I cannot afford expensive shampoos or lotions. But I’ve found ways around that. We can all do more with less.
I am no expert, but I’m poor, creative, and willing to improvise. I combined that with ideas from Cosmo circa 1994, my hair stylist (a woman without means herself) and Ellen Sandbeck’s Green Barbarian.
So with that, here are 20 tips I use every day.
Skin and Hair Care
I have the softest skin. People often comment on it. I’ll share how I do it--cheaply.
1. Drink plenty of water. This is the very best way to stay soft and without that horrible crackly-feeling. Despite what my Elementary school health teacher told me, it doesn’t matter what the source is (within reason). Water is in lettuce, kool-aid, and tea, among a seemingly infinite number of other sources. Try it for a week or two and you will feel the difference in your skin.
2. Use a humidifier if you live in a cold or dry climate. We run one 24/7 during the winter. Keep it clean though, mold can grows inside. Buy, trade, or ask for it from someone. Consider the price of the filter...you’ll need to replace it at least a couple times per year.
3. Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Lotion. Forget the expensive ones. This is the best lotion I’ve ever found. I’ve tried all the others, nothing works quite as well. Ever wonder why babies are so soft? Plenty of fluids and this lotion (and brand new skin, of course). Yes, you will smell a little bit like a baby. Use a little dapple of scented lotion overtop if that concerns you. The Generic doesn’t cut it. I can find one of the big bottles, 27 ounces, for about $5 at Wal-Greens (or maybe Target). They regularly run about $8 or more. I use the one with the pump, which can be removed and used on one without a pump (so long as it is the same size).
4. Don’t laugh. Olive oil. Shower as follows: only as often as necessary, try to avoid every day. Running a dairy farm requires about twice a day, but working in an office, maybe 2 or 3 times per week. I love hot showers. But they are a no-no. Remember: hot water opens your pores and lets your body’s own moisture escape. Warm water showers only (I know, boo!). I use this to my advantage, I wash my face twice with face wash (once with a scrub, then with Dove). The first time opens the pores and the second actually gets all of the excess oil off of my face (of which I have tons). First apply liberal amounts of olive oil (all over skin and hair--and unless you have a dry scalp, avoid applying the oil there). Leave on. If you shave anything, you can do this now. The oil is the best shaving cream--ever. I’ve NEVER nicked myself while using it. But be ware: your feet may be slippery. You need only use the oil once a week or as needed. Cheap is fine.
5. Use Dove soap with a loofa (we use Sensitive Skin Body Wash and a cheap loofa--which can be washed in the gentle cycle in your washing machine). This will remove the oil from your skin, but it may take more than one go. We buy Dove when it goes on sale.
6. Your face: vinegar and water (1:3 ratio) makes a good astringent. Just wash your face in warm water (to open pores) and the wash it with this mix. It’ll cut down on the oil. It’s great for in-between showers.
7. Wash your hair with your favorite shampoo. Use as little as possible. Apply only to your scalp. It’ll wash down over the rest of your hair. No olive oil means a pea size for short hair and a nickel size for long. Oil needs more. You may need to wash more than once. If you get out and your hair is greasy-looking, rewash. It happens.
8. For long hair, use a handful of conditioner. I literally use Suave--it costs about $1.75 at the Dollar store for a family size. I use one about every other week or so, depending on how often I wash my hair. Cover all of your hair (not your scalp, again, unless you have a dry scalp).
9. Pat, do not rub dry (rubbing takes off more moisture). Mostly you want to air dry. This is when you apply that lotion--before your pores close (which is accelerated by cold water or air). Reapply lotion as necessary. But again, if you wait at all, like you kid skins her knee and it takes you two extra minutes to get it on, forget it. You’ve already lost the battle.
More Hair Care
10. Purchase a good pair of scissors, specifically designed for hair. Keep sharp. When you see split ends, cut them. If you do this, you can cut down salon visits. I have long hair so it’s easier. But I’ve cut my own kids’ hair and it’s shorter. About once a year we see our favorite stylist, Kim.
11. Your hair looks dry? Wet your hair down (warm water) and apply liberal amounts of conditioner, just like after you wash. Leave on, with a towel or shower cap, for up to an hour or so. When I get dandruff, I put some on my scalp too. You can also do this with the olive oil, prior to your shower. My hair stylist says that if you have one of those salon dryers, use it now. I don’t have one, so I just walk around with the oil on my hair. Rinse the conditioner off. Or for the olive oil, wash as above. When I dry my hair, I wear it in an up-do (maybe a bun) until it dries. I never use a blowdryer.
12. So you were sweating a little and you really need a shower, but you just washed you hair. . .jump in the shower and just condition your hair. It’ll moisturize it without drying it out. If I get into the shower and not wet my hair down, it turns my hair into a big friz ball (something my hair is known for anyways--hence my rituals). I do this a great deal when I do manual labor.
13. If I am out and about and I either forgot deodorant or I can’t wash, I use soap-less antibacterial gels (germX or from Bath and Body Works). It kills the germs that are making me stink and adds a nice fresh scent to boot.
14. I use Colgate Total toothpaste. My teeth feel clean for hours. I buy it in bulk when it’s on sale (the safe money part). A few years ago, I bought the entire supply (about 10 tubes) at Olie’s (a discount junk store) for about a dollar and a half a tube and it lasted until this summer.
15. Peroxide: It whitens your teeth without destroying the enamel (and it costs like $1 a bottle). It’s also a decent mouth wash. Be, in my opinion, it smells like stinky feet.
16. Baking Soda: It also whitens your teeth without destroying the enamel (and it’s cheap too). I mix a little with my toothpaste and brush as normal. It’s gritty and you have to wash your mouth out afterwards. I do this every so often, not every day.
17. A washcloth: My dentist told me this trick. . .put a dapple of tooth paste (see number 16 if desired) and rub it over your teeth in a circular motion. The cloth will remove stains on your teeth. It works. But don’t expect the weird bright white that you’d get from those harsh cleaners. (Did I mention that they eat your enamel?--I have no scientific evidence, just a brain that knows the ingredients and people that swear its true. You be the judge.) As another dentist told me, your teeth are not supposed to be WHITE. They’re an off-white and, and now this is me talking, some dumb company that wants to make a buck off of your vanity told you wrong. I clean my teeth this way regularly (a couple times a month). But remember: don’t rub so hard that you wear off the enamel. Enamel: good.
18. I hate flossing. But I do it anyways, only with Oral B Glide Floss Picks. They are little blue harp-like instruments. The floss is strung across the pick for easy use. This is where I spurge (and by splurge, I mean “add to my already enormous credit card bill”). Regular floss shreds in my mouth (presumably because of my fillings). I waste floss that way. Don’t tell anyone, but I wash off the pick and reuse it (until it shreds). I figure that it saves me money in the long run because I won’t need as many fillings. But when I do get them, I always splurge (see def above) and pay the difference for the porcelain fillings. I can’t believe they still offer the other kind.
19. Run your tooth brush through the dishwasher. It disinfects (on the correct cycle) and gets all of that gunk off of it.
20. This is too obvious but, don’t drink phosphoric acid. Duh. But you probably do anyways if you drink dark colas. Here’s a hint: we use it clean our milk tank. And didn’t you hear how it eats the gunk off of pennies? I’d believe it. Anyways, those drinks stain your teeth and cost a fortune. But, you know, my dad loves them. Of course, he doesn’t have any teeth left. Just a thought.
I give other tips here.