Weekend Itinerary: A Drugstore Spa Day

beauty treatments under $20
beauty treatments under $20

Duane Reade is Shangri-La for cheap gluttons like me. I find CVS' lighting too harsh, and any Rite Aid will forever remind me of the Rite Aid in my hometown, which is a scary place to be after 7pm. Ricky's is legendary, but doesn't sell Utz chips or paper towels. My good friend Duane sells everything, is usually clean, and caters to all of my weird cravings 24 hours a day. What do you call a place that sells French drugstore products and Kit Kats on the same shelf? You call it paradise.

The other great thing about Duane Reade is that you can ball out in the cosmetics section for about thirty dollars. At the drugstore, peasants are kings. Just because I spent all my money on cabs and Juice Generation smoothies during Fashion Week doesn't mean that I can't treat myself like the Crown Prince of Brooklyn with a few strategic drugstore buys. Which makes it the perfect place to go once you've canceled all of your weekend plans in search of a little R&R. Less than $100 gets you a full-body spa day. Head, shoulders, knees, toes. Here's the menu:

The DIY Facial: Yesterday you heard from Aida Bicaj, who is arguably one of the greatest facialists in New York City. But she's uptown and I'm in Brooklyn... Luckily for you and me, drugstore masks are abundant and are usually really, really good. Take Queen Helene's Mint Julep Masque, a beauty school favorite and excellent May Lindstrom switch hitter—it's got a fresh scent, major clarifying power, and a satisfying, cartoonish key lime green color. I love to keep a mask on for as long as possible, but this one should stay on for 10 minutes, max.

And then, like the spoiled babe you are, you should follow with: Another mask. Specifically, L'Oreal's Revitalift Intensive Overnight Mask. It was invented for slumber but for the purposes of this day, shall be used as a prolonged treatment mask. I asked my roommate if she would be interested in applying this to me, à la Bicaj. She politely declined. Revitalift has that “nice mask' smell (not for the scent adverse) but when applied lightly, leaves your skin a little bouncier afterwards. Blame those hyaluronic acids.

(Total for the DIY Facial: $29)

The Deep Pamper: If you live in New York or in a small apartment anywhere, the idea of taking a bath is either 1) luxurious, because you don't have a bathtub or 2) unsavory, because no matter how much you clean it, it still seems kind of dirty? So if you have a bathtub, I urge you to overcome your fears and take one. Boom! That's an indulgence you can have for free. Pour in some $8 Mayfair Body Wash Bubble Bath (scent rec: Sea Lily Jasmine) and you're all set. And because this is a total body experience, eschew your usual conditioner for Aussie's 3 Minute Miracle Deeeeep Conditioning Treatment. There's deep, and then there's deeeeeep—if winter is ravaging your hair, this is the perfect antidote.

I'd also suggest a pair of Pedispa Exfoliating Foot Masks—the kind that you can feel working while you use them. Pedispa recommends an hour to 90 minutes of foot soaking, which means you get an hour-to-90-minute excuse to remain horizontal.

(Total for the Deep Pamper: $22)

The While You Watch Vanderpump Rules: Nothing goes better with schadenfreude than a lil at-home manicure. Begin with Sally's Cuticle Remover and follow up with the 18K Gold Nail Hardener. It's easily the best 18K gold product you'll find at Duane Reade, for one. Flecks of gold mean a slightly shimmery, metallic clear polish (and it's buildable if you're looking for something more) that works as a treatment on it's own or a topcoat over another polish. Do your toenails, too! And while you're down there, Neutrogena Foot Cream is no-frills, but works wonders for calloused, cracked skin. It is the perfect remedy for the trench foot I acquired while trudging to shows through inclement weather this past week.

(Total for all of that: $19)

The Quick Fix: Maybe you don't have all day to indulge. If you're like me, your “free time' consists of the 30 minutes you've blocked off on Saturday in which you complete the tax forms you've been putting off. In that case, slap on Bioré Pore Strips and Earth Therapeutics Hydrogel Eye Gels to get the job done. The first is a cult classic cleanse. The second is, hands down, the best under eye treatment $9 can buy. That brings the grand total for the whole spa day to about $87, which might be something to consider if you're debating shelling out for some SK-II sheet masks. Sometimes more is more.

—Brennan Kilbane

Photographed by Tom Newton.

Speaking of options, pick out a new matte lipstick while you're there. And say hi to Duane for us.