Reader Suggestions: Beauty Routines Of The Frugal And Fabulous

Today, I’ve gathered sage advice from Frugalwoods readers about frugal beauty routines because I’ve always been stumped by beauty routines. When I turned thirteen, I felt like I should do something to my body in the area of beauty routines using beauty products. What that was exactly remained a mystery. I was overwhelmed by the beauty section at Walmart, which was the only store we went to that sold such things. It was off in a corner behind the pharmacy, and it smelled of womanly things. Floral, heady, foreign.

Natural beauty: peonies in our garden

I’d wander those aisles while my parents bought toothpaste and toilet paper. I’d read the labels on body spray, trying to discern if you were supposed to spray it on your body during or after showering. Because then there was also body wash and body lotion. Did these all work in concert? Or were you supposed to use just one of them? Makeup represented the ultimate mystery.

My mom showed me how to apply it, using her stash, but I thought it made me look orange. I settled on a routine of vanilla-flavored lip smackers (glorified chapstick) and vanilla-scented hand lotion.

Welcome to my monthly Reader Suggestions feature! Every month I post a question to our Frugalwoods Facebook group and share the best responses here. The questions are topics I’ve received multiple queries on and my hope is that by leveraging the braintrust of Frugalwoods nation, you’ll find helpful advice and insight. Join the Frugalwoods Facebook group to participate in next month’s Reader Suggestions!

My Former Makeup Routine

I progressed to wearing makeup in high school and college and by the time I started my first real person job, I wore a full court press every single day. I didn’t leave the house without:

  • Sunscreen moisturizer
  • Foundation/cover-up
  • Blush
  • Powder
  • Eye liner
  • Eye shadow
  • Mascara
  • Lip balm
  • Lipstick
  • Perfume
  • Manicure (DIY)
  • Pedicure (also DIY)
  • Hairspray

Wow. At the time, this didn’t seem excessive. It felt normal and it was what I needed in order to feel beautiful and confident. In retrospect, this list looks lengthy, expensive, and terrible for the environment. I shudder to think how much time I spent primping myself every morning. Actually, I have a pretty good idea of how much time this routine gobbled because once I stopped doing it, I had enough time to start Frugalwoods.

I am Pro-Beauty and Anti-Marketing

Me in full makeup (and pregnant w/Kidwoods!) back when Mr. FW and I were on The Today Show

I am not anti-makeup. I am not anti-beauty. What I am anti- is the mindset that I used to have. I thought I NEEDED all of those products. I thought I HAD TO wear all of that in order to look presentable, professional, and beautiful. I did not like how I looked naturally. I was embarrassed when someone popped over to my house and I wasn’t in full makeup. This was a limiting, self-defeating way to live.

Beauty advertisements are designed to make us feel horrible about ourselves. They plant the idea that things are wrong with how we look, no matter what we look like. Don’t fall victim to this. It’s fake news. I have an entire treatise if you’re interested in delving into this topic: Less Makeup, More Confidence: My Frugal Beauty Manifesto.

Five years ago, my decision to live more frugally prompted a lot of self-reflection. Frugality isn’t just about saving money. It’s about examining every aspect of your life with an eye toward simplifying in order to generate deeper fulfillment. At least, that’s what it is for me. I realized I was using makeup as a crutch to bolster my self-esteem and mitigate my anxiety. And it didn’t do a very good job of either. Makeup was covering up my insecurities about who I am and what I’m capable of.

Since it was so ingrained in my sense of self, I couldn’t give up makeup proactively. I clung to it, I relied on it. So, I stopped wearing it when it ran out. I used up most of the makeup I had (including a weird backlog of free samples and stuff my mom and sister didn’t want) and when it was gone, I didn’t buy more. I go into greater detail about this in my book, but the gist is that I eliminated one product at a time until all that was left was sunscreen and mascara. Eventually, I let the mascara go too. The sunscreen remains.

I still put on my full-court press for things like weddings, speaking engagements, television interviews, and headshot photos. But I don’t feel compelled to wear it every day or every week or even every month. It’s liberating to leave the house without all this stuff on and, most importantly, to feel confident about it.

Kinda old and kinda tired: how I roll

I think I look better (and less like an exhausted mom) with eyeliner and mascara, but I don’t bother with those most days. I usually wear them to church–that being my one “fancy” outing per week–and on our monthly date night (although Mr. FW prefers my face makeup-less). I used to wear lipstick to date nights, but realized the texture was interfering with the enjoyment of my cocktail/beer/glass of wine, so I stopped.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and think I look kind of old and tired, but that’s because I am kind of old and tired. Ultimately, I just don’t care. I’m confident about who I am and what I look like. I’m proud of the work I do. I’m proud of my children. I love my husband and am loved by him. I am appreciated by my friends and I appreciate them. I’m also being treated for postpartum depression and anxiety, which I’ve come to realize used to impact my self-esteem. I suffered from an undercurrent of anxiety for probably a decade or more and, now that it’s under control with medication, many of my self-doubts have vanished. It’s a nice way to live. It’s a liberating way to live.

It’s also important to me that I set an example of positive body image for my two daughters. I don’t want them to grow up thinking I’m displeased with my body and that they too should seek out flaws in their appearances. I want to model confidence and happiness with how I look naturally. Children learn through example and imitation. The words I use to describe my appearance are the words they’ll carry with them and are very likely the words they’ll later use to describe their appearances. I want them to say things like “I am strong! I am happy! I love my hair! My skin looks nice!” (these are all things I say about myself, which sound ridiculous when written down for an adult audience, but which sound perfectly natural when said within earshot of my three-year-old and one-year-old).

Mrs. Frugalwoods’ Beauty Regime and Products

Natural beauty + a gigantic bow

Let me finally wend my way around to the topic at hand: my beauty regime. I get asked this question a lot. ALLL the time. You all want to know what products I use and what routines I follow and I’m always like, uh, hmmm…. what DO I do?

That sense of thirteen-year-old overwhelm in the Walmart beauty section rears back and I’m besotted with incompetence. Beauty products are a serious blindspot for me. I lack the interest/knowledge/fortitude to make my own or even really research them. So…. what I’m hoping is that you all will steer me right today. But since you asked, here’s the rundown of what I do and what I use.

Note: I buy these products wherever I find the best price, which is either at Amazon, Walmart, or BJ’s. I’ll try to note which store below.

Face:

Body:

  • Soap: Lever 2000 bar of soap. This is one of the cheapest soaps sold by BJ’s and we buy it in bulk. Extra bonus when it’s on coupon! Nothing fancy, but gets the job done. I’ve used sooooooo many different fancy body washes and scrubs and loofahs over the years and my skin seems to come out exactly the same with cheap old Lever 2000. The scent isn’t too strong (although I could do with even less). We tried a cheaper soap awhile back, but the fragrance was too intense.
  • Lotion: I put lotion on my entire body as soon as I get out of the shower (a tip I got from a Frugalwoods reader a few years back). I use whatever gentle, fragrance-free lotion is on sale at either BJ’s or Walmart: CeraVe, Cetaphil, Vasoline, etc. This keeps my skin happy and not dry or itchy.
  • Deodorant: Suave, which is the cheapest deodorant at Walmart and which doesn’t have too strong a fragrance. I’m considering switching to a crystal deodorant (even cheaper and no fragrance) after reading all ya’ll’s ringing endorsements of them (affiliate link). I’ll keep you posted. Mr. FW and I tried the Tom’s Of Maine natural deodorant a few years back and we both hated it because it didn’t keep us non-stinky and it burned my sensitive armpit skin! Double fail.

Hands:

Hair:

  • My new short ‘do

    This is a bit up in the air right now as I just chopped off my long locks and am transitioning to the Curly Girl method (affiliate link).

  • I used to use whatever shampoo and conditioner were on sale in bulk from BJ’s or Walmart (which is what Mr. FW uses).
  • Now, I’m seeking inexpensive, Curly Girl-friendly products. So far, I’m liking the Suave Clarifying Shampoo, the As I Am Co-Wash, and the LA Looks blue gel (affiliate link, bought on Amazon).
  • I splurged on a bottle of Deva Curl conditioner (affiliate link, bought on Amazon), which I like, but which I probably won’t be willing to splurge on again… so, I’m in search of a frugal analogue for that (recommendations welcome!). I also think I need a deep conditioning product, so please give me your Curly Girl frugal recommendations.

Razor:

  • After making the (not at all surprising) discovery that Mr. FW’s razors were both cheaper and worked better than my lady razors, I switched over to his brand (the Gillette Fusion). In all honestly, I don’t shave very often, which means my hair doesn’t grow very quickly. I used to shave every other day and my hair grew like a rocket. Now, it barely grows in a week’s time.
  • I also used to use horrible-smelling hair removers and waxes that gave me terrible rashes and chemical burns. I stopped that and now just use a fresh razor blade for any unwanted hair. Easier, cheaper, less smelly, better for the environment, rash-free, and faster. Wins all around.

Eyebrows:

  • I tweeze my robust, thick, dark Italian eyebrows with a tweezers. Then, I trim them with a nail scissors. I think I’d have a unibrow if I didn’t do this. The key with doing your own eyebrows is figuring out the line you want and then simply maintaining it. I pluck a few hairs every few days, which takes about 1 minute, and keeps the line of my eyebrows where I want it. People without thick eyebrows think this sounds crazy, but people with thick eyebrows understand where I’m coming from. For some reason, my eyebrows want to take over my face. Pretty sure they have a Napoleon complex.
  • Same goes for any other untoward hairs (chin, etc): I tweeze with regularity. Takes about 30 seconds, is free, and doesn’t involve complicated, messy hair removers or an appointment at the salon.

If you’re wondering what we products we use on our kids, check out this post: How I Saved Tons Of Money During My Baby’s First Year

Let me add my standard disclaimer: what I choose to do isn’t “right” or “best” or “most correct.” You might do something completely different and that is 100% fine. We can still be buddies. I’m not here to make clones of myself. That’d be equal parts creepy and boring. The goal of Frugalwoods is to encourage each of us to examine our lives and our decisions to determine if we’re happy with what we’re doing. To determine if we’re conscious of how we’re spending our money. To determine if we’re choosing to do things/buy things because WE want to or because we feel we SHOULD do them as a result of pressure from society/marketing/the media. You do you. I’ll do me. We’ll both be happier.

Without any further ado, let’s see what advice you all offered up this month!

Beauty Routines Of The Frugal and Fabulous

I attempted to divide your advice into categories although, as you’ll see, most readers cover a range of topics in their responses.

Hair

Very little hair and we don’t care

Claire wrote, “For decades I washed my hair daily and after every workout because my hair seemed super oily. A friend suggested that my scalp might overproduce oils BECAUSE I washed so frequently. So, I “trained” my hair to go longer between washes and now only wash it 2-3 times/week. I still shower most days and after workouts, but I skip washing my hair. (After particularly sweaty workouts, I’ll wet and message my scalp in the shower then style it afterwards as if I washed it.) Not only has this cut my shampoo/conditioner spending in half, it also takes less time in the morning. I’m not going to retire on this hack, but by doing it, I learned that I was really letting “perfection” be the enemy of “good” (though my hair was and never will look perfect) and this lesson will stick with me much longer!”

Erin says, “Wash long hair once a week – it saves money on shampoo and conditioner. Now my hair is used to weekly washing.”

Sheri wrote, “I color my hair (myself…go DIY!). While I have been told for years that I need fancy (i.e. pricey) shampoos and conditioners to preserve my color, I’ve found that good old, affordable Suave products work great!”

Robin said, “LOVE Dr. Bronners! I use their bar soap for my hair, as it works better with hard water. I also dilute the hand soap!”

Melissa wrote, “I embraced my curls about a year ago and it’s made a huge difference. I wash my hair less and co-wash (conditioner wash) the days I don’t wash. I leave my hair curly with minimal product and it looks so healthy! I have to get it thinned out because it got super thick once I wasn’t flat ironing it every day.

Otherwise we use bar soap and wash cloths. I don’t wear makeup because I just don’t. I moisturize my body most days and my hands most nights before bed. I do buy decent store brand sunscreen for the summer and I use a facial moisturizer with sunscreen on my face year round. I’m also not brand loyal so whatever is on sale works well enough.

Oh, and when Rite Aide went out of business up the street I stocked up last year. I think I’m finally finishing up all the expensive products I bought at 80% off. 😉”

Daffodils know where it’s at

Erin suggests, “Bar soap and a loofah rather than body wash! Even great quality bar soap is so affordable and with a loofah one bar lasts forever for me. Wish I’d switched sooner to save the $$ and plastic waste from bottles of bodywash. 🤦‍♀️Also, shhh, I only wash my hair a couple times a week–happier hair and I guess that’s frugal too. And diy haircuts (I use variations on the ponytail method) but you’ve written all about that already. Side benefit for me is no forced smalltalk with the hairdresser, however nice they are. My hands get really dry, so every so often I use socks as mittens for an overnight hand moisturizing treatment–coconut oil or whatever rich moisturizer.”

Carolanne uses, “Solid shampoo/conditioner from Lush. Costs around £7 ($ 9) – lasts me for a year. ( I have short hair)”

Sarah shared, “I get my hair cut at the Aveda School in my city. Yes, it takes longer, but because the work is performed by students, the cut is much more affordable (a student wash and cut costs me $16 and the hair lightening $75 – $100). I get it lightened once a year at the school as well. Not necessary, but It is a little annual treat for myself.”

Deodorant

Cortney wrote, “I use this deodorant, and it lasts forever! I got the two pack almost a year ago and haven’t broken into the second one yet! Deodorant Stones of America: Thai Crystal Deodorant (affiliate link).”

Rebecca likes, “coconut oil for hair and skin. crystal deodorant lasts forever and works well!”

Stephanie shared, “I’ve recently switched to crystal deodorant. I use grapeseed oil for moisturizer. Occasionally I need a face scrub and use a tiny bit of baking soda in water.”

Cecelia wrote, “I use Dr Bonner’s tea tree on my face (it really helped through teenage acne). I also use cheap conditioner as shaving cream. Buying organic shampoo/conditioner in bulk helps keep costs down. I’ve tried many low cost/homemade deodorants but I am extremely sensitive and use old spice men’s. Always check men’s razors and deodorant, the pink tax is a real thing!”

Skin

Zachariah shared, “I recently went vegetarian and my skin has drastically changed. My pores feel tighter and it feels fresher and more luminous. And it saves me money.”

Sunflowers in the garden

Nancy loves the, “Basis sensitive skin bar. I buy it at a discount store for less than $2 a bar and it lasts a long time – I use less than 3 bars a year. It doesn’t irritate or dry out my skin. Gold Bond healing lotion works winter and summer as an all over body lotion at a great price. The best buy is the large pump size.”

Kathleen wrote, “I don’t have much of a beauty routine, but with fairer hair I have always used sunscreen and I have always chosen those made for children. I have found that I get a higher SPF for a more reasonable cost.”

Barb said, “I now swear by Target’s bath stuff. Their face wash and shower gel are awesome, and only $2 each. Great price, smells good, gets the job done without frills. I make my own sugar scrubs at home, they’re exfoliating and moisturizing! Roughly 2 parts sugar to 1 part mineral oil (odorless), and a drop or two of food coloring and a few drops of essential oil. Mix up and store in a container like tupperware. If you find it’s too oily add more sugar! Try to avoid getting it wet in the shower (keep it outside and use a spoon to scoop out whatever you need). Rub till the sugar dissolves for exfoliating action; keep rubbing in the oil for moisturizer. No need for lotion when you’re out of the shower!”

Rosalie said, “I’m pretty particular about using gentle and less-toxic products so this is an area where we are somewhat spendy. But my wife and I both shower every other day and go pretty sparingly in using shampoo/conditioner/soap/other products, so they do last quite a while. I recently got into trying a bit harder on skin care (aging + it’s a nice form of self-care as a tired and harried mom) and bought a few things from The Ordinary, which is extremely cheap for advanced skincare stuff, and terrific. We buy most of our household items through Amazon subscribe & save, which helps a lot. (Products I use pretty much daily: Yes to Carrots shampoo & conditioner, Method bodywash, Native deodorant, Cerave facewash, Trader Joe’s oil cleanser, The Ordinary hyaluronic acid serum, buffet serum, caffeine eye serum, and moisturizer, Supergoop sunscreen.)”

Nora uses, “Grandpa’s tar soap and olay sensitive skin moisturizer.”

Hi there

Samangi wrote, “I use pure organic white coconut oil (I love the brand in Aldi for $4.29 or so), and no longer use moisturizing lotion. I have been using the one jar I bought in fall. Still half of it left. So one jar is plenty for one year (for one person). Not only does it reduce (eliminate really) plastic consumption, it is better for our skin, planet, and also ethical (no animal testing). I use coconut oil on my hair as well (which I wash only 2-3 times a week).  Pure white (fresh smell with white) and unrefined (essential) coconut oil smells wonderful too. Also, I make my own sugar wax at home (sugar and lemon juice) maybe once or twice a year, and wax legs at home. My skin is too sensitive for shaving. Plus with wax, I only wax once a month in warmer months.”

Rose uses, “Bar soap and suave shampoo. Dorco razor refills. Drugstore makeup. I don’t skimp on sunscreen though.”

Cortney wrote, “I mix a drop of tea tree essential oil with a half dropper full of 100% argan oil from Trader Joe’s for my facial skin care. Keeps my acne at bay (or clears it up whenever I do break out), and I love the smell, I use 100% Pure brand’s caffeinated eye cream as well.”

Pauline shared, “Ages ago when I was young we mostly wore mascara and lip smackers! One thing I truly recommend is starting to wear daily SPF facial moisturizer when you hit your 20s. Skin cancer happens to too many women. I use it every day, Kroger Brand is just like Olay, and doesn’t sting your eyes :)”

Babywoods in the yard a few summers back with some of our peony harvest

Marisa wrote, “Make my own soap from coconut oil and olive oil. This makes body soap, laundry soap and I’d love to say hair but my hair hated it. So I use a locally made vegan brand. Expensive but one bottle lasts six months so that’s ok. Also I use high end beauty products for my face but I buy these on special or when the company has two for one offer. I usually buy enough for one year when they do that. Saves hundreds each year.”

Sarah said, “I make a face lotion out of olive oil, bees wax, jojoba oil, shea butter, and honey. It lasts forever and doesn’t irritate my skin. I never compromise on sunscreen because my skin is so fair and I don’t want to burn or get skin cancer.”

Kelly shared, “Coconut oil is a great moisturizer especially in winter. I use corn starch for dry shampoo so I typically wash my hair 2 or 3 times a week.”

Roxane wrote, “I have very sensitive skin and love using pure aloe vera gel (I recommend the Jason brand 94% pure aloe- 7$) as a night time face moisturizer or leave on mask. I just apply a thin layer and in the morning my skin is so smooth. As a bonus, no mess on my pillowcase since it’s clear and absorbs so quickly! I also keep it on hand to apply on any type of skin irritation, bug bite or (of course!) sunburn.”

Face and Makeup

Lynn wrote, “I am a big fan of of raw honey as face wash! It feels great. Breaks down grime and oils, removes makeup and it is non toxic and naturally antibacterial!”

Apple blossoms on our apple trees last spring

Jacinta said, “Tinted moisturizer and mascara are my only makeup items. The moisturizer also has sunscreen in it so pulls triple duty. Then i use rosehip oil once a week after washing my face. Lasts ages and leaves your skin feeling plump and so so soft.

Nicole shared, “My best trick is using witch hazel as a makeup remover. You can get store brand witch hazel for cheap, and it is such an effective makeup remover. I also agree with washing my hair twice a week; I have really thick long hair so washing it every day would be too much work!”

Teresa wrote, “I make my own face scrub, 6 tablespoons each sugar, baking soda and Himalayan sea salt and 3 tablespoons each liquid Castile soap and liquid coconut oil. I mix it in an old jar and it works great for me.”

Carrie wrote, “I love these masks (affiliate link). I suffer from dry skin and they help immensely. My skin also feels tightened afterwards. I do them 1-2 times a week. At $11 for 16 masks that 8+ weeks of treatment.”

Kellie said, “I use spent coffee grounds as my face scrub. I was buying a lovely vegan, low waste, natural ingredient one before that and loved it…but wanted to save the cash as it was the only expensive thing I was still using. I love the coffee grinds. I usually throw them on the garden (and still do) as the plants love them, but now I grab a little handful every few days for face wash. I got one of my fancy face washes for Christmas as a gift from someone and used it a bit, but now I much prefer my coffee!”

Jen uses, “Baking soda for a face scrub.”

Household Supplies: Hand Soap, Laundry Detergent

Apple crop in the rinsing bucket

Lindsay said, “I’ve saved a huge amount of money over the years using Dr. Bronner’s for hand soap. I buy a Method foaming hand soap dispenser, and once it’s empty, fill it up with about 1/5 Dr. Bronner’s and 4/5 water. It foams and cleans nicely and is very gentle for skin. I’ve had one of my Method dispensers for almost 4 years now, and just had to replace the other one. Besides the money savings, it’s great that I’m generating a lot less plastic waste.”

Justin said, “We make out own laundry detergent. $15 in supplies and you make batches of 5 gallon at a time. Saves a ton of money on detergent and the color in the clothes lasts longer. Old mennonite recipe.”

Kate wrote, “I did try making my own powdered laundry detergent and never looked back. It’s super easy to make, never goes bad, and is so neutral that the commercial fragrance free products now have a smell to me. Anyone worried that their skin is reacting to something in their clothes should give it a shot. (Recipes are everywhere online, but I do grated Ivory soap, washing soda, and borax – all available at grocery stores – then add in extras as needed, like OxiClean, baking soda, or a scented oil).”

Amber wrote, “My kids were constantly wasting shampoo and body wash when dispensing; they would squirt out way too much. Now everything in the shower is in a bottle with pump dispenser. It has helped eliminate the waste in our house.”

The Whole Rundown

Carolyn wrote, “Face wash: one bar from Lush lasts me about 1.5 years. (Coalface, $10/year)
Moisturizer: I use Cetaphil from Costco. ($10/year)
Sunscreen: Trader Joe’s (‘Enrich’, $4/year)
One per week ‘fun facials’: I use an exfoliator and a charcoal mask (from Lush or Target) and some Korean facial packs my family gifts me! ($15/year)
I have combination dry/oily skin and prone to some breakouts.
(Note I tried to DIY face scrub with baking soda, and it definitely irritated my skin).
Also I’m very active and super smelly, and have tried TONS of deodorants, DIY and store bought. The best I’ve found is Schmidt’s… I’m so happy I found it!!!! Costco had it on sale. I could go on for hours about deodorant!”

I’m not really sure where I’m going with the photos in the post… But I really like how our apples looked last fall

Nicky shared, “Four principles for me: reduce the number of products you use; use less of each individual product; find a less expensive brand that suits you; stock up when there are special offers. My yearly spend is just over £50, and could be half that if I used a cheaper moisturiser. A kidney bean size blob of garnier fructis shampoo and conditioner, 2 for $6aud on offer at Coles (I don’t wash the conditioner out, so I need less) – I started both current bottles 5 months ago and have 20% left. A small smear of Aquafresh toothpaste, £1 on offer at Boots, Superdrug, or Sainsburys (my dentist told me that if you have to spit out foam you’re using too much) – one small tube lasts 2 of us 2 months. One face cream for daily use – which must have spf, one body cream for when I need it. Currently L’Oréal revitalift, £6 from amazon, lasts 2 months (I consider this my luxury!) and Vitamin E body cream, £2.99 in superdrug, lasts a year. Crystal and other alternative deodorants didn’t work for me, and left me smelly. I now buy sanex, £1 on special offer Sainsburys or Boots – lasts 3 months and is effective. No soap, or shower gel (and my skin is very happy about that!) I have a lipstick and mascara for occasional use, 2 nail varnishes and remover – Christmas presents from my sisters, and generally dry up before I wear them out! I buy sunscreen as needed – I consider it essential – but often cover up instead! A damp rough muslin cloth makes a great face or body exfoliator.”

Cindy shared, “I have sensitive skin, rosacea, and cold urticaria so I pay the price where I need to but try to find deals on everything:

Face Care: Eucerin Redness Relief line of cleanser, daily SPF and perfecting lotion, and night crème. This line has reduced breakouts and helps reduce the general appearance of redness associated with rosacea. I buy this though Amazon Pantry. If you meet the minimum, you don’t have to pay the upcharge for pantry. This saves me a significant amount because the line ain’t cheap but it is on Amazon Pantry!

Make-up: Not really frugal but I use Bare Minerals mineral veil (with SPF) applied with their make-up brush: Essential to help protect me from flare-ups when I go out into the elements. My dermatologist made this recommendation and it is worth the price.

Kidwoods: massive fan of unripe apples…

Body Care: Body soap: Dove Unscented bar purchased in bulk at the wholesale club. I use this year round as well. It cleans well and helps with moisturizing.

Daily lotion: Lubriderm is the year-round the winner! I use the sensitive skin formula. After every shower. Every time. All year long. In the summertime, I use the one with SPF for my exposed extremities and it does not irritate.

Sunscreen: This one is harder because Coppertone changed their baby formula last summer and now it makes me break out in a rash! And so does every other sunscreen! Coppertone was my go to for 20 years and I never burned! If anyone has suggestions on this, please. I, and my sensitive skin that requires reapplication FREQUENTLY, beg of you.

Haircare: Shampoo: I have good hair that doesn’t seem to care what I use on it, but my scalp does! I find Suave products work really well for me, especially the shea butter and almond blend. Keeps my hair smooth and my scalp moisturized. My stylist refuses to believe such a cheap product works so well. It does!

Other Random Skin Care: Laundry detergent: This is essential to caring for your skin! Truly! I use All Free&Clear and buy it from the wholesale club. No irritating perfumes or dyes.

Dryer sheets: Any brand as long as it’s unscented. Frugal tip: dryer sheets are reusable at least four times before you need to throw them out.

Handsoap: I make my own foaming handsoap from Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille, NOW Solutions glycerin, and filtered water. It’s wonderful, good for my hands, and costs about $20/year to make/maintain for my family of 3. I hardly ever need to use hand lotion.

Nails: I use Vitamin E oil to keep my cuticles from falling apart. Applied once a week, a little $6 bottle lasts me 4 years.”

Me harvesting apples last summer

Megan wrote, “I shower as needed. Usually 2 or 3x in a week. I wash my hair 2x a week max. I switched to sulfate free shampoo and that made a huge difference, my favorite is the not your mothers brand. Make up- I switched to a CC cream and then finish with eyeliner and an eyebrow pencil. I use basic unscented lotion. All from Amazon for convenience and all affordable and cruelty free. My goal is to try to LIMIT how many products I have. I used to try every new product, scent, etc and never finished and my bathroom was full of products. Now it is super easy to find everything and we have plenty of room!”

Lynn shared, “I’m fortunate to not have sensitive hair/skin. A few years ago, I lucked into some coupons for shampoo and body wash, just as a bunch of varieties that the coupons were for were being discontinued at a local supermarket. I picked them up for free between the markdown and coupon and have been chipping away at my stash ever since. I still occasionally see deals, but there’s a valid possibility that my present amount might outlive me, so I don’t pick up any more. I’m not a big couponer, but it’s pretty easy to score deals on bath products if you’re not brand conscious.”

Gwen uses, “No makeup, no conditioner, I buy face cream and usually add sunscreen (life in Spain), short hair, shampoo twice a week, more in summer. I DIY lip balm (karite and cocoa butter, bee wax, honey, mandarin essential oil), at night I sometimes use hazelnut oil on my face, with or without a drop of essential oil (lavender or basilic), I also do a hair mask (DIY) whenever necessary, I wash with soap and receive perfumes or creams as gifts every year or so. Only things I haven’t really figured out yet are body lotion and toothpaste, I keep looking for better options that those I currently use.”

Summary

Many thanks to everyone who shared their beauty secrets with the frugal world today! It’s kind of tough to summarize this advice because the resounding, overwhelming theme is that everyone has different beauty needs, requirements, skin types, and priorities. Identifying what those needs and priorities are will take you a long way toward ensuring you’re not overspending and over-consuming. Right now, I’m prioritizing my hair and figuring out how to best co-wash and style it to achieve maximum natural curls with minimum time and effort. Once I have that on autopilot, I’ll simply buy the cheapest products that work for me and won’t think much more about it. By knowing what’s cheapest and what’s most effective for my skin, I’m able to minimize expense and effort–my goal in all things.

Start By Clearing Out Your Backlog of Beauty Products

My bathroom used to be jammed with products of all sorts that I’d buy on whim, try out, and cast aside. Partially-filled bottles of shampoo, lotion, and concealer dotted the landscape. If you’re wondering where to start with a more conscious, frugal beauty routine, start with using up everything you already own.

Hiking baby

During the early days of my frugal journey, I did a clean-out-the-pantry challenge in my bathroom cabinets. I used up every last bottle of every last product. Anything I didn’t want to use, I offered to friends. If they didn’t want it, I recycled it. Don’t keep this stuff lying around, cluttering up your brain and bathroom. Clear it all out, use it all up, and then make judicious, considered decisions about what you want to buy next, if anything.

After clearing all the junk out, I eliminated a lot of products from my life and never bought them again. Only the things I used every day–and really enjoyed–were replaced.

Come Hang Out With Me In NYC!

Me in NYC a few years ago.

Ok this is not at all related, but I am SO EXCITED to share that I’ll be speaking at The Financial Gym (134 W. 25th St., New York, NY) on Thursday, May 2nd from 6-8pm. Actually, it’s sort of related because I’ll probably be wearing makeup (and nail polish) that day!

The event is FREE and, naturally, boxed wine + snacks will be served. Space is limited and so you need to RSVP here in order to reserve your spot.

Shannon McLay (Founder and CEO of The Financial Gym, friend of mine, all-around excellent person) and I will discuss financial independence, other money-related topics, and likely quite a few topics that aren’t related to money at all… Then I’ll do a Q&A! Did I mention there’ll be wine?! I hope to see you there!!

If you can’t make the event, you can watch via The Financial Gym’s Facebook LIVE starting at 6:30pm on May 2nd. The Financial Gym is a personal financial services company that takes a fitness-inspired approach to their clients’ finances. By working one-on-one with a Certified Financial Trainer, each client learns to make smarter money decisions.

April is financial literacy month and The Financial Gym is hosting FREE educational events every single night this month. If you’re interested in working with a trainer at the Gym, Frugalwoods readers can sign-up for a free introductory phone call here and save 20% on a Gym membership.

How do you balance personal care with frugality? Will I see you in NYC?

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110 Responses

  1. Oh i so could relate to your post.This was me before having my son.All dressed up with tons of makeup to office. But I kinda enjoyed it too. After having my son I never had the time for mascara n blush etc etc and after a while it didn’t even mattered much.

    And tweezing your own eyebrow is soooo good 🙂 Earlier I thought it was more time consuming but now I find it so easy and definetly not more than a 2-3 min job for that perfect eyebrow and it pains so much less .

    All the best for your speaking session .Cheers !!!

  2. Claire says:

    I bought a gallon jug of Dr. Bronners that I use for hand soap and body wash. I just refill it when I get low.

    • Jennifer Lee says:

      Dr, Bronners (lavendar for me )is good for everything! It is so concentrated that I use it for laundry detergent, face , hand and body wash as well as I mix it with baking soda once or twice a week to use an exfoliant. I take off any eye make-up I wear with coconut oil and wipe of lightly with a Kleenex or toilet paper. I then wash my face and rinse with twenty splashes. My skin looks great –I now rarely have any break outs and people always ask me what I use on it. As for Dr. Bronners I also have a cake of the soap in my shower–that is the only soap I use castile soap is very natural and gentle. I use whatever facial moisturizer I have on hand usually I do not need much. I do my own manicures and pedicures and now often find I do not even need the nail polish I used to feel was so necessary. I have a pixie haircut and I learned how to cut it by watching a You Tube video of a favorite style about 50 times LOL. I also get asked who does my hair with lots of compliments. Pixie cuts would cost me a fortune, so I had to learn how to cut hair myself. I could open a salon.. It is so much easier than when I had should length hair. I do use WEN Cleansing Conditioner(shhhhh) on my hair, but it lasts me nearly a year so it is my one splurge. My hair is shiny not dry and frizzy now and I am grateful for that. As far as make-up I only buy drug store brands and I go to online reviews for the best mascara–Revlon lipstick lasts the longest on me and many color choices are on trend.

  3. Marilyn says:

    Don’t tweeze eyebrows – dry shave. Takes five seconds.
    Goat milk soap for face. Spanish black soap (Magno, on Amazon) to smell heavenly.
    What’s with all these affiliate links?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I included the affiliate links so that people would know exactly which products I was referencing. I find that when I don’t, people ask a lot of questions about which product I’m referring to. I made notes of where I found the cheapest prices on each to try and help folks if they’d like to buy the same things.

  4. I know it sounds scary, but I switched to a straight razor a few years ago and it’s SO much cheaper. I get a better shave, too. There’s a learning curve for sure, but it’s been worth it.

    • Sorry, “safety razor,” not “straight razor!”

    • Liz says:

      I just made the switch a month ago and live it! Much better shave, I use whatever blades my husband gets from his barber and it’s much better for the environment! Have yet to use it for travel though so not sure how that’s going to work? I am definitely still in the learning curve though – I took another bandaid off my ankle this morning!!!

  5. Kelly says:

    Hm. I rarely use OTC products as I find the ingredients could compromise my long term health and beauty. I make my own products from organic cold pressed oil and botanicals, buy from quality sources like Living Libations (Nadine is an excellent educator) and use good old fashioned inexpensive items, i.e. baking soda, mud and raw honey. Baking soda is a great soap replacement in the shower and even a shampoo. I’ve stopped using deodorant long ago as it is associated with multiple health risks. A clean diet (for me plant based) goes a long way to reducing body odor. And green foods are natural internal deodorants. Once a clean diet, fresh air and pure water kicked in, I feel no need for any makeup. 🙂

  6. Ashley says:

    I am not into makeup too much, but I am a skin care junky. I get overwhelmed with all of the choices so constrain myself to: Cerave, The Ordinary, and Paula’s Choice. Those brands are the ones at a low to moderate price point that are backed by science, and not outrageous claims that no product can deliver. The Ordinary is my favorite because their prices are unreal, but it might be confusing at first. They label based on the actual ingredients and not claims. But their customer service is very helpful in helping you choose a regimen, and their website is helpful, as well. Paula’s Choice is more expensive, but I think some of their products are worth it. Sunscreen is key!!! It doesn’t matter what else you are doing for your skin if you are not protecting it from more damage. UVA rays (the kind that age but don’t burn you) are out even when overcast and make their way through windows.

    Also, the site beautypedia.com has been invaluable for me for (mostly) unbiased product reviews and general skin care information.

  7. Melissa says:

    By the way- you don’t look tired or old. I think there is too much pressure on women to continue to look 20 as we age into our 40’s and 50’s. As I got older, into my 30’s, and turned 40 this year, I just said f*#& it. This is the age I am. I have some grays in the curls, which I leave alone. I do pluck those wayward hairs, though…. 😉

    • splendidcakes says:

      AMEN!!! I’m 55 and I don’t want to be 20 (or 30, or 40) again. If someone else does, that’s their problem! What’s so terrible about looking tired anyway? You are, from doing important and tiring work! You’re the kind of person I want to know. O.k., I’ll take my soapbox and go now 😀. Thanks for bringing this up Melissa 😃

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes! Thank you!

  8. splendidcakes says:

    This may be common knowledge, but if it isn’t: sunscreen can be purchased with your HSA card! Also menstrual (and I think incontinence) products. Make sure you know all its benefits if you are fortunate enough to have an HSA.
    My son and I have sensitive skin- he in particular as he has severe eczema- so we use a lot of Cerave products. Not cheap but ceramides are amazing things.
    I am proud to say I have gotten my hair washing down to twice a month (with the help of dry shampoo- I’m absolutely going to try cornstarch as recommended by another commenter). My hair has NEVER looked so healthy. I would have gagged at the very idea in my youth, but my hair was fried back then 😂.
    Final idea- I read recently that hand sanitizer is an amazing deodorant. Absolutely terrible idea I thought , but I had a lot of hand sanitizer left from a time my son was taking a medication that lowered his resistance, so I tried it and it works like a charm! I’ve had no irritation either. I also use crystal deodorant and it is great.

  9. Helen says:

    Some months ago I finally found a good option for a not-dangerously-chemical deodorant called Nuud (Dutch product, I think) which actually works antistink for days with showering (sometimes two, sometimes more), so for me it makes sense to spend the seemingly high amount for it. I use one little drop each time, so one tube lasts long time.

  10. Jenn says:

    I notice a lot of people recommend bar soap and I used to use bar soap for years (Ivory) before we moved into a condo with fully tiled showers. I found the bar soap built up and made the grout orange really quickly (even with using a squeegee after every shower) so I switched to using liquid soap which has solved the problem but I don’t really like it.

    Has anyone else encountered this issue and/or does anyone have any tips as to how to resolve it? I’d love to go back to my bar soap.

    • Abigail says:

      If you only used Ivory soap, I would suggest trying a different bar soap to see if you get a different result. Our grout does get mildewed over time and I spray cleaner on the grout, let it sit for a while, and use a grout brush to scrub it.

  11. teresa says:

    I make my own deodorant after trying a name brand variety that was pretty pricey – 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp corn starch, 1 tbsp arrow root, 1 tbsp baking soda. You can use it just like this, but I like to add essential oil for a fresh scent. Either way – no stink at all, even after going to the gym!

    • Ari says:

      We’re super lazy and have had excellent luck with a 50-50 mix of baking soda and cornstarch. Yay for beauty products that live in your pantry!

    • MJ says:

      I got a horrible rash using the coconut and cornstarch combo, but I found that just plain coconut oil works really well too.

  12. Liz says:

    I started being more aware of beauty products and their ingredients about 6 years ago. I switched to some better, more natural products all round. Some of these are expensive but I get them when they go on sale, either online or in the supermarket. I developed plaque psoriasis in my armpits several years ago and tried a lot of other deodorants (including Tom’s which also hurt my armpits!!) until I came across an Aussie brand that I loved called Black Chicken. It’s in paste form and last me close to 5-6 months. No reactions and works really well! Last month I switched to a safety razor, bought a container of shaving soap (block form) and it’s so much better than disposables!! My husband switched to safety razors about two years ago and now we just share whatever blades his barber gives him when he gets his haircut (meaning share the packet, not the blades themselves!!). I need to change mine more often (about every two weeks) but at 9c/blade that’s still cheap! I use another Aussie brand Swisse SPF 30 tinted moisturiser every day and that’s it. I’d like to redo my makeup bag (wear it maybe twice a month) and actually learn how to apply it properly, because right now it’s a mess of various items most of which I don’t use. The time I do use eye makeup, coconut oil is a great way to take it all off. I also started using a natural organic face mask from another Australian company (we have the good stuff 🙂 ) that’s called Face Compost. You only use it once a week and so a bottle lasts a long time. It smells horrendous for the seven minutes you leave it on, but this will be my fourth week using it and so far I am happy with the results! Overall, one thing I have learned is that you don’t need to use as much of whatever product you are using. I used to pile moisturizer on years ago and then realized that half of it wasn’t even being rubbed in! If you choose good quality ingredients that work for you, then you don’t use as much and it lasts longer.

    • Anne says:

      I highly recommend Alima mineral makeup for a more natural choice in makeup. Their stuff looks Super natural, has tons of Color options, lasts forever, and is great for your skin.

  13. Ros says:

    For shampoo, can I throw out a rec for the recipe from the Hands on Home by Erica Strauss? It involves honey and essential oils and castile soap and is kind of weird, but it works great, leaves my hair bouncy, and has all but eliminated the dandruff issues I had even with Head and Shoulders!

    Overall it’s a fantastic book, but this was an unexpected bonus recipe.

    • Knudsoka says:

      Yay for Erica and hands on home! I’ve LOVED all the natural cleaning product recipes, and you’ve just inspired me to try the shampoo next. Thanks!

  14. Kara says:

    Garnier just came out with a deep condition hair mask that is ~$8 and Curly Girl Method approved! The line is called “Fructis Curl Treats.” I have not used them yet but they are on my list. I used to use Deva Curl everything but decided that I was being scammed (could definitely find much cheaper products that work just as well). Be patient with the CGM. I had a lot of heat damage and it took my hair about a year to settle into a nice curl pattern. Good luck!

  15. Jessie says:

    Hi there! Are you familiar with the Environmental Working Group? They are an unbiased non-profit and have some important consumer guides for cosmetics, cleaning supplies, sunscreen, etc.: https://www.ewg.org/
    For sunscreen, for example, if the whole point of wearing it is to protect us, it isn’t ideal to be using chemical formulas that have ingredients with known links to endocrine disruption (not to mention really harming the environment!). There are safer mineral/physical options that range in price that you can learn more about in the sunscreen guide they offer. Sadly there is woefully little regulation in the US around the personal care products industry right now so it really requires consumers to do research and put our $ to those companies that are doing better by us. Just because it is a name brand or says “natural” or even “for baby” does not mean that it is safe. It is all about progress and not perfection and safer swaps a little at a time.

  16. Isa says:

    I am so low maintenance when it comes to “Beauty Regiment”, I think I can’t even say that I have one. That said, I’m still feminine and dare I say pretty? I always had good skin naturally, so this helps a lot. My “routine” is…. no routine. I used to wash my face with a special facial soap, then put a toner and put creams morning and night, but I don’t anymore. I haven’t for many many years. I shower ever second day (unless I do a workout). In the shower I’ll use eighter diluated Castille soap or a face scrub (the cheapest I found at the moment, but I usually like to use the Yve’s one). Then I wash my body and hair (about once a week) with whatever is there (that I bought on sale). And that’s IT. The only makeup I wear is lipstick. Usually Burt’s bees. I don’t even own mascara! For my hair, well, I gave up a long time ago. I don’t want to spend a fortune at the hairdresser, and I have thick and curly hair that would require lots of time/energy/money to look amazing, so I don’t bother. I wet them, put some mousse (whichever one was on sale) and I attach them (messy buns/poney tail/braid). I have zero skills, patience or interest to mess with hair. Then I add an amazing pair of big earrings and I am ready for the day! I can be ready in 5 minutes in the morning, if needs be, it’s great! I would say for skin care that the best thing to do is avoid the sun. I try to never expose my face directly to the sun, it seems to preserve it.

  17. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for this fab post!! Have to bust your myth about shaving your body hair more makes it grow faster. Just not true! More likely your reduced growth of body hair that you’ve noticed is due to hormonal changes from the birth of your daughters. Our bodies just don’t care how much we’re shaving-it has no effect on amount/darkness/thickness of hair.

  18. D says:

    Thanks for pulling all of this information together Liz. Reformed beauty junkie here…think $1500 yearly spend reduced to maybe $150. A bout of eczema on my face propelled me down the “non-toxic”/green beauty rabbit hole about 7 years ago and I don’t love spending tons on this area (priorities shift with age!) so I have a lot say on this subject.

    Face: I wash with honey and moisturize with Weleda Skin Food. Amazing ingredients, super thick (my skin leans dry and needs the help), and a tube lasts about 8 months. I buy multiples when it’s discounted and cut open the tube to get every last bit. Sunscreen daily, cheap store brand because the natural zinc brands make my eyelids flake (even though I don’t apply there, so weird). Aztec Secret clay mask (about $8, 6 year old tub still going strong) mixed with ACV about once a week. I’m in my thirties and a tiny bit vain, so I recently forayed into the world of retinols via The Ordinary and I’m pretty pleased to have this cheap (under $10) and effective option.

    Makeup: Vapour Organic Soft Focus foundation. Not cheap, but it ticks all the boxes–“better for you” ingredients, good coverage, doesn’t make my skin feel crazy or worse. Lasts about a year and a half because a little goes a long way and I don’t wear everyday. Haven’t found the holy grail natural mascara so I just wear whatever, but not daily. Just using a lash curler works fine most days for me. I’m still working through my arsenal of “dirtier” products (blushes, shadows, liners), but it’s likely I’ll never get there because I just don’t wear makeup everyday anymore. I’m not squeamish about using older non-liquid stuff either because nothing terrible has happened yet. Reducing the complexity of my routines and caring about ingredients has improved my skin and made me realize I didn’t really need everything in the first place.

    Hair: Acure Organics shampoo ($9, lasts about 8 months because I don’t wash it everyday). No conditioner because my hair is thin/fine and doesn’t need to be weighed down.

    Body: Whole Foods 32oz Lavender Body Lotion ($8). Largest size available, lasts about 6 months. Diluted Dr. Bronner’s (“recycled” old foaming hand soap container) for body wash. Thai Crystal deodorant changed my life. Inexpensive, lasts forever and WORKS. I play hockey so I can vouch for how it performs with serious sweat–you’re still wet, but it magically controls all odor. It’s witchcraft. Not exactly “beauty” but Diva Cup is another life changer (cost-wise too!). I never miss a chance to tell people (male and female–everyone should know haha) about it so I’ll shout it out for good measure.

    I really could prattle on forever about this so I’ll cut it off here. Sharing tips and tricks really does help save everyone time and energy. Love your blog!

  19. Natalie says:

    Authoritative and comprehensive resource on skin care, make up and more from the Environmental Working Group:

    https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

    I check this website before buying anything in the aforementioned categories.

    I personally use a shampoo bars; no conditioner required.

  20. Beth says:

    Fellow curly girl here and new to the method. I joined the “Wavy & Curly & Coily Connect” facebook group and it’s a great place to ask for tips and see different methods that other people use!

  21. Cindy in the South says:

    I am 59 years old. I dye my hair with $3 dye from Walmart, I use Vaseline on my lips, cheap $1 bar soap on my body, Maybelline Great Lash for mascara, $1 eyebrow pencils from dollar store, $1 eye shadow from dollar store, dandruff shampoo from dollar store, and usually the conditioner in the hair dye will last me for a couple of weeks, but, if not $1 conditioner from a dollar store. I use whatever lotion I have been given, or I can find for a dollar. I buy sunscreen from Dollar General or Walmart, and I buy $1 Awesome from Dollar General or Dollar Tree for my laundry. My toothpaste is $1 at the dollar store or Wal mart, but once a week I use baking soda to make my teeth look white. I usually use vinegar and baking soda to clean the house, with an occasional squirt of dish soap, bought for $1. I just do not spend much on cleaning supplies for myself, nor the house, and I guess the mascara is the most expensive item I spend on (about $4.50 usually). I cut my own hair and keep it one length close to chin length.

  22. Bec B. says:

    Mrs. FW, I have friends who swear by Crystal but it irritated my (admittedly sensitive) pits. About a year before we started trying to get pregnant (still trying), I started to green up my body products. A friend gave me a thing of deodorant and I loved it, but it was SO expensive so I spent a painful couple of months trying out various deodorants and trying to make my own. One of my homemade experiments left me with pits so painfully red and irritated that I could barely wear a shirt for a week! I ended up going with the expensive first product (Bella Organics deodorant cream), which does last a long time. I will also give you a heads up that your body might be a little funky for a week or two if you’ve been wearing an antiperspirant if you switch to a natural, but after that period you should be fine!

    I used to put a TON of makeup on, then tried no makeup, and have found a happy medium with some makeup a few days a week. I tend to buy more expensive products but also use them very sparingly and buy them on sale. Most days, I put a tiny bit of concealer on my under eye circles and then sprinkle a little powder on my face, and brush my brows. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll add foundation and mascara. I would also recommend using the tinkle eyebrow razors to tame any facial hair that you might have. It also exfoliates so it’s a great twofer, and they’re cheap!

    As for everything else, I buy the two pack of vinegar from Costco for next to nothing. I use it as a laundry softener, a weed killer (don’t use it near plants you like!), a cleaner. Between that and Dr. Bronners, you can do a lot for very little.

  23. Katie says:

    Hi,
    I get my shampoo/conditioner at Marshalls – I keep experimenting with the different organic options. I use expensive Kiehls soap that I buy from ebay for cheap (I just love the exfoliation) My husband likes a pine soap from Zebs in North Conway so I stock up and wrap stuff up for our stockings every year. For shaving – I did the promos for harrys and some other company and then canceled and have shaving supplies for years. I go to a hairdresser twice a year and get a cheap cut. I make my own lip balm – found a burts bees recipe online. My biggest expense and weakness in this area is Lush bath bombs – trying to learn how to make my own. I dont wear make up unless I am going to a wedding.

  24. Paul Bruchez says:

    A guy so I likely will not read it all, but love your book and blog. You’ve a typo right after you discuss Post Partum Depression–“I’m” where I believe it should be “I’ve”. Right under the”Kinda old, kinda tired photo”.
    All the best,
    Paul

  25. frenchmama says:

    Since I live in France, French skin care, when bought in bulk, is actually the most frugal option for me! My husband and I use the traditional French method of washing our faces (splashing with water and patting gently with fingers–yes, Megan in Mad Men got that exactly right 🙂 ). Every two or three days, I now use an oil-based facewash for a deep clean (Uriage Xemose Huile Lavante). My husband uses it too 1x per week before he shaves. Used only 3-4x per week, it lasts a very long time, though I laid in a supply when it was discounted by 30 percent. I used to use one that was a bit cheaper, but it stopped working so well last year, and I finally decided to make the switch.

    To find a wash that works for me, I talked with our pharmacist at length. She gave me some great tips, and she even loaded me up with free samples. We tried them all , and the Uriage wash was the clear winner. With the samples we liked less, we used them 1x per week til they were used up (none were terrible, just not the best in show).

    Since I have oily skin, I only use moisturizer if my skin dries out during the coldest months (Jan and Feb). Most days, I only need one application at night. A dermatologist here told me it would be far better for my skin to only use it sparingly during cold snaps and not at all the rest of the year. That’s a prescription I love–very little cost to me! This winter, I splurged on a Bioderma face cream, as I’m pregnant and my skin is extra fickle because of the pregnancy hormones. I’ll likely go back to not using anything at all next winter.

    For sunscreen, we always break the bank. With our extremely fair skin and family histories of skin cancer, you can’t really put a price on prevention. We use La Roche Posay on our kids, waterproof infant formula, 50SPF. 25 euros per tube, as it’s the highest quality on the market over here. This will be cheaper this year, as we can transition to kid-formulation. We use Bioderma matte finish/dry touch sunscreen 50 SPF (16 euros/tube) on faces and necks, and a body sun cream from Bioderma for the rest of ourselves (20 euros/bottle). We get two tubes per season, per person, but we buy it at the end of the previous year during the buy one, get one 50% off sales.

    For sunscreen, it’s only sold up to 50 SPF over here, as any higher is actually ineffective past that point, according to our pharmacists and dermatologist! Well, with the EU ingredients and concentration we use, anyway. Food for thought!

    For shampoo and conditioner, my husband and I use the same brand, L’Oreal Long and Strong (that’s approx how it translates?) which we buy in bulk when it’s discounted. It costs us about 3 euros per bottle, which lasts between 1-2 months, depending on how hot it is. No other products.

    For my kids, we got a fistful of samples from their pediatrician each time they needed something a bit special over the winter months. They lasted us forever! I’ve only had to buy one massive tube (10 euros) of La Roche Posay Lipikar AP+ for them since after we ran out. On the pediatrician’s recommendation, we only wash our kids when they’re actually dirty or every 2-3 days, so they don’t cost us much in products. They use massive bottles of all-in-one shampoo and body wash from the pharmacy that I got on sale while I was pregnant with my first (Klorane brand) when they were having a massive sale. I bought four packs of three bottles (buy 2, get one free) and those are still going strong!

    I completely stopped using makeup over a decade ago. Entirely liberating, would do again in a heartbeat. Besides the many benefits Mrs FW mentioned, it’s also so much easier to pack for travel! I don’t need to worry about forgetting all of my lotions and potions, and I don’t need to allow weight room for them. I can grab a couple of shirts, knickers, jeans, and socks, plus a couple of refillable travel bottles of products and be ready to go in 5 minutes flat. (This is theory rather than practice atm, though, as with two small kids, things get much more complicated!) Also, if anyone asks why I don’t wear makeup, I can gladly tell them, “Because I’m happy with how I look.” Because I am! I look far more glam with makeup (as maid/matron of honor/wedding photos attest), but I’m fine with how I look every day. Plus, my husband always said, from when we were dating to the present, that he can give me unlimited kisses when there’s no makeup in the way. I’d much rather have kisses than makeup any day!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      So true about the kisses! I feel the same with my kids–they can kiss and snuggle my face anytime they want with no weird residue getting on them 🙂

  26. Holly says:

    I would recommend checking EWG’s Skin Deep https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ before using any product. Many products Mrs. Frugalwoods lists are not very favorably rated for safety.

  27. Margaret says:

    American sunscreen technology lags the rest of the world’s by a couple decades. No, really:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-25/america-is-losing-race-to-develop-the-sunscreens-of-the-future

    Anyway, I use this Japanese one, which is very light and very effective. Melts right into the skin, you can’t feel it at all, etc.

    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00SM997GE/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  28. Amanda says:

    I use Dr Bronners liquid castile soap for body wash. Dilute one part soap to two parts water and just reuse a plastic body wash bottle that you already have.
    I’ll use bar soap every once in a while, but I get tired of all the soap scum it can leave behind in the shower.

    Renpure cleansing conditioner works great on my curly hair. Also, you don’t have to use it every day, it’s perfectly fine to just
    rinse your hair with water in the shower and skip cleansing it a couple of times a week. You can get Renpure at a couple of different
    places but it’s on sale right now on Walgreens.com, buy two get one free. I think they offer deals like this on it pretty regularly.
    https://www.walgreens.com/store/c/renpure-cleansing-conditioner-lavender/ID=prod6268743-product

    I’ve used mousse, coconut or other types of oil, a little extra conditioner, or even a little bit of lotion in my hair to help with frizziness and keep curls looking good.

    I started using Rosehip seed oil on my face at the recommendation from an esthetician to help with everything from
    acne to wrinkles to dry skin to redness and have noticed a big difference. My face feels less dry and more smooth, and I have less redness since
    I started using it, so I would recommend it. I try to use it at night before bed or sometimes in the morning as a moisturizer.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KI3Z2UW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    For sunscreen I use the Neutrogena sheer zinc sunscreen.

    I’ve used several different hand/body lotions but as my skin is getting drier I have started using the more intense moisturizing lotions/creams and
    also use oils like coconut oil, vitamin E oil, and Japanese camellia body oil for moisture.

    In place of shaving cream I use lotion, works just as good if not better for shaving and it’s one less product to buy.

    I haven’t been using or wearing a lot of makeup lately but when I do I like the Covergirl CG smoothers hydrating liquid
    foundation, physician’s formula blush and eye shadow, essence lipstick and burts bees lip balm. I never use eyeliner or mascara.

  29. Shauna says:

    We had a ‘Beauty Exchange Box’ in my old office for those products that just didn’t work out. You could leave items in there for someone else to take out and try. It was a nice way to keep things out of the landfill. I have also seen some mostly full bottles of items at Goodwill or smaller samples of things packaged together at Savers.

  30. Katie N says:

    Yeah curly hair! After returning to work after baby #2, I was all about going even shorter with my curls in hopes of making it easier to wake up and get out the door. Now I’m a layered bob that just makes a ponytail for the awful days. My tip – silk pillowcase. I got the most basic from Amazon for about $8. I sleep with hair down, sometimes front pinned back, and it’s made a big difference in my ability to wake up and spritz hair fresh. Curls don’t get as mussed up.

  31. Megan Dales says:

    I’m a frugal girl using the curly girl method!! I use the Suave clarifying shampoo once every 2-4 weeks (I don’t use it every time I shower because it will strip your hair, followed by the Cantu Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque ($5.97 for a big tub of it that lasts a long time) to put some moisture back in. On the other days, I use the Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Aloe Extract Fortifying Conditioner ($4.99). This one doesn’t have silicones which is really importnat to avoid with the curly girl method. As far as a regular shampoo, I bounce to anything that is sulfate free! No need to splurge on the spendy DevaCurl products. You can also make your own hair gel using flax seeds! Super easy, super frugal, and very eco friendly.

  32. Genevieve says:

    To Cindy who has rosacea- this sunscreen is a little expensive, but popular and formulated for rosacea/acne:
    https://www.amazon.com/EltaMD-Clear-Facial-Sunscreen-Broad-Spectrum/dp/B002MSN3QQ

    About sunscreen in general, I recently read an article called “Is Sunscreen the New Margarine?” It goes into the science of sunscreen/skin cancer/vitamin D. It made rethink how I use sunscreen.
    https://www.outsideonline.com/2380751/sunscreen-sun-exposure-skin-cancer-science

  33. Rachel says:

    Shea Moisture is a great brand for curly hair and more affordable than the Deva Curl stuff. I buy it at Target.

  34. Anna Hamlett says:

    Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods! Love your blog! I love especially what you said about encouraging your daughters to love their natural selves and not look for flaws! That is a rare and beautiful message! Your blog is great and filled with so much good and helpful things! Just wanted to share that I have curly hair! I have found a brand that wal mart carries called “Cantu”. Their hair products are amazing! They actually moisturize my hair and their shampoo doesn’t dry out my hair like most drugstore brands do. Ulta beauty also carries “Cantu” shampoo and conditioner that is amazing and actually is designed for curly hair and to remove buildup but doesn’t strip your hair of the good oils. I just wanted to share with you that I have found Cantu a great brand that wal mart also carries for curly hair! I use their shampoo and conditioner (https://www.target.com/p/txtr-by-cantu-apple-cider-vinegar-tea-tree-soothing-shampoo-16-fl-oz/-/A-75560757?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&fndsrc=tgtao&CPNG=PLA_Health%2BBeauty%2BShopping&adgroup=SC_Health%2BBeauty&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=c&location=9011810&ds_rl=1246978&ds_rl=1248099&ds_rl=1246978&gclid=Cj0KCQjw7sDlBRC9ARIsAD-pDFqaA6lub9JgfaeORbLzI8mG-ASJ9wangJdEfAObKDe1hOV4ZdzqhU8aAqm9EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds) and their leave in conditioners (https://www.walmart.com/ip/Cantu-Shea-Butter-Leave-In-Conditioning-Repair-Cream-16-oz/10417822) (https://www.walmart.com/ip/Cantu-Shea-Butter-for-Natural-Hair-Coil-Calm-Detangler-8-fl-oz/36052340?athcpid=36052340&athpgid=athenaItemPage&athcgid=null&athznid=PWVUB&athieid=v0&athstid=CS020&athguid=ec987746-12a-16a125c11f3711&athena=true) (https://www.walmart.com/ip/Cantu-Shea-Butter-for-Natural-Hair-Coconut-Oil-Shine-Hold-Mist-8-fl-oz/24093725?athcpid=24093725&athpgid=athenaItemPage&athcgid=null&athznid=PWVUB&athieid=v0&athstid=CS020&athguid=a2e56fc6-fb6-16a125c9cc336e&athena=true) Just wanted to share! Thanks for your blog!

  35. Elizabeth says:

    Yay for the Curly Girl Method! I loved DevaCurl’s products because they’re a great intro, but now I’ve found ones that I like more. And that I can buy at my grocery store…

    I use Shea Moisture’s curly shampoo and conditioner (doesn’t matter which one as long as it’s sulfate-free). I love Miss Jessie’s for styling cream; I use the Quick Curls creme and the Pillow Soft Curls together.

    There’s also a subreddit for the curly girl method, and they have a master google spreadsheet of recommended products along with any notes. That’s how I vet new products I want to try and how I found my current rotation!

  36. Kristen says:

    Deodorant: I make my own – it’s a simple mix of baking soda, coconut oil, and arrowroot powder. I may have added a few drops of essential oil for scent, but can’t really tell now. Deodorants are full of all kinds of crap – seriously, check the labels! 😉

    Facial wash: I got tired of spending a bunch of money of face scrubs, soaps, gel stuff, so started to make my own. The site I used has mixes for a variety of skin types. Mine tends to be oily and I break out STILL at 49 years old!!! It’s simple – baking soda, egg white, and turmeric. No, my skin isn’t yellow from the turmeric. 🙂

    Razor: I switched a number of years ago to an old-school safety razor. Yes, you have to be more careful, but the blades are super cheap.

  37. Marissa says:

    If you’re committed to co-washing you can do it with almost any old conditioner. I’ve done it with the big pump bottle of TresEmme moisturizing conditioner. Also you can make your own natural deodorant with just coconut oil and baking soda (go easy on the baking soda, it can irritate). The are lots of recipes online if you want to get fancy. I’m planning to transition to more DIY natural/herbal beauty and cleaning products over the next year.

  38. Linda says:

    Great post and good suggestions from all! I suspect I’m older than most readers (just turned 60)– so have had decades to figure out what works! Like many readers have mentioned, I buy the store brand of Cetaphil cleanser. (Harmon, CVS…just read and compare ingredients)
    For sunscreen, I do use a separate version for my face and found that Neutrogena Pure & FREE Liquid SPF 50 is the best. Active ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (so non-chemical). Some say it gives a whitish cast — but just be sure to rub it in. For me, the benefit is it doesn’t give you that shiny sunscreen look. I previously used Neutrogena Dry Touch — and prefer the Pure & Free so much more. I wear sunscreen every day and have since I was 25 — and while I’ll never look 20 again, I love that my skin is relatively wrinkle free. So please always wear sunscreen — you’ll appreciate it when you’re my age! Sunscreen for my body — I use whatever the cheapest brand consumer reports recommends that year — usually the “kids” version. I also use No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum. Not cheap, not super expensive — and a reasonable alternative to pricey potions (yes, while I’m frugal, I want to protect the skin I have) I wait for coupons to buy — and stock up twice a year when it’s 20% off your entire purchase. For me, good sunscreen and skincare is worth the price.
    Night time body lotion: Organic safflower oil in the winter. It’s a dry oil, disappears into your skin quickly and cheap. Sometime I add a drop of essential oil for fragrance.
    Soap: I have sensitive itchy skin. I buy from the dollar store and alternate between Dial BASICS hypoallergenic (3 bars / $1 – but they go quickly) or Yardley Shea Buttermilk (also $1/ 1 bar) I’ve tried many, many soaps and these two work best for me at a reasonable price. While they are not long lasting, not itching is worth it for me.
    Make-up I use the cheaper drugstore brands: Maybelline for mascara and eyeshadows. I did use expensive department store brands years ago and there’s not much of a difference. $1 lip liner over my lips brings back color and chapstick over it softens my lips.
    Bo

    • Linda says:

      And I meant to add “Oil of Olay Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Lotion” as a light facial moisturizer. It’s one of the old originals, nothing fancy (so it’s usually on that very bottom shelf at the store!). But again, doesn’t make my skin itch or turn red and helps with winter dryness. A bottle (maybe $8?) easily lasts a year. For antiperperant — Suave all the way. Cheap and effective. For more natural, I did like Schmidts; good for when you’re not too active, nice choice of scents — but not enough if you really sweat. Harmon, Target, Amazon and Walmart are my sources….

  39. Kelsey says:

    Love that you’re trying the Curly Girl method! It keeps my curls so much happier. A fairly frugal and curly girl-approved conditioner is Tresemme Botanique Nourish & Replenish Conditioner. It’s usually about $5 for a 25 oz bottle and my hair looooooooves it. Unfortunately a recent development of skin allergies means that I now have to avoid the word ‘fragrance,’ in any of my products, as well as a number of other ingredients. I have yet to find a fragrance-free conditioner that my curls do not violently protest, so it’s been a lot of messy buns around these parts.

    One curly hair tip that is a somewhat hard pill to swallow is that sometimes you need to use a lot more of the product than seems reasonable. I hate waste and love rationing, but once I stopped ignoring the dime-sized dollop instructions, my hair was much happier. I don’t think it evened out, but this also meant that I could get away with another day without washing my hair since my curls didn’t flatten out as fast.

    Wishing you the best in all your curly hair adventures!

  40. Katie N says:

    First time poster and looks like my first reply didn’t stick – yeah curly hair! After kid #2, chopped to a shorter bob (still enough for a teeny pony) and got a silk pillowcase – $8 on Amazon and a game change. I can swing washing twice a week and curls stay pretty well formed during the week. Sleep with hair down, sometimes pinning a bit to top of my head. Less morning tangle and frizz, and easy to spritz a refresh and go in the morns.

  41. Casey says:

    I use bar soap in the shower, for shaving, and at the sink for washing my face. I use this amazing all-natural soap that lasts me for at least four months and smells like Christmas (orange/clove): https://www.etsy.com/listing/675894656/turmeric-soap-self-care-orange-clove?ref=shop_home_active_17&frs=1

    Part of how I get bar soap to last so long is by using a Japanese exfoliating cloth. I LOVE that I can grab one end in each hand and use it to scrub my back. Also, my first one lasted about 5 years – I’m 2 or 3 years into using my second one. I just throw it in the washing machine every few months to keep it fresh-ish, but it dries really fast so it really doesn’t get funky. No exfoliating products necessary. https://www.amazon.com/Salux-Nylon-Japanese-Beauty-Cloth/dp/B000EZOC1O/ref=sr_1_8?keywords=salux+cloth&qid=1555088916&s=hpc&sr=1-8
    For my face, I use a Buf-Puf sponge. Yes, like from the 1980’s.

    I use rosehip seed oil on my face as moisturizer. I have found quality varies widely on Amazon-sold oils; sometimes it arrives smelling rancid. Because it is a poly-unsaturated fatty acid, it is subject to easy spoilage. My last bottle came from The Ordinary and was really high quality. I get my anti-aging products from The Ordinary as well. I mean, $6 retinol and Vitamin C serum!?!? Can’t beat that. They have free shipping on orders over $25, which gets you three or four products. If you try ordering The Ordinary products from other retailers it generally costs more and can be old stock, so I go straight to the source.

    I only wash my hair twice a week and I use Green Prell shampoo, which is a cheap drugstore brand. I’m intrigued by these discussions of sulfate-free shampoo. I was using one before and my hair got SO stinky and oily. Maybe I just picked the wrong brand?

    I’ve never liked wearing makeup, in part because it covers up my freckles, which I consider to be my beauty marks! If only I could develop the same attitude about my wrinkles.

    I’m a Melanoma survivor, so I don’t skimp on sunscreen. I just started using DeVita on my face (this week), which has an amazing texture and sinks into my skin. So NOT greasy. It’s rated a 1 or a 2 on EWG, I think. The jury is still out on how well it prevents sunburn, but I’m hopeful. https://www.amazon.com/DeVita-Natural-Solar-Moisturizer-Spectrum/dp/B000VUZ2KC

    I use MD Solar Sciences on my body, which I can get at a pretty good discount usually (30-40% off) because I’m on their email list.

    I also use natural deodorant, but have been struggling to settle on a brand. I used to use Primal Life Organics, but they changed their formula to exclude baking soda and jacked the price WAY up. Now I’m poor and I stink (just kidding… but their new formula did result in a weird funk). Primal Pit Paste doesn’t have enough baking soda for me, and recently added a zinc/charcoal alternate formula to their line. I find this is a common trend in natural deodorants – to exclude or reduce baking soda content. I know baking soda is really irritating to some people’s pits, but I don’t have that problem, and I NEED it to avoid stink. I bought some Green Love bergamot-scented deodorant last time, which smells AND works amazing. I mean, I’m like a cup of Earl Grey tea over here! Cons: it’s expensive at $12/tube, and when I tried to visit the website shown on the tube, it didn’t exist, so I have concerns about the long-term stability of the company. If they go out of business I may just try making my own.
    https://www.amazon.com/Natural-Deodorant-Aluminum-Bergamot-Pre-teens/dp/B01MQW0FBC/ref=lp_17744320011_1_2_a_it?srs=17744320011&ie=UTF8&qid=1555090889&sr=8-2

    If anyone knows of a less-expensive baking soda deodorant, or has a good home recipe, I’d be all ears!

  42. Elise says:

    These are amazing tips! As a woman living in Los Angeles, I often feel overwhelmed at the number of women spending THOUSANDS per month on their beauty routines. Fake lips, fake lashes, botox, lash tinting, highlights…the list could go on forever. I often joke with my fiance that he is sooo lucky to have me, because I cost us basically nothing compared to the amount of money most women around us are spending to look good. But, if we’re really being honest, I’m like you and there are definitely times I want to look my best and feel extra pretty. Recently, I’ve been trying to find ways to heal my chlorine damaged hair (and also get back some of the curl) without breaking the bank. I’ve found that, like many readers, washing my hair less, and keeping it in a constant braid, has really helped- and cost me nothing!

    Thanks to everyone for the tips!

    Elise

  43. Rachel says:

    One of the very, very few advantages of having a child with severe eczema…. all of my daughters moisturisers and emollients are on prescription and so don’t cost me a penny. The eczema society has a huge list of every one available on prescription and I request whichever I want at any particular time.
    As the kids bath together they both use them (we get the wash and bath stuff on prescription too) so there’s no soap in the bath. I also use he products as if I use any others then hold my daughter it causes her to itch.
    My skin has never been smoother and the costs are zero.
    I’m not sure the savings offset the cost of having to wash sheets, clothes etc a million times because everything is covered in grease after two minutes tho.
    My daughter’s clothes are also on prescription as we have to constantly wet or dry wrap her. I’d undoubtedly rather have cost of clothes than the horrendous eczema tho!
    For anyone in the U.K. It’s definitely worth speaking to the reception staff at the GP as they have been life savers for ordering and arranging hundreds (literally) of creams without me needing appointments.

  44. Fast Science, Slow Life says:

    My favorite tip for parents of young kids: Mr. Bubble (unscented) + a few drops of essential oil makes the best bubble bath!

  45. Carolyn says:

    I wear very little makeup, it is healthier for my skin and my husband thinks I look good without it, so why waste the time and money. I do use a lip balm and it is from the batches I make using bees wax from our bees. I pluck my own eyebrows, do my own manicures and pedicures. I get my hair done by having my husband trim my hair for me every 8-10 weeks. Free haircuts are a good thing. My hair is past my elbows, he loves it as much as I do, so there is no plans of me asking him to chop it off. I do buy a decent brand of shampoo, I rinse my hair with an organic apple cider vinegar that my husband makes by adding a gallon of apple cider to a jug with a white glob he says is a mother of vinegar. It takes a few months to convert and clear, then he syphons it out and filters it. I also use a leave in conditioner folowed by coconut oil. I change up the variety of shampoo I use that I buy at Sally’s when they have a BOGO and I will buy 2-3 of each. I use a hand and skin cream, whatever variety my husband bought for me that he put in my stocking from Bath and Body Works. So I am low maintenance. I dress nice for work and church, but otherwise I wear jeans, a T shirt or fleece working on the homestead in the garden or doing chores. So I definitely do not spend a lot of money worrying about keeping up with any fashion trends they are trying to sell. I don’t care what brand of perfume, type of hairstyle or who made the clothes of what any celebrity wears or does.

  46. Sari says:

    Love this post. In New Jersey Shoprite has double coupons, so I never have to actually pay for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, and laundry detergent. You can get it all free by stacking coupons. Love the ideas about pumping the products so kids waste less!

  47. Dorothy says:

    Recycling tip:

    Put your no-longer-needed products in a box with a sign that says, “Free! Help yourself!”
    Put the box in the restroom at work or at school or at church. The next time you check it will be magically empty.

    You get rid of stuff you don’t want and others get to try me-to-them items!

  48. Nancy says:

    My long term “Go To Product” for maybe 30 years is Baby Magic Lotion… I use it as facial cleanser, makeup remover, overall body lotion, shaving product, night time lotion, hand and heel lotion.. Adore the stuff and buy by the gallons over the years!! Used on my babies and ever since..

    Itch Cream Recommendations= Sarna Lotion (menthol & eucalyptus) is very soothing and lasts awhile. Also recommend CeraVe Itch Moisturizing Lotion that is New and dermatologist recommended.

    Body Mist= Body Shop Satsuma (Tangerine) Mist; just a light kiss of citrus to cheer your day..😊

  49. One Sick Vet says:

    Liz, you don’t look old and tired! Your skin glows and your eyes sparkle. You look happy and healthy. Wait ’til you’re *really* old and tired like me!

  50. Brittany says:

    Wal-Mart has an Equate knock off of Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch! I love it! And I’m pretty sure it is a bit cheaper in store than the price listed online… https://www.walmart.com/ip/2-pack-Equate-Beauty-Ultra-Sheer-Sunscreen-Lotion-SPF-55-3-fl-oz/976926879

  51. I personally wear makeup; most of it is drugstore brand like Maybelline Great Lash mascara. I do splurge on NARS blush, but it lasts forever. I currently need a new lip color and want to go to Ulta to “sample” a new shade. These are small splurges that fit in my budget. I do buy a somewhat pricey SPF 50 sunscreen at my dermatologist’s office. This is worth the price to avoid sun damage.
    The thing that really shocks me is the trend of young women (20’s and 30’s) getting Botox now.

  52. Erin says:

    Howdy! Lots of great advice, but here are some gems that work for me. A few years ago I stopped washing my face with face wash (I used Cetaphil prior to that) and honestly, it’s cleared up my skin immensely. I used a variation of the oil method and now cleanse my face in the shower with jojoba oil and coconut oil. I no longer get the deep, cystic pimples I constantly had when using facewash. You only need a dab of each oil so an $8 bottle of jojoba oil will last me years. I buy coconut oil from Aldi and in addition to cleansing my face with it, it also makes the BEST shaving cream I’ve ever used. When I need something a little stronger, baking soda mixed with coconut oil makes an amazing face mask. I put it on in the shower, let it sit and do its thing for a few minutes, and then just wash it off.

    I also use witch hazel as an astringent after I get out of the shower, and at the end of the day to cleanse my face before bed.

    Plain old Vaseline (off brand is fine) makes a very effective eye make up remover. A jar again lasts for years and as an added bonus, it also helps your eye lashes grow longer. I also like to use it on sensitive areas after shaving.

    Most days I wear just mascara but for make up I like Wet n Wild. It’s actually cruelty free, which is very important to me, and always very cost effective.

    For years I struggled with my nails peeling and breaking. I now take folic acid to help them grow, which I usually buy when Walgreens has BOGO deals on it (the effect it has on my hair and nails is remarkable). I also swear by Burt’s Bees cuticle cream. It’s about $6 a tin but lasts a long time and instantly makes my nails look better and feel stronger. I don’t typically polish them (I can’t keep polish on to save my life) so I like my bare nails to at least look nice. Folic acid plus cuticle cream have been game changers!

    • Jenn says:

      I so agree about the face wash! I also have used straight up coconut oil to wash my face every night for more than 15 years, and my (formerly acne-prone) skin is completely clear, and also gets a lot of compliments. I can never understand why someone would need a face “scrub” (yikes). Be gentle to your skin! It will thank you.
      Also a huge help for acne is to make sure you get enough iodine for good thyroid function. Thyroid function really shows in your skin.

  53. Traci says:

    I agree with what others have said about commercial deoderants — they turn me off, too! I am far more “rustic” than others here, but would say that I am comfortable wearing no deoderant most days of the week. I WANT those toxins to escape, and i can wash off the surface bacteria later in the day.

    However, baking soda can be applied to the pits on days when you can’t afford to have even the slightest scent. Like, I just dip my fingers in warm water, and dip them into the box of baking soda, and spread that over the pit area. No biggie!

    Pit paste is a brand that is nice, if you need to start with something commercial. Also, yes, you can dissolve baking soda (or arrow root powder, instead, if baking soda is harsh on your skin) into coconut oil, and apply to pits.

    All of this has less to do with cost, than health, as a stick of suave will only cost you $3 or so. But i think it’s been sold to us all backwards, that we should never let the natural sweating process even take place, and then we should, uh, go on some type of ‘cleanse’?!?

    Most people don’t smell your armpits directly, unless you are maybe a hairdresser or a dental hygienist. i can’t thinnk of anyone else who is allowed to put their armpits within a foot of my nose. 🙂

  54. Lizzie says:

    I just read you post on Postpartum Depression. I can 100% relate. My child is 7 months old now, but pretty much the second my second boy was born, I started experiencing depression and anxiety though I didn’t realize it at the time. Many of my experiences were just like yours except that they mainly manifested as irrational worry about my son. He was on the smaller side, about 6 pounds 4 ounces. Hearing them announce this small weight, coupled with seeing his tiny baby body, just triggered something in my head, and I just could not believe that he was normal and healthy. The guilt, fear, shame etc. of bringing a less than perfect baby into the world, possibly because of something I did or was exposed to (like not eating enough fruit in the first trimester, or taking that one cold pill before I knew I was pregnant) was too much! I was devastated. I simultaneously pitied my baby and loved him, but also had trouble really bonding with him. I also hated that I could no longer be super mom to my first child. I felt like this new strange baby was taking me away from my other baby (2 yr old). I have slowly been coming out of my depression just with time, I was really close to making some phone calls, but like you mentioned the stigma of mental health kept me from doing that, plus I didn’t feel that I wanted medication. About month five, I noticed that I was coming out of my fog, though every now and then I still have bouts of worry or guilt despite never having a doctor once say anything worrisome about my son’s health. My son is healthy, beautiful, and happy and now I can see that. It is so scary that postpartum depression can completely twist perceptions of reality. Anyway, just wanted to share my story. I feel like just talking about it is healing for me–I bet writing your blog post on your experience was extremely cathartic. Every day I get better, and the set backs are fewer and farther between. Also, another part of coming out of depression is starting to take care of your body again so this beauty post is also very timely! 🙂 I’m going to whip up a homemade, all-over-body lotion of pure Shea butter and coconut oil and see if that makes my skin silky smooth and hydrated.

  55. Nicole says:

    Totally random question, I just started on generic Zoloft about a month ago and I know you are/were taking it also. How long did it take to kick in for you? And do you still drink wine occasionally while on it? Thanks!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you for asking! I’m taking Sertraline and for me, it kicked in very quickly although I understand it can take much longer to have an impact. If you aren’t feeling any better, speak with your doctor as you might just need an increased dosage (I needed to adjust my dosage three different times before landing at the right spot). And yes, I do still drink wine–my doctor said that was just fine to do (I also quizzed my pharmacist who confirmed it was fine).

  56. Linda Kinn says:

    Deodorant I use baking soda. Body moisturizer I use coconut oil that I buy at Aldi. Also use it to sauté vegetables.

  57. Lindsey says:

    I was never a big make up fan, too much of what was called a tomboy back then. And my father discouraged my mother from wearing makeup, telling her she looked beautiful as she was. To us girls he used to say, “Makeup is false advertising to catch a man. And what if you get cancer or lose a leg, do you want someone who won’t love you anymore when he sees the real you?” And I went to a Catholic boarding school…so all in all, make up was not a thing in my youth. Plus, we didn’t own a TV so I never saw television or much advertising until I went to college. Now I think I was lucky to have that early indoctrination. I wear only sunscreen and I don’t dye my hair and now my husband cuts my hair. My soap is Dove, since that is what my husband prefers and I don’t care so I use it too, bought on sale. I like to garden so I keep my nails very short and don’t bother with polish. My deodorant is vodka, since everything else seems to cause me to break out; we keep a bottle in the bathroom and I apply it every morning. I have asked my sisters and a few friends if I smell, but everyone says no and none of them are particularly diplomatic so I trust what they tell me. All, in all, I’ve not spent that much money or time on self-care products over my lifetime. Rereading this, it makes my life sound dreary, but that isn’t the case.

  58. Stephanie says:

    As a tired mama, I skip the makeup and just use baby wipes to wash my face. They are gentle enough that I don’t need moisturizer. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

  59. Audrey says:

    I love the Neutrogena Sunscreen lotion-it works the best for my skin and isn’t heavy. I have curly hair too and I wash it once a week with a sulfite free shampoo and conditioner (bought during spendthrift days). I use whatever curl defining creme that I still have left over from my spendthrift days. Even with running 4 to 5 miles every other day-my hair doesn’t get dirty. If I want to spruce the curls up in between shampoos, I spritz water from a spray bottle and a pea-sized amount of curl defining creme if needed. My hair is below my shoulders wet but just below my ears dry. By the way, is that the same belt that you’re wearing in the Today show picture and the New York City photo?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, yep. Definitely the same belt! I tend to use the same accessories (and shoes and clothes… ) over and over again. I’m a creature of habit, what can I say.

  60. Christina Hayes says:

    I have naturally wavy/ curly hair and love the Aussie 3-minute Miracle deep conditioner. It’s super cheap and I found both the regular and curl-specific worked well. I don’t use it for co-washing, but I use it on days that I wash with shampoo.

  61. MEL0810 says:

    I use “Fruit of the Earth” Vitamin E creme available for 2 jars for $4.95 at Dollar General – It’s mild yet rich, fragrance-free and Made In The USA! I am 68 but I look like I am about 40-45, no wrinkles, so I must be doing something right. For day creme. I use Equate from Walmart.
    I use Trader Joe’s glycerin facial wash and Equate or the Target brand of Micellualr Water to remove make-up and grime. That is by far the best and mildest option for makeup removal and it lasts a long time. If you get it on sale, you can pay as little as $3.95 a bottle but even not on sale, it is only $6.95 and last for months.
    I buy Mane and Tail shampoo and conditioner at Walmart. I get it at the pet care section! It costs about $6.95 for large bottles that last forever.
    For makeup, I use a concealer I bought at the Dollar Tree, mostly Cover Girl Mascara (usually bought on sale) and occasional eyeshadow. I rarely wear base and can’t see well enough to apply eyeliner. I occasionally wear lipstick and I buy mostly what is on sale. If I want my skin to glow, I use a BB or CC creme, again bought mostly on sale.
    I have to buy products that are as unscented as possible because most scents these days give me headaches. When I wear perfume, I wear older, more classic and expensive scents because the newer ones make me nauseous and give me headaches. Most new scents are made with cheaper, chemical (aldehydes) ingredients, not the high quality ingredients of scents prior to about 1980.

  62. Donna Werstler says:

    Deodorant: I used to make my own deodorant from coconut oil and baking soda, but once I moved to VA, where the summers are hotter (than northern IN), this home remedy just couldn’t keep up with me. So, I switched to Thai Crystal Deodorant Spray. I have, at times, added a little essential oil, but with no addition, I am absolutely amazed how well it keeps odor at bay; just seems like I’m using plain water. Some people have complained that they have to spray 4-6 times, but I just spray 3 times and it’s not running down my arms. Just enough and it works perfectly. I have been so impressed with this. Not only is it safe, does not keep me from perspiring (which is completely natural), and stops odor, it’s very inexpensive. A large bottle will last me months. I will never go back.

  63. Jenny says:

    I live in Australia where sun cancer is a big thing, so its sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen, I have a bottle at home, at work, in my bag, and fancy going out sunscreen (dermalogica) that I paid actual cash for. The other sunscreens came from a dumpster dive.
    I also have burt bees lip gloss and a few other bits and pieces of make up that were given/bought when I was younger.

  64. Lauren says:

    Shampoo/Conditioner: Trader Joe’s Tea Tree line is GREAT for curly/wavy hair and is pretty cheap.
    Gel/Leave-in Conditioner: Aloe Vera spray/gel. I use a spray for my scalp and a gel to scrunch my hair for the curly girl method. It super natural, simple, and the bottles are often about $3 each.
    Hair Dye: Henna. A box of Light Mountain henna goes for about $4 and I can get two applications out of it — plus its a great conditioner for the hair.
    Skin Care: The Ordinary. I’ve started to use some of their products and I am in love. Super inexpensive and high quality formulations.
    Body Wash: Bar soap, but I only use it where its necessary (pits, bits, etc). You don’t really need to wash most of your skin unless you’re getting really sweaty/dirty — for the most part water is fine, with the occasional exfoliation.
    Body Lotion: Alaffia has really good large bottles of lotion that’s pretty light and not too greasy, about $9 for a large bottle.

  65. Nice line up! I’ve switched to using only one color of nail polish, and a bottle lasts me a year (which is crazy, I used to have like 20 at a time). I also wash my hair every 3/4 days. Use BB cream, blush, eyeliner and chapstick or lip gloss. Buy most stuff from elf.

  66. Fiona says:

    Wow, how diverse and amazing are the products you have all posted. Thank you, I’ve found it really interesting.
    At the moment I am using a good quality package free soap on my face and body. Avocado oil in a glass bottle as my moisturiser, rose water in a spray bottle as a toner and a really beautiful balm made by my future son in law as my lip balm and eye cream. I still wear a little makeup-concealer, foundation, blush and lipstick. I’m not loyal to brands, what ever is going at a good price and not too overly packaged. I’m at a an age where I need a bit of help to not look so tired. I use a great cream deodorant in a metal tin called “No Pong” and it truly is the very best deodorant I’ve ever used AND there is no plastic involved. Oh and I use a solid shampoo bar to wash my very short hair. Over the years I have used every beauty product available, but you know what? I still have wrinkles and that’s okay. Fi

  67. GInger Long says:

    I guess most wouldn’t consider my products frugal, but I have hyper sensitive skin and curly, thin hair. Aveda shampoo is one if the only products that doesn’t dry my hair out and I don’t need a conditioner. I use goat milk soap as others burn or make the skin raw and brings on the eczema. I use CeraVe healing lotion and the same sun block as Mrs. Frugalwoods. After a shower, I apply a dime size amount of Diva Curl curl enhancer and rub it through my hair. Them until I need to wash again, I run a damp wash cloth over it , scrunch and go. It revitalizes the curl and makes it look great and still feels soft and natural. Mascara and eye liner are about all the makeup I use. The products I listed aren’t cheap but they work and it is minimal in my opinion compared to the dozens of products I have tried and used in the past. I would love to try a Korean face regimen as they believe in healthy skin and little makeup. Has anyone else tried it?

  68. Danielle says:

    For those with acne prone skin, I’m a HUGE fan of African black soap. I use it in the mornings and use a scrub at night. I go through 2-3 bars a year, max. It’s incredibly affordable at around $5 a bar and available at most drugstores and Target.

    https://www.target.com/p/sheamoisture-african-black-bar-soap-8oz/-/A-75661618

  69. Noel says:

    I love all of these tips! I agree with you about using less and going without frequently. I recently did a write-up on my zero waste makeup kit and have found that multi-tool beauty is my favorite. Using a mascara cake for eyeliner, brows, and mascara has changed and streamlined my life. My powder/foundation and eye shadow/highlighter and lip color/chapstick have made it so that I have 5 total products in my makeup routine. For me washing with soap and moisturizing with coconut oil do just fine, and like you tweezing my own hairs is cheapest and easiest to maintain. I’ve gone “no poo” and stopped washing with anything but water for my curly hair, and just use bar soap and coconut oil for my body as well. I’ve forgone shaving for years now and really appreciate the time and money it’s saving me. On formal occasions I wear tights and sleeves. I’m loving reading through everyone’s tips here! All of the DIYs are my favorite!

  70. Jennifer says:

    I, too, just started the CGM! Holy cow the difference in my hair is AMAZING. I currently use DevaCurl Low Poo, As I am Co-Wash, Shea Moisture Low Protein Leave-In conditioner, Giovanni 50/50 conditioner. I don’t use all these products every day. My hair does not respond well to protein, so I use products that contain them sparingly. I tried using the DevaCurl Original Conditioner and hated it-it was so drying to my hair. Good Luck on CGM. I find there are so many resources on Instagram and Reddit threads..realcurlygirl (Alyson) and good gravy its wavy (MaryAnn) have a WEALTH of information on CGM. Good Luck

    • CB says:

      Shea Moisture is so so so good! If you haven’t tried the shea butter deep conditioning masque, give it a try. And their coconut and hibiscus curl gel is incredible.

  71. Soggy Suzzi says:

    Take a look at the bubbles your bath soap, etc. contain and note the pretty colors on most of them. That is because the cheap soap makers remove the glycerin from the soap making process and substitute it with waste oil products (as in the spilled gasoline you see with colors at the gas station). This is only the beginning of the sulfates and other junk they use to stretch the product. I use goat milk soap and have found it the most healthy and easy on the skin. No more itchy skin. I buy mine from Beekman 1802.com, but they have recently started selling on HSN and it is less expensive there when they have a big sale. The soaps are 9 oz and huge and last forever. They also have a wonderful body cream which may really help your hand problem. I buy these when they have a buy one, get one free deal. I have three ahead of these and a bunch of the soaps as well. All these products are available scent free (as are others I don’t buy) as well as with various scents. I use straight argon oil (a non greasy oil) morning and night which I get from a local store which competes with Whole Foods. This stuff comes from a tree and has nothing else in it.

  72. CB says:

    Shea Moisture for Curly Girl Method for sure! It’s got absolutely nothing offensive in it (dyes, pthalates, parabens, sulfates, it’s vegan), is ethically traded, and works so well. It was started in Sierra Leone in 1912, still run by the same family, and they donate to women led businesses.

    For skincare, the hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary, as well as the Zinc and Niacinamide, have been game changers. They are both under 10 dollars and last me almost two months. The hyaluronic acid is just pure, unfragranced, natural moisture, and the zinc and niacinamide is a natural anti-acne and brightening treatment. For my sensitive skin, nothing in The Ordinary line has ever let me down and their products are just purely the active ingredient.

  73. Shelley Frear says:

    Oh my gosh…what a fantastic post. Loved reading every bit of it. Such wonderful advice. I’m excited to learn from so many frugal people. Makes my heart warm. I’m in the process of using up the remainder of many beauty products myself, with NO plan on replacing 90% of them. Thanks again for the great article!

  74. Jacke Rose Boston says:

    Hello, I make a mix of coconut oil, Shea butter, olive oil for head to toe after showers. If I have it on hand I add avocado oil or vitamin e after it cools a bit, the first two ingredients need to be melted to blend. Essential oils for scent and aromatherapy. Straight coconut oil on hair every do often.
    Wearing hats and avoid summer sun along with wearing knit “sleeves” from Japanese store to make protect arms also while driving.
    I have dark circles under eyes, so I use a compact from Clinique that is powder and foundation with extra pigment; works for eyes and brown spots on face, the brown Clinique cake eyeliner, and lipstick.

    I’m very fair and have white hair so I like a bit of defining. Saves time and money not to color hair especially when the roots show almost a week later!

    I thought short hair would be easier but after a couple of years am tired of having to get it cut all the time. So maybe a blunt cut chin length to cut once or twice a year is the way to go, I trim my bangs myself.
    Nails are light pink or there is a rose tinted clear to mask errors, occasionally bright colors if someone else does them.
    I’m retired so the idea of taking some time to look a bit better is more of a pleasure to please myself and I get to. I wear less, they all say older women should, and didn’t really start until in my 30’s so the usual is pretty basic.

  75. Suzanne L Larson says:

    Congrats on going curly! I’d love to see pics! You are really going to feel liberated after embracing the curl! I hope you share some pics!

    I use the L’Oreal sulfate free condition and shampoo – both from Walmart. I wash every 3 days or so. Day 1 – wash. Day 2 – curl refresh. Day 3 – Pony tail or messy bun.

    I do the curl refresh by spritzing my hair with water, then using a bit of curly product to re-scrunch.

    The product I use is Marc Anthony strictly curls curl creme (also from Walmart) in a yellow tube. You can also make your own curl refreshing spray with sulfate free conditioner and water in a spray bottle.

    Curly hair is the best!

  76. Jenn says:

    Just wanted to mention one I haven’t seen mentioned yet! : milk of magnesia (put into a empty roll-on bottle) makes a wonderful deodorant. I add a few drops of my favorite perfume. Incredibly frugal and effective- better than crystals, I think, which sometimes are itchy or bump-inducing

  77. Brittany Coats says:

    I love this post! It doesn’t seem as though anyone has posted about menstrual products. They can quickly add up! I’ve been using a menstrual cup now for almost 2 years. It cost about $30, but I haven’t had to buy pads or tampons since. Not only does it save me money, but it saves for the environment, too! I do buy panty liners to serve the purpose of pads just in case, which at Kroger the smallest package costs less than a dollar for enough that last me for months. I now spend next to nothing in this department.

  78. Suzi Poore says:

    My hairstylist specializes in curly hair and has done the whole nine yards Deva Curl training. Many clients asked for a recommendation of less expensive options so she went on a quest to find the closest affordable products. She says “hands down” the Garnier line is the best for curly girls.

  79. Emily says:

    Welcome to CGM! It’s a journey for sure! It’s really easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of trying new things to see what your hair likes. For me, it’s been expensive because I don’t have a lot of shopping options where I live. something I’ve found recently are the product swap groups on FB. You can often find products for sale there or swap something that didn’t work for you if you can’t return it. The ones I’ve seen are Curl Trader and curly girls product swap. Good luck and thank you for this post! I was just about to ask about how to save money on beauty products when I found it.

  80. Irina says:

    I do wear makeup a few times a week. I like to buy my makeup once a year from Walmart right after Christmas. They have these gift sets which typically cost $5-20, but right after Christmas they go on sale at 50% off in the seasonal discount isle. Least year, I got a set that included: 4 different eye shadow pallets; 4 lipsticks; a pallet of 4 colors of each of blush, bronzer, illuminator; 6 nail polish colors; 2 liquid eyeliners; 1 mascara. Total cost: $7.50
    Other than that, I’ll use a tiny drop of a Channel concealer that my mom gave me a about 10 years ago on any red spots and under my eyes if needed. I like it because it blend right into my skin color, so I don’t need foundation or powder. I’m worried for when it runs out because they don’t make that color anymore…
    I do have a foundation that I use for special occasions such as galas or photo shoots, but I probably buy these once every 5 years if not less
    As for the other items:
    Shampoo and conditioner are Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Walmart now has them in larger bottles ($3.50 for each), and I only way my hair 1-2 times a week, so it will last 4-6 months.
    Body wash: I usually don’t use as my skin is a bit on the dry side, but when I do it’s usually something I get for free (my mom is always clearing out her old stuff) or something that costs around 1-2 dollars.
    Body scrub: this is more important for me as I get a lot of ingrown hair. I recently tried an exfoliating glove at the dollar store to see if I could save on the scrub, but I find that I end up using both together. Usually I just buy whatever is cheapest that looks scrubby enough and smells nice.

    Makeup remover: make up remover wipes from the dollar store (20/$1). I then use the clean side to wipe areas in my bathroom such as the countertop, sinks, toilet. It doesn’t disinfect, but it does remove a lot of the surface stuff that starts building up. This means I can save on cleaning supplies later by disinfecting less often.

    Lotion: I used to get Aveeno hand cream and body lotion for my eczema, but now I switched to a dollar store coco butter lotion that seems to work just as well and saved me a lot. Plus I always smell like cookies 🙂

    I do my own nails and keep them short. I paint them when I’m relaxing in the evening and this helps me stop mindlessly snacking as well (since I don’t want to need to up)! Besides the nail polish that came in the set mentioned above, I also purchased about 2-3 other colors at $1-2 each, a base coat for probably $2-3 and a to coat for $1.
    Shaving: my husband and I share a subscription for dollar shave club. We get 4 razor heads every two months for around $6. He also has an electric shaver which he uses now often now days. I recently purchased an epilator for around $10 and try to use it when I can, but will occasionally use the razor when I need to.
    Deodorant/antiperspirant: currently using Dove invisible spray, costs around $6 and lasts about 2-3 months. However, it leaves a white stain on my blazers when I sweat through it, which means higher dry cleaning build. Any suggestions for antiperspirant that doesn’t leave marks on clothes even if you sweat would be appreciated.

    Total cost for the year: around $120

  81. Divya says:

    I loved reading this and can relate to most of what you are saying. Thank you for the tips too.

    I make sure the products I use are cruelty free in addition to being inexpensive.

    There is also one more easy inexpensive way to remove hair on the upper lip and around the eyebrows.I cut up wax strips into tiny pieces and use them to pull out hair. It’s easy for the upper lip but we have to be careful while for shaping eyebrows.

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