Tips for Skin Care on a Budget

We’re all tightening our budgets, and Dr. Irwin gives her tips on how to save money on skin care products and anti-aging treatments. When can you buy drugstore products, and when should you buy the more expensive ones? How can you stretch your Botox and fillers?

Video Transcription

Dr. Irwin: Hi, I’m Dr. Brandith Irwin, and this is my blog for

Given the economic situation, let’s call this one, stretching your skin care dollar. Cause I think a lot of us, many of us are feeling like, okay, it’s time to really look hard at our expenses and cut back where we can. And that might mean buying slightly less expensive products. There’s a lot of good information on our website about that, about products.

There’re some areas in products where it really is worth it to spend the extra money, and other’s where it isn’t. So what I want to talk about is how you can stretch your skin care dollar and be budget friendly at the same time.

I think as far as products go, a couple of areas where you can really spend less money and do just fine, I think are cleansers for sure. Like Cetaphil cleanser from the drugstore. Great little cleanser, doesn’t dry your skin, doesn’t cost a lot of money, you don’t really need anything fancy for that.

Another area is moisturizers. You really don’t need, in general, a $50 moisturizer. They’re nice, they’re, cosmetically, a little more elegant, you know. Sometimes they smell better, and most of us have one that we just adore, we love it. You know, if you can afford it, go for it.

But you know what, the Cetaphil cream at the drugstore, again, is great. Also, Purpose makes a moisturizer, Basis makes one, Olay makes them, a lot of the drugstore brand moisturizers are quite good. You know Vanicream, which I adore for my patients with sensitive skin, it’s call Vanicream, V-A-N-I-C-R-E-A-M, and it’s made by a company called Free and Clear, that’s a great moisturizer, you can get that online.

I think, okay, you’re saying okay, that’s nice, I’ve saved some money.

So here’s the one area where I think you shouldn’t save your money. You really want to buy the more expensive Vitamin C’s because, you know what, they’re just, they’re going to absorb and do what they’re supposed to do way better than the cheap ones. In general the creams are not very effective.

I think in general, you want to pay the money for the Vitamin A, you know either in the form of prescription Renova or like SkinMedica’s Retinol Complex is nice. Skinceuticals makes a Retinol 1.0, again can be kind of irritating, but uh, you know, you need the better quality products.

The ones where they’re just throwing tiny little bit of Retinol into a product, you might as well not waste your money on it. So, in those areas I think when it comes to active treatment products, you’re better off just buying one product and making it a good one, than buying a bunch of cheap ones. So I think that’s one thing to think about.

Then I think on the Botox front and the filler front, here’s some ideas about that. So if you’re doing your frown lines and your eye area, you know for crow’s feet, maybe instead of doing both of those each time, maybe alternate. Maybe one time you do your eye area and the next time you come in you do your frown lines and kind of stretch it that way.

You know you can go down on the amount a little bit, but you just have to realize you may not like it because it won’t last as long and you’re not going to get the same effect. Sometimes I think it’s almost better to do one area really well and then switch the areas off if your budget needs, you know, if you need to be really budget conscious, and I think a lot of us do right now. So that’s one way to kind of stretch it.

Another idea I have is, sometimes my patients will come in and they’ll do their Botox and filler at the same time. I think that’s great, but maybe if your budget’s tight, you just do your filler every other time. You know, do your Botox and then when you come in you do your filler every other time instead of every time. Again, it won’t be as good, you’ll know that up front.

Also, ask your doctor about changing to the higher molecular weight versions if you’re using Restylane or Juvederm. Some patients that won’t work, it’ll be too full or lumpy in them. But many people, if you use those higher molecular weight ones, it will last a little longer. So try that too.

And then I think, as far as lasers go, it’s kind of tough because many people, depending on what your problems are, many people really do need full face laser. And it doesn’t work to spot treat because then you end up with an area that looks different than the rest of your face. Which, you know, you don’t really want to go around looking with one area lighter in color or much better texture or whatever.

I do think there’s some instances, like for example if you’re kind of red or you tend to have the blood vessels around your nose, you can just spot treat your nose and save some money that way. And then maybe again, every other time do full face and then spot treat your nose on the alternate times and save yourself money that way.

So, I think there are some ways, if you’re trying to keep your skin great but not spend a ton of money, what you want to do is maintenance. Absolutely, you want to keep your skin healthy even if you’re not in the repair mode, in other words, spending the time and money it takes to repair that sun damage.

You can totally do maintenance mode and keep your skin looking nice and then at a time when your budget loosens up a little bit, then you can go for some of those more expensive treatments that will actually do more in terms of repairing the sun damage that you’ve had or the acne scarring or whatever.

So I’d say, stick with your maintenance if your budget is tight, and then defer those expensive, more expensive lasers until later. So, I hope that helps.

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Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin, and I believe that consumers need and deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate.

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