Reader Suggestions: Beauty Routines Of The Frugal And Fabulous

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Today, I’ve gathered sage advice from Frugalwoods readers about frugal beauty routines because I’ve always been stumped by beauty routines. When I turned thirteen, I felt like I should do something to my body in the area of beauty routines using beauty products. What that was exactly remained a mystery. I was overwhelmed by the beauty section at Walmart, which was the only store we went to that sold such things. It was off in a corner behind the pharmacy, and it smelled of womanly things. Floral, heady, foreign.

Natural beauty: peonies in our garden

I’d wander those aisles while my parents bought toothpaste and toilet paper. I’d read the labels on body spray, trying to discern if you were supposed to spray it on your body during or after showering. Because then there was also body wash and body lotion. Did these all work in concert? Or were you supposed to use just one of them? Makeup represented the ultimate mystery.

My mom showed me how to apply it, using her stash, but I thought it made me look orange. I settled on a routine of vanilla-flavored lip smackers (glorified chapstick) and vanilla-scented hand lotion.

Welcome to my monthly Reader Suggestions feature! Every month I post a question to our Frugalwoods Facebook group and share the best responses here. The questions are topics I’ve received multiple queries on and my hope is that by leveraging the braintrust of Frugalwoods nation, you’ll find helpful advice and insight. Join the Frugalwoods Facebook group to participate in next month’s Reader Suggestions!

My Former Makeup Routine

I progressed to wearing makeup in high school and college and by the time I started my first real person job, I wore a full court press every single day. I didn’t leave the house without:

  • Sunscreen moisturizer
  • Foundation/cover-up
  • Blush
  • Powder
  • Eye liner
  • Eye shadow
  • Mascara
  • Lip balm
  • Lipstick
  • Perfume
  • Manicure (DIY)
  • Pedicure (also DIY)
  • Hairspray

Wow. At the time, this didn’t seem excessive. It felt normal and it was what I needed in order to feel beautiful and confident. In retrospect, this list looks lengthy, expensive, and terrible for the environment. I shudder to think how much time I spent primping myself every morning. Actually, I have a pretty good idea of how much time this routine gobbled because once I stopped doing it, I had enough time to start Frugalwoods.

I am Pro-Beauty and Anti-Marketing

Me in full makeup (and pregnant w/Kidwoods!) back when Mr. FW and I were on The Today Show

I am not anti-makeup. I am not anti-beauty. What I am anti- is the mindset that I used to have. I thought I NEEDED all of those products. I thought I HAD TO wear all of that in order to look presentable, professional, and beautiful. I did not like how I looked naturally. I was embarrassed when someone popped over to my house and I wasn’t in full makeup. This was a limiting, self-defeating way to live.

Beauty advertisements are designed to make us feel horrible about ourselves. They plant the idea that things are wrong with how we look, no matter what we look like. Don’t fall victim to this. It’s fake news. I have an entire treatise if you’re interested in delving into this topic: Less Makeup, More Confidence: My Frugal Beauty Manifesto.

Five years ago, my decision to live more frugally prompted a lot of self-reflection. Frugality isn’t just about saving money. It’s about examining every aspect of your life with an eye toward simplifying in order to generate deeper fulfillment. At least, that’s what it is for me. I realized I was using makeup as a crutch to bolster my self-esteem and mitigate my anxiety. And it didn’t do a very good job of either. Makeup was covering up my insecurities about who I am and what I’m capable of.

Since it was so ingrained in my sense of self, I couldn’t give up makeup proactively. I clung to it, I relied on it. So, I stopped wearing it when it ran out. I used up most of the makeup I had (including a weird backlog of free samples and stuff my mom and sister didn’t want) and when it was gone, I didn’t buy more. I go into greater detail about this in my book, but the gist is that I eliminated one product at a time until all that was left was sunscreen and mascara. Eventually, I let the mascara go too. The sunscreen remains.

I still put on my full-court press for things like weddings, speaking engagements, television interviews, and headshot photos. But I don’t feel compelled to wear it every day or every week or even every month. It’s liberating to leave the house without all this stuff on and, most importantly, to feel confident about it.

Kinda old and kinda tired: how I roll

I think I look better (and less like an exhausted mom) with eyeliner and mascara, but I don’t bother with those most days. I usually wear them to church–that being my one “fancy” outing per week–and on our monthly date night (although Mr. FW prefers my face makeup-less). I used to wear lipstick to date nights, but realized the texture was interfering with the enjoyment of my cocktail/beer/glass of wine, so I stopped.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and think I look kind of old and tired, but that’s because I am kind of old and tired. Ultimately, I just don’t care. I’m confident about who I am and what I look like. I’m proud of the work I do. I’m proud of my children. I love my husband and am loved by him. I am appreciated by my friends and I appreciate them. I’m also being treated for postpartum depression and anxiety, which I’m come to realize used to impact my self-esteem. I suffered from an undercurrent of anxiety for probably a decade or more and, now that it’s under control with medication, many of my self-doubts have vanished. It’s a nice way to live. It’s a liberating way to live.

It’s also important to me that I set an example of positive body image for my two daughters. I don’t want them to grow up thinking I’m displeased with my body and that they too should seek out flaws in their appearances. I want to model confidence and happiness with how I look naturally. Children learn through example and imitation. The words I use to describe my appearance are the words they’ll carry with them and are very likely the words they’ll later use to describe their appearances. I want them to say things like “I am strong! I am happy! I love my hair! My skin looks nice!” (these are all things I say about myself, which sound ridiculous when written down for an adult audience, but which sound perfectly natural when said within earshot of my three-year-old and one-year-old).

Mrs. Frugalwoods’ Beauty Regime and Products

Natural beauty + a gigantic bow

Let me finally wend my way around to the topic at hand: my beauty regime. I get asked this question a lot. ALLL the time. You all want to know what products I use and what routines I follow and I’m always like, uh, hmmm…. what DO I do?

That sense of thirteen-year-old overwhelm in the Walmart beauty section rears back and I’m besotted with incompetence. Beauty products are a serious blindspot for me. I lack the interest/knowledge/fortitude to make my own or even really research them. So…. what I’m hoping is that you all will steer me right today. But since you asked, here’s the rundown of what I do and what I use.

Note: I buy these products wherever I find the best price, which is either at Amazon, Walmart, or BJ’s. I’ll try to note which store below.

Face:

  • Daytime: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant and Non-Greasy Sunscreen Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF 45 (affiliate link, bought on Amazon). This isn’t cheap, but I like it because it’s not greasy, it’s unscented, and it has a high SPF. If you can recommend a cheaper option that’ll meet those requirements, please tell me in the comments section!!!
  • Nighttime: Walmart’s Equate brand generic knock-off of Cetaphil’s moisturizing cream (affiliate link, bought at Walmart). This is super duper cheap and has the same ingredients as the Cetaphil brand. It’s unscented, gentle, and moisturizing.
  • Face wash: Walmart’s Equate brand generic knock-off of Cetaphil’s gentle face wash, which is fragrance-free, gentle, cleansing, and cheap (affiliate link, bought at Walmart).

Body:

  • Soap: Lever 2000 bar of soap. This is one of the cheapest soaps sold by BJ’s and we buy it in bulk. Extra bonus when it’s on coupon! Nothing fancy, but gets the job done. I’ve used sooooooo many different fancy body washes and scrubs and loofahs over the years and my skin seems to come out exactly the same with cheap old Lever 2000. The scent isn’t too strong (although I could do with even less). We tried a cheaper soap awhile back, but the fragrance was too intense.
  • Lotion: I put lotion on my entire body as soon as I get out of the shower (a tip I got from a Frugalwoods reader a few years back). I use whatever gentle, fragrance-free lotion is on sale at either BJ’s or Walmart: CeraVe, Cetaphil, Vasoline, etc. This keeps my skin happy and not dry or itchy.
  • Deodorant: Suave, which is the cheapest deodorant at Walmart and which doesn’t have too strong a fragrance. I’m considering switching to a crystal deodorant (even cheaper and no fragrance) after reading all ya’ll’s ringing endorsements of them (affiliate link). I’ll keep you posted. Mr. FW and I tried the Tom’s Of Maine natural deodorant a few years back and we both hated it because it didn’t keep us non-stinky and it burned my sensitive armpit skin! Double fail.

Hair:

Razor:

  • After making the (not at all surprising) discovery that Mr. FW’s razors were both cheaper and worked better than my lady razors, I switched over to his brand (the Gillette Fusion). In all honestly, I don’t shave very often, which means my hair doesn’t grow very quickly. I used to shave every other day and my hair grew like a rocket. Now, it barely grows in a week’s time.
  • I also used to use horrible-smelling hair removers and waxes that gave me terrible rashes and chemical burns. I stopped that and now just use a fresh razor blade for any unwanted hair. Easier, cheaper, less smelly, better for the environment, rash-free, and faster. Wins all around.

Eyebrows:

  • I tweeze my robust, thick, dark Italian eyebrows with a tweezers. Then, I trim them with a nail scissors. I think I’d have a unibrow if I didn’t do this. The key with doing your own eyebrows is figuring out the line you want and then simply maintaining it. I pluck a few hairs every few days, which takes about 1 minute, and keeps the line of my eyebrows where I want it. People without thick eyebrows think this sounds crazy, but people with thick eyebrows understand where I’m coming from. For some reason, my eyebrows want to take over my face. Pretty sure they have a Napoleon complex.
  • Same goes for any other untoward hairs (chin, etc): I tweeze with regularity. Takes about 30 seconds, is free, and doesn’t involve complicated, messy hair removers or an appointment at the salon.

If you’re wondering what we products we use on our kids, check out this post: How I Saved Tons Of Money During My Baby’s First Year

Let me add my standard disclaimer: what I choose to do isn’t “right” or “best” or “most correct.” You might do something completely different and that is 100% fine. We can still be buddies. I’m not here to make clones of myself. That’d be equal parts creepy and boring. The goal of Frugalwoods is to encourage each of us to examine our lives and our decisions to determine if we’re happy with what we’re doing. To determine if we’re conscious of how we’re spending our money. To determine if we’re choosing to do things/buy things because WE want to or because we feel we SHOULD do them as a result of pressure from society/marketing/the media. You do you. I’ll do me. We’ll both be happier.

Without any further ado, let’s see what advice you all offered up this month!

Beauty Routines Of The Frugal and Fabulous

I attempted to divide your advice into categories although, as you’ll see, most readers cover a range of topics in their responses.

Hair

Very little hair and we don’t care

Claire wrote, “For decades I washed my hair daily and after every workout because my hair seemed super oily. A friend suggested that my scalp might overproduce oils BECAUSE I washed so frequently. So, I “trained” my hair to go longer between washes and now only wash it 2-3 times/week. I still shower most days and after workouts, but I skip washing my hair. (After particularly sweaty workouts, I’ll wet and message my scalp in the shower then style it afterwards as if I washed it.) Not only has this cut my shampoo/conditioner spending in half, it also takes less time in the morning. I’m not going to retire on this hack, but by doing it, I learned that I was really letting “perfection” be the enemy of “good” (though my hair was and never will look perfect) and this lesson will stick with me much longer!”

Erin says, “Wash long hair once a week – it saves money on shampoo and conditioner. Now my hair is used to weekly washing.”

Sheri wrote, “I color my hair (myself…go DIY!). While I have been told for years that I need fancy (i.e. pricey) shampoos and conditioners to preserve my color, I’ve found that good old, affordable Suave products work great!”

Robin said, “LOVE Dr. Bronners! I use their bar soap for my hair, as it works better with hard water. I also dilute the hand soap!”

Melissa wrote, “I embraced my curls about a year ago and it’s made a huge difference. I wash my hair less and co-wash (conditioner wash) the days I don’t wash. I leave my hair curly with minimal product and it looks so healthy! I have to get it thinned out because it got super thick once I wasn’t flat ironing it every day.

Otherwise we use bar soap and wash cloths. I don’t wear makeup because I just don’t. I moisturize my body most days and my hands most nights before bed. I do buy decent store brand sunscreen for the summer and I use a facial moisturizer with sunscreen on my face year round. I’m also not brand loyal so whatever is on sale works well enough.

Oh, and when Rite Aide went out of business up the street I stocked up last year. I think I’m finally finishing up all the expensive products I bought at 80% off. 😉”

Daffodils know where it’s at

Erin suggests, “Bar soap and a loofah rather than body wash! Even great quality bar soap is so affordable and with a loofah one bar lasts forever for me. Wish I’d switched sooner to save the $$ and plastic waste from bottles of bodywash. 🤦‍♀️Also, shhh, I only wash my hair a couple times a week–happier hair and I guess that’s frugal too. And diy haircuts (I use variations on the ponytail method) but you’ve written all about that already. Side benefit for me is no forced smalltalk with the hairdresser, however nice they are. My hands get really dry, so every so often I use socks as mittens for an overnight hand moisturizing treatment–coconut oil or whatever rich moisturizer.”

Carolanne uses, “Solid shampoo/conditioner from Lush. Costs around £7 ($ 9) – lasts me for a year. ( I have short hair)”

Sarah shared, “I get my hair cut at the Aveda School in my city. Yes, it takes longer, but because the work is performed by students, the cut is much more affordable (a student wash and cut costs me $16 and the hair lightening $75 – $100). I get it lightened once a year at the school as well. Not necessary, but It is a little annual treat for myself.”

Deodorant

Cortney wrote, “I use this deodorant, and it lasts forever! I got the two pack almost a year ago and haven’t broken into the second one yet! Deodorant Stones of America: Thai Crystal Deodorant (affiliate link).”

Rebecca likes, “coconut oil for hair and skin. crystal deodorant lasts forever and works well!”

Stephanie shared, “I’ve recently switched to crystal deodorant. I use grapeseed oil for moisturizer. Occasionally I need a face scrub and use a tiny bit of baking soda in water.”

Cecelia wrote, “I use Dr Bonner’s tea tree on my face (it really helped through teenage acne). I also use cheap conditioner as shaving cream. Buying organic shampoo/conditioner in bulk helps keep costs down. I’ve tried many low cost/homemade deodorants but I am extremely sensitive and use old spice men’s. Always check men’s razors and deodorant, the pink tax is a real thing!”

Skin

Zachariah shared, “I recently went vegetarian and my skin has drastically changed. My pores feel tighter and it feels fresher and more luminous. And it saves me money.”

Sunflowers in the garden

Nancy loves the, “Basis sensitive skin bar. I buy it at a discount store for less than $2 a bar and it lasts a long time – I use less than 3 bars a year. It doesn’t irritate or dry out my skin. Gold Bond healing lotion works winter and summer as an all over body lotion at a great price. The best buy is the large pump size.”

Kathleen wrote, “I don’t have much of a beauty routine, but with fairer hair I have always used sunscreen and I have always chosen those made for children. I have found that I get a higher SPF for a more reasonable cost.”

Barb said, “I now swear by Target’s bath stuff. Their face wash and shower gel are awesome, and only $2 each. Great price, smells good, gets the job done without frills. I make my own sugar scrubs at home, they’re exfoliating and moisturizing! Roughly 2 parts sugar to 1 part mineral oil (odorless), and a drop or two of food coloring and a few drops of essential oil. Mix up and store in a container like tupperware. If you find it’s too oily add more sugar! Try to avoid getting it wet in the shower (keep it outside and use a spoon to scoop out whatever you need). Rub till the sugar dissolves for exfoliating action; keep rubbing in the oil for moisturizer. No need for lotion when you’re out of the shower!”

Rosalie said, “I’m pretty particular about using gentle and less-toxic products so this is an area where we are somewhat spendy. But my wife and I both shower every other day and go pretty sparingly in using shampoo/conditioner/soap/other products, so they do last quite a while. I recently got into trying a bit harder on skin care (aging + it’s a nice form of self-care as a tired and harried mom) and bought a few things from The Ordinary, which is extremely cheap for advanced skincare stuff, and terrific. We buy most of our household items through Amazon subscribe & save, which helps a lot. (Products I use pretty much daily: Yes to Carrots shampoo & conditioner, Method bodywash, Native deodorant, Cerave facewash, Trader Joe’s oil cleanser, The Ordinary hyaluronic acid serum, buffet serum, caffeine eye serum, and moisturizer, Supergoop sunscreen.)”

Nora uses, “Grandpa’s tar soap and olay sensitive skin moisturizer.”

Hi there

Samangi wrote, “I use pure organic white coconut oil (I love the brand in Aldi for $4.29 or so), and no longer use moisturizing lotion. I have been using the one jar I bought in fall. Still half of it left. So one jar is plenty for one year (for one person). Not only does it reduce (eliminate really) plastic consumption, it is better for our skin, planet, and also ethical (no animal testing). I use coconut oil on my hair as well (which I wash only 2-3 times a week).  Pure white (fresh smell with white) and unrefined (essential) coconut oil smells wonderful too. Also, I make my own sugar wax at home (sugar and lemon juice) maybe once or twice a year, and wax legs at home. My skin is too sensitive for shaving. Plus with wax, I only wax once a month in warmer months.”

Rose uses, “Bar soap and suave shampoo. Dorco razor refills. Drugstore makeup. I don’t skimp on sunscreen though.”

Cortney wrote, “I mix a drop of tea tree essential oil with a half dropper full of 100% argan oil from Trader Joe’s for my facial skin care. Keeps my acne at bay (or clears it up whenever I do break out), and I love the smell, I use 100% Pure brand’s caffeinated eye cream as well.”

Pauline shared, “Ages ago when I was young we mostly wore mascara and lip smackers! One thing I truly recommend is starting to wear daily SPF facial moisturizer when you hit your 20s. Skin cancer happens to too many women. I use it every day, Kroger Brand is just like Olay, and doesn’t sting your eyes :)”

Babywoods in the yard a few summers back with some of our peony harvest

Marisa wrote, “Make my own soap from coconut oil and olive oil. This makes body soap, laundry soap and I’d love to say hair but my hair hated it. So I use a locally made vegan brand. Expensive but one bottle lasts six months so that’s ok. Also I use high end beauty products for my face but I buy these on special or when the company has two for one offer. I usually buy enough for one year when they do that. Saves hundreds each year.”

Sarah said, “I make a face lotion out of olive oil, bees wax, jojoba oil, shea butter, and honey. It lasts forever and doesn’t irritate my skin. I never compromise on sunscreen because my skin is so fair and I don’t want to burn or get skin cancer.”

Kelly shared, “Coconut oil is a great moisturizer especially in winter. I use corn starch for dry shampoo so I typically wash my hair 2 or 3 times a week.”

Roxane wrote, “I have very sensitive skin and love using pure aloe vera gel (I recommend the Jason brand 94% pure aloe- 7$) as a night time face moisturizer or leave on mask. I just apply a thin layer and in the morning my skin is so smooth. As a bonus, no mess on my pillowcase since it’s clear and absorbs so quickly! I also keep it on hand to apply on any type of skin irritation, bug bite or (of course!) sunburn.”

Face and Makeup

Lynn wrote, “I am a big fan of of raw honey as face wash! It feels great. Breaks down grime and oils, removes makeup and it is non toxic and naturally antibacterial!”

Apple blossoms on our apple trees last spring

Jacinta said, “Tinted moisturizer and mascara are my only makeup items. The moisturizer also has sunscreen in it so pulls triple duty. Then i use rosehip oil once a week after washing my face. Lasts ages and leaves your skin feeling plump and so so soft.

Nicole shared, “My best trick is using witch hazel as a makeup remover. You can get store brand witch hazel for cheap, and it is such an effective makeup remover. I also agree with washing my hair twice a week; I have really thick long hair so washing it every day would be too much work!”

Teresa wrote, “I make my own face scrub, 6 tablespoons each sugar, baking soda and Himalayan sea salt and 3 tablespoons each liquid Castile soap and liquid coconut oil. I mix it in an old jar and it works great for me.”

Carrie wrote, “I love these masks (affiliate link). I suffer from dry skin and they help immensely. My skin also feels tightened afterwards. I do them 1-2 times a week. At $11 for 16 masks that 8+ weeks of treatment.”

Kellie said, “I use spent coffee grounds as my face scrub. I was buying a lovely vegan, low waste, natural ingredient one before that and loved it…but wanted to save the cash as it was the only expensive thing I was still using. I love the coffee grinds. I usually throw them on the garden (and still do) as the plants love them, but now I grab a little handful every few days for face wash. I got one of my fancy face washes for Christmas as a gift from someone and used it a bit, but now I much prefer my coffee!”

Jen uses, “Baking soda for a face scrub.”

Household Supplies: Hand Soap, Laundry Detergent

Apple crop in the rinsing bucket

Lindsay said, “I’ve saved a huge amount of money over the years using Dr. Bronner’s for hand soap. I buy a Method foaming hand soap dispenser, and once it’s empty, fill it up with about 1/5 Dr. Bronner’s and 4/5 water. It foams and cleans nicely and is very gentle for skin. I’ve had one of my Method dispensers for almost 4 years now, and just had to replace the other one. Besides the money savings, it’s great that I’m generating a lot less plastic waste.”

Justin said, “We make out own laundry detergent. $15 in supplies and you make batches of 5 gallon at a time. Saves a ton of money on detergent and the color in the clothes lasts longer. Old mennonite recipe.”

Kate wrote, “I did try making my own powdered laundry detergent and never looked back. It’s super easy to make, never goes bad, and is so neutral that the commercial fragrance free products now have a smell to me. Anyone worried that their skin is reacting to something in their clothes should give it a shot. (Recipes are everywhere online, but I do grated Ivory soap, washing soda, and borax – all available at grocery stores – then add in extras as needed, like OxiClean, baking soda, or a scented oil).”

Amber wrote, “My kids were constantly wasting shampoo and body wash when dispensing; they would squirt out way too much. Now everything in the shower is in a bottle with pump dispenser. It has helped eliminate the waste in our house.”

The Whole Rundown

Carolyn wrote, “Face wash: one bar from Lush lasts me about 1.5 years. (Coalface, $10/year)
Moisturizer: I use Cetaphil from Costco. ($10/year)
Sunscreen: Trader Joe’s (‘Enrich’, $4/year)
One per week ‘fun facials’: I use an exfoliator and a charcoal mask (from Lush or Target) and some Korean facial packs my family gifts me! ($15/year)
I have combination dry/oily skin and prone to some breakouts.
(Note I tried to DIY face scrub with baking soda, and it definitely irritated my skin).
Also I’m very active and super smelly, and have tried TONS of deodorants, DIY and store bought. The best I’ve found is Schmidt’s… I’m so happy I found it!!!! Costco had it on sale. I could go on for hours about deodorant!”

I’m not really sure where I’m going with the photos in the post… But I really like how our apples looked last fall

Nicky shared, “Four principles for me: reduce the number of products you use; use less of each individual product; find a less expensive brand that suits you; stock up when there are special offers. My yearly spend is just over £50, and could be half that if I used a cheaper moisturiser. A kidney bean size blob of garnier fructis shampoo and conditioner, 2 for $6aud on offer at Coles (I don’t wash the conditioner out, so I need less) – I started both current bottles 5 months ago and have 20% left. A small smear of Aquafresh toothpaste, £1 on offer at Boots, Superdrug, or Sainsburys (my dentist told me that if you have to spit out foam you’re using too much) – one small tube lasts 2 of us 2 months. One face cream for daily use – which must have spf, one body cream for when I need it. Currently L’Oréal revitalift, £6 from amazon, lasts 2 months (I consider this my luxury!) and Vitamin E body cream, £2.99 in superdrug, lasts a year. Crystal and other alternative deodorants didn’t work for me, and left me smelly. I now buy sanex, £1 on special offer Sainsburys or Boots – lasts 3 months and is effective. No soap, or shower gel (and my skin is very happy about that!) I have a lipstick and mascara for occasional use, 2 nail varnishes and remover – Christmas presents from my sisters, and generally dry up before I wear them out! I buy sunscreen as needed – I consider it essential – but often cover up instead! A damp rough muslin cloth makes a great face or body exfoliator.”

Cindy shared, “I have sensitive skin, rosacea, and cold urticaria so I pay the price where I need to but try to find deals on everything:

Face Care: Eucerin Redness Relief line of cleanser, daily SPF and perfecting lotion, and night crème. This line has reduced breakouts and helps reduce the general appearance of redness associated with rosacea. I buy this though Amazon Pantry. If you meet the minimum, you don’t have to pay the upcharge for pantry. This saves me a significant amount because the line ain’t cheap but it is on Amazon Pantry!

Make-up: Not really frugal but I use Bare Minerals mineral veil (with SPF) applied with their make-up brush: Essential to help protect me from flare-ups when I go out into the elements. My dermatologist made this recommendation and it is worth the price.

Kidwoods: massive fan of unripe apples…

Body Care: Body soap: Dove Unscented bar purchased in bulk at the wholesale club. I use this year round as well. It cleans well and helps with moisturizing.

Daily lotion: Lubriderm is the year-round the winner! I use the sensitive skin formula. After every shower. Every time. All year long. In the summertime, I use the one with SPF for my exposed extremities and it does not irritate.

Sunscreen: This one is harder because Coppertone changed their baby formula last summer and now it makes me break out in a rash! And so does every other sunscreen! Coppertone was my go to for 20 years and I never burned! If anyone has suggestions on this, please. I, and my sensitive skin that requires reapplication FREQUENTLY, beg of you.

Haircare: Shampoo: I have good hair that doesn’t seem to care what I use on it, but my scalp does! I find Suave products work really well for me, especially the shea butter and almond blend. Keeps my hair smooth and my scalp moisturized. My stylist refuses to believe such a cheap product works so well. It does!

Other Random Skin Care: Laundry detergent: This is essential to caring for your skin! Truly! I use All Free&Clear and buy it from the wholesale club. No irritating perfumes or dyes.

Dryer sheets: Any brand as long as it’s unscented. Frugal tip: dryer sheets are reusable at least four times before you need to throw them out.

Handsoap: I make my own foaming handsoap from Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille, NOW Solutions glycerin, and filtered water. It’s wonderful, good for my hands, and costs about $20/year to make/maintain for my family of 3. I hardly ever need to use hand lotion.

Nails: I use Vitamin E oil to keep my cuticles from falling apart. Applied once a week, a little $6 bottle lasts me 4 years.”

Me harvesting apples last summer

Megan wrote, “I shower as needed. Usually 2 or 3x in a week. I wash my hair 2x a week max. I switched to sulfate free shampoo and that made a huge difference, my favorite is the not your mothers brand. Make up- I switched to a CC cream and then finish with eyeliner and an eyebrow pencil. I use basic unscented lotion. All from Amazon for convenience and all affordable and cruelty free. My goal is to try to LIMIT how many products I have. I used to try every new product, scent, etc and never finished and my bathroom was full of products. Now it is super easy to find everything and we have plenty of room!”

Lynn shared, “I’m fortunate to not have sensitive hair/skin. A few years ago, I lucked into some coupons for shampoo and body wash, just as a bunch of varieties that the coupons were for were being discontinued at a local supermarket. I picked them up for free between the markdown and coupon and have been chipping away at my stash ever since. I still occasionally see deals, but there’s a valid possibility that my present amount might outlive me, so I don’t pick up any more. I’m not a big couponer, but it’s pretty easy to score deals on bath products if you’re not brand conscious.”

Gwen uses, “No makeup, no conditioner, I buy face cream and usually add sunscreen (life in Spain), short hair, shampoo twice a week, more in summer. I DIY lip balm (karite and cocoa butter, bee wax, honey, mandarin essential oil), at night I sometimes use hazelnut oil on my face, with or without a drop of essential oil (lavender or basilic), I also do a hair mask (DIY) whenever necessary, I wash with soap and receive perfumes or creams as gifts every year or so. Only things I haven’t really figured out yet are body lotion and toothpaste, I keep looking for better options that those I currently use.”

Summary

Many thanks to everyone who shared their beauty secrets with the frugal world today! It’s kind of tough to summarize this advice because the resounding, overwhelming theme is that everyone has different beauty needs, requirements, skin types, and priorities. Identifying what those needs and priorities are will take you a long way toward ensuring you’re not overspending and over-consuming. Right now, I’m prioritizing my hair and figuring out how to best co-wash and style it to achieve maximum natural curls with minimum time and effort. Once I have that on autopilot, I’ll simply buy the cheapest products that work for me and won’t think much more about it. By knowing what’s cheapest and what’s most effective for my skin, I’m able to minimize expense and effort–my goal in all things.

Start By Clearing Out Your Backlog of Beauty Products

My bathroom used to be jammed with products of all sorts that I’d buy on whim, try out, and cast aside. Partially-filled bottles of shampoo, lotion, and concealer dotted the landscape. If you’re wondering where to start with a more conscious, frugal beauty routine, start with using up everything you already own.

Hiking baby

During the early days of my frugal journey, I did a clean-out-the-pantry challenge in my bathroom cabinets. I used up every last bottle of every last product. Anything I didn’t want to use, I offered to friends. If they didn’t want it, I recycled it. Don’t keep this stuff lying around, cluttering up your brain and bathroom. Clear it all out, use it all up, and then make judicious, considered decisions about what you want to buy next, if anything.

After clearing all the junk out, I eliminated a lot of products from my life and never bought them again. Only the things I used every day–and really enjoyed–were replaced.

Come Hang Out With Me In NYC!

Ok this is not at all related, but I am SO EXCITED to share that I’ll be speaking at The Financial Gym (134 W. 25th St., New York, NY) on Thursday, May 2nd from 6-8pm. Actually, it’s sort of related because I’ll probably be wearing makeup (and nail polish) that day!

The event is FREE and, naturally, boxed wine + snacks will be served. Space is limited and so you need to RSVP here in order to reserve your spot.

Shannon McLay (Founder and CEO of The Financial Gym, friend of mine, all-around excellent person) and I will discuss financial independence, other money-related topics, and likely quite a few topics that aren’t related to money at all… Then I’ll do a Q&A! Did I mention there’ll be wine?! I hope to see you there!!

If you can’t make the event, you can watch via The Financial Gym’s Facebook LIVE starting at 6:30pm on May 2nd. The Financial Gym is a personal financial services company that takes a fitness-inspired approach to their clients’ finances. By working one-on-one with a Certified Financial Trainer, each client learns how to make tailored, smarter money decisions.

How do you balance personal care with frugality? Will I see you in NYC?

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