neck creams, hand lotions, and body creams are the same exact ones found in a basic facial moisturizer. Don't waste your money on site-specific products; your face cream most likely can treat all of those areas just as effectively.
4. Slather on a long-lasting sunscreen. You can't afford to skimp on sun protection -- and that goes for all 365 days a year but is especially important during summer months when more skin is exposed. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using one with an SPF of 30 (any higher and you'll increase your protection factor only a negligible amount). To get the most bang for your buck, choose a sunblock that's waterproof; you'll use less over time because it will last longer even when you're sweating, swimming, or both.
5. Don't be caught unarmed. This may seem like a slightly obvious tip, but it's the biggest money waster I notice among my friends. Carry your products with you! We tend to do a lot of traveling in the summer and will forget to take along our favorite face wash or sunblock, and we wind up purchasing multiples of the same product (often at the jacked-up hotel, airport, or gift shop prices). Then we'll lose those new purchases in transit, or have to throw them away before going through airport security, and we'll have to buy all over again -- what a waste! (Does it sound like this tip hits a little close to home for me?!) Always carry your staple skincare items with you in a waterproof travel bag, and purchase small airplane-safe-sized travel bottles to transport a small amount of product with you on a flight.