lookin’ good on the cheap

As a self-proclaimed tomboy, I don’t typically spend ridiculous amounts on makeup or other beauty products. Unfortunately, when I do decide to purchase some new beauty product, I usually fail. I have very sensitive skin, so if I buy cheap, I end up wasting my money because the makeup/product breaks me out and I can’t use it. If I buy the brands that are good to my skin, I usually have to pay a premium. Since I am always trying to keep an eye on where my money goes, this means that I am in a dilemma. Do I spend the money to look good, or do I go natural? Most of the time, my compromise is that I will do my eye makeup (where I seem to have less sensitivity issues and don’t have to spend big bucks on makeup) and let my face go bare. I only splurge for the well-known names when it is a necessity, and I’ll do drugstore brands for everything else. However, I have three heavy-hitters in my beauty arsenal that are inexpensive, multi-purpose, and effective. None of these are make-up products, either, so they will work for both sexes!

1. Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum Jelly is the bees’ knees. A tub of it will last you forever. Literally. I bought my first container of PJ 12 years ago, and there is still half of the tub left! You can get different sizes, but I know that you can typically get a 12 or 13oz. tub of the store brand petroleum jelly for around $5 where I live. For a dollar or two more, you can get Vaseline. I have used both and personally can tell no difference, so I use the store brand, but if you are loyal to Vaseline, it’s still not a bad investment because of how functional it is! Here are a few of the ways I have used PJ in the past:

– Lip balm. I do this every night before I go to bed in place of using regular Chapstick. Works like a charm. I also will sometimes make a homemade scrub with sugar and honey, or use a wet washcloth to exfoliate my lips, and then apply PJ – super soft lips!

 – As an intensive moisturizer. I have used PJ on my heels before bed, and then slept in socks to help soften the skin. In the past, I have done the same thing with my hands/arms due to severely dry skin. It always helped relieve some of the pain of dry skin.

 – As a makeup remover. My mother taught me this trick when I was a teen, and I have stuck with it ever since. Just rub it onto your eye, then wipe off with a cotton ball. Not only does it get off all the makeup (even waterproof), but it helps deeply moisturize the delicate area around your eye. My mother is in her late 40’s and has very few crows’ feet, because she has been doing this her whole life.

 – As a quick replacement for WD-40. If I have a loud doorhinge or a squeaky faucet, a little bit of PJ will do the work of WD-40 for a much more economical price.

2. Witch Hazel

I first came across witch hazel when I was a teenager with acne and severely sensitive skin. I couldn’t find an astringent that was serious enough to rid of the oils and dirt on my face, but gentle enough for my sensitive skin. One day, someone recommended witch hazel. I tried it out and have been using it ever since! It works like a typical astringent, but it is not as harsh on your face. In my area, I can get the store brand for around $2 for a 16oz bottle. Name brands are pricier, around $4-5 for a 16oz. bottle, but in most cases you are just paying for the name brand. Compare ingridients before you invest. There are several different recipes you can find on the internet for DIY facial toners that include witch hazel if you would like to have other ingridients or just something a little more fragrant. You don’t have to only use witch hazel for a facial toner, though – it has many other uses!

– It is often used as a natural treatment for psoriasis and eczema because of its’ gentleness, as well as in medicines for ingrown toenails and hemorrhoids for its’ soothing qualities.

– It can be used like rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide for the treatment of minor cuts, bruises, burns, and insect bites. I actually prefer it now because it does not hurt as much on a fresh wound as the other two!

– It is also recommended to be used for treating wounds and swelling caused by childbirth in women.

3. A good moisturizer

Moisturizers are typically my biggest beauty expense, outside of facial makeup (which lasts me a very long time, so I feel somewhat okay with splurging in that category). I have to get the most boring face lotion on the planet: oil-free, non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, etc. My preferred lotion is Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer for All Skin Types, either in SPF 15 or 50 (depending on availability, the time of year, and how much money I have. The higher SPF is of course more expensive). In my local markets, this usually retails about $13 for the SPF 15, and $15 for the SPF 50. However, it is not too heavy in the summer and not too light in the winter, and it has never given me any sensitive-skin issues. I love it. You also have to consider body moisturizers. Once again, I have to look for non-irritating formulas. I usually look for a little heavier moisturizer for my body (especially my hands) because it does not have the same amount of oil glands as your face does. My favorite is Jergens Ultra Healing Lotion, which you can find in a 21 oz. bottle for $7-8 dollars. Oftentimes, there are coupons for this brand in the Sunday coupons; but I usually see several coupons for other brands if you do not care for this one. Moisturizers have several benefits, so finding one that meets your needs can minimize the need for other facial treatments.

– By keeping the skin hydrated, it will maintain that “glow” for longer. Many people think that adding moisturizer to oily skin is counterproductive, and they skip this step. This is a bad idea. Because your skin is not getting the moisture it needs to protect itself, it goes into oil overproduction and causes your face to look like an oil slick. Look out for a moisturizer that is specially formulated for oily skin, so that your skin gets the moisture it needs without going into overdrive.

– Keeping your hands moisturized (but also your legs, feet, and trunk) can help keep the skin hydrated in the winter or in dry climates. If your skin is dry, it can crack. This type of open wound is generally not taken very seriously and is not cared for properly, which can allow bacteria to form and potentially cause an infection. Using a little moisturizer goes a long way.

– Keeping your skin hydrated will keep you looking longer. Dry skin is one of the leading causes for wrinkles, which can lead to prematurely aging. If you pick a moisturizer that is combined with an SPF, you can do double-duty by protecting your skin against the suns’ damaging rays AND dehydration.

– I like to make my own ‘wet’ foundation, because I use a powder foundation on the rare occaisions that I wear it. By mixing the moisturizer with your powder, you get subtle coverage and your skin will appear dewy and even.

These are just a few of my favorite cheap beauty finds. Any other recommendations?


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