I'm just going to come out and say it: I am a starving artist. Despite my love for exquisite clothing and respect for authenticity and craftsmanship in luxury brands, I am not rolling in it. An aspiring lingerie designer and writer, I live my life day to day, hand to mouth. Any of you out there chasing your dreams, or even beginning to live your dream as a freelancer, understand this lifestyle. Part of it is quite exciting. It makes me feel brave and courageous that I am pursuing my authentic life goals. However, there are times when I doubt myself and wish I'd joined in the Rat Race, at least for the stable income and ability to plan ahead. At the end of the day, though, I am pretty proud of my life choice and the DIY-til-you-die attitude that I have developed as a result of having to live adventurously (read: periodically BROKE).
When you live [cough] "adventurously," you pick up serious life hacks — ways to look good and live life to the fullest on a small budget. You become the friend people go to when looking for bargain tips. You become tip top at buying amazing presents people actually use without spending a million dollars. You find brilliant products that work as well known brand equivalents. You become the Queen of Thrift, you learn to take charge of your life and you do it all by yourself. (Even if your laptop is seven years old and randomly loses the backlight, all your tights have holes in them and you've had to move back to your parents').
My favorite cheap life hack, by far, has to be the homemade beauty product that has saved me so much money and is eco friendly! It can be used as a cleanser, face scrub, makeup remover and facial moisturizer all in one. It also doubles as a whole body exfoliator, soap, shaving gel and body cream — saving you some serious space in your bathroom. Intrigued? All you need are two ingredients, a teaspoon and a big tub. I have used a plastic Tupperware-type container in the past, but a great eco-friendly alternative is reusing packaging from used up beauty products.
1. Olive Oil
Olive oil has been used in skincare since day one, and has many health benefits when applied topically (as well as when you eat it as part of a balanced diet). In fact, olive oil is chemically closer in structure to the oils our bodies produce naturally than any other organically occurring oil. This means it is absorbed really efficiently by our skin. It also has been scientifically proven to have a regenerative effect on our skin tissue, with the antioxidants and vitamin E present in olive oil also preventing skin degeneration. Elasticity in skin is maintained by the squalene present in this magical elixir, too!
2. Natural ExfoliantFor this easy beauty hack, you have two options for your exfoliant particle: brown sugar or salt. Both have similar, but equally differing properties, and you should consider your skin type and problem areas when choosing. Option 1: Sugar
Sugar gets a bad rep in the world of health and beauty — it is extremely addictive, causes highs and lows in energy and plays havoc with your pearly whites. However, when applied to the skin, sugar can be extremely beneficial. Sugar is a very hydrating skincare ingredient as it is a natural humectant. This means that it draws moisture from the air and delivers it into your skin. The soft shape of brown sugar is a gentle abrasive to help loosen dead skin cells; this works in conjunction with the glycolic acid naturally present in sugar to help break down the "glue" that binds cells and encourage cell turnover, resulting in glowing skin.
Choose sugar over salt if your skin is sensitive or dry, or just needs a bit of gentle TLC. Oily skin can benefit from gentle sugar, too. Contrary to popular belief, skin can produce too much sebum due to dryness. Therefore, hydrating and regenerating sugar can help rebalance the skin's chemistry.Option 2: Salt
Salt contains magnesium, which is wonderful at drawing impurities from the skin and has been used in bathing for this reason for hundreds of years. It is slightly "harsher" in its effects than sugar — meaning it works wonders for acne or eczema-prone skin — but is best to be avoided by those with dry skin. An age old antiseptic, salt sterilizes blocked pores and the calcium within it helps to flush them out. The sulphur within salt helps to synthesize oxygen and this combined with potassium helps to maintain water balance for cell metabolism, which enables the skin to absorb the nourishment from the olive oil. Particles are rougher and larger (in general) in salt than in sugar, making sugar a better alternative for delicate skin.
To make your product, fill your container about 80 percent full of your exfoliant of choice (sugar or salt). Then slowly pour olive oil through the crystals, stirring with your teaspoon at intervals, until the crystals have become saturated with oil. Your aim is to create a texture that is still very granular but sticky.
Facial: Cleanser/Makeup Remover/Scrub/MoisturizerMethod:Spoon about a small "tangerine" sized amount of product into the palm of your hand. Using your fingers, apply the oil scrub to the entire face, being careful around the soft eye area. Massage between two and five minutes, in circular motions, over the skin to remove dead skin and encourage circulation. Rinse your face with warm water. Pat your face dry with a towel, and sweep cotton wool over the face to remove the excess oil, and with it, your makeup. You will not need to moisturize.Body: Exfoliant/Soap/Shaving Gel/Body CreamMethod:In the shower, turn off the water and scrub all over your body, using however much product you require. Use circular motions with your hands to remove dead skin and encourage circulation. Pay attention to dry areas such as knees, elbows and feet. Rinse away the granular particles under the shower.
Next, take your razor and shave whatever fuzz you want to remove. (The oil will still be stuck to your body, and acts as a lubricant and protective barrier for the skin. You will have to wash your razor out regularly during the process, under the water, as the oil will collect dead skin, dirt and hairs and clog up your razor. Yum.) Use a shower gel to scrub the excess oil from your skin. The oil will have absorbed dirt from your skin like a soap. After your shower, you will most likely not have to moisturize, as the oil will have hydrated your skin significantly. Happy scrubbing! (Don't make a mess!)
Images: Fotolia; Giphy; Author's Own