Aside from Facetune, there is no magic eraser that can instantly remove acne or smooth your skin. However, if you’re wondering how to get clear skin without spending a fortune, there are some reasonable steps you can take to make your complexion glow brighter and feel softer, provided you don’t have chronic adult acne or a skin condition.
We asked estheticians and dermatologists to share their favorite skin-care tips and home remedies that are quick, inexpensive, and, most importantly, effective. While they aren’t a replacement for good skin care and won’t have the same long-term effect as lasers or injectables, experts say they can make a difference regardless of your budget. Here’s their best advice for getting clear skin or clearer skin for free.
- Treat yourself to a facial massage.
Do you have puffy eyes? No worries. You could certainly stock up on eye cream… Alternatively, you could massage your under eyes with your fingers. “Use your ring fingers to gently press on the orbital bone, moving from the inner to the outer corners of your eyes, and repeat two to three times,” says celebrity facialist Cecilia Wong. “Not only will this increase circulation, but it will also help to reduce fine lines and inflammation.”
Georgia Louise, a celebrity facialist and La Mer global skin-care adviser, is also a big fan of massaging your face to stimulate collagen and activate the skin-care products you do use. “Your most powerful weapon is your hands,” she says. We also love this face “workout,” which helps to strengthen your facial muscles and increase circulation.
- Change your pillowcase.
We hate to add laundry to your to-do list, but keeping your pillows clean is an important beauty tip. Pillowcases can trap dirt, oil, and bacteria from our faces, hair, and environment, allowing acne to thrive. To reduce the risk of breakouts, change your pillowcase at least once a week. (Treat your face masks similarly, swapping them out as much as possible to prevent “maskne” from forming.)
A silk pillowcase, according to Louise, “keeps your products from escaping from your skin, so you can really ensure they’re penetrating.” Sure, it’s money, but if you want to invest in a good option, we recommend Slip’s Silk Pillowcases, which not only prevent wrinkles (no creases in your pillow equals no long-term creases on your skin), but also make your hair shinier.
- Remove your makeup.
If you’re comfortable going without makeup on most days, go ahead and do it—especially if you’re working from home due to COVID-19. “My clients who wear little or no makeup on a daily basis have the clearest and healthiest skin,” Marino says. “Save makeup for special occasions, but make sure you’re wearing SPF every day to protect your skin.”
- Apply skin care products to damp skin.
Is it a simple swap? Applying your skin-care products to damp skin improves absorption. “Our skin is generally damp after washing with warm water, and our blood vessels are vasodilated,” Ramanadham says. “We improve absorption and efficacy by applying our serums and other products at this time.”
- Apply ice to a zit to soothe it.
When you have a red, inflamed pimple, instead of popping it, go to your freezer. “Applying ice directly to the blemish will help to reduce inflammation, which will reduce the size and visibility of the spot,” Marino says. She also suggests hydrocortisone cream, which most people have in their medicine cabinet, to help reduce redness and swelling.
- Create a homemade moisture mask.
When it comes to exfoliation and blemish removal, avoid DIY and instead use professional-grade products. If you’re looking for hydration, you can make a moisturizing mask in your own kitchen. Vargas says, “I have a great DIY at-home mask recipe for dry winter skin.” “It contains yogurt, which has an anti-inflammatory component with lactic acid, and avocado, which I recommend for any skin type because it is high in B vitamins and fatty acids.” I also use honey to keep myself hydrated.”
Mix together a half cup plain yogurt, half an avocado, and a quarter cup honey, then apply to your face for 20 minutes. “It will completely transform your skin,” she claims.
- Take care of your makeup brushes.
We know you’ve been putting it off, but cleaning your makeup brushes on a regular basis can make a huge difference in your skin. “Brushes harbor bacteria, debris, and oil, and when used repeatedly without cleaning, they can frequently cause acne or inflammation in your skin,” says Ramanadham. Check out our guide to cleaning makeup brushes properly to ensure they’re bacteria-free.
- Step back from the bath towel.
Your towel, like your pillow, can be a silent cause of acne. “If you have breakouts, use a paper towel instead of a bath towel to dry your face after cleansing,” suggests Vargas. “Using a towel creates a potential breeding ground for bacteria, which can spread breakouts.”
- After you finish working out, wash your face.
While exercise is beneficial to your skin, body, and mind, lingering sweat is not. “Washing your face right after exercise removes oil, sweat, and bacteria rather than allowing it to sit on your skin, where it can clog pores and cause breakouts,” Ramanadham explains. While you may be tempted to wait until you shower, wash your face as soon as possible after working out to avoid this buildup.
- Determine your stress relievers.
We understand that “stressing less” is much easier said than done, but it’s something to think about. “Our bodies and minds are inextricably linked, and stress or lack of sleep can frequently manifest in health conditions and exacerbate skin problems like acne,” Ramanadham explains. “Stress and lack of sleep raise cortisol levels, which cause our skin to produce more sebum or oil.” This increase in oil can then clog pores and cause more breakouts.
“It’s critical to schedule time during the day for self-care, even if it’s only for a few minutes,” Ramanadham says. “It could be working out, reading a book, meditation, or anything else that helps you de-stress and unwind.”