We all know that cosmetic-plastic surgeons and dermatologists earn their living by operating or non invasive procedures. Most of these endeavors are costly for patients. It’s rare that any esthetic surgeon will let us in on things we can do daily that don’t require us to visit them, but Manish Shah, MD, a Denver board-certified plastic surgeon, is sharing his secrets to cost-effective beauty hacks, many of which cost less than a gourmet cup of coffee, if they cost anything at all.
1. Clean your phone screen. Shah says that a great way to avoid blemishes is to routinely clean the makeup and bacteria off of your phone screens. It is easy to spread harmful skin bacteria from the surface of your phone. Washing your hands goes a long way to avoid skin contamination as well.
2. Make an exfoliating scrub at home. “A woman I consider my second mother taught me how to create my own organic exfoliating scrub," says Shah. "She would dry peeled skins of oranges, lemons, and limes in the sun. She would then finely grate the white inside rind of the peel and then mix it with any facial cleanser or even add it to fine facial oils. Using the scrub would exfoliate the skin, treat it with vitamin C, and prevent over-drying of the skin because of the fruit oils.” Just beware of photosensitivity when working with citrus outdoors.
3. Combat enlarged pores of the T-Zone with over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide. The bacteria in pores create inflammation that increases pore size, and this leads to blackheads and whiteheads. "These bacteria can’t survive in high oxygen environments," says Shah. "3 percent hydrogen peroxide is available over the counter quite inexpensively. Treating just the T-Zone at night kills the bacteria, reduces pore size, and blemishes." Beware of overuse, however. Because it can be quite drying, takes breaks from its use every now and then.
4. Avoid fake nails. They harbor tons of bacteria that are easily transferred to the face when you touch your face. Instead, focus on growing your own nails with the help of oral vitamin C and any good quality hair, skin, and nails vitamin.
5. Wash pillow cases routinely. This is especially important for teenagers. Shah is the father of three teens. From his first-hand knowledge he says that, “teens aren’t very compliant when it comes to skincare and they suffer from hormones in a bad way. This one-two punch makes acne and blemishes the bane of most teens’ existences. Going to sleep at night on clean pillow cases after washing your face goes a long way to reducing bacterial burden and allows blemishes to heal.”
6. Use back tea bags to reduce puffiness around the eyes. Wet them in ice water and lay them onto the eyes to soothe. The caffeine in the black tea causes blood vessels to constrict, reducing edema or swelling in the delicate, thin eyelid tissues.
7. Add baking soda to toothpaste for an extra boost of whitener. Instead of bleaching your teeth, baking soda actually breaks the molecules that stain the teeth. It is less irritating to your gums as well, and way cheaper than teeth whitening strips.
8. Eat the rainbow. A white bread-based diet does not for clear skin make. That’s why Shah makes sure his diet is packed with brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. “Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants which give glow to the skin," says Shah. Specifically, research suggests that pigments called carotenoids—found in foods like carrots, spinach and other leafy greens, and tomatoes—have been linked to good complexions. Adding fish oil to your diet also improves skin compliance and radiance.
9. Avoid hot showers. As disappointing as it may be, Shah says “hot showers remove too much of your natural oils and brings blood circulation to your skin, creating inflammatory reactions that result in rashes and aggravate those with eczema or dry patches.
10. Be sure you know what you're actually looking for in treatments. “I had a patient who wanted a brow lift because she thought she looked angry all the time," says Shah. "I sent her for a brow wax instead. It took 15 minutes, she looked great, and she saved herself thousands.” Other brow techniques like brow tinting can change how your eyebrows frame the eyes, improving looks.