Six incredibly cheap replacements for expensive beauty products

I’ve been living with a pinched purse (or rather, I now  really need to because of huge spendings) and so I’ve gotten creative with my beauty routine.

Feeling good about yourself makes you shine, and that shouldn’t be affected by your budget. Sometimes the   key to confidence might be something as simple as your skin looking and feeling good as you stroll into school or the office, so don’t feel glum about not being able to buy the newest products from Sephora.

Here are some tips for when you’re strapped for cash:

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-2-54-27-pmManual Face Brush Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.32.27 PM Clarisonic Cleansing Device

brush, face, cleanser, face brush, clarisonic, acne, complexion

Using a manual face brush saves you money and gives you a clear complexion

My skin has this tendency to act up (especially around hormonal times) and as I posted earlier blackheads are one of my biggest problems, followed by some lovely ornamental pimples along my jawline. So, as I perused through skin care aisles at local drug stores or department stores, I longed to try a Clairisonic brush— a widely well-reviewed automatic brush that works your cleanser into your skin and helps exfoliate at the same time. The problem?  Its price tag…. ranging from $160-$400 it simply wasn’t an option.

Then one day I stumbled upon a manual face brush that does the same as a Clairisonic —as long as you put in some elbow grease—  for a whopping $4.00!! I swear, using it to work with my facial cleanser (I use Bioré Charcoal Cleanser, though probably any cleanser would work) my skin has improved very significantly— very few blackheads and skin across my forehead and cheeks seems silky smooth; I don’t even have to use my exfoliating gel as often! I use it morning and night and have a much healthier complexion because of it.

HIGHLY Reccommened!

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-2-54-35-pm Home Made Lip Scrub Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.32.27 PM Lush’s Store Bought Scrubs

honey, sugar, DIY, lip scrub, natural

The only ingredients you need for lip scrub: honey and granulated sugar

I love Lush, don’t get me wrong, but last time I was in the shop I saw that their lip scrubs were going for $10!! Personally I think that’s very overpriced (and also I am not a fan of their “popcorn” flavoured lip scrub… who wants to put butter all over your face?)

The best lip scrub I’ve ever used was one I made, and it takes TWO ingredients: granulated sugar and honey.

You honestly just put a one to one ratio (or maybe 3/4 tsp sugar to one tsp honey) mix it together and put it in a small, sealable container.

When your lips are dry, take a small dab on your finger and rub it across your lips; it will gently exfoliate dead skin away AND moisturize with the honey. When you’re all done, you just rinse it of with some warm water (or eat it, it’s delicious and much better than butter-flavour if you ask me!)

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-2-54-52-pm Baby Shampoo Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.32.27 PM Bumble and Bumble Shampoo

Shampoo, baby, baby shampoo, hair, beauty, cheap, inexpensive, budget

Sometimes simplicity is best. No tears for your eyes or your wallet

Okay, this might sound like I’m stretching it, but it’s true: Baby Shampoo works better than salon shampoo.

I have tried to make my hair my crowning glory since I was a little girl and it has never wanted to behave or grow beyond my collar bones. I have done every step possible, including buying high-end salon shampoos like Bumble and Bumble, to no avail.

But recently I had to have a surgery that left me unable to shower for two weeks, followed by a strict regiment of only washing with baby shampoo (with no conditioner!)

Surprise, surprise, my hair felt (and looked!) amazing! With it’s very simple formula it isn’t choked with chemical ingredients, and it’s very inexpensive so you can use as much as you want. Just lather it through your hair and scrub your scalp with you fingers and rinse it out (and you don’t have to worry about it getting in your eyes!).

I did end up adding conditioner to my regime once again, I think moreso because I thought that’s what people are supposed to do, but I don’t think I really needed it; since the addition of conditioner my hair honestly doesn’t look look sleeker or shinier. Sometimes I think it looks drier.  So, I’ll probably end up ditching that and continue my old regime of simply putting a small amount of coconut oil  on the ends of my hair, and allover my hair the evening before I’m going to wash it.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-2-54-56-pmVinegar Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.32.27 PM Hand Creme

Vinegar, hands, hand cream, creme, dry, skin, eczema

This sounds crazy, I know, but by happy accident I found out vinegar is an amazing hand moisturizer!

I was making kombucha last week, and to sanitize your hands for the project you CANNOT use soap; you have to use vinegar. It just so happens that for the past couple weeks I had noticed my hands becoming drier and more irritated. I’ve had mild eczema on my hands since I was a kid, so this wasn’t new.

But almost immediately after rinsing my hands with vinegar (it does sting a little if you have cuts) I noticed my skin became softer and less red. Absolutely miraculous.

The next day, too, my skin was silky smooth. I looked it up and many people do actually use it in a variety of ways for its moisturizing property! Now, I wouldn’t recommend that you dunk your hands in vinegar every day. It is pretty acidic and the smell is strong, but I would suggest diluting it with water, and maybe put a few drops of your favourite oil for smell.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-2-55-05-pm Baby Powder Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.32.27 PM Deodorant

deodorant, baby powder, baby, powder, antiperspirant, deodorant, natural

While I try to use natural or aluminum-free deodorants, there is another, cheaper solution

I seem to have a constant battle with deodorant— not because I smell or over-sweat, but just because I can’t find one I like. I want to go with natural or aluminum-free ones because some people believe deodorant is linked to breast cancer (no agreement on that, but I’d rather be safe than sorry). But, natural deodorants always have issues: they don’t work well, they have a colour to them, or they’re just awkward to put on. One deodorant even discoloured by skin and caused bumps of irritation.

But then I remembered seeing my grandfather getting ready in the morning once, and he used his age-old tradition of putting some baby powder under his arms. It turns out that talc (the clay in baby powder) and talcum powder are constantly used to absorb moisture, not just in babies but even for things like NBA player using it on their hands to keep them dry.

It is an antiperspirant— that is, it absorbs the moisture— and not a deodorant, you will still smell.

*** also, a side note. In researching this a bit more, be aware that baby powder should not be used by women in their “nether regions.” While it would be assuring to know that things aren’t getting too sweaty down there, people have won lawsuits against Johnson and Johnson after linking long-term use of baby powder with ovarian cancer. The major risk is that the talcum powder would enter the cervix and affect the reproductive system, so I don’t see how this could happen if you put it on your underarms, but just and FYI.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.32.57 PMCetaphil Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.32.27 PM Shiseido 

moisturizer, cetaphil, shiseido, cheap, beauty, skin, versus

Sometimes plain and simple is best


I have probably tried every skin product available… okay maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I’ve definitely come close. I’ve used everything ranging from drug store brands to prescription creams to high end acne brands. I’ve even been on Accutane twice.

While I’ve had minor successes with Shiseido (I used the Ibuki line and I really liked it) it is a bit inconsistent… Sometimes my skin loves it, sometimes it hates it.

The best topical product I’ve used that I can consistently rely on is Cetaphil  It’s a very simple moisturizer and I find the best results happen when I  apply a copious amount on my face while my skin is still slightly damp from washing it. Just slather it on there to the point that you feel like you have too much on. Seriously, you want to get to the point that you have too much cream on to rub in— you can always use excess amounts on your hands and neck.

Your skin will glow, and even sensitive skin won’t plug up.


So yeah! Those are my cost-worthy tips. Let me know what you think, or if you have any more!






Blackhead Battle!

My skin and I have had a less-than-perfect relationship ever since puberty. I was always told that after puberty acne would go away, but turns out sex-ed classes and tween gossip magazines didn’t have all of their facts checked.

I have tried just about everything to battle my acne; this varied from over-the-counter Nutrogena, Nivea, Vichey, etc. brands, to mail-order ProActiv (they didn’t have it at mall stands at the time), to prescribed antibiotics and Accutane. Twice. I even tried washing my face with dehydrated milk for awhile because I read that it was moisturizing!

Okay, so I was obviously a bit desperate.

I never had cystic acne, but I had plenty of those small, itchy red pimples that never would go away. The best opponent for that, for me, was two rounds of Accutane. Accutane is a very potent form of Vitamin A which you take in pill form after it’s been prescribed by a doctor. If you’re interested in more I will be happy to write about it. It’s an expensive drug with many side effects, but for me it was worth it.

Three years after my last dosage of Accutane, my skin is pretty good— except for blackheads. 

I never used to get blackheads, but now they all hangout on my cheeks. Thankfully they don’t hang out anywhere else. So, I have been researching skin and blackheads, and am working on a healing regime to battle the beast.

Here are the top things I have found out (this is a learning process, so bear with me as I experiment):

  • Blackheads are actually hair follicles blocked with dead skin cells and sebum (oil). Exposure of this to air oxidizes the oil and skin and turns it black (that’s why when you squeeze it, the top is black and the bottom is more yellowy).
  • There is no discernible reason why they appear— experts can’t pinpoint foods or habits that cause them— they are mostly hormone and genetically based problems (Hello my favourite aunt Flo…)
  • HOWEVER…. I definitely notice that if I am eating more sugar or drinking less water that my skin gets waaaay worse, so I sincerely believe those dietary habits can make a huge difference in your skin’s condition.
  • Dermatologists say not to squeeze blackheads out because doing this will leave blackheads partially intact, and by squeezing some of it out the top, you are also squeezing the remaining guck in the bottom and into other, deeper levels of your skin. You can also cause scars by doing this.
  • BUT… if you can remove all of it, or have an expert do it, then squeeze away!! I have had two facials in my life, and they are miraculous! With the right prep of cleansing, exfoliating, and steaming your skin is ready to go for a professional squeeze or two. Experts use a magical tool called a blackhead loop extractor, and boy do I want one of those… Okay, I’m no expert, but I’m going to squeeze persistent blackheads anyways, so I want to do it right.

Blackhead Extractor— used to press down the surrounding area of a blocked pore to remove the yuck in a controlled manner.

It’s important to remember  that a before you go squeezing your pores it is best to try some alternate approaches first, and that means giving your skin some TLC.

Here’s my starter pack for my blackhead-battle regime:


Okay, so it’s a bit of a motley crew, but let’s work through it, one by one….

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-2-54-27-pm Cleanse and exfoliate! It’s very important if you don’t want dead skin cells and oils to build up that you cleanse daily, and exfoliate at least 2 or 3 times per week. While my cleansers vary as I try out different approaches (I am currently using Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser, twice daily) I have stood by on exfoliant for years: Cure Natural Aqua Gel . It is one of the top skin products in Japan, and while it is initially a bit pricey (the 8 0z. bottle is usually around $40) it lasts FOREVER and does it’s job beyond compare. It is an amazing exfoliant, but also very gentle.


Here’s how it works:

  • After cleansing and drying your skin, pump about 2 pumps of gel into your hand.
  • Using your fingers, put the gel on your skin and circulate in troublesome areas for about 1 minute.
  • You will notice little white balls forming— these are dead skin cells!!
  • Rinse off with lukewarm water (I actually cleanse again to get the dead skin cells off) and VOILA you have amazing, smooth skin.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-2-54-35-pmDeep clean with a mask.


This is something I’d recommend 2 or 3 times a week as well. I like to put a mask on after exfoliating just because I feel like at this point only the cleanest version of your face is ready for a treatment. Different masks carry different purposes— the one I am using now is the Himalayan charcoal purifying glow mask from the Body Shop. It has green tea and tea tree oil to help infuse your skin with nutrients, while it also has charcoal from Himalayan bamboo to help extract impurities.  Your skin feels tight and cool as the mask dries on your face, but when you rinse it off you can see a difference— if you have stubborn blackheads, they have been sucked out a bit so that they are now accessible. Even if your blackheads haven’t moved because they’re not ready to, your skin looks refreshed overall.

It’s after this step that I would use my blackhead extractor, if I had one. I’d then touch any tender spots up with a sweep of Tea Tree Oil.



After your skin has taken a bit of a beating with cleansing, exfoliation, and a mask, it’s time to replenish some of the moisture and nourishment it has lost. I change it up depending on the day, but two things I’ve found to be very gracious to my skin are:

  •  The Oils of Life from the Body Shop. You may be thinking “Oil? Really?!  After so much effort to remove it?” But YES it’s amazing— you are taking away extra face oil full of acne-causing bacteria, and supplying naturally-derived and non-comedogenic oils to simply moisturize  your skin— you need some moisture in your skin to dissuade new blockages, or to help current blockages to loosen up and rise to the top of your skin so that they’re no longer a deeper burden.  Plus, the ingredients in this serum are full of vitamins and nutrients that make your skin glow. You only need about 4 drops for your whole face— just rub the oil between your palms and then pat onto your skin.


  • Aloe Vera gel! It would be best to have pure aloe vera, but I simply don’t have any right now. So, I have this after-sun gel that is very high in aloe vera. Aloe is known to be very moisturizing and, more importantly, to help eliminate or alleviate scars. My skin has dark spots that are remnants of my impatience, but I’ve noticed if I apply aloe to my face at night, my skin becomes softer and the scars start to disappear!


So, that’s my current regime!! On days when I am not doing such an intense process, I simply cleanse my skin, and put a gentle moisturizer on, such as aloe vera, Cetaphil, or Laneige Water Bank Serum . 

Hope that helps, let me know if you have any questions!