In today's economy, we are all looking for affordable but effective ways to keep skin looking its best. From the dollar store to the department store, there are many products available. The reality is that most of them are great. There are, however, home alternatives which often times don't require a shopping trip. Not only do these alternatives work, but they are also fun and simple to create.

TREAT ACNE Acne can be one of those persistent problems, popping up at the worst time. We've all had these flare-ups, which include pimples before a big party or that pimple that appears just before an important date. The best at home treatment for acne is a warm compress, consisting of a washcloth and some warm water. Then follow these steps: 1. Apply the warm washcloth to the pimple or acne-prone area 2. Hold the compress on for 3-5 minutes, continually warming it up as necessary, to maintain a warm feeling on your skin 3. Be sure not to use water that is too hot -- not only will it burn the skin, but it won't do any good in treating the acne 4. Repeat the compress every 2-4 hours until the acne disappears. Depending on where you are in the acne breakout, your acne should clear up within 24-36 hours

For an inexpensive product that can be used in conjunction with this remedy I suggest Unblemished Treatment Concealerby Beauty Benefits.

UNCLOG BLACKHEADS Not many faces are blackhead free... To help rid your skin of these, use oatmeal and rose water to create a soft paste. Cover blackheads with the paste and rub it into your skin. Wait 15-20 minutes and then rinse away. You can also use this oatmeal mask all over your face for a radiant glow.

If you are in a rush, and don't have time to create the paste, simply head to your nearest drugstore and purchase Neutrogena Healthy Skinand Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Scrub.

CLEANSE AND EXFOLIATE For an affordable but effective skin cleanser and exfoliator, I recommend creating a solution of sugar and water. Before putting the solution on, open pores by first leaving a warm cloth over your face for a few minutes. Rub the water and sugar solution gently into your skin and then rinse. This does a great job and will leave your skin clear, clean and refreshed.

For a more aggressive exfoliator, mix in sea salt instead of sugar. This can be used to exfoliate your entire body and works great on those annoying rough spots like feet, knees and elbows.

Not interested in making it yourself? Pick up St. Ives Apricot Scrub. It's a solid alternative.

ALLEVIATE DRY SKIN Take a quick trip to your pantry and pull out a bottle of olive oil ... Olive oil was good enough for the ancient Greeks and it's good enough for you, too. The ancient Greeks used olive oil to bathe and to moisturize dry skin. Almost every vegetable oil is compatible with the skin. Apply just after bathing to moisturize and protect dry skin. Use it daily to help reduce dry patches and the appearance of stretch marks.

While I recommend olive oil for any skin, if you insist on store bought, try good old Coconut Body Butter.

HYDRATE Drink water every day. We know it's good for us in every way. It makes your skin look great, too.

NOURISH YOUR SKIN Facial masks can be fun and help rejuvenate your skin. Try making one at home. A honey mask is a great way to brighten and lighten your skin. Mix one tablespoon of honey, one egg yolk and one teaspoon of olive oil together. Beat the egg yolk first and then add the oil and blend well. Add the honey with a spoon rinsed in hot water and blend well. Apply this honey mask to your face, avoiding your eye area. Leave on your face for 20-30 minutes and rinse. The difference is visible.

A great alternative to the honey mask is The Original Mint Julep Masqueavailable at almost any drugstore.

TONE AND TIGHTENNE Witch hazel, available at any drug store has been the main ingredient in most toners and is not irritating to the skin. It still works great on its own. Gently wash your face. Pat your skin dry and then apply witch hazel with a cotton ball. If you have dry flaky skin, try diluting the witch hazel with two parts water. Since witch hazel is an astringent, always moisturize after you tone. Try mixing two tablespoons of witch hazel with one teaspoon of lemon juice and three tablespoons of rose water for a refreshing toner.

Be sure to keep witch hazel at home. Not only does it do a great job of toning and tightening your skin, but it's an excellent topical remedy for the treatment of traumatic bruises and bumps and promotes speedy healing.

MOISTURIZE Moisturizing is essential for your skin not only because it locks in hydration, but moisturizer creates a protective barrier between your skin and the elements. Making an effective moisturizer at home is not difficult. Take five to six drops of sweet almond oil and add a few drops of water. Mix the two ingredients in your palms, rubbing both hands together then gently smooth the blend into your skin.

Moisturizing is the bottom line in skincare - almost any moisturizer will do the trick. Eucerin Extra Protective Moisture Lotion with SPFis a great body moisturizer and it is available at most drugstores nationwide.

SOOTHEFrom time to time you may find your skin red and irritated. Taking care of red, irritated skin at home is as easy as a glass of milk. It doesn't matter if you prefer cow's or soy milk a• they both get the job done. Soak a wash cloth in milk and then apply the cloth to the effected area. Leave on the skin for at least five minutes. Repeat as often as necessary depending on the irritation. Milk sooths and calms the skin and helps to promote healing while softening and nourishing the skin.

For the store bought alternative, try an aloe vera gel. It's cooling to the skin and aloe naturally helps promote healing.

MINIMIZE PORES Our pores are an open target. They collect oil and often get clogged, causing the pores to appear larger than we want. The easiest treatment option is actually free. Run hot water into a stopped sink or a large bowl. Drape a towel over your head and lean over the steam. Using the towel helps to trap in the rising steam. Gently cleansing the skin or gently exfoliating the skin helps minimize the appearance of clogged pores. Pat skin dry and use a toner to tighten and refine.

A great option that you can purchase in the store is Neutrogena Pore Minimizing Mask. It will minimize the appearance of your pores and refresh your skin.

Dr. Neil Sadick is one of the most renowned dermatologists and researchers whose multiple discoveries have strongly influenced and transformed the future of dermatology. He is a Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College and President of the Cosmetic Surgery Foundation. Dr. Sadick is author, or co-author, of more than 500 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has contributed more than 75 chapters of medical books. Read more at

www.sadickdermatology.com

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