Recessionista
Health Tips

Spending most of your paycheck on pricey products so you can have the perpetually young face and body of your dreams? Dr Grace Keenan, the founder of DC-based Nova Medical Group, an integrative health facility that also includes an urgent care facility and a medical spa, warns that you are wasting your money. The health and wellness expert offers cheaper - but as effective - alternatives for your health and skincare.

Woman Applying Face LotionOverrated and overpriced

Dr Keenan, who is board certified in internal medicine and anti-aging medicine, says the most expensive products with the most promising anti-aging or health claims are supported by very little unbiased studies and that women shouldn't jump on a health regimen just because the media suggests that all the beautiful celebs are doing it.

"Due to magazine 'advertising' and the admiration for the Hollywood Starlet look, women will follow [a celeb's] skin regiment that can begin with a $450 facial, radio frequency machines that claim to shorten muscles and have a lifting or tightening skin effect and begin pricey skincare that includes neurotransmitters and hormones that are suppose to stimulate the brain to help create younger more beautiful skin or slow the aging process," explains Dr Keenan. The regimen sounds promising but where is the evidence to support the hefty price?

She adds that regardless of the price of a product – some age-defying products boast a $600 per ounce price tag – "the aging process cannot be stopped." That means that bottle of "wonder serum" with claims it can turn over dying skin cells faster than normal skin isn't going to give you 18-year-old skin again, even though you did pay a small fortune for it. And if you just have to have the glycolic acid and antioxidants in that high-price moisturizer? Shop around, Dr Keenan says you find comparable products for a third of the price.

Search for cheaper alternatives

The financial stress of trying to halt your body's natural aging process may be adding years to your skin and health. "Stress triggers the release of the hormone cortisol that elevates blood sugar and triggers chemicals in the body that produce enzymes that break down collagen that could result in wrinkles," Dr Keenan explains. Stress also takes a toll on your mental and physical health, too. (Click for what stress does to your body.) Effective, more economical, and less stressful alternatives are out there – you just need to look for them.

Look for package deals

Some spas offer free health, fitness and skincare assessments as well as package deals that will include a variety of wellness services and products at a much lower price than purchasing each one separately. You can also take advantage of the "express" services available at many wellness facilities – instead of that 90 minute massage or hour with the personal trainer, make an appointment for a half-hour at half the price.

"At The Medical Spa at Nova we carry skincare lines that have high concentrations recommended in the Haute Couture lines. What we suggest is to come in and have a free skin analysis. Then we customize a program for you that will begin with a good basic facial. Serums and moisturizers are used throughout all our skin care facials using the finest glycolic and antioxidants that you can find," says Dr Keenan. But, your care doesn't stop there.

Find a spa with a variety of health professionals and services

In addition to master estheticians, health experts at Nova Medical Group include dieticians, acupuncturists, naturopathic doctors, dermatologists, yoga instructors, massage therapists and even healthy cooking instructors. Finding a facility with such a diverse staff of health and wellness professionals is not only convenient (one-stop shop, so to speak) but also economical because package deals or comprehensive programs will be available. (You may also want to consider getting your gal pals together for a spa party, another budget-friendly option that usually includes a wide range of spa services.)

Bottom line

Before you shell out most of your paycheck on a miracle health, diet or skincare product, consider the following money-saving tips:

  • Keep in mind that there is very little scientific proof that high-priced health and skincare products are that much more effective than ones that are budget-friendly.
  • Compare ingredients on products – skincare, haircare, supplements, etc. – and you'll discover you can get those promising ingredients in cheaper brands.
  • Find a comprehensive medical spa or wellness facility that offers assessments and packages or programs that address your overall health. (If yours doesn't, find another spa in your locale that does.)
  • Take advantage of wellness packages or programs that offer a variety of services to meet your healthcare needs.
  • Make an appointment for express services when money is an issue – you may not get a full session, but you can still benefit from the service.
  • Rally your girlfriends for a spa party at a comprehensive wellness facility – you can all enjoy a day of stress-free pampering at a much more reasonable price than going it alone.

In light of the economy, it pays to save money where you can. The good news is, you don't have to neglect your health or beauty to do so – you just need to do a little research.

Here are some more money-saving health & wellness tips

Cheap ways to stay fit
Throw a spa party at home
Cheap but chic beauty tricks


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