Save a Buck
Who doesn’t want to save a buck on beauty products and services when given the chance? Keeping up appearances, after all, can add up quickly -- a 2008 YWCA research paper found women in the U.S. spend about $7 billion annually on cosmetics alone. And over the course of a woman’s lifetime, a Newsweek/DailyBeast report estimated the total bill for “cosmetic maintenance” can reach a staggering $450,000. Figuring out where to cut corners (and costs) can be tricky, as anyone who’s ever had to pay a stylist to fix an at-home hair disaster can tell you. But not every beauty boost requires a professional touch. We’ve talked to experts to identify six beauty tricks and treatments you can do yourself, and what you should leave to the professionals.
DIY: Trim your own bangs
Having Zooey Deschanel-like bangs are great and all, but the constant trips to the salon to keep them trimmed can be costly. Try embracing the concept of snipping your own bangs with these simple steps tried out first-hand by blogger Ann Hepburn at Shopping Detox, a site that runs through her quest to be frugal for 365 days to get out of debt:
1. Start with dry hair. Wet tresses hang down longer and distort your perspective of how much to take off. Tie the rest back into a ponytail.
2. If you’re just trimming, use nail scissors. Don’t even dare using anything but true hair scissors if you’re cutting substantially more than ¼” inch.
3. Use a comb to press bangs to your forehead.
4. Starting from the middle of your hairline, hold your scissors vertically to make tiny snips in one direction toward your ear. Start in the middle again when you do the other side.
5. Put the $20 you saved from skipping the salon into your high-yield savings account.
Leave to the pros: Cutting your own hair into a new style
Bangs are one thing. For anything more sophisticated, leave the snipping to a professional hair stylist.
DIY: Deep hair treatment
Maintaining bouncy, beautiful hair starts with well-nourished tresses. But getting that shine with a hair-conditioning treatment at a salon can cost upwards of $80. Instead, try this at-home recipe created by Vanessa Roberts at Top Beauty Brands once a week. Bonus: What you don’t use on your head you can use in a dinner salad.
Make sure you have slightly damp hair before you start applying the mixture.
1. Smash up one soft ripe avocado, which adds oil to dried-out strands.
2. Then, add one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, which brings out the shine by stripping away hair-product buildup.
3. Toss in one teaspoon of sea salt (not table salt), which helps create definition to your locks.
4. Mix well with one tablespoon of aloe juice, which strengthens locks and reduces breakage.
5. Rub the paste into hair and leave on for 30 minutes. Rinse.
Leave to the pros: Straightening or relaxing treatments
Any treatment that promises months-long results and involves terms like “thermal reconditioning” or “keratin straightening” are generally best left to the pros. (Though there are some milder at-home keratin treatments available.)
DIY: Get-a-glow facial
Here’s another reason to love Greek yogurt. It isn’t just a satisfyingly rich, low-calorie snack. You can actually apply it to your face as the main ingredient in a facial masque, according to the makers of Stoneyfield organic yogurt. The lactic acid found naturally in the dairy aisle is also an alpha-hydroxy acid, the main ingredient in many store-bought skin-rejuvenating creams.
1. You can apply Greek yogurt alone on your face. Or, add one tablespoon of honey for every two tablespoons of plain, full-fat yogurt you apply. The honey helps keep moisture in while the acids smooth out fine lines and even out your skin tone.
2. Leave on for 10 minutes then rinse off with lukewarm water.
Leave to the pros: Deep-wrinkle treatments
Alas, no over-the-counter product will ever turn back the clock quite as well as a treatment like botox or Thermage performed by a board-certified dermatologist.
DIY: Depuff your eyes
Retail eye creams can run upwards of $100 for a 1-ounce tub. While effective, they may not necessarily deserve a second glance. According to Dr. Debra Jaliman, dermatologist and author of "Skin Rules", green tea bags may just as easily do the trick. Caffeine from the leaves constrict blood vessels and reduces inflammation.
1. Microwave two green tea bags in a cup of water for two minutes.
2. Let the bags cool then apply to closed eyes for 15 minutes.
Leave to the pros: Eye lift
You may have seen those infomercials for products that promise to give you the look of an eye lift, but if you’re looking for an extreme change like blepharoplasty, call your doctor.
DIY: Kissable lips
A dewy pout starts with a sheer lip-gloss that moisturizes while it shines. However, they can cost upwards of $30 at your favorite beauty boutique. Make this gloss at home crafted by Jill Dubien and you have an all-natural alternative that will have you smiling all the way to the bank.
1. Fill an empty travel-sized plastic pill box or similar container with Vaseline.
2. Add a dash of honey to moisturize.
3. Mix in a few shavings of your favorite full-color lipstick. Others swear by a few sprinkles of powdered cherry-flavored Kool-Aid. (If you go this route, skip the honey and heat up the drink mix and petroleum jelly in a saucepan to melt the crystals.)
4. Pop the mixture into the refrigerator to solidify and cool down before applying.
Leave to the pros: Lip puffers
There are a lot of beauty products that claim to give you a plumper pout, but if you’re seeking more than temporary results, doctors offer lip augmentation injections. The downside: beware of fish lips.
DIY: Soften your footsies
Log onto Pinterest if you want inspiration for homemade foot scrubs. From coconut and lime to peppermint and pumpkin pie, the contents of your refrigerator are almost one big foot fetish waiting to happen. A standout is this one using tequila by The Beauty Bean. Who knew your liquor cabinet could double as a beauty spa?
1. Mix ½ cup tequila with ½ cup lime juice, two cups seltzer and six mulled mint leaves in a medium-sized under-bed plastic container.
2. Soak your tired tootsies in the liquid for 20 minutes.
3. Add one cup of granulated sugar to mix and scrub your feet and lower legs to buff away dead skin.
4. Rinse in cool water.
Leave to the pros: A foot massage
Or, leave it to your significant other. Bottom line: giving a foot massage to yourself is never as satisfying as one performed on you by another set of hands.
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