Sometimes we beauty enthusiasts spend shameful amounts of money on the brightest new colors and bling-iest products, and forget the folk remedies that could change our look for just pennies. Here are a few of my favorite beauty tricks that use stuff you may already have in your house, right under your nose.
In The Kitchen
Everyone knows that tea bags can help eliminate eye puffiness (steep two tea bags, freeze them, then place on the under-eye area for about 10 minutes.) But did you know you can use them to repair broken nails, too? You just need a tea bag, nail glue, and nail polish. Here’s how to do it!
Olive oil has always been a staple in the beauty regimes of Italian women because of its moisturizing properties. It’s a great fixer for everything from dry, brittle cuticles to ashy elbows to parched lips. But it has some other uses you might not know of. You can use olive oil to deep-clean dirty makeup brushes and remove makeup from the most sensitive skin in a gentle, all-natural way. To clean a brush, soak the bristles for a few seconds in olive oil; this will break down the heavy emollients left from lipstick or other creamy products. Then rinse out the oil with shampoo and warm water, reshape it like you would a paint brush, and lay it flat to dry. Your brush will be clean, conditioned, and ready to go! To use as a makeup remover, add a drop of olive oil onto a cotton swab or pad and gently dab or wipe makeup away.
There is always room for Jello, especially cherry! This shade of red is the perfect tint for a DIY cheek stain. Mix with warm water and apply to the apple of the cheek until you get the desired depth. If you don’t have any jello on hand, you can also mix a drop of red food coloring into a drop of Karo (corn) syrup. Artists often use the combo to make fake blood, but it’s also great for adding the perfect, natural-looking flush to cheeks.
Putting teaspoons in the freezer and placing them over tired eyes to sooth and depuff is an old trick—but spoons are also great for adding subtle curl to even the straightest eyelashes (similar to using a spoon to curl ribbon for gift-wrap): you place the edge of a spoon right at the root of the lash, then press firmly against the spoon with the pad of your thumb. Then gently pull the spoon up and out, away from the lid. Check out this video tutorial from Beautylish member Italia D to see the technique step by step.
In The Bathroom
Technically, this product is an herbal laxative (available on Amazon), but if you throw some of the flakes in a pot of boiling water, it’s great for steaming the skin and deep-cleansing pores. It’s an old-school secret that Ford models used back in the day—the combination of herbs and essential oils is perfect, and also inexpensive. I recommend 1 tablespoon in a small saucepan for dry skin and 2 tablespoons for oily or normal; add the Swiss Kriss into the water after it boils.
It’s an old drag queen tip to use this common antacid (in its liquid form) to keep shine in check on oily skin. Note, this trick is not for everyday use, because after a while, it can force your glands to over-secrete oil as your skin tries to balance itself. But for a humid night out, it can work wonders.
One of our most basic hygiene tools is also a great secret weapon for today’s HD cameras and Instagram selfies. Use a soft-bristle brush with a touch of lip balm to remove dead skin from flaky lips. You can also gently stimulate circulation in the face with a soft toothbrush, so the complexion comes up healthy and supple. As a quick fix for taming baby-fine flyaways or taking flakes away from a center part or hairline, a toothbrush is great for touching up hair, too.
In The Home Office
Filling in brows is tricky business, and a lot of artists have a tendency to go overboard. For a soft fill-in to finish pretty much any brow color, try a standard #2 pencil. The taupe hue is perfect for shading and looks like a natural shadow, and not like makeup.
Many of us have a few old CDs laying around the house, and probably never use them for actual listening anymore. The discs are the perfect size and shape to use as makeup palettes—just slip your thumb through the center hole. The smooth surface allows you to place and mix product to your heart’s content without wasting a drop.
Beauty is all about getting creative, right? What are your most creative DIY beauty tips?
As Director of Artistry for The Makeup Show, The Powder Group and On Makeup Magazine, makeup artist James Vincent has touched every facet of the industry with his talent. With specialties in film and theatre, television and celebrity work, editorial and runway work, James is foremast a passionate educator, training for brands such as MAC, Stila, CNN and Lancome. He continues to inspire the next wave of artists with his beauty expertise. Follow James on Twitter @JVincentmakeup.