May is National Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Skin cancer affects over 2 million Americans each year, and over 3.5 million forms of the disease exist.
The harmful effects of sun exposure to our health and appearance are well known, but spring always offers an opportunity to review your skin protection regimen. Considering the bevy of products that promise everything from eternal youth to 100-percent UV protection, you may feel overwhelmed by the choices and prices of skincare products. In fact, the greater the guarantee for youthful, radiant skin, the greater the cost seems to be.
Before you max out your credit card on the most expensive brand-name products, consider these 10 skincare shopping hacks.
1. Get Screened for Free
One of the biggest issues with skin cancer is that it can go unnoticed if you’re not looking for it. That’s why getting a screening is so important, and AAD offers free screenings throughout the country. See what’s available in your area by using their search tool, or sign up for e-alerts to get notified when screening opportunities become available nearby.
2. Try Flash Sites
Flash sale sites like Ideeli are not only good for deep discounts on designer fashion and shoes; you can also score name-brand skin care for less. You need to do your research before biting on these offers, however, because “designer” doesn’t necessarily mean “quality.” Everyone’s skin type is different, so know the product and how it reacts with your skin before you buy.
3. Find Coupons for Savings
Coupons are great for saving a little money on everyday essentials, and pricey lotions and sunscreens are no exception. You can skip the circulars and head online to sites like CouponSherpa.com, where you can find several grocery coupons for personal care. For example, you can currently save $3 off any two Coppertone sunscreen products, $1.50 off Aquaphor two-packs, and $1.50 off any Eucerin body lotion.
4. Know Your Sunscreen
Not all sunscreen is created equal and it’s important not only for your skin but also for your budget to know the details. Always look for “broad spectrum” protection and avoid buying high-priced solutions that boast SPF 100 defense; there’s no such thing as a sunscreen that protects you 100 percent. Since SPF 30 sunscreens offer 97 percent protection, stock up on this concentration and remember to reapply every two hours.
5. Go Generic
The cost of moisturizers vary widely by brand, with designer labels costing hundreds of dollars for just a few ounces of product. Before you buy, compare the ingredients of name-brand lotions to generic or store-brand versions. Increasingly, stores are offering lower-priced solutions featuring nearly identical ingredients. Walmart’s Equate brand of Perfecting Cream is nearly identical to Olay Regenerist Deep Hydration Regenerating Cream, but costs $5 less.
6. Double Up
Many face creams offer SPF protection so there’s no need to buy specialized sunscreen for your face. Additionally, using tinted moisturizers during the summer months protects your skin, evens out your skin tone and keeps you moisturized without the need to shell out extra money for multiple products. Aveeno’s Positively Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 is highly rated and a steal at less than $15.
7. Compare Prices
The price of the same skincare product can vary widely by retailer, as evidenced by the aforementioned Aveeno tinted moisturizer. A quick online search shows a $5.50 difference between the highest price of $17.49 at Walgreens, and the lowest price of $11.99 at Amazon. Keeping in mind you may pay extra for shipping with Amazon, your best bet may be Ulta, whose sale price rings in at $14.87, which you can reduce by $3.50 with their ever-present coupon.
8. Use Free Samples
Both Ulta and Sephora offer free samples with all purchases. Before you opt for a new scent or eyeliner, peruse their selection of skincare items. Not only will this help you “try before you buy,” but you can use these samples during your travels to moisturize your skin on-the-go. For example, subscribers to Sephora’s Beauty Insider program can currently get a free, one-month supply of Caudalie Serum with $25 purchase.
9. Exercise Portion Control
Applying half the bottle of lotion or sunscreen is not necessary to effectively hydrate and protect your skin. Use sunscreen as directed and apply a nickel-sized dollop to your face and around two tablespoons to the other exposed areas of your body. Sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide will make your skin appear white until fully absorbed, so it’s important not to mistake the paler hue as over-application.
10. Stock Up During Sale Time
Drugstores and beauty stores occasionally offer sales and promotions on sunscreen. When you happen upon these sales, stock up; sunscreen has a shelf life of three years when stored properly (preferably in a cool, dark place like the bathroom cabinet). If the sunscreen you purchase does not list an expiration date, write the purchase date on the bottle so you can keep track.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.