You’ve heard of the Christmas Creep, but what about the Spending Sprawl? Black Friday used to be one day, and now—somehow—it’s stretched out comfortably across the calendar and turned into Cyber Week. I’m tired. You’re tired. My stomach is full and my bank account is… drained, sufficiently. So here’s something that should feel as refreshing as a raw vegetable right about now: Ten expert beauty tips that won’t cost you anything at all. That’s right, they’re completely free, extremely effective, and did I mention they’re free? I’ll be making my way down this list as I wait for my online purchases to arrive.
The Setting Mist
People, this sounds crazy, I know, but please exercise some trust here. Cleanse and moisturize, business as usual. Then apply your face makeup. Then get in the shower. The steam will blend your concealer, make it look more natural, and set it to help it last longer. It’s kind of like baking, except without all the extra product. Lightly pat anything that needs more blending when you get out, et voilà.
The Steam Room
Hot water vapor! It’s the necessary, included-in-your-utilities amenity that keeps on giving. If you have curly hair, it can help hydrate and give bounce to your curls. Run the shower turned all the way hot—don’t worry, you’re not getting into it, you’re just going to hang out on the toilet in its general vicinity. To take it to the next level, make it a deep conditioning treatment using a hair mask and a shower cap. Make a mental note next time you stay in a hotel to steal the shower cap—also take the sewing kit. And the slippers. You live in a spa now!
Bonus tip: This works the opposite way on clothes, conveniently. Hang wrinkled clothes in the bathroom while you take a hot shower to smooth out lines.
The Clear Solution
It’s the cute ones that hurt you the most. Well, maybe not hurt—but probably itch, and definitely turn your skin a weird green-blue color. Coating the back of cheap earrings and rings with clear nail polish creates a shellacked barrier between the metal and your skin, so you can go on wearing them. You really can’t tell at all, and it works.
The Lip Scrub
Did your toothbrush come in a multi-pack? You could save the extras for hypothetical overnight guests, or you could break into them now for a very important reason: You. Apply a little bit of balm, and make light circles on your lips to gently exfoliate. Put on more balm, wait five minutes for it to absorb, and you’ll have the perfect canvas for matte lipstick. No rough bits to be found.
Bonus tip: Grab another toothbrush and make it your hair spare! Spray with a little Elnett to brush up eyebrows, tame flyaways, and style your edges.
The Close Shave
The jury’s still out on whether hot water or cold water is better for shaving. What's known for sure is that hot water dehydrates skin. Running a sharp razor along your face (or other body parts) daily can already lead to irritation, so minimize it by shaving with cold water. Less irritation equals fewer shaving bumps, and you're less likely to get ingrown hairs with skin that's not as dehydrated.
The Bathroom Break Blotter
What’s in a blotting paper? A blotting paper by any other name would blot as well. Case in point: The toilet seat covers in your office bathroom. Thin like a blotting paper, absorbent like a blotting paper, available for free in your place of employment. Also, probably, every other place you would need to be more matte in a pinch. If a toilet seat cover isn’t available, you can peel apart a tissue (you need a thin layer to properly blot without absorbing too much) or use a brown napkin like they have at Starbucks.
Don’t own an Aquis? That’s fine—try using an old t-shirt to dry your hair instead of a towel. The cotton will absorb water while producing less frizz. Now isn't that easy?
Bonus tip: Once your hair is dry, smooth out any excess frizz with dryer sheets. What works to make your old t-shirts soft is similarly effective on hair.
The Regular Aquis
Bought an Aquis after seeing it included in this year’s Top 25? Why, thank you! But have you ever tried putting it on backwards? Everyone knows how the towel keeps curly hair frizz-free, but here's a trick for straight-hair folks: Brush out your hair and part it, then put the round section of the towel (where the hook is) flat against your hairline. Wrap the tail end of the towel under and around the shaft of your hair, twist, and secure in the front of your head. Your hair will dry faster, and without any weird crimps.
The Sharp Traveler
Some bad news: Everything ends eventually. Cyber week sales, the Netflix series you’ve been binge watching, even this here story (but not quite yet). Your favorite makeup pencils will too—eventually reduced to two-inch nubs that end up getting lost in your repurposed candle jar. Give them a second life by designating those as your travel pencils, and keep them all together in a coin purse in lieu of carrying around a full makeup bag. You’ve basically rewarded yourself with the gift of travel-sized versions of your makeup favorites.
The Ice Cube
No pun here—this is just an ice cube. Run an ice cube all over your face after a night out. Soothes redness, depuffs, and costs literally zero dollars. I’ve also heard Joan Crawford was a fan. You’re welcome and goodnight.
Photo via ITG