How to Get Clear Skin Cheaply
The coupon-clipping, money-conscious consumer can get clear skin cheaply, if she knows how to choose and use skincare products wisely. Skincare guru Paula Begoun, who authored "The Original Beauty Bible," points to one of the biggest myths about skincare--that expensive means better. The truth is, Begoun says, that a expensive high-end department store brands may be no better than the inexpensive products you find at your nearest drugstore. Clear up acne-prone skin cheaply and effectively, if you pay attention to the quality of your product's formulation rather than its packaging.
Select a no-frills cleanser. Choose a mild, liquid, non-medicated and non-moisturizing cleanser, Begoun advises. Read labels carefully to ensure that your cleanser doesn't contain harsh ingredients such as citrus, peppermint, eucalyptus, camphor or menthol. That icy tingle you feel on you skin doesn't mean that you cleanser is fighting acne, says Begoun--it means that the product is irritating your skin.
Skip the extras. Don't bother buying astringents, masks, toners and special exfoliating scrubs unless they contain an acne-fighting agent like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, advises the American Academy of Dermatology. More things you don't need: facial "buff puffs," mesh cleaners or other special face-washing gear. When you wash your face--twice daily and after you perspire heavily--use only your fingertips, says the AAD. Aggressive scrubbing irritates your skin and causes it to produce excess oil.
Look for ingredients that are known for their ability to clear up blemishes. The Mayo Clinic suggests starting out with a leave-on acne medication that contains benzoyl peroxide, which provides the most comprehensive protection against acne--it reduces the presence of bacteria and excess oil on your skin and helps slough off dead skin cells that plug pores. Start with an acne treatment with a low concentration of benzoyl peroxide--around 2.5 percent. Although effective, benzoyl peroxide can irritate and dry out your skin.
Use only as directed. A common belief is that smearing on a large quantity of acne medications does a better job of clearing up your skin. But there's no causal effect between "more" and "quicker results," says the AAD; by using more topical medication than you need, you're simply asking for dried-out, irritated skin--and you're wasting money. Use only enough acne medication to cover blemish-prone areas and no more.
Use preventive strategies. These are things you can do to clear your skin that cost nothing at all. Unless you're cleansing or applying acne treatment or makeup, keep your fingers off your face, advises the Mayo Clinic. Don't pick at blemishes or try to pop them--this can force bacteria deeper into your skin, resulting in a more noticeable lesion. Avoid hats, caps, sports helmets and other head gear that traps sweat under your forehead. Keep your hair clean and away from your face. Also, don't waste money on special diets that purport to clear up your skin. According to the AAD, there's no definitive link between acne and the food you put in your mouth. Simply avoid eating foods if you think they make your complexion worse and continue to eat a healthy diet.
Don't be a total tightwad. Mild cases of acne may clear up using over-the-counter treatments if you give them enough time to clear up your skin. However, if you have persistent, severe acne, especially deep cysts and nodules, you'll need the help of a dermatologist who can recommend prescription medications that work better. Severe acne is most likely to lead to severe scarring--and the cosmetic treatments used to treat scarring aren't covered by most health insurance plans, points out the AAD. To avoid future expense, invest in your present by tackling stubborn acne head-on with the help of your doctor.
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