Making Skincare Affordable: Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser

By Laura, 40s, New York, Skincare Contributor

Laura “came of age” in the 80s, so she considers a survivor of some very disturbing fashion and makeup trends, like shoulder pads, acid-washed jeans worn unironically, streaky blush, and thick eyeliner that we softened with a lighter before putting it on–don’t even get her started on what women wore to the gym in those days! She now works in a more conservative field, and she’ll get an odd look or two if she wears crackle nail polish (and she expects we’ll look back on that trend with the same disbelief we now reserve for horizontally-striped leg warmers).

Making Skincare Affordable: Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser

One thing I find difficult about my middle-aged skin is that it doesn’t tolerate rough treatment as well as it did when I was in my 20s and 30s. I used to be able to stay out late, fall into bed leaving all my makeup on when I slept, and wake up with nothing worse than a wee bit of puffiness under my eyes, if that. Not anymore. Now, if I want to skin to look presentable at work in the morning, not only do I have to be a lot more careful about my diet, but I also have to be absolutely fastidious in making sure I care properly for my skin before I go to bed.

Still, despite my having to take a few more minutes in my bedtime routine than I used to, my skincare routine is pretty simple, and I’ve developed one habit that might surprise some people: I don’t use a lot of department store skin-care products. I’ve found after many years of trial and error (more than I care to admit!) that while expense isn’t necessarily inversely proportional to effectiveness, my skin does not necessarily look any better when I spend more money on it.

On the contrary, some of the best products I’ve found are in the drugstore, not at the cosmetics counter. This rule holds particularly true for facial cleansers; I’ve found that there’s absolutely no reason to spend megabucks on any of them. A lot of department store cleansers are very fine.  Sometimes I use Clinique Extra Mild Liquid Facial Soap ($16.00) when I’m feeling flush, but I’ve never found them markedly different from the skincare products you can find easily at Rite Aid or CVS. (I’ve found myself using certain department store products regularly because the drugstore brands don’t make a comparable product – Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm ($27.50), for example – but that’s for another post.)

Of course, there are some cleansers I can’t use because they happen to have ingredients that irritate my skin, but in that regard, I’ve found that the expensive stuff is just as likely to be an offender as are the less-expensive brands. As just one example, I know a lot of people love Philosophy’s Purity, which is $20 for an eight-ounce bottle, and I wish I could love it, because I do love the scent and texture. However, it drives my skin insane and not in a good way. I also haven’t found that cleansers work any better if they have gold-plated ingredients like antioxidants, salicylic acid, and so forth. After all, those ingredients touch your skin for only around a minute before you literally wash them down the drain!

I’ve tried dozens of different cleansers since I was a teenager, and I always come back to Neutrogena in one form or another. The company has, of course, changed its formulations over the years, but right now, my favorite is Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser ($6.50). It not only cleans beautifully, but also removes my makeup–even my eye makeup–thoroughly. I buy it for around seven dollars at Rite Aid. And I live in New York City, so you’ll probably be able to get it even cheaper.

I have another opinion that I know will raise a few eyebrows: I don’t believe in eye creams. But that’s also for my next post!