How to Cleanse Your Face for Cheap

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When it comes to something as seemingly simple as keeping your face clean, there's no shortage of gels, creams, lotions, soaps, scrubbers, exfoliators, moisturizers and other products to choose from. You would think from the sheer quantity of products on the market that cleansing your face would be a very complicated and time-consuming practice to engage in.

Many products are grouped with other products, so that each label directs you to buy the other products in the group as well -- you can't buy the cleanser without the accompanying moisturizer, the company scolds. Suddenly, maintaining basic grooming standards becomes a pricy habit.


And once you've determined for yourself what types of products you should use and which you're not interested in, you're still faced with a pretty wide range of prices among similar products. An exfoliating cream from Company A may cost four or five times as much as a similar product from Company B. How different can they be? And do you even need an exfoliating cream when you've set your sights on cutting unnecessary expenditures?

Just as you may suspect, many of the products that share a category are nearly identical in all but brand name and packaging. In some cases, two identical soaps made in the same facility can be packaged, marketed, priced and distributed as two different products (as is the case with store-brand discount products of almost any kind).

However, as with makeup, sometimes there is a difference between cheap and expensive facial cleansers. Manufacturers justify higher prices for grooming products in part by claiming that despite having the same ingredients, the high-end brand uses better ingredients while the budget brand uses second-rate materials on the cheap.

Of course, nobody wants to pinch pennies on skin care cleansers if the product doesn't serve your needs. Having healthy (and healthy-looking) skin is important to appearance, self-esteem and all-around health and well-being. Isn't it worth paying a little extra to prevent blemishes and dull-looking skin? Won't cheap products just irritate your skin or worsen your dryness?

Hold off on that purchase until you've read the next page.



Busting Dirt Without Breaking the Bank

While some products may truly be inferior, many times, you'll find no notable difference between a high-priced and low-priced product. Unless there's a wide gap in quality, subtle differences in similar products will only be significant to professional makeup artists or skin care professionals. Functionally and fortunately for the rest of us, there often is no difference. And when you get down to it, you simply don't need a dozen different types of cleansing products, regardless of quality.

To wash on the cheap, just use a washcloth, warm water and a generic, gentle cleanser. Choose an unscented one, because perfumes can lead to redness and irritation. Extra bells and whistles such as exfoliating beads aren't necessary to cleanse your face effectively -- a cheap, mild cleansing soap is all you need.


Find a similarly cheap moisturizer. Select a moisturizing cream or ointment rather than a lotion, as these are less likely to irritate your skin. As long as the product has lactic acid or urea in the ingredients list, you'll be in good shape. Avoid conditioners with alpha-hydroxy acid or retinoids, as these can cause irritation.

If you wear makeup, you can find cheap tubs of makeup remover -- you don't need anything fancy. If you really want to extend the life of the makeup remover, you can cut open the container as it nears empty to make sure you use all of it. Use modest (but appropriate) amounts of makeup remover, cleanser and moisturizer each time you cleanse your face.

As is the case when selecting new brands or products, you may have to try out a few cheap cleansers before finding one you like. But the recipe for a cheap face-cleansing regimen remains the same: a standard mild cleanser, a simple moisturizer, inexpensive makeup remover for those who need it, and a washcloth and warm water. Anything more is just spending extra money for marketing.

Read on for lots more information about taking care of your skin.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Bathing and Moisturizing Guidelines." (Jan. 5, 2010)
  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Dermatologists' Top 10 Tips for Relieving Dry Skin." (Jan. 5, 2010)
  • Amirlak, Bardia, MD, et al. "Skin, Anatomy." Sep. 5, 2008. (Jan. 5, 2010)
  • Chudler, Eric, Ph.D. "The Skin." University of Washington Engineered Biomaterials. (Jan. 5, 2010)
  • Lee, Delphine J.; Shellow, William V.R. "Management of Acne." Primary Care Medicine: Office Evaluation and Management of the Adult Patient (5th edition). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006. ISBN 078177456X, 9780781774567. whiteheads+blackheads
  • Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "Dry Skin." (Jan. 5, 2010)
  • Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "Moisturizers: Options for softer skin." (Jan. 5, 2010)
  • New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated. "Emollients and Moisturizers." (Jan. 5, 2010)