Sunday, January 11, 2009

Good Stuff Cheap

Might as well start with the basics. I hate to pay lots of money for beauty products, partly because I'm cheap, partly because I'm poor, and partly because for many years I didn't have to pay full price for anything except mascara (too many swollen eyes resulting from cheap mascara. Great Lash was one of the worst. So much for the most popular mascara in the world). I got all my products wholesale. I've let my cosmetology license lapse, so for the last couple of years, I've had to resort to my savant like ability to sniff out a bargain.

Smith's Rosebud Salve is my favorite new product. I put it on my hands every night before I go to bed. It's also a nice lip balm, and it heals small cuts and burns. I put it on my upper lip immediately after waxing, and massage it into my nails to keep them flexible. It also calms small amounts of the frizzies. You only need the tiniest bit for most uses. I've had mine since last March, and the surface was barely cracked until someone in my house discovered it.

It's apparently difficult to find in stores, but is very easy to find on line. It generally costs anywhere from $4.99 - $6.00. I just ordered several tins from drugstore. com for $5.59/tin, with no tax and free shipping. Sephora has it for $6.00, but they send lots of samples too. However, they only provide free shipping for orders over $75.00.

I found Cream of Nature hair color at Big Lots. It's $3.00 a box there, but even the price at is pretty cheap - $6.99, a few bucks less than what you pay for most drugstore hair colors.

I realize it seems weird that an Irish/Italian girl who's whiter than the Queen would use hair color marketed to women of color, but I like a lot of pigment in the hair color I use. It's nigh unto impossible for me to find hair color at the retail level with a high enough pigment content to make me happy. Cream of Nature comes very close. The colors are intense, and the reds don't get brassy when they fade. The only complaint I have is, instead of including one of those heavier than hell conditioners that most hair color provides, it includes a conditioning shampoo. It's nice, but any woman who buys hair color at the drug store knows how valuable those conditioners are; also that you shouldn't use the entire tube in one shot. That's even too much for my hair, which I pretend is like Kim Basinger's circa 9 1/2 Weeks, but is probably closer to Janis Joplin's after a concert.

CVS' version of Neutrogena's Alcohol Free Toner. I'm generally skeptical of drugstore brands, but there is absolutely no difference between Neutrogena's toner and CVS', except the difference in price. I was paying $7.99 for Neutrogena's toner at the store; the CVS version is $5.59. A nice, cheap alcohol-free toner is a necessity for me. Besides its normal use - applying after face washing and before applying moisturizer - it's also good for calming irritated skin, a mid-day freshening, and removing a light layer of make-up (although washing your face again is the best way to go). I use only alcohol free because there's no reason to put alcohol on your skin. If your skin is dry, it will just dry it out more. If it's oily, it will over-activate your sebaceous glands, making your skin more oily.
If you want to go even cheaper, witch hazel is great.

Dep styling gels. I know, they're totally 1960s, for those of you who are old like I am. I picked up a sample size (2 oz.) of the Dep Endurance Intense Hold gel for $1 at CVS, and, as you can see, even the full sized containers are really cheap. The Intense Hold works as well as the Rusk gel I used to use, and treated like gold. They both give me hair that's as close to Kim Basinger's as I'll ever get.

Speaking of Big Lots, which I was a moment ago, it's the place to go for good stuff cheap (just in case there's anyone here who doesn't know that). Like most clearing houses for overstocked products, it's full of crappy stuff, so you have to devote some time and be willing to dig. But I've gotten everything from Mitchum's Smart Solid Antiperspirant for $2.00 to Johnson's Baby Wash for $1.00 (nice for bathing and for washing your face). Forget Target. Big Lots rocks.


  1. Big Lots! is AWESOME. Thanks for the tips!

    Right now I'm mourning the fact that Jason has stopped making the only moisturizer I've ever put on my face that doesn't irritate my skin-- their Natural NaPCA Hand & Body Lotion (it's not even intended as a face cream). I bought 10 tubes about a year ago, and I'm down to my last three. What do you recommend I try when those run out?

    P.S. Referencing Dep styling gels doesn't make you old; referencing Dippity-Do would make you old... not that I remember Dippity-Do or anything.

  2. Aunt Jenny, you need to try Boots products. I have very sensitive skin and theirs have never irritated mine nor caused breakouts. They do not test on animals and are reasonably priced. sells Boots and the Botanics line is very nice. Also Boots No. 7 is an excellent line, but more higher priced. No. 7 is their top shelf line, but still reasonable (as compared to Lancome and the like) at $15 - $25.

  3. Aunt Jenny, I've never used moisturizer on a regular basis, but I usually have some around. I've been using Neutrogena's Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer. I can't put it under "Good Stuff Cheap", because it costs around $15. But, like any moisturizer, you only need a little, so it should last a long time.

    If there is an Aveda store or school in your area, you can pick up a sample size of any of their moisturizers for under $10. Theirs are really good, and a sample size will last a while. I think they're about 2 oz. I had mine for a couple years, until it was knocked off the counter. Such is the risk of the glass bottle.

  4. I'm not generally much on moisturizer as a religion, either, but after a shower or just washing my face, it was feeling dry and papery (starting in my early 30s), so I looked into hydrating goo and discovered that EVERYTHING, high- and low-end, made my skin red and itchy, even if it was labeled "hypoallergenic" or "dermatologist approved."

    I love and use Neutrogena shower gel (and body oil in the winter-- man, that stuff smells good!), so I'll check out the Healthy Defense, as well as the Aveda.

    And I'm long overdue for a Target trip, so I'll sniff around the Boots line as well, GB.

    Thanks, for the ideas, babies!

  5. Hey, I'm not a girl, but I'd love it if you could somehow come up with a post about how stuff smells. Smell is really important to me: so much so that I usually look for stuff that doesn't smell, because most stuff that does I don't like. Or maybe that's because I'm just a big whiney straight man. :)

    Stuff I do like the smell of:

    (1) Anything that's scented with straight bergamot. Who knows: maybe I like to subdue people.

    (2) This after-shave, which one used to be able to find in lots of places, but now seems to have suffered some sort of Stalinist purge.

    But really I just don't like smearing chemicals all over myself, which is probably why my hands are all cracked and bleeding. I look like a leper right now. I don't know how you girls do it. At least I'm a leper with wild, awesome hair. ;)

  6. A post on how stuff smells is on my list. Great minds run in circles, or something like that.