Rejuvenation Plans on a Budget

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all get BotoxfillersSculptra, and laser treatments to keep our skin as youthful as possible?

Modern dermatology can give us all more healthy and youthful skin as we move into middle age and even older.

But even the non-surgical treatments can be expensive. And the economic crisis doesn’t help!

So I sat down to design some plans to help patients rejuvenate their skin on a budget. Actually, several different budgets, because we all have different resources.

skin rejuvenation plans on a budget

Here are my Rejuvenation Plans for getting started:

  • Under $500: focus on skin care products that work and peels or microdermabrasion
  • Under $1,000: a very good skin care regimen, with treatments to restore the glow and reduce wrinkles
  • Under $3,000: a great skin care regimen, with treatments for wrinkles, sagging skin, or color issues, like redness, age spots, or blotchiness
  • $5,000 and up: we can all fantasize with this luxury package

I think it’s worth spending some money, care, and time on our skin as we go into our fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, and maybe nineties, in order to feel good about our physical selves.

However, only you can decide if the money spent on something is worth the price. No one should ever go into financial debt to improve her skin. Instead, take a look at your budget, your goals, and review with your dermatologist what seems like a feasible and affordable skin plan to get your glowing skin back!

As you read the following and develop your own budget, think in terms of repair, then maintenance. For skin over forty, the repair phase lasts anywhere from six months to one year and is more time and money intensive. After that, maintenance gets easier and less expensive.

Under $500 – Getting Started for Less than $500

For less than $500, the focus will be on skin care products and light peels or microdermabrasion.

First, let’s take skin care products. Which types of skin care products really work? Which ones are really worth your money? I’m glad you asked that!

My article on Which Types of Skin Care Products Do You Really Need? is a helpful guide. I tell you which products really work and give you recommendations. This will help you with the choices you will have to make for the Under $500 Plan.

Now, you have two choices for the Under $500 Plan:

Plan A: save money on skin care products by buying drugstore brands, and use the savings on peels and microdermabrasion.

You can put together a perfectly acceptable skin care regimen with good drugstore products. I have recommendations for these in my article, Which Types of Skin Care Products Do You Really Need?

So you can pick a cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen, and repair/anti-aging product from that article. We do not carry those drugstore products, so you will have to buy them yourself. But you will definitely save money.

And with that savings, you can then have several microdermabrasion treatments or light peels.

Peels and microdermabrasion exfoliate the outer layer of dead skin cells and help to un-clog your pores.

Plan B: get more expensive skin care products and reduce your number of peels and microdermabrasions.

Some of us love products, and we would rather use a specially formulated or organic product. For those product lovers amongst us, spending more on products is well worth giving up a few peels or microdermabrasions.

Here are a couple ways to get started on products:

  1. You can read my article on Which Types of Skin Care Products Do You Really Need? And pick the products you want.
  2. You can browse my skin care Product Recommendations section and pick the ones you want. I’ve tested all the products on SkinTour.

If you spend $150 to $350 on a product regimen, you’ll have enough money left for one or possibly two light peels or microdermabrasions.

Which Plan should you choose?

If you are younger and your skin is oily and acne prone, you may want to go with Plan A. You can get some good drugstore acne products, and then get some peels and microdermabrasion treatments to un-clog and clean your pores.

If your skin is more mature and drier, then you may want some higher-quality skin care products to hydrate, protect, and repair it. And you’d have a bit of money left over for a light peel or microdermabrasion to help with fine lines and restore some glow. Save it for a special occasion when you want to treat yourself or look especially good.

Under $1,000 – Getting Started for Less than $1,000

If your skin is in pretty good shape, less than a thousand dollars can be enough. On the other hand, if you’re fifty-five and have a lot of blotchiness, sagging, and wrinkles, a thousand dollars may only get you started. But, realistically speaking, it likely won’t get you very far.

Still—get started! Think of the tortoise and the hare. A little bit over a long period gets you to the same place as a lot over a short period.

I remember once reading an Ann Landers column where a woman wrote in saying that she was hesitant to go to medical school because by the time she finished her medical school training plus residency, she would be seven years older and almost forty years old. Ann Landers replied with the question, “How old will you be in seven years if you don’t go to medical school?”

If you have less than a thousand dollars to spend, focus on these four things:

  1. Improving your daily skin care program with products.
  2. Inexpensive peels and microdermabrasion.
  3. Botox on a budget or Juvederm or Restylane.
  4. Great makeup options

What follows is a sample plan with a budget. Everyone is different. So don’t go out and copy this verbatim. This is meant to be an example of how you could go about preparing this type of program for your skin on a budget. These costs are approximate.

Here’s the overview:

  1. New skin care product regimen: $160 to $300
  2. Peels or microdermabrasion: $60 to $125
  3. Botox on a budget: $400
  4. Makeup update: under $150

Total cost: about $900

Now let’s cover each of these in more detail.

1. Your New Skin Care Product Regimen: $160 to $300

The best skincare program should include a gentle cleanser, agood moisturizer, a sunscreen that blocks UVA well, a vitamin-A cream (Renova, Retinol 1.0, Retin-A, Tazorac, etc.), and an antioxidant serum or cream. You can also add an eye cream and a gentle body scrub.

If you are over 40, you will want an anti-aging repair product: a Vitamin A product, a cell growth factor product, or an antioxidant serum or cream.

Everyone’s skin is different. So here are four ways to get started on products:

  • Read my article on Which Skin Care Products Do You Really Need? and pick the products you want. I recommend some good drugstore products in that article, so you can save some money for other treatments if you want to buy those more affordable products.
  • Browse my Product Recommendations and pick the ones you want. I have tested all the products on SkinTour, so I know they are good!
  • Consult with your own aesthetician or dermatologist.

2. Peels or Microdermabrasion: $60 to $125

Peels or microdermabrasion are good ways to remove some dead skin cells, clean out pores, improve texture and fine lines a little, and generally restore some glow to your skin. They are far cheaper than a laser series.

The only downside is that the results from peels and microdermabrasion don’t last as long. So you will need to keep doing these approximately every couple of months at least.

3. Botox on a budget: $400 for one area

Pick your frown lines or crows feet, whichever are worst. These guides will give you lots of information on Botox:

Guide to Botox

Video Demonstration of Botox and Juvederm

If you want to explore some other cosmetic issues or treatment options, see our Anti-Aging Tour. This interactive feature allows you to choose various cosmetic issues on a face and then see what the treatment options are for that issue.

4. Update your makeup: under $150

Try the Jane Iredale line, MAC, or Laura Mercier. Check out for product reviews and ratings.

TOTAL: about $900

You can see that for not a whole lot of money, you can make a pretty significant difference in your skin. If you can afford it, I would vote for doing the microdermabrasion or light peels once every four to eight weeks. Or you could do a series of 3 or 4.

The skin-care products should last 3-4 months for each of the above. For maintenance, the Botox will need to be repeated three times the first year (this depends on your age and the strength of the muscles). But as the muscles relax, many women can go every five or six months after a year or so.

Under $3,000 – Getting Started for Less than $3,000

For a little more, three thousand dollars or less, you can add some laser treatments for brown spots or red spots, or an allover face tightening with Thermage, more Botox, or fillers like Restylane or Juvederm.

Remember, this is just an example. I did this for a real person, but your skin plan will be different. All costs are approximate and product availability may change.

A better skin care products regimen

A great skin-care program should include a gentle cleanser, a good moisturizer, a sunscreen that blocks UVA well, a vitamin-A cream (Renova, Retinol 1.0, Retin-A, Tazorac, etc.), and an antioxidant serum or cream. For this budget, you can add an eye cream and a gentle scrub.

If you’re over 40, add a Vitamin A product or a cell growth factor product.


Depending on what you’d like done, with a little extra money you can treat more than just one area. For example, you might want to relax your frown lines and your crow’s feet area. If you have prominent horizontal forehead lines or problems in your lower face, you can tackle those areas as well. Costs vary by your age and your region, but this will be about $600 to $800. Read our Guide to Botox.

The Anti-Aging Tour allows you to look at the various issues on a face and explore your treatment options.


In this price range, I would recommend still sticking with the hyaluronic acid fillers like Restylane and Juvederm. Most of the time you would need your filler treatments only twice a year.

With one syringe, you can soften the lines from your nose to your mouth or the lines that may run down from the corners of your mouth.

With a second syringe, you could also add a little fullness to your lips, fill in lost volume in the chin area and at the jawline, or put a little Restylane or Juvederm in your frown lines. If you have very deep folds from your nose to your mouth and heavier cheeks, you may need two syringes in that area alone.

One syringe will cost about $400-500. Two syringes will cost $900-1000.Read our Guide to Fillers. You can also watch Dr. Irwin’s Video Demonstration of Botox and Juvederm.

The Anti-Aging Tour is a good way to check out various treatment options for the cosmetic issues that matter to you.

Photorejuvenation and Thermage

Since you are budgeting three thousand dollars or less to get started, you can’t spend money on both Botox and fillers and still have two thousand to twenty-five hundred dollars left for laser treatments.

You’ll need to make a choice between Botox and fillers and photorejuvenation and Thermage.

I would recommend staying away from the fractional resurfacing devices, like Fraxel, in this price range. A series of Fraxel treatments will run from three thousand to five thousand dollars, which would put you outside your budget.

Thermage OR photorejuvenation (about two thousand to twenty-five hundred dollars each), on the other hand, would be possible. Here are demonstrations of Dr. Irwin performing a Photorejuvenation treatmentand a Thermage procedure.

Here’s where the decisions come. If your main issue is wrinkles, you might want to stick with Botox and fillers.

Wrinkle Package:

  1. Skin care regimen: under $350
  2. Botox and Fillers for wrinkles: about $1300

TOTAL: about $1,700

If your main issue is blotchiness or age spots/brown spots, or redness, you may want to stick with a photorejuvenation package.

Blotchiness, Age Spots, or Redness Package:

  1. Skin care regimen: under $350
  2. Photorejuvenation (5 treatments): $2,500

TOTAL: $2,850

If your main issue is mild or moderate sagging, and you are 40-60, you may want to consider Thermage.

Skin Laxity (sagging) Package:

  1. Skin care regimen: under $350
  2. Thermage skin tightening: $2,500

TOTAL: $2,850

You can see that with three thousand dollars or less you can make a significant improvement in your skin, and, although you may not be able to do everything that you want, you can target your main problem areas.

If your problem is mostly wrinkles, for example, choose the Botox and fillers. If the problem is mostly mild to moderate sagging along your jawline, then Thermage may just do the trick. Or, a series of photorejuvenation laser treatments to remove brown spots and red spots or blood vessels may be your first priority.

You won’t be able to do all of the above with this amount, but you can certainly get a good start toward your goals. There’s really no rush and a little bit over a long period still gets you to your goal – remember the tortoise.

$5,000 and Up—Money Is Not an Issue

Total Nonsurgical Facial Rejuvenation

If you’re at a point in your life where money is no object, that brings some blessings but also some problems.

With so many choices in skin care products—literally thousands of products at this point—and the explosion of new technology involving fillers, lasers, and radiofreqency waves (and combinations of them all), it can be very difficult to evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, doing too much of the wrong thing can be a problem in itself.

Add to that all the marketing dollars spent by skin-care and skin-device companies, and the confusion escalates almost exponentially.

You might think,” Well, why not just do everything?” But you risk wasting a lot of time (and money). And any procedure can have complications—why risk those unnecessarily?

I have designed a “fantasy” rejuvenation plan for when money is no object. You can find it in my new book The Surgery Free Makeover: All You Need to Know for Great Skin and a Younger Face on page 201. But it is fairly long, and my publisher gets very grumpy if I put content from the book on my website.

So, even though I may have teased you a bit with the fantasy program, I need to send you to my book if you want to read about that. You can find the book on Amazon.

Parting Thoughts on Your Skin Health

Natural and intrinsic aging occurs. We all know that.

But there’s a big difference between a great-looking, healthy fifty-five-year-old and a fifty-five-year-old whose skin is leathery and sun-damaged, and who is out of shape and in poor health.

Those are two extremes, of course. But much of what happens in between those extremes really is affected by all the daily things that we do to promote our skin health and our general health.

So, remember this:

  • Your skin is your body’s largest organ. Treat it like your brain or your heart.
  • Protect it from sun and weather.
  • Give it healthy food.
  • Try to get lots of sleep.

My Tips on the Bottom Line

  • You can make a difference in your skin for less money than you think.
  • Daily habits really matter and can be inexpensive.
  • You can sometimes spread out your treatments to accommodate your budget—you may be able get to the same place doing a few things over a year or two years versus a lot in nine months.
  • Prioritize your trouble areas and spend money on those first.
  • Having an unlimited budget is great, but be careful whom you choose to work with.
  • Remember the maintenance phase is much less expensive then the repair phase if you have many problems to fix.

Next, learn about Skin Care Products on a Budget

See Dr. Irwin’s expert answers to other reader’s questions on rejuvenation plans on a budget:
What can I accomplish with skin care products? I’m on a budget!
With a tight budget, which is better Sculptra or Thermage?