By Kira Culotta Semple
As a beauty junkie and former manufacturer of cosmetics, skincare is an important part of my life. It’s an investment in mind and body. With that said, skincare need not always break the bank. So, if you are wondering where you should invest or save your money skincare wise, listen up! I’m spilling it all today. The answers may surprise you
When friends and family ask me for a product recommendation for a facial cleanser, they are surprised when I recommend a $3 bar of soap. Same goes for facial lotion. I use the basic lotion from Trader Joe’s. It wasn’t always the case, as I mistakenly thought that expensive = better. Boy, was I wrong. I don’t know about you, but that makes me (and my wallet) happy.
Here’s a helpful guide to skincare essentials where you’ll learn if you should save and/or invest.
TRADITIONAL CLEANSER – SAVE
Here’s the deal, I’ve never found a pricy cleanser worthy of its price tag. Nothing has truly impressed me, so I always go back to my childhood favorite and always dependable, Neutrogena Bar Soap. Also to note, my dermatologist even recommends drugstore brands. Why? Because they cleanse just as well as their pricier counterparts. Cleansers are designed to remove dirt and impurities- to keep your face clean. They don’t need to possess magical qualities that prevent aging or wrinkles. Leave that work to other skincare products.
OIL BASED CLEANSER – BOTH
First, you might be wondering why you need two types of cleansers. Find out why here. And you may be wondering why you can’t simply use oil. You can. And if you like oil straight up, then by all means, cleanse with it. But I find that a blend of oils usually works best for my complexion, as opposed to just one. Also, oil based cleansers typically have emulsifiers and solvents that improve the product’s consistency and break down makeup and dirt. Try both options and see how your skin feels after using each.
TONER – SAVE
The debate is out whether toners are good or bad for our skin. Many toners are alcohol based, which can be drying. I personally like to take the extra step with toning to ensure my face is deeply clean, but only on days I wear makeup. With that said, I wouldn’t invest in an expensive toner. Here’s the deal: you can use witch hazel or apple cider vinegar to get the job done. They are both available at the grocery store and are very gentle yet effective.
SERUM – INVEST
Invest your money in serums. They are the most powerful and concentrated products on the market. They target specific concerns, so you can cater to your individual skincare needs. No other products treat issues as well as serums. Nor can any other product sink into your skin as deeply. Buy a high quality serum and use it each night. This is the place to splurge, so conduct research, read reviews, and ask for samples at the store before you take the plunge!
MOISTURIZER – SAVE
As I mentioned earlier, I’m all about TJ’s facial lotion. It’s natural, scent free, and effective. A moisturizer need not be expensive. Its purpose is to seal moisture in- that’s it. You don’t need a fancy product to do that. Remember, serums are what will truly give you results, not moisturizers. If you are buying a $50+ facial moisturizer, you may be wasting your hard earned money. Save it!
EXFOLIANT – INVEST
Invest in a high quality, gentle exfoliant. Keyword: gentle. None of that apricot business from the drug store. Large granules are abrasive and can damage your delicate skin. So look for fine granules, beads or my favorite type as of late: powder exfoliants. They are made of finely milled rice, corn, and peas and are activated with water. Bonus? They are great to travel with. I have had great results with Tata Harper, One Love Organics, and Nude Skincare exfoliants.
Exfoliating can also be done with chemicals like AHAs and BHAs. I was curious, so I got a glycolic peel at the spa- something I highly recommend before purchasing an at-home version. These types of products are so powerful. For now, I’ll leave the deep exfoliation to my aesthetician.
MASK – BOTH
So, masks can go both ways. There are tons of masks on the market that target certain things, be it a moisturizing mask or a detoxifying mask. I admit, I’m not a big mask girl. However I am in love with Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask, which is gentle but yields glowing, happy skin. I don’t mind the $55 investment.
Masks can easily be made at home, too. I’m a fan of clay, which you can purchase online or at the health food store and simply mix with water and honey. I swear by my own concoction of turmeric powder, chickpea flour, and milk. Turmeric is a detoxifying and brightening herb that’s great for your complexion. You can also make masks out of other kitchen staples like greek yogurt, avocado, and oats. Invest if you like but who knows, you may like crafting up your own more.
OIL – BOTH
Oil also goes both ways. Buying it straight from the grocery store is for sure, an affordable option. Many like coconut oil and avocado oil. I myself find them to be a bit heavy, so I prefer to purchase facial oil blends. I like the mixture of multiple oils and essential oils. Some favorites are Nude Skincare’s ProGenius Oil and Cuadalie’s Overnight Detox Oil.
BRUSHES – INVEST
Cheap tools yield inferior results. I can’t tell you how much healthier my hair became when I purchased a Mason Pearson Hairbrush. Plastic brushes always lead to breakage, excessive tugging and pain. The bristles on Mason Pearsons are designed to stimulate the scalp, which in turn beautifies hair. Plus it feels like a massage! It is a $50+ plus investment but it lasts a lifetime. Justifiable, in my book.
For makeup brushes, it’s not so much about price as it is quality. I have a fabulous set of middle of the line brushes from itCosmetics (a special Holiday edition set of 6 for $50.) Such a bargain compared to M.A.C. or NARS (I did my homework and held out for the holiday pricing!) You also need to decide if you prefer synthetic or animal derived bristles. I prefer synthetic- I find them easier to maintain plus they don’t shed as much.
It’s all about mixing and matching products high and low. Keyword: balance.
What are your skincare must haves? Do you typically save, splurge or land somewhere in the middle? Do you ever craft up your own treatments at home? We’d love to hear!