Splurge & Save: Skin Care Edition


Save and Splurge

I’ll admit it. I often stare at celebrities and think to myself, “if only I had her glam squad”, “if only I could afford that weekly oxygen facial and mink eyelashes”, “if only I could be followed around by my own lighting team, a la Mariah Carey…”.  Ok, that last one might be taking it a bit far… but, truthfully, as “real people” we have to make it work with what we’ve got!  I’ve compiled my Skin Care Savings and Splurge List.  This list is ever evolving as I try new things, but the basic principles behind where you can skimp and where you can’t remain.

Cleanser. There are so many cleansers out there that it can get really confusing.  Depending on your skin care goals you can determine the right cleanser for you.  For general maintenance I recommend going with a “save” like Cetaphil or a basic drug store cleanser with alpha hydroxy acids.  If you aren’t trying to actively address a “problem” like acne or hyper pigmentation, any basic cleanser will do just fine, as long as you are sure to remove all your makeup.  I first do an oil cleanse with Trader Joes Organic Coconut Oil (Trader Joes Stores, $5.99).  Oil removes oil, so coconut oil is a great pre-cleanse to break down hard-to-remove makeup and mineral oil-based powders.  When I worked for Aveda, we began every facial using specialty oils to break down the client’s makeup prior to a second cleanse with soap and water. I’ve found Organic Coconut Oil to be an equal and economical pre cleanse.  If you are wondering what an “oil cleanse” looks like, I literally scoop my hand into the jar of Organic Coconut Oil, massage my whole face and then tissue off.

I currently alternate between a high-end professional cleansing line, Rhonda Allison Beta Green Tea Cleanser, (Rhondaallison.com, and select salons, $32, 4oz) and the Target brand Up & Up, Renewal Cleanser with Microbeads (Target, $4.19).

Side note: If you struggle with acne, I sincerely recommend giving ProActiv a try.  They have a great balance of benzoyl peroxide (kills the acne bacteria) and skin-calming ingredients.

Toner. Personally, I really value a good toner.  I haven’t found a “save” in this arena, but if anyone has, let me know – I’m always willing to try!  I use Dermalogica’s Multi Active Toner (Ulta and select salons, $35, 8oz) before I moisturize.  The purpose of a toner is to add hydration.  A moisturizer acts as a barrier to keep IN the moisture in your skin.  Meaning the thicker the moisturizer, the more it will bind in your own moisture.  Some of us need a little extra hydration.  Once I hit 30, I became one of those people.  I spray the toner on my skin, let it add a boost of hydration and then seal it with my moisturizer.

Another that I love is Caudalie Beauty Elixer (Sephora, $18, 1oz).  It smells amazing and is so very refreshing.  I occasionally use this as a makeup setting spray too.  After my foundation and powder have set I’ll do a quick spray and it adds that little hydrated glow.

Moisturizer. Depending on your age and stage, moisturizers do not have to be expensive.  There are nights that I slather coconut oil on my skin and call it good.  The thicker the cream, the stronger the barrier the lotion creates.  I currently use Dermalogica’s Skin Smoothing Cream at night (Ulta and select salons, $60, 3.4oz).  It’s a midweight cream and it contains lactic acid (hence the smoothing).  I have my husband using a super thick moisturizer, KORRES Wild Rose 24-Hour Moisturizing Cream (Sephora, $35, 1.4oz.).  He has no skin issues, just dry skin, but the super thick “save” product he was using was breaking out MY skin!  So I actually had to switch his moisturizer to something that wouldn’t give me pimples for getting close to him.  Hey, Mariah isn’t the only diva around here!

Eye Cream. I personally think you can get away with a “save” on eye cream.  The purpose of an eye cream is to moisturize the delicate skin around your eyes, and this is surely attainable with simple drugstore ingredients. To be completely honest, I’ve never used a “save” eye cream because I’ve always been in a salon environment where high-end products came with a great discount. However, there are wonderful options out there on a budget. Burt’s Bees has several eye creams that pass the Kelly test of ingredients. Their Intense Hydration Eye Cream lends moisture without being greasy – making it a good choice for both day and night.

Splurge on Boosters. A booster is a specialty product designed to correct skin issues.  Whether it be an exfoliating, anti-aging product like an alpha hydroxy acid, a blemish control serum, or a pigment cream, you’re going to want to be sure you are getting results.  Generally results come with active ingredients, and that typically means a slightly higher price tag.  Hyperpigmentation (brown spots on your skin) specifically needs the attack dog ingredients of hydroquinone, and at a higher percentage than you are going to find at your local drugstore.  If you’re very concerned with the spots on your skin, I recommend going straight to the doctor for a Rx product or a fantastic series of photofacials.  Truth be told, as technology improves, there are some things that take years to address at home that can now be solved in just a few office visits!

Sunscreen! First off, whatever you use – use it daily!  Sun is the number one cause of aging in skin!  I am a fair, freckle-inclined white girl, so I go with a “splurge” here and pull out the big gun: Obaji’s NuDerm Sunshield MATTE SPF 50 (3oz) High UVA/PA+++ UVB for All Skin Types, ($34, 3.5oz).  It feels like nothing on the skin, which is big for me because other sunscreens seem to make makeup just slip right off.  Aveeno does have some great moisturizers with sunscreen in them as well, and with a kinder price tag.  I also use Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 ($16, 4oz).  It feels light and combats sun damage too.

Splurge and Save Skincare


I hope this initial guide proves helpful!  It can be difficult to navigate through all the products and marketing schemes.  When in doubt, read the ingredients and google what they are and what they do.  Please share with the rest of us any fabulous finds we are missing out on!