Leading dermatologists Susan H. Weinkle, M.D. and Heidi A. Waldorf, M.D. tell how to get the most out of your beauty budget. The key is to invest wisely and know where you can and can't compromise. The three essentials to keep your skin in top shape now--to avoid expensive corrective procedures later--are sunscreen, an antioxidant moisturizer, and a product containing retinoic acid.
Products – money savers and splurges
Worth the Price:
* Prescription retinoids (tretinoin, tazarotene, adapalene) – nothing else has been shown to do as much for photoaged skin; and one tube should last several months
* Certain cosmeceuticals (idebenone, coffeeberry) – your dermatologist knows what works and what you’re more likely to tolerate
* Cleansers – a gentle over-the-counter non-drying cleanser will do the job.
* Sunscreen – drug store options with appropriate ingredients abound, and you need to use a lot of it.
* Eye cream – to save money, use your face cream for your eye area too.
Augmenting in-office treatments at home:
* Get more bang for your buck – use a home microdermabrasion system between professional treatments
* Non-invasive treatments work best when accompanied by an effective at home regimen of sun protection and some combination of retinoids, anti-oxidants and/or peptides.
* Don’t work against your treatment: avoid cigarettes, tanning, and picking.
* Ask your dermatologist for a prescription to slow hair growth while you’re undergoing laser hair removal
When is do-it-yourself okay and when do you need the doctor?
* Pop your own pimple or ingrown hair – you’re just spreading the inflammation
* Mix together at home peel kits with other ingredients –the combination can increase the depth of penetration dangerously
* Play with at home lasers and gadgets when you’re tan – you risk skin discoloration and scarring
* See your dermatologist for a painful acne cyst – a dilute cortisone injection can reduce it in 1 – 2 days
* Gently exfoliate once or twice a week but avoid anything sharp (if it hurts on your hand, don’t use it on your face)
* See your dermatologist for laser or light treatments – she can confirm it’s safe and appropriate for your problem
Reasonable investments for Long-term beauty
* The current long-lasting fillers are cost-effective. A recent study of hyaluronic acid showed that once you achieve your optimal correction, keeping it up requires only half the original volume used once or twice a year. For patients who can’t pay for full correction the first visit, there’s the option to gradually achieve correction over several months – each treatment builds on the last because the prior filler isn’t gone and new collagen has been formed.
* Tightening procedures utilizing lasers and radiofrequency cost far less than surgery, can put off the expense of a surgical lift for several years and don’t require a lot of time off from work.
* Botulinum toxins continue to be a safe and effective way to look fresher without downtime and for about the cost of hair and nail maintenance.