It used to be that I'd stop by just to stock up on household cleaners, toilet paper and various oddities (where ELSE can you find a small pouch of naturally colored, shiny river rocks to line the bottom of your betta fish bowl?). But lately, I've been noticing another side of the dollar store -- a more... beautiful side... That's right: Crazy cheap beauty tools and products!
There are way more than you might assume -- so I popped into the fabulous 99 Cents and Up! store in Astoria, NY, to enlighten those of you who still think buying your beauty necessities at Walgreens is budget shopping. Well, consider those prices CHOPPED. Because, really, what's more beautiful than saving tons of cash?
(All photos: Nora Crotty. All photo backdrops: 99 Cents and Up!, Astoria.)
Nail Polish, $0.99
Whoever said you had to pay upwards of $6 for a decent bottle of nail polish was totally full of it ('it' being a stroke of marketing wizardry genius). This brand called 'b.s.n.' -- no uppercase needed -- sells a ton of makeup products, and every single item only costs $0.99. I'd almost be outraged if it weren't so awesome.
So yeah -- let's talk nail polish first: b.s.n.'s range contains no fewer than 125 colors, including glitters and different finishes. I'm especially fond of one with green and gold rounded glitter (second from left in the above photo). Very mermaid-y. But obviously, the best part is, if you buy a bottle on a whim and decide you don't really like it that much after all... it cost under a buck! That's less than a bag of M&Ms from an NYC street vendor. And I should know -- I've tried bartering before. (Word to the wise: It never works.)
Usually, it's only (slightly pricey) specialty brands that carry super bright, varied shades of lip color. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that b.s.n.'s range involved more unconventional colors along with the usual pinks and mauves. I'm talking lime green, true blue, emerald and fluorescent pink.
There are also a ton of glosses (and an array of neat eyeliners, some with glitter), all costing, again, just $0.99. It's a pretty awesome way to test out releasing your inner Rihanna -- and you can always invest in the more expensive stuff later on, if you like what you see.
If you don't believe me re: the magic of b.s.n., here's a video I found on YouTube of a lady talking about how awesome and cheap it is for 17 minutes. Maybe you'll trust her opinion more.
Revlon Hair Color, $3.49
Did you know you can get boxed hair dye at a dollar store? I didn't. Mine sells a whole bunch of 'em for $3.49 a pop, which the Internet tells me is pretty much what they retail for everywhere. But why make the trek to Tar-jay to touch up your roots/Sun In disaster when you're already at 99 Cents? Save your gas money/subway swipes and HOLLA FOR A DOLLA (store)!
Shower Caps, $1.19 for 3
Shower caps may not be the sexiest beauty products, but as any person who follows the beauty mags' regular warnings about washing your hair every day, they're necessary. Here is a pack of three (3) beautiful, floral shower caps -- made from only the most PREMIUM vinyl -- for only $1.19. Still cheaper than a bag of NYC M&Ms -- and better for you, too!
Shower Dispenser Station, $8.99
You know the hand soap dispensers that hang from the walls in public restrooms? This is similar to that, but naturally, better. There are three compartments, each of which you fill with your shower stuff: shampoo, conditioner, soap and/or beer (power showers: not just for college, anymore). Presto! Everything you need for getting clean, all in one nifty container.
Bonus? The "station" eradicates all those half-empty shampoo bottles that tend to pile up all around the edges of your tub. Sure, it's a little pricier than most dollar store finds -- but I'd say it's worth it.
Loofah on a Stick, $1.49
Assorted Hair Ties and Accessories. $0.99/each
This is what first inspired my delve into the vast realm of dollar store beauty offerings. The day after spending $6 on a velvet hair scrunchie at American Apparel (go ahead and judge, IDC), I wandered into 99 Cents+ and saw that it was selling packs of two (2) velvet scrunchies for 99 freaking cents. Now I can keep one for myself, and send one to my girl Hillary!
For those of you who aren't en route to Scrunchytown, USA, the dollar store also sells a million other hair accessories for hardly any cash at all. On a recent visit, I picked up a 14-pack of snag-free hair elastics by Expressions for $0.99 (that's $3 less than the similar Goody Ouchless hair ties). There are also a ton of clips, headbands, brushes, rollers and combs.
Eyebrow Razor, $0.99
Exactly what it says on the tin: this is a miniature razor that's used to delicately shave your eyebrows into shape, rather than the more painful, irritating alternatives of waxing, tweezing or threading. (I found some tutorials on YouTube that better explain the process.) They're also apparently great for getting rid of facial fuzz.
Pedicure Kits, $0.99-$1.99/each
From nail files and buffers to a pumice stone shaped like a foot, to toe separators and those disposable foam flip flop things, the dollar store has got all your at-home pedi needs covered. Sure, you're missing out on a foot massage -- but just think of all the money you're saving!! Now all you need is the perfect b.s.n. polish, amirite?
Tweezers and Nail Supplies, $1.29/each
Something I really love about shopping at the dollar store is all the options -- as demonstrated by the multiple kinds of tweezers available, to suit your individual style and personality.
If you're classic, you can go for the simple silver tweezers, which are sold in a set with nail clippers and files. Or, if you're AWESOME, you can choose tweezers decorated to look like a sexy girl wearing a crop top and pink booty shorts. I certainly know which one I prefer....
Glitter Spray, $1.19
This stuff always reminds me of that guy on "True Life" who got calf implants and said, dead seriously, "Real men wear body glitter" -- which is kind of a shame, because I really like body glitter. So, if you can get him out of your head for a night, head to the dollar store and spray some of this on your hair and skin and get ready to PARTY! It's like instant J.Lo in a can.
New Century Sanitarian Thing, priceless
Something else you can get at the dollar store is a New Century Sanitarian Thing, which I can only assume is a DOLLAR STORE *EXCLUSIVE!*
It appears to be a shower kit of sorts, including a loofah and an exfoliating... thing. I don't own one of these Things, nor have I ever used one -- but it seemed important enough to include in this list. According to the packaging, it "clean skin, protect skin and healthy skin." Sold.