Broke and the City: Beauty Treatments From Household Items

One of the most irksome parts of trying to get by on little money is that inevitable time when you run out of a necessary beauty item. Buying another is more of a need than a want but it's like a pin in your side to have to shell out precious dollars on shampoo or mascara, especially if you share our opinion that it's better to splurge on a few nicer beauty products that you'll use every day rather than on an expensive article of clothing that gets much less wear. However, while some beauty products are worth shelling out for, many others you can easily make at home for little to no money. Raiding the cupboards or local bodegas can be surprisingly fruitful and yields results identical to those of pricey packaged products. Here, we've compiled a how-to of basic at-home treatments ranging from hair conditioners to teeth whitening.

One of the most irksome parts of

Guinness Conditioner

Why: Beer is really great for parched hair. The malts contain protein, which can repair damaged strands and give body, and the natural sugars supposedly boost shine. Stouts are reportedly best because of the richness of the malts, and more than one recipe mentioned using a warm, slightly more expensive beer (meaning not a crisp Bud Light).

How: Let the Guinness warm to room temperature while you shampoo as usual. Then, slowly pour the contents over your head, roots to tip, making sure to saturate hair completely so it won't all run off off while setting. Let sit for 10 minutes, then rinse completely. When towel drying, spritz hair with essential oil or perfume to prevent a lingering beer smell (I didn't notice any, but better safe than sorry)

**Mickie says: Most websites call for no conditioner, but I was worried about my ends coming out really dry so I massaged the tiniest drop of conditioner onto my ends and rinsed it off just before using the beer.

Results: I don’t know about permanent repair, but I definitely noticed a boost in shine and softness, and my layers felt a lot smoother; since I usually don't condition on my entire head when showering, my hair got a nice little quench without becoming greasy. I definitely saw similarities between this and the real deep conditioning or essential oil hair masks I’ve done.

Banana Oatmeal Face Mask

Why: Oatmeal is a staple in DIY masks since it sloughs off dead cells, and bananas are chock full of vitamins and nourish your skin.

How: Mash up one banana until creamy and stir in 1/3 cup of dry oatmeal until oats are damp. Spread evenly over face, making sure that skin is evenly coated with banana residue, and lay down--this will drip until it starts to set, and even when it dries standing up isn’t the best idea. Let sit for 20-30 mins and rinse off with warm water.

Results: I could feel it doing something the moment I put it on; it almost stung and got really tight. The results were OK: my skin felt really soft and smooth afterwards, and surprisingly refreshed. However, like most effective masks, it made me break out since the oils and impurities were drawn to the surface. I wouldn't use this before a hot date, but it was definitely great for preventing future pimples.

Avocado Conditioner

Why: Avocados have "good fats," like omega-3, that boost collagen in skin and add shine to hair; they also have vitamins A, B6, C and K as well as fiber and potassium, so you really can't go wrong with using them in any beauty treatment--it's a superfood.

How: Get a single giant avocado and slice it in half. Save the other half--you can use it for a moisturizer later (next slide). Mash the avocado until creamy and stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Massage into damp hair from roots to tip, combing through to even out. Loosely fasten hair in a bun and let sit for 30 mins. Wash out completely, shampooing and conditioning as normal.

Results: The vitamins don't lie; this was the best of all the treatments I did. My normally coarse, wavy hair was the softest it's ever felt, and I couldn't stop touching it all day. Sometimes, deep conditioners make your hair healthier but look weighty or flat; this did neither and my curls actually looked better than normal. I'm obsessed.

Avocado Moisturizer

Why: see previous; avocado's are God's gift to DIY beauty.

How: Mash 1/2 of an avocado until creamy. Then, stir in 1 tablespoon of honey. Wash face with a gentle cleanser and pat dry. Smooth avocado mixture onto skin and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Wash off with warm water.

Results: I have normal skin but it could use a boost--this made my complexion brighter and made my skin feel really soft without feeling oily. In this NYC heat I worry about over-moisturizing and giving myself blackheads, and in the morning I didn't feel any of the gross overnight ickiness that some normal lotions leave. Overall, the effects were equal to that of some fancy expensive creams I scored from a previous job's beauty closet. And, at $1 an avocado, this is considerably cheaper than Khiels.

DIY Dry Shampoo

Why: Because sometimes there just isn't time for a shower, and no one needs to pay outrageous prices for what is essentially baby powder.

How: Mix 1/4 cup dry oatmeal with a heaping tablespoon of baking powder. Mix and apply to roots as needed. Let sit for a moment and comb oats out.

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Results: This did not work. I had oats in my hair that looked like dandruff, and then they fell on the floor and I had to clean them up. And periodically throughout the day one would fall into my lap and I felt gross. I swear by the best form of leave-in, baby powder, which has never failed me. A few pinches of Johnson & Johnson's massaged into roots never clumps, absorbs oil, doesn't turn out white and is great for updos. Go and buy yourself a $3 bottle, it will last forever.

Fight Acne With Aspirin

Why: Aspirin works for acne in the same way it works for any other part of the body. It reduces swelling, redness, and pain. Plus, aspirin contains beta hydroxy acid which helps unclog pores.

How: Run warm water over two aspirins until the coating washes off--this should only take a number of seconds. Place the aspirin on a hard surface such as a counter top or small dish and wait several minutes for the pills to soften. Next, use a spoon to gently crush the aspirin. If the aspirin does not begin to exude water at this point, add a few drops of water as you crush. You should quickly come up with a thick paste. Dab a small amount on problem areas, wait about 15 minutes, and gently wash, not rub, off. If you have extra sensitive skin you can add some honey to the mixture to avoid irritation.

Results: This solution is definitely more effective than the old toothpaste trick. After just a few hours, my blemishes were already starting to dry. If you are someone who only has to deal with acne occasionally, skip the Clearasil and use some aspirin!

Heatless Curls

Why: Any way that you can prevent heat damage on your hair is a good thing—especially for those of you who, like me, straighten, blow dry, and curl your hair often. To achieve lustrous curls, there's no need to fry your hair with an iron--just use a simple paper bag.

How: For an interactive, step-by-step tutorial, look no further than beauty blogger

Strawberry Teeth Whitening Paste

Why: Thanks to coffee and red wine, teeth can become increasingly less white over the years. However, the high price tag on store bought whitening strips (Crest's are upwards of $40) simply doen’t agree with my wallet. Look no further than your refrigerator for a cheap alternative. Strawberries contain malic acid--a natural whitening agent that loosens stains.

How: Mash up a medium-sized strawberry into a puree. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and mix. Spread the mixture over your teeth using a tooth brush and keep it on for five minutes. Rinse your mouth and brush thoroughly with toothpaste.

Results: I find the whitening strips to be painful on my teeth and gums. The strawberry mixture only produces a tingle, plus it tastes much better than chemicals, making the whole process more tolerable. I noticed an immediate change in the color of my teeth--similar to the change I see after using a strip. However, you can only apply the mixture once a week since the malic acid can damage your enamel. So the strips, which you can use every day, might be the better option for someone looking for a photoshop-like smile. However, after a day of too much caffeine or a night of too much chardonnay, use this mixture for a quick touch-up.

Cooking Spray Top Coat

Why: There's nothing worse than realizing you've run out of quick-dry top coat after giving yourself a hurried manicure. Or sometimes, spending that extra $8 on a top coat after a nail polish binge just doesn't seem economical. For both of these issues, cooking spray is a convenient solution.

How: Simply spritz a small amount of cooking spray onto your nails after your second coat. Rinse hands with cold water when nails are almost dry to get ride of the excess oil.

Results: After painting my nails, I dried one hand with Trader Joe’s cooking spray, and one with Essie 'Good To Go'. In five minutes, the Essie hand was almost completely dry, while the cooking spray hand still had a ways to go. It ended up taking about 20 minutes for the polish to be completely dry—though I definitely used too much spray. The spray shouldn’t always replace a top coat, but it's better than nothing in a pinch.

Under Eye Hemorrhoid Cream

Why: Though it may not be something you ever wanted to be caught buying, hemorrhoid cream can act as a quick (and cheap!) solution after a late night.

How: Dab some cream under your eyes, and you'll be good to go.

Results: By the time I left my apartment one hungover morning, the puffy bags under my eyes were gone. It doesn't lighten those dark circles, however, so don't leave without some concealer.