Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Saving on Makeup and Skincare

My makeup bag is downwardly mobile. Before parenthood, I was well-stocked with cosmetics and skin-care treats from expensive beauty spas and high-end department stores. But after parenthood, I gradually traded down the commodities chain and my makeup table is now stocked with goodies from national pharmacy chains.

And quite, frankly my skin has actually thrived on this discount diet. But based on the you-get-what-you-pay-for doctrine, I’ve been puzzled by my skin’s positive response. But the experts have ready answers, namely: When it comes to cosmetics, high cost does not always equal high-quality care.

“There are very good products at CVS and Walgreens that are very effective and very affordable,” says Dr. Helena Igra, a cosmetic surgeon and board-certified dermatologist based on Miami Beach. “The most expensive products are not necessarily the best.”

So there’s no need to feel deprived, if you can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars a month on skincare products. Nor should, you feel compelled to purchase the high-end over-the-counter skincare products that some dermatologists directly market, says Igra, who does not sell skincare products in her office. Indeed, she’s happy to suggest a number of “very good, very dependable,” drugstore products –from publicly traded household names — that will pamper your skin at a fraction of the costs.

Of course, if you have serious skin problems, prescription-only pharmaceutical intervention may be necessary. But many of the inexpensive, over the counter products work just fine for the every-day nuisances wrought by sun and stress (fine lines, small eruptions and brown spots), Igra says.

And while, some expensive skin-care products live up to their billing, packaging, research/development costs and marketing budgets can also boost lofty price tags, the doctor says.

That same lesson was personally delivered to me, by a local television personality, who discovered the beauty of pharmacy cosmetics after losing her luggage — including a bag of expensive cosmetics — while traveling. In a pinch, she purchased inexpensive cosmetics at a pharmacy counter and was pleased with the results. Other women in corporate circles have shared similar discoveries with me.

Stephen Farrar, a television and video makeup artist, agrees with their insights. As a beauty industry professional, he has peeked into the makeup kits of peers from around the country. Their tools of the trade typically include many inexpensive cosmetic products, including Max Factor, Almay, Covergirl and Maybelline, Farrar says. In fact, when it comes to mascara, the old pink-and-green Maybelline mascara wand ($4.99) ranks as an industry staple.

“It doesn’t have to cost a lot to look good,” says Farrar, who provides makeup services to WPBT (Channel 2), the local PBS station.

And if you’re addicted to one of the expensive department store or designer brands, Enjoy. But learn to streamline and shop for value, the makeup artist says.

“There are some good products at the high-end of the market, but you don’t have to buy the whole line,” Farrar says.

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