There’s an old saying that “beauty is pain”… and for many of us, that pain usually strikes right in our bank accounts. It’s generally accepted that the cost associated with any given self-care or beauty product is in direct relation its quality and efficacy. The beauty industry makes around $160 billion a year globally; Americans actually spend more per annum on their makeup, fragrances, and other products than they do on education (which is saying something, considering the steadily increasing costs of tuition in the States).
Luckily, there are much more cost-effective ways to get perfect hair or glowing skin than surrendering your entire paycheck to Ulta. Here are some of the best tried-and-true natural beauty hacks that won’t kill your bank account, and will keep you looking as gorgeous as ever.
Visit the Grocery Store- Not the Salon- for Great Hair
Okay, you won’t exactly be able to get that trendy new haircut at a grocery store, but you can certainly use everyday ingredients to keep your hair healthy in between trims. Coconut oil is one of the most affordable and easiest to use products out there. You can slather it on the ends of your hair before shampooing to guard against hot water and detergents, both of which strip the natural oils from your locks and make them more prone to dryness and damage. Alternately, you can saturate your hair in coconut oil and let it soak in for about 20-30 minutes once or twice a week for a heavy-duty moisturizing mask. Not only will this make your hair look super-shiny and feel amazing, but coconut oil can also help encourage hair growth by improving the health of your scalp. But the best part of coconut oil? You can buy a huge mason jar of the stuff for less than $15 on average, and a little goes a very long way. Ka-ching!
Raw eggs, avocados, and raw honey are also great for healthy hair. The protein in eggs leaves hair shiny and strong (just make sure to use lukewarm to cool water when washing it out, unless you want scrambled eggs stuck in your tresses). Avocados, like coconut oil, are extremely moisturizing when mashed and used as a mask. Raw honey is a great natural cleanser when mixed with a little water; it is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to traditional liquid shampoos. All are exponentially less expensive than salon-quality deep conditioning treatments and shampoos.
Make Your Own Sugar (or Salt) Scrub
There’s nothing like a good sugar or salt scrub to get your skin glowing and soft, but at a beauty store they can quickly get expensive. Sugar scrubs at Ulta and similar beauty retailers cost an average of about $15 a pop, and some scrubs can even climb up to $35 or higher!
If you want to save your wallet, try making your own sugar scrub instead. All you need is brown or white sugar and coconut oil (almond oil works great as well, or olive oil if you are creating a salt scrub). You can add in extra ingredients like Vitamin E oil for added skin care benefits, or use essential oils to work in your favorite scents (Eden’s Garden has high quality oils available for very budget-friendly prices!). You’ll be spending much less per ounce to get that much-needed exfoliation.
Pro tip: rubbing half of a freshly cut orange (or similar citrus fruit) along problem areas like knees and elbows will soften the tough skin there, and make it easier to remove with a scrub or loofah.
Get Whiter Teeth Without a Trip to the Dentist!
Everyone wants to have a smile full of bright, shiny white teeth, but bleaching treatments at the dentist can be brutally expensive. Using at-home kits at somewhat cheaper (for example, a package of Crest Whitestrips is usually around $40 or more), but the effects aren’t permanent and the ingredients in those kits can damage or soften your enamel.
Luckily, there’s a natural solution for that too. Again, you’ll be grabbing your handy-dandy oil… coconut, almond, or sesame seed oil work for this. You can use olive oil too, though sometimes that can cause a strong tingling sensation that can get a little uncomfortable for sensitive mouths. Oil pulling is a technique wherein you take about a tablespoon of your chosen oil and swish it around continuously in your mouth for about 10-15 minutes. After your time is up, spit out the oil (don’t swallow it), rinse your mouth with warm water, and brush your teeth thoroughly.
The oils soften plaque on your teeth, making it easier to remove, and help kill off harmful bacteria. It’s also thought that oil pulling helps to remove toxins from your bloodstream via the thin capillaries in your mouth (hence the warning not to swallow the oil… you don’t want to put all those toxins right back into your blood once you’ll pulled them out). Consistent oil pulling helps reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth, which will make them appear whiter and will fight problems like cavities and gingivitis.
You can also brush your teeth with activated charcoal. Charcoal absorbs impurities, and can help reduce surface stains that make your teeth look yellowish or discolored. However, it is best to use charcoal sparingly, as some dentists are concerned that overly frequent use of the gritty powder can be too abrasive on enamel.
Embrace the Cucumber
We’re all familiar with the image of spa patrons relaxing with cucumber slices placed over their eyes, but did you know there’s actually legitimate reasons behind why day spas do that?
Cucumbers are rich in silica, antioxidants, and ascorbic acid. When slices are placed over your eyes (for about 20 minutes or so), cucumbers can help reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness… which make them an absolute go-to solution for a post-night-out recovery.
Fresh cucumber juice is also said to help improve your complexion, and can help sooth sunburns (and speed their healing)… both of which are ideal now that summer is upon us once again. Aloe vera works great for this as well, though the plants aren’t quite as common in your local grocery store as cucumbers tend to be.
These cost-effective alternatives to typical beauty treatments and products are guaranteed to keep you looking healthy, glowing, and gorgeous. But remember that no one hack is the equivalent of a good diet, plenty of sleep, and exercise! Making sure your life has plenty of all three is the best way to ensure that you are looking your best all day, every day.