Soap, Water & Caviar: Great Looking Skin on Any Budget

Taking good care of your skin is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, no matter what your age. And you deserve the best, right? But do you have to spend a fortune to get the best?

The answer is no…and yes. The trick is in learning when to splurge and when to drive a hard bargain. I’m a skincare fanatic. I’ve tried everything. Twice.

High-end salespeople behind department store cosmetic counters have my cellphone number. I get put on waiting lists for hard to get products. I wait for new items from guru-status dermatologists. The good news is that strangers generally take me for at least eight or nine years younger than I am and often compliment my skin. The bad news is that I used to think that socialite-endorsed products, lavish-sounding ingredients and elegant packaging were required to keep my complexion pristine.

Now that I’ve learned differently, why not take a few tips from my cheat sheet? Let’s start with the high end.

1. MD Skincare’s Alpha Beta Daily Peel.
This is my personal, super secret, “can’t-live-without” product. Its so good, I almost hesitate to share. When I first started using it, I really wanted to keep it to myself, since it felt like an unfair advantage. I liked that! The product line is from NY dermatolost Dr. Dennis Gross. I prefer to buy it in the indiviudall-sealed packettes rather than the jars. By the end of the jar of 30 pads it seemed the acids on the pads had started to dry out a bit, but this doesn’t happen with the packettes. The two-step peel seriously reduces fine lines and does a great job of firming. You won’t see it all happen in minutes, but your skin will feel fresher and more vital right away. The packettes cost $75 for a thirty-day supply, which, if you skimping a little, you might be able make last a bit longer by skipping a day here and there. You can get the peel in either format at better department stores, or online at

2. MD Skincare Lift & Lighten Eye Cream
Okay, seriously. I’m not a junky. I do use other product lines. But the main reason I use this product goes back to an ex-boyfriend! I’d been using the cream for a few weeks and hadn’t seen him for months. We met at a little bistro to catch up. The first thing he said? Somethings different. Around your eyes. What are you doing? You look great! I, of course, told him it was because ‘I’m so happy now’! $36. Also available at department stores and the website above.

And now the bargains!

3. Jason Natural Super-C Cleanser
Gentle, foamy, gets rid of dirt and oil and has 10% vitamin C complex and beta-hydroxy. Keep it in the shower to wash your face with. Gets rid of oil but is non-drying. Your skin will feel and look better after the first scrub. And, it’s only $10! You can get it on their website at, or at many health food stores and Whole Foods Markets.

4. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
If you are a little more sensitive, use this highly recommended cleanser. Removes makup and dirt without any drying — and is supposedly Teri Hatcher’s favorite according the brand website ( It’s normally around $12 for a big, 16-ounce bottle at your local pharmacy, and that size will last for months.

5. Lumene Cleansing Express Touch Wipes
These little packages (from Finland of all places!) are great if you are traveling or at the gym. They’re pre-soaked and disposable and come in a resealable soft-pack of ten, so they fit in your carryon. Also, you don’t need water. Just wipe and toss. You can get the pack of ten for about $2 at CVS.

6. Olive Oil
Believe it or not, olive oil makes a great facial moisturizer! Maybe its the secret of those gorgeous Italian women who never seem to age — think Sophia Loren. I love it. And of course, you don’t have to buy gourmet. Just get a good quality extra virgin oil at your local market! Prices vary.

Now all you have to do is enjoy the compliments!

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