Is Your Skincare Routine Worth the Price?


    If you enjoy taking care of your skin, you have probably already resigned to the fact that skin care products aren’t cheap. Worst of all, those tiny vials of serum and moisturizer always run out faster than you’d expect.

    Wouldn’t it be great if you could pamper your skin without breaking your budget? As it turns out, there is a way to do just that – and that’s the approach dermatologists have used for years.

    We called a dermatologist to find out which skin care products are actually worth spending the money on – and which ones you can probably do without.

    Simplify your routine

    With the popularity of the 10-step Korean beauty trend, many consumers have spent more money adding steps to their routine. But dr. Neelam Khan, a certified dermatologist based in Washington, DC, worries that a longer routine will make it harder for people to stay consistent.

    Instead, she prefers a simple routine that she learned in medical school. In the morning you should:

    • Use a gentle detergent
    • Apply a vitamin C serum
    • Apply sunscreen and moisturizer

    In the evening you should:

    • Use a gentle cleaner and / or makeup remover
    • Apply a retinol or retinoid product
    • Apply a moisturizer

    “The most important thing is the consistency of the person using the product,” she said. “I don’t care if it’s something you get at CVS vs. Sephora.”

    If any product irritates you, stop using it and try another. But in general, Khan says you can find items that will work at a drug store or grocery store. There are many drug store brands she recommends, including CeraVe and Neutrogena.

    Visit a dermatologist

    There are some skin care problems that you can solve by yourself. For example, if you have dry, flaky skin in the winter, you can try switching to a stronger moisturizer and recording the results.

    But Khan says there are many issues that require professional help. In some cases, you can even save money by seeing a dermatologist before trying a DIY solution. For example, there are several types of acne that an expensive over-the-counter cream may not resolve.

    The good news? Your insurance company may cover all or part of a dermatologist visit and even pay for some of the prescriptions they recommend. For example, if you have acne, your insurance can cover a prescription retinoid product that also prevents wrinkles.

    If you want to get your money’s worth, bring your skin care products to the appointment for the dermatologist to examine. This way you will know if the products are suitable for your skin.

    Avoid the marketing hype

    If you read women’s magazines or follow beauty influencers on Instagram, you will likely see claims that a particular product worked wonders on a particular celebrity or individual. And while this may be true for the person in question, there is no guarantee that you will have the same success.

    Many celebrities also forget to share their other beauty treatments like fillers and botox. These less affordable treatments are likely more responsible for the lack of wrinkles than any particular brand of retinol.

    Remember, when a magazine or influencer promotes a product, they are likely either paid to mention it or they receive a portion of every sale. If you want to read honest reviews, check out sites like or the skin care forums on Reddit.

    Spend where it matters

    For Khan, getting a facial or buying a fun disposable face mask is more about self-care than creating the perfect skin care routine. For example, a hydrafacial can feel relaxing and exfoliating, but buying and using the right retinol product every day isn’t as important. Also, a hydrafacial for $ 200 to $ 300 apiece is often not worth the money.

    “No one treatment is going to make that much of a difference compared to your daily skin care routine at home,” she said. “I would prefer people to spend their everyday lives.”

    When it comes to losing money on your skin care products, Khan said you should spend more on products that will last on your skin for a long time.

    “If you are looking to spend money on your skin care routine, the cleanser should be the cheapest you can get,” she said. “Even the fanciest cleanser will only be on your skin for a minute. I would prefer someone to spend their money on a leave-on product. “

    This will save you money on skin care

    Use sunscreen

    Dermatologists can clean up years of sun damage, but it costs a lot of time – and money. A less expensive solution is to use sunscreen every day covering the face, neck, and upper chest.

    Another big problem Khan sees is people who forget to put retinol on their neck and upper chest. Eventually, if you only apply retinol to your face, you will have an imbalance between your face and the rest of your body. This may also require multiple treatments to correct it.

    Use your HSA or FSA

    A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or a Health Savings Account (HSA) is like a special savings account for health spending. The contributions can be deducted from your taxes, which saves you money at the end of the year. If you already have an FSA or HSA, you probably know that these funds can pay for a doctor visit, blood test, or imaging.

    But you can also use money from your HSA or FSA to pay for a dermatologist visit and any related prescriptions. Many skin care products are also FSA and HSA enabled, including sunscreen and acne treatment products. For example, if a doctor prescribes you a retinoid, you can pay for it with your FSA or HSA card.

    Author's photo

    Zina Kumok (145 posts)

    Zina Kumok is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance. As a former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four, and everything in between. It has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth, and Time. Read how she paid off $ 28,000 in student loans at Conscious Coins in three years.



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