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10 Tips for Better Skin Without Pricey Products

Medically reviewed by: Patrice Hyde, MD

Hearing friends, influencers, and celebrities rave about skin care products can tempt you to try them. But some of these can make your skin sore and cause pimples, rashes, or burns. They also can cost a lot.

Save your money and try these 10 simple skin care habits to help you look and feel your best.

1. Wash your face with mild soap and warm water using your hands. Do this once or twice a day. Scrubbing can make acne worse by irritating your skin and pores.

2. Use an unscented moisturizer that’s right for you, like a cream for dry skin, a gel for oily skin, or a lotion for “normal” skin. If you tend to get acne, try an oil-free moisturizer.

3. Be sun smart. The sun’s rays can reach you when it’s cloudy, so put on sunscreen every day. It's also a good idea to wear sunglasses — choose ones that provide almost 100% protection against ultraviolet (UV) radiation — and a hat with a brim.

Keep in mind that both light and dark skin can get burned. Even a suntan is a sign of sun damage, so avoid tanning when you’re outside and skip tanning booths.

4. Leave pimples alone. Squeezing a pimple could cause more swelling. It also can lead to scabs and leave you with permanent pits or scars. Reddish or brownish acne marks left behind after pimples clear up often fade with no need for treatment.

5. Avoid makeup germs. If you wear makeup, clean any brushes and sponges about once a week to get rid of germs. Don’t share them or the makeup itself with anyone else. And be sure to take your makeup off before going to bed.

6. Get enough sleep. It’s called beauty rest for a reason. Too little sleep can make people stressed, which can lead to breakouts. It can also make skin blotchy and undereye circles darker. Try to get 8–10 hours of sleep each night.

7. Try to stress less. Stress can make skin conditions like acne and eczema worse. Try to relax with things like meditation or yoga.

8. Move more. Exercise can help you sleep and ease stress, both of which are good for your skin.

9. Eat healthy. Foods that are fried or full of sugar (like fast food) can irritate your skin and make it break out. Try to eat meals that include:

  • lean protein (like fish, chicken, or beans)
  • fruits and vegetables (fries and potato chips don't qualify as veggies)
  • whole grains (like whole-wheat bread or brown rice)

10. Don’t smoke. Smoking robs your skin of precious moisture and causes premature (early) wrinkles.

If you have acne, ask your doctor to recommend a mild treatment. For severe acne or another skin condition, like eczema, see your doctor or a dermatologist (a doctor who treats skin problems).

Medically reviewed by: Patrice Hyde, MD
Date reviewed: April 2024