15 Cheap and Free Fixes to Common Beauty Problems


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Woman taking care of her skin after a shower
Photo credit: PeopleImages/istockphoto


Cosmetics and beauty items can cost thousands of dollars a year (even the ones you buy at a discount from Costco) if you're not paying attention. We combed through some beauty industry experts' swaps and hacks to streamline the glam routine on a budget Being dollar savvy is easy, and you won't be shortchanging your grooming game with these brilliant and inexpensive beauty hacks.
Woman applying lotion to her heel
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One brand of skin-smoothing foot socks is offered by beauty retailer Sephora for around $5. But you can easily recreate this for pennies using items likely already inside your home. Slide plain gallon-size plastic bags -- even ones with the slider tops -- over your feet after you've coated them in a thick layer of moisturizer, coconut, olive or avocado oil. Gently secure the bag with an old knee-high hosiery. Your body heat acts as the catalyst to get moisture to penetrate thick layers of skin on the heels, around the toes, and the soles. Do it once a week in the winter and twice or more in the summer when exposed heels need the intense TLC.
Homemade exfoliant scrub
Photo credit: robertprzybysz/istockphoto


Some facial exfoliants cost over $100, but it's possible to get smooth facial skin for less. Use a small dish and add two tablespoons of coconut oil and two tablespoons of sugar, then stir to combine. Gently massage the scrub on clean, wet skin and scrub in gentle circular motions for about 60 seconds. Rinse thoroughly. Use the same 2:2 ratio to create a dry skin treatment using oatmeal and honey, and use a similar ratio of plain yogurt and coffee grounds for oily skin. The caffeine in the coffee grounds has antioxidants that help increase circulation. Leave on these skin-soothing masks for five minutes.
Woman applying moisturizer to her face
Photo credit: Ridofranz/istockphoto


Ready-made tinted moisturizers can cost about $7 and up, even at the bargain drugstores. Have an extra bottle of foundation? Use a fresh plastic or glass travel bottle and make a 1:2 ratio of your face foundation mixed with an SPF daytime moisturizer. Cap and shake up until blended thoroughly. Shake before each use. You will have the right amount of product for a trip or for a few weeks at least. This is a great way to get that finished sheer and natural look without the weight of regular foundation.
Closeup of woman's eye with cat eye makeup
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Surprisingly, cat eye stencils can cost over $20 for a set. Instead, use Scotch Magic Tape you have on hand at home and create your own stencil. The best part about this hack is you can adjust the look from demure to dramatic.
Woman spraying facial mist on her face
Photo credit: Evgeniy Skripnichenko/istockphoto


Facial mists and makeup setting sprays can be pricey, costing from $7 to $100 or more. To make an effective mist at home, add three ounces of rose water, two teaspoons witch hazel, four teaspoons of vegetable glycerin, and an optional 1/2 teaspoon of tea tree oil to a travel-sized atomizer. Always shake well before using. Because there are no preservatives, refrigerate when not in use and use up within a week.
Woman applying mascara
Photo credit: PeopleImages/istockphoto


False eyelashes can be expensive, especially when applied in a salon. Brand-name mascaras found at beauty retailers can cost as much as $45 or more. Try a celebrity makeup artist trick to create the look for less. Dip the spoolie into loose powder and brush along lashes and apply mascara. This bulks up the lash with basic mascara.
Woman showing her hair highlights
Photo credit: SanneBerg/istockphoto


Highlights take time and can run upwards of $200, but there's an easy way to get a just few key highlights around your face or at the crown using an old toothbrush and Jolen Creme Bleach (around $6). Mix the bleach according to directions, then apply to a small tuft of hair where you want the highlight. Leave it on until the hair color begins to lift. Wet hair looks darker than dry hair, so be sure to remove the cream to check the lightening progress.
Honeycomb and honey in a jar
Photo credit: Tolimir/istockphoto


Raw honey is not only soothing, but can disinfect skin. Even better, raw honey is full of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and natural enzymes that work on the skin from the outside in. Honey also attracts and retains moisture, and it is a great emergency antiseptic and antibacterial solution to spot treat an inflamed acne eruption or minor surface skin burn. Use a clean Q-Tip to apply directly on affected skin.
Mixture of avocado and honey for a hair or face mask
Photo credit: mofles/istockphoto


A ripe avocado mashed up with a two tablespoons olive oil and two tablespoons of honey creates a deeply hydrating mask for the hair. Very expensive hair treatments use these same oils, do it yourself and save. The secret is to getting the most out of this mask for the hair is heat. Apply the mask to damp hair, wrap it up in a plastic shower cap, then use a blow dryer on low or natural sunshine for about 30-45 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and wash and condition hair normally.
Package of Kool-Aid drink mix
Photo credit: NoDerog/istockphoto


Who knew the powdered drink mix Kool-Aid could be so versatile? Kool-Aid powder can be applied by finger directly to your moistened lips as a stain. Cherry flavor makes an orange-hued red. Tropical Punch flavor nets a true, bright red. Peach Mango delivers a pure pop of peach, and Pink Lemonade makes a Barbie-bright pink. Use a lip brush or Q-Tip to smooth your edges and finish with a lip pencil and some clear gloss.
Three bath bombs
Photo credit: IrinaBort/istockphoto


Paying upwards of $10 a "bomb" is not good clean fun. Purchase bath bomb molds from Amazon ($8) or use a metal half-cup measure instead. To make four bombs, use 1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup citric acid, 1/2 cup epsom salt, 1/2 cup cornstarch, optional coloring pigment plus 2 1/2 tablespoons almond oil (or liquid coconut oil), 3/4 tablespoon water and 12-15 drops of your favorite essential oil. Mix dry ingredients (and coloring) first, then slowly add wet ingredients before molding. Fill half of each mold until it's heaped but not overflowing. Then, press together for one minute. Pull apart and let dry overnight.
Woman applying eye cream
Photo credit: emreogan/istockphoto


Instead of dropping $20 at the drugstore, try this eye cream recipe. Gather 4 teaspoons avocado oil, 2 teaspoons calendula oil, 2 teaspoons rosehip oil, ½ teaspoon cornstarch or corn flour (the white one) and 2 teaspoons melted beeswax plus 1 vitamin E capsule and 3 drops lemon essential oil. Gently whisk the ingredients (except for vitamin E and essential oil) in a double boiler or a stainless steel bowl until melted. Take off the heat and off the water. Stir in essential oil and vitamin E. Pour into little sterile jars and place the lids on once the cream is set and has cooled down.
Woman rinsing her mouth
Photo credit: PeopleImages/istockphoto


Take one capful of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and swish in your mouth for about 5-10 minutes daily, then spit it out. Not only will this heal any canker sores, your teeth will be whiter without expensive whitening strips or pastes. Use it instead of mouthwash, too. Also use peroxide to soak toothbrushes (or toothbrush heads) weekly for a half-hour to keep them germ-free.
Bragg's apple cider vinegar
Photo credit: dlinca/istockphoto


Dandruff and a scalp loaded down with product residue can suffocate hair follicles. Hair rinses and treatments are costly, so instead try apple cider vinegar. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water. After you shampoo, pour the vinegar mix over wet hair in the shower and rinse thoroughly. Condition your hair as normal.
Coconut oil next to fresh cut coconut
Photo credit: fcafotodigital/istockphoto


Coconut oil is used as moisturizer, in recipes for toothpaste, and as a lip balm. It's also a natural deodorant, makeup remover, hair conditioner, shaving cream, and an ingredient in sunburn remedies. Buy fractionated (liquid) coconut oil for the face and body at any drugstore. It replaces expensive cleansers, makeup removers, and moisturizers by serving as all three functions.

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