Valerie Monroe
Photo: Jonathan Skow
Q: Monthly facials no longer fit my budget. How important are they?

A: Your skin doesn't have to suffer because you can't afford regular trips to the aesthetician. "I definitely recommend good daily care over monthly facials," says Jennifer Linder, MD, clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco. She advises using beaded exfoliants (like Bioré Skin Preservation Even Smoother Microderm Exfoliator, $15) several times a week and a cleanser or moisturizer with no more than 5 percent alpha hydroxy acids (try DDF Glycolic Exfoliating Wash 5%, $32), which induce exfoliation and cell turnover. You might also use a vitamin C serum (like EmerginC Vitamin C Serum, $75) and a nighttime moisturizer with retinol (we like L'Oréal Paris Advanced Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair Night Creme, $20) or a prescription retinoid to stimulate collagen production. Linder recommends a professional superficial chemical peel twice a year ($75 to $300 per treatment) if you can afford it. A peel can be as relaxing as a facial, but the benefits are greater—it can smooth fine lines, improve skin texture, reduce discoloration, and clear up blemishes.

Bottom line: If you take good care of your skin every day, you don't need facials at all.