(NewsUSA) - In the minds of many Americans, our face is our most precious possession. It is, by the way, the part of us that everyone sees day in and out. But the products that we use to care for this most treasured personal resource are often expensive -- the last thing we want in a struggling economy.

However, improving your skin doesn't have to break the bank. Here are some tips to improve your skin on a budget:

- Exfoliate with baking soda. For less than a dollar a box, you can scrub your skin clean. Simply mix a small amount of baking soda with water to form a thick paste. Apply the paste to your skin gently, massaging your face with small, circular motions. Leave the baking soda on your face for 20 minutes, then rinse off the paste with warm water. Exfoliate once or twice to remove dead skin and other blockages from your pores.

- Ditch the shaving cream. Shaving cream is aerated, so cans do not last long. Replacing shaving cream canisters quickly becomes expensive. Many shaving creams contain chemicals and fragrances that irritate skin, leading to dry patches and acne.

Switching to shaving oil can reduce expenses while also improving skin. A little shaving oil goes a long way -- one manufacturer, Pacific Shaving Company (www.pacificshaving.com), claims that one-half ounce of its all-natural shaving oil will last 100 shaves. Better yet, it contains essential oils -- sunflower, bergamot, avocado, grapefruit and tangerine -; that help condition skin, eliminating the need for preshaves and aftershaves.

- Toss out your facial cleanser. Soap dries skin, leading skin cells to overproduce oil and creating a vicious cycle of breakouts. The skin naturally produces oil for a reason, so instead of stripping oil away from your skin, give your face what it wants -- more oil.

Mix 25 percent castor oil with 75 percent of another oil -- sunflower, safflower, coconut and extra virgin olive oil work well. Put a small amount of the oil mix in your hands, then rub it between your palms to create warmth.

Thoroughly massage the oil into your skin for about 10 minutes, then wet a washcloth with very hot water. Put the washcloth over your face until it returns to room temperature, then re-wet it with hot water and put it over your face. Use the washcloth to steam your skin two to three times, then rinse your face thoroughly with warm water. Massage any remaining oil into your skin.

The oil removes debris from pores without stripping skin of its natural moisture, helping to improve your skin's look and feel. Better yet, the oil costs much less than most chemical-based facial cleansers.