Two things are tighter at the start of every year: pants and wallets. Can't help you with your pants (heck, even my knee-high boots are tighter -- gah!), but we can help make your wallet feel better with some smart budget beauty buys that smooth your complexion, condition your hair, soften your skin, and turn up the wattage on your smile. For instance, the lipstick I'm wearing in the above photo is just $7.99. Here's more from my Canada AM segment this morning.
budget beauty: money-saving makeup
These days lipstick can cost anywhere from $24 to $60 and up. But you can start your search for a new shade with a less expensive brand, then get the fancy version when you find a colour you love. This is Rimmel London Lasting Finish Lipstick by Kate lipstick in 06 ($7.99 at drugstores, well.ca). A longtime favourite, it's got a healthy dose of pigment, feels comfortable on lips, and look at that -- it's less than $10. Plus, at no extra cost its blue-based bright colour makes teeth look whiter (see opening photo). A vibrant shade like this is a money-saving choice, too, because you can get away with skipping eye shadow, even eye liner.
Lip colour in chubby-pencil form has become so popular that there are options for every wallet. This glossy NYC City Proof Twistable Intense Lip Color ($4.99 at drugstores) is a particularly good buy -- no pencil sharpener required.
Geek-out alert: this Rimmel London Apocalips Lip Lacquer in Apocalyptic ($8.49 at well.ca) is amaaaazing. Have you tried one yet? If you love rich, full pigment liquid colour, meet your new budget beauty obsession. That applicator delivers a precise edge and lots of colour in a single swipe.
See? Excellent smooth texture, great pigment, pretty sheen. As our mani-geek would say, Winner! Gagnant!
Mascara is another easy drugstore purchase, and has been for some time. Try NYC Big Bold Volume By The Lash Mascara ($4.99) -- it stood up to my oily lids -- or Rimmel London ScandalEyes Retro Glam ($9.99 at drugstores, well.ca), which promises big lashes like it's 1969.
budget beauty: multitasking money-saving makeup
Tinted lip balm is generally an inexpensive buy and an excellent multitasker -- more bang for your little buck. Use it to condition and protect winter-dry lips, make them look healthy with a sheer dose of colour, and give cheeks a natural sweet flush as blush. Bonus: Stick lip balm is particularly good as wind-burn protection for cheeks in biting weather. Above: NYC Applelicious Glossy Lip Balm ($3.99 at drugstores), which softens lips with shea butter, jojoba oil and avocado oil and imparts just a suggestion of colour.
I'm wearing tinted lip balm as blush on my cheeks in this photo...
...and it's the plummy Berry shade out of this collection of Sonia Kashuk Moisture Luxe Tinted Lip Balm ($8.99, Target), which contains sunflower oil, acai oil and SPF 15 (although it doesn't say so on the Canadian packaging). Note that although they're less than $10 each, these chic tubes are made of metal, not cheap plastic.
budget beauty: multi-tasking body care
Save cash on pricey exfoliants for face and body by switching to Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (from $1.99 at supermarkets, drugstores, well.ca). Add a little water to make a paste, and gently massage over skin. I've used it on my face as well as my body -- it's as gentle as a certain much more expensive exfoliating powder many beauty editors love.
If you like to take baths, put baking soda in the bathwater to make skin feel super soft.
At a fraction of the cost of whitening kits and dentist-administered treatments, Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening with Stain Defense Toothpaste (from $3.49 at grocery and drugstores) is a smart addition to a daily oral health regimen. Along with a power brush such as the Arm & Hammer Pro Whitening Spinbrush ($8.88 at walmart.ca), which delivers more strokes per minute than a manual toothbrush, the toothpaste polishes away surface stains and promises to whiten teeth by up to three shades in four weeks.
At pennies per ounce (this 500 mL jar of Grace coconut oil is $4.99 at the grocery store), coconut oil is becoming more and more popular as a multi-tasking moisturizer for hair and body. When it comes to hair, it's one of only two natural oils with molecules that are the right size and shape to penetrate the hair cortex (palm kernel oil is the other). Beautygeek Liza Herz uses coconut oil as an overnight conditioning treatment to keep her lovely shoulder-length grey hair supple, shiny and frizz free. For the body, coconut oil is a dreamy moisturizer on damp skin after your warm shower. It melts on contact with skin and penetrates quickly to leave limbs silky and comfortable. Try dabbing some on lips before lip balm.
And let's not forget petroleum jelly ($2.99 at well.ca), which can be really helpful for dry, cracked skin. Its occlusive nature means that it works like a band-aid: it barricades moisture in damp skin and protects skin from external aggressors. Outdoorsy types who like to ski might consider it for protecting cheeks against winter wind; we already know it works as lip balm. Instead of a fancy cuticle cream, Liza uses petroleum jelly to keep her cuticles in good shape. Best to apply right after washing hands and patting them dry.
budget beauty: bring the salon home
A high price-tag nail polish isn't necessary for beautifully finished nails. Our mani-geek Karen puts Sally Hansen in her top-five favourite brands for quality and colour. Try Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Extreme Wear Nail Color ($3.49 at drugstores, well.ca), which comes in an array of compliment-worthy shades. If you're a fan of a certain shiny hybrid gel/polish salon manicure, try the Sally Hansen Salon Gel Polish Starter Kit ($74.99 at drugstores, well.ca) includes a hybrid gel/polish formula, and will pay for itself in two or three uses.
If you're cutting back on those salon waxing appointments, Nair can help ease the sting with easy-to-use at-home systems that deliver convenient, long-lasting results. The Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Perfect Temp ($14.99/body and $9.99/face & bikini at drugstores) wax is infused with conditioning mango butter and clay, and when you warm the strips between your hands, the logo disappears to indicate they're ready to use. For facial hair removal, the Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Total Care Facial Hair Removal Trio ($19.99 at drugstores) has everything you need from skin prep to finishing.
If you're a sugaring fan, Nair has you covered, too. At the end of this month, the brand is launching new Nair Candy Apple Sugar Wax ($14.99, drugstores). Nair Moroccan Argan Oil Perfect Temp wax strips ($14.99 at drugstores) will be hitting shelves at the same time. And hey, remember to give yourself that generous tip on the way out of your bathroom salon.
Hope your wallet (and your pants) feel larger soon!