Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beauty on a Budget

These days everyone's looking for ways to save money. I know I am. Because some of my grants ended, my pay from the medical school has gone down 80%: quite a big hit. DH and I were gearing up for it in advance by adjusting our spending as much as we could. Mortgage and college for DD#2 are our big outlays, then utilities, retirement account, and food. We paid off the cars years ago. We never spend much on entertainment; luckily we enjoy things that are pretty much free like drives in the near-by countryside or hikes in our parks.

Still, when I made more money, I used luxury personal items for face, hair, and body. Now I'm using beauty care items that cost so much less yet perform as well or even better than the luxury brands. The savings in this category can free up some cash for a trip to Rhinebeck, a new spindle plus fleece, or a skein of hand-dyed sock yarn. Maybe some of these products will work for you too.
Disclaimer: I bought every item myself; none of the companies mentioned knows I'm recommending these products.

Hair care

Instead of using a salon brand shampoo and conditioner, I find that the Suave Professionals Almond and Shea Butter line works just as well on my color-treated hair for a bargain price (I paid less than $2 a bottle at a discount store Sunday). I like the light fragrance and smooth feeling of both. I get regular trims and never blow-dry, so I don't deep condition my hair (it's not that dry).

For helping put some bounce into my pathetic waves (besides a good cut with layers), I am a convert to Aveeno Nourish+Style Soft-Hold Gel-Crème and Curl-Defining Gel. A dollop of gel-crème worked into my hair, then some spritzes of gel, shape with my hands, and my hair air-dries into starlet-worthy waves like Salma Hayek's (I have a similar hair cut).

The hold lasts all day yet feel soft, not stiff. Price? less than $15 for both. Bonus: I love the nozzle for the spray gel; it directs the stuff where I want it. No more spraying my shower curtain or towel rack.

I have rosacea, so I look for products meant for sensitive skin. I also need a sunblock that doesn't dry my face (no zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for me), and if possible, the sunblock should be moisturizing enough that I don't need to load a layer of moisturizer under it in winter. I've spent big bucks on face products ($50 on little jars that barely lasted a month or so)- this is a category I really wanted to pare down spending so I could feed my fiber habit instead.

I have 2 winners for cleansing, Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser and Aquanil Lotion Cleanser. I've used the Cetaphil for years, it's highly-recommended by most dermatologists. You find Cetaphil everywhere and if you sign up on the website, you can download coupons. Recently I've come under the spell of the parent company (Person & Covey) that makes Aquanil. Right now I like it more than Cetaphil. It feels more moist on my skin. I think I'll go back to Cetaphil during the humid summers and use Aquanil when the furnace is on. It's priced like Cetaphil.

The Person & Covey spell extends to a night cream with a price you cannot beat: DML Forte. Check it out. It has everything I love in a face product: it comes in a tube (I will not buy jars any more, especially since companies are going preservative-free); 4 ounces of it costs $13 full-price (and I usually buy it discounted; more on that later); little discernable fragrance (I'd rather smell like my favorite eau de toilette, thankyouverymuch); it works. Its smooth, creamy texture means it applies like a dream- no drag at all on my skin (if I have to work a cream in, I'll risk rubbing and aggravating the rosacea; been there and done that. Ouch!). I wake up with really soft skin. If the air is exceptionally dry (I'm traveling in the desert say), I'll apply it a second time before bed.

My daily moisturizer has to be my sun protection too. DML Daily Moisturizer SPF25 has the feel of DML Forte plus protection against both UVA and UVB. I'll use it on my face even for a day at the beach or hiking (I always wear a sun hat so it's enough). It's not meant for the body and I don't think it's water-resistant. Like DML Forte, it comes in a tube, costs less than $15 full-price (the tube is smaller at 1.5 ounces), has a similar creamy texture, and has very little fragrance. Bonus: it's a pretty good makeup base or primer.

Want to know how I found Person and Covey? Dermatologists in Los Angeles swear by this stuff. My parents' derm gave them a bag of samples of these things, and I tried a few while visiting them. I was hooked. Now you can find this stuff everywhere in LA, but in NJ no one sells it. However, I found that Skinwest carries Person and Covey products, and get this: Skinwest discounts the prices and throws in free shipping on orders over $24.99. Easy enough to reach that minimum.


I used to be a lip-balm junkie. I'm still an addict, in that I cannot abide not having something coating my lips. I think it began years ago, when I learned to play flute as a wee lass. Chapped lips and a woodwind instrument do not mix, you see. It started with Chapstick, went on to Bonne Belle, then Yardley Lip Slickers, and the rest is history. Often I wear a sheer lipstick or some lipgloss, but for times when I don't want to bother, I reach for lip balm. I've tried some pretty posh ones, with sourced cocoa butter and organic mint, beeswax, and all sorts of au courant pedigreed ingredients. I always come back to Blistex DCT (it's an initial kind of day I guess). I use this day or night. It has SPF20, aloe, cocoa and shea butters, plus a bit of menthol (I like that in a lip balm), and staying power: apply before bed and wake up with smooth lips. You find this everywhere for less than $2 a tub. I'm not thrilled with the tub packaging but I go through tubs so fast, I figure it must be OK. Plus menthol has antiseptic properties.

Hands and Body and the Rest of Oneself

One winning product here: Lubriderm with shea and cocoa butters. Not greasy, good for cuticles too, little fragrance, and 16 oz goes for $6.99 full price but the Lubriderm site always seems to have dollar off coupons when I check it. Everyone in the Knitter family uses it and note that we wash hands a lot due to our occupations as lab scientists, vet nurse, and pre-med student. Note: The packaging just changed so you might find old style as well as new style bottles in your store.

I haven't figured out my actual savings since switching to these products from the luxury brands I used to use; I estimate I'm saving at least 75% on what I used to spend for face and hair care. Even saving $30 a month is enough to keep me supplied with yarn, books/patterns, and now roving or fleece. And the occasional luxury product!


fleegle said...

I hear you. Unfortunately :) I'm afraid we are down to Wal-Mart on-sale shampoo. I use cold-pressed jojoba oil for almost everything else. Really dry skin gets Glue Goo Cracked Heel Skin Softener, both of which my cat adores, so we both win :)

Experimental Knitter said...

Funny, DD#1's collie likes whatever cream I use on my feet! I tried VO5 shampoo and conditioner when they were 66 cents at the market, but my hair didn't like them. Also tried Suave's cheaper version of the Lubriderm; neither DH nor I liked it much. DH uses Suave shampoo (99 cents for a 16 oz bottle).

Donna Lee said...

I have been using Jergen's lotion for years and years. It's not expensive and if used every day, my skin stays soft even in the dry winter air. I color my own hair and get frequent cuts. I think most any shampoo is ok as long as I have a good working conditioner.

I'm a Chapstick junkie. And I've used Noxema to wash my face for over 40 years. It's kept my skin soft and clear and no one believes me when I tell them I'm almost 53.
There are some products that are all hype but some are worth the money for their performance (and I usually use less of them so they last a long time).

I think we all need to cut our budgets.