“How many hair products does one girl need?” my mother once asked after a visit to my more-than-well-stocked bathroom. The secret was out: I was a product junkie. I have shampoos for fine hair and “winter hair,” shampoos to make my hair shiny, shampoos to make my hair smell like pink grapefruit, apple blossoms, oranges, or coconut. And, of course, each of these is paired up with a matching conditioner.And don’t even get me started on skin care products — cleansers, soothers, moisturizers – all for sensitive skin – not to mention countless cosmetics.

“We all want to have softer skin, shinier hair, whiter teeth, and to age gracefully,” says Dana Persia, owner of DP Image Consulting in Philadelphia. (My sentiments exactly!)

You don’t need to share my addiction, but if your idea of an adequate supply of hair and skin care products is a bar of supermarket soap and a bottle of drugstore shampoo, it may be time to take another look.

Skin and Hair Care Products: They Don’t Have to Cost a Lot

“Most women can look great and keep up appearances with a well-chosen, but limited number of products,” says Nada Manley, author of Secrets of the Beauty Insiders.

You don’t have to break the bank to find skin care and hair care products that work well for you, says Persia. “You’re not going to stock your shelves for $20, but for $100 you can have all the essentials.”

To save time and money, Manley suggests choosing multipurpose products: a creamy shower gel can double as a shaving gel and bubble bath, or a moisturizer with antioxidants and SPF can take the place of a separate skin cream and sunscreen, for example.

A more expensive product isn’t necessarily better, says Persia. She points out that two of her favorite skin care products are the relatively inexpensive cleansers Cetaphil and Ponds Cold Cream, both of which are available in drugstores and grocery stores. “Ponds was good for our mothers,” says Persia, “and it’s still good for us. Just use a generous amount and wipe off with a warm, wet washcloth.”

On the other hand, she adds, companies that produce some of the more expensive skin care and hair care products often invest much more in research and development. They apply science to the products they produce, such as creating skin care products that fight free radicals.

Must-Have Skin Care Products for Women

In addition to a good facial cleanser, Persia suggests stocking your bathroom with the following skin care products:

  • Moisturizer with an SPF of at least 15
  • Eye makeup remover
  • Exfoliator, which removes dead skin cells and can leave your skin smoother, softer, and brighter. (For an inexpensive exfoliator, mix 1 tablespoon of sugar with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and lightly scrub your face. Remove with a warm, wet washcloth.)
  • Mask (A mud pack mask, for example, tightens skin and soften lines. A clay mask gives pores a deep cleaning. And a honey mask can moisturize dry skin.)
  • Eye gel
  • Razor and shave gel
  • Body oil (Keep it in the shower and smooth over skin before drying off.)
  • Body scrub
  • Body wash and sponge
  • Tweezer
  • Deodorant