Health & beauty aids can take a big bite out of your budget. So it’s important to make sure you’re not wasting money buying products that won’t work anyway!
Forget about products with quartz, snake venom and even stem cells. What you want is something basic with the old standbys: retinoids and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), These substances will ‘gradually build collagen, minimize the appearance of fine lines and unwanted pigmentation, and keep pores clear,’ according to Readers Digest.
You don’t have to pay big bucks to protect your skin from harsh UV rays. Consumer Reports tested a wide variety of both lotion and spray sunscreen and found that some of the cheapest options were the best:
- Pure Sun Defense Disney Frozen SPF 50 for $6.30 ($0.79 per ounce)
- Equate (Walmart) Ultra Protection SPF 50 for $7.85 ($0.49 per ounce)
- No-Ad Sport SPF 50 for $10.00 ($0.63 per ounce)
- Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50+ for $6.00 ($1.00 per ounce)
- Equate (Walmart) Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30 for $4.98 ($0.83 per ounce)
- DG body (Dollar General) Sport SPF 30 for $5.25 ($0.88 per ounce)
While we’re on the topic of sunscreens, the magazine also says claims about SPFs aren’t always on the up and up. Their recommendation? Pick a sunscreen that advertises itself as 40 SPF and expect that it will only deliver 30 SPF coverage. Thirty is the minimum level of protection most dermatologists recommend.
Cellulite reduction creams
‘Cellulite is a complex biologic process that no cream can currently correct,’ according to dermatologist Dr. David Bank. He works with the Federal Trade Commission looking at claims made by cellulite creams and other beauty products.
So skip the creams that promise to take inches off your body without diet or exercise. If you want to cover up cellulite, Banks recommends using self-tanner to hide the area.
Stretch mark creams
Just like with the cellulite creams, this is a no go. But there are three ways to deal with stretch marks, according to Readers Digest:
- Prescription retinoids can improve the appearance of new stretch marks after six months of daily use. But don’t use this stuff during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
- Laser treatments can stimulate collagen growth, alleviate redness of new marks and even restore natural color to old marks that have whitened.
- Dermablend makes a waterproof product that can help during swimsuit season.
The honest products will only claim to minimize the appearance of your pores for a certain period. The dishonest ones will claim to shrink your pores, which they can’t do.
‘The size of your pores is determined by genetics, and nothing can permanently change that,’ a dermatologist named Christine Choi Kim told Readers Digest.
Retinoids and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) can help minimize the size of pores in theory, but they won’t do anything too dramatic.
Salon hair shampoos
Any generic drugstore brand will do. That’s because both salon shampoos and those from dollar stores or drugstores use the same basic formula. There may be one or two proprietary ingredients in a salon brand, but not enough to justify the added cost.
One place where you might consider splurging is on conditioner. Shampoo strips the hair of oils and dirt, which is a pretty basic process. But re-hydrating that hair is a little trickier. If you do get an expensive conditioner, use it on the tips of your hair, not on the scalp, and you’ll make it last longer.
RELATED: How often should you wash your hair?
What you should know about washing your face
The surfactants present in most cleaning products are there to remove dirt and oil from your face. But they can also remove beneficial oils from the outermost layer of the skin, known as your stratum corneum.
It’s similar to what happens when you wash your hair too much; you remove all the sebum, which is a healthful oil secreted from your scalp.
So washing your face without over-washing it is actually a delicate balancing act!
‘When you wash your face, the soap or cleanser that you’re using not only strips away the oil and sweat, but also strips away some of the natural lipids in the skin, so it can be potentially irritating,’ Keaney told Business Insider.
Here are some tips from the AAD to help improve your face-washing experience:
- Use a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser that does not contain alcohol.
- Wet your face with lukewarm water and use your fingertips to apply cleanser. Using a washcloth, mesh sponge or anything other than your fingertips can irritate your skin.
- Resist the temptation to scrub your skin because scrubbing irritates the skin.
- Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel.
- Apply moisturizer if your skin is dry or itchy. Be gentle when applying any cream around your eyes so you do not pull too hard on this delicate skin.
- Limit washing to twice a day and after sweating. Wash your face once in the morning and once at night. Also wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating.