What does $15 mean to you? A nice lunch out with the girls, maybe, or a nice bottle of wine? When you’re living on a budget, $15 can easily seem like too much money to spend on such lovely luxuries. We’ve all been in the position where the bank balance gets down to double digits at the end of the month…and it’s miserable.
Well, I’ve got some good news for you: $15 is enough to buy you a month’s supply of multitasking beauty products that perform better than the ones you’re already using. Yes, really. Think of how much money you spend, per month, on your “must-have” beauty essentials; for me, it’s not unusual for that number to double or triple, if I’m out of my nice moisturizer, cleansing products, and hair supplies. Imagine how much extra money you’d have each month if you didn’t need those things!
Some background: After PCS-ing recently, and going on a much-needed trip back home, I decided it was time to make a major financial upheaval, i.e. cutting the tiny expenses that add up quickly, and replacing them with much cheaper alternatives. I quickly learned — with a bit of research and a smattering of my own existing beauty-hack wisdom — that for less than $15 on my monthly commissary run, I could veto the expensive lotions and potions, and instead get the same effect by working with a few often-underrated, classic products. Bingo!
So, to get started, you’ll need four products, which shouldn’t cost you any more than $15 total, regardless of if you’re a Walmart dash-and-go kinda woman, or a Trader Joe’s pro.
The magic list:
Honestly, I could sing the praises of Epsom salt until I am bluer than my trust blue bag of Dr. Teal’s. Making Epsom salt body-soaks a regular part of your routine help keep your skin hydrated and healthy. There’s actually a bit of science to this: Using Epsom salts in warm bathwater creates a process called reverse osmosis, pulling salt and harmful toxins out of the body and allowing the magnesium and sulfates to enter into the body. Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body: reducing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function and helping to prevent artery hardening. Sulfates help improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins and help ease migraine headaches. Dang, this stuff is good.
After one rather perfect pool day, I got home to discover that I resembled Sebastian the crab, and spent the next two weeks with painful, peeling skin. Taking a lukewarm bath with Epsom salt was more soothing than all the gunky aloe gel in our house! It also calms nasty bug bites—another side effect to living in warmer climates during summertime.
Eye Make-Up Remover
Most eye make-up removers are, basically, oil; All oils are capable of breaking apart similar molecules, so when you rub on an oil cleanser, it dissolves even tough makeup and breaks up sebum and grime on the surface of your skin. Use it as you would a normal oil-based make-up remover: Saturate a cotton ball with baby oil, and apply to your closed eye, letting it soak for a couple of seconds. Then gently rub the cotton ball away from the eye — your mascara, eyeshadow and liner will come right off. This works best just for your eyes, and also for stubborn lipstick — the next step will do for the rest of your warpaint.
After removing your eye make-up with the baby oil, you can move on to your whole face. A dime size amount of baby shampoo, worked into a lather and rinsed off, is as effective as any other facial cleansing wash, and costs a fraction of the price. Baby shampoo is, of course, formulated for super-sensitive skin, so it works really well for those of us with more reactive skin types. And ultimately your skin will be just as squeaky clean as it would be after using any higher-priced brand.
Here’s where we start feeling like potion masters: Mix some Epsom salts into a dollop of baby shampoo, and gently rub it across your face in circular motions — again, as you would with any store-bought scrub. Your skin will be flake-free and super clean!
Dry Skin Treatment
Petroleum jelly is, without doubt, what my dad would call “the business” when it comes to super dry patches of skin: Think elbows, knees, ankles. For me, especially during the winter months, I find that my hands are (literally) a real sore spot, often cracking painfully across my knuckles. One day I was caught without my trusty hand lotion, so I had to “make do” and use some petroleum jelly on my knuckles. It was a little greasy at first, but it quickly absorbs into the really dry areas, leaving only hydrated, happy skin. The effect is more intense than a typical moisturizer, so for patches of cracked skin this is absolutely perfect.
While your skin is still wet from the shower, use a small amount of oil on your whole body. It mixes with the water and gradually sinks into your skin, giving you an intense moisturizing effect that lasts all day long. Be careful only to use a little, though, or you’ll feel more Magic Mike than moisturized!
In my native UK, little pots of Vaseline are a staple in every woman’s purse: As a lip balm, the petroleum jelly is perfectly moisturizing and a little glossy, too. Take an old lip balm tin and scoop a bit of the jelly into the tin, and keep it with you always; it’ll become the only lip balm you’ll ever need. Also, adding an eensy-weensy bit of Epsom salt to this balm and gently buffing for a few seconds will leave chapped lips super-soft again.
Shaving creams are, in my opinion, an annoyingly expensive extra. For super-smooth pins all year round, just slather some baby oil onto your entire leg, and shave as per normal. You won’t have to apply a moisturizer afterward, either, because the baby oil is so emollient.
I don’t tend to get too ambitious with my hair, and it’s often just pulled back into a ponytail. However, I have tons of annoying little hairs at the front which stick up and ultimately make me look like a Rockhopper penguin (you know, the ones with “eyebrows.”) This can be easily tamed with petroleum jelly — just dab a tiny bit on your fingers or an old toothbrush, and brush the strays back. Instantly smooth! Also, a tiny amount of baby oil soaked onto a cotton pad and gently run over the ends of your hair works just as well as expensive serums for conditioning the tips and smoothing frizz.