Fitness & Beauty

How to Look After Your Skin Without Spending a Fortune

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Joanne Poh

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If the beauty industry one day decided to start selling face creams that claimed to make your facial features morph into those of a Kpop idol, you can bet there would be hordes of people scrambling to buy them. There are a lot of products that cost a lot more than they should.

And let’s face it, not many of us are willing to forsake our skin altogether Tarzan-style or lucky enough to have genes that yield perfect skin with the help of only tap water. Here are some ways to lower the cost of skincare without turning yourself into an ogre:

 

Know which products to save on

Not all skincare products are created equal. Certain products like SKII’s Facial Treatment Essence have a reputation for being scarily effective, while others receive less than stellar reviews. To complicate matters further, a skincare product that works wonderfully on someone else’s skin might not work the same way on yours. While finding cost-effective skincare products that work for you can be tricky, there are certain products it’s just not worth spending a fortune on.

In general, products that stay on your skin the whole day such as moisturisers and treatment essence are worth spending on. Those that are washed off in a matter of minutes don’t matter as much, and you can usually find a lower cost alternative that does the same job as more expensive products.

For instance, a lot of people who are accustomed to using Dermalogica’s Ultracalming Cleanser later switch to Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser, which looks and feels very similar but costs half the price. Toner is another product that you shouldn’t be spending a fortune on, and many people can get away without using it at all.

 

Periodic treatments can be DIYed

Treatments that are used only periodically such as face masks, scrubs and hair masks can be quite easily DIYed. These products tend to be more costly than daily-use products, but their effects can be fairly easy to replicate using ingredients you can find in your kitchen.

For instance, if you have dry, frizzy hair, try combing in a few drops of extra virgin olive oil instead of reaching for an expensive hair conditioner. Instead of using a commercially-created facial scrub, which more often than not will have you scraping off the top layer of your face with plastic beads, use brown sugar or baking soda as an exfoliant—these substances are so cheap you can afford to exfoliate every day if you wish.

 

Don’t waste any of your products

Every skincare junkie knows the feeling of cleaning out your cupboard only to find piles of expired products that have to be thrown out. If you enjoy collecting products but can never remember to use them, commit to making the most out of everything you buy. Arrange your products on your shelf according to expiry date so you know which ones need to be used most urgently.

When you think you’ve finished a tube of a particular product, don’t toss away the packaging without a second thought. With a pair of scissors, snip the tube in half. You’ll be surprised to see how much product often remains—I often continue using moisturisers for an extra one to two weeks after taking the tube apart.

 

Make lifestyle changes to improve your skin

No matter how much money you spend on your appearance, if your daily meals consist entirely of Oreo cookies and char kuay teow, you sleep only 4 hours a day and you can barely cross the road without needing an inhaler afterwards, don’t expect your skin to get that healthy glow in the SKII ads no matter how many products you pile on.

Improving your diet, getting adequate sleep and exercising can do wonders for your skin. While picking products that are suited to your skin can certainly help, if your complexion stops improving beyond a certain point some lifestyle changes are probably in order—changes that will cost you much less than yet another costly facial or a bottle of that next miracle treatment essence.

 

Don’t buy your products at brick and mortar retailers

Most mid-range and high-end skincare and haircare products cost less to buy online. Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to find an online retailer that will sell and ship your products for less. Thanks to a strong Singapore dollar, you can often find yourself saving 30% or more on American, European, Japanese and Korean skincare products simply by buying online.

Which websites you should be buying from will depend on which brands you use. Skincare brands like Dermalogica, MD Formulations and Avène are cheaper when you get them on Amazon and ship them to Singapore using a service like vPost or qualify for free global shipping under the AmazonGlobal Saver programme.

StrawberryNET is also a great resource for brands like Jurlique and Kiehl’s. And for paraben-free shampoos and oral supplements, iHerb has a large range of options that cost a fraction of the price they would in Singapore.

If you aren’t too keen on buying online, here’s our article on where you should be buying your skin care products (read: not Watson’s or Guardian).

How much do you spend on skincare? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.