50 Brilliant Beauty Uses for Common Household Items

Posted by June 17, 2014 2:30 pm
beauty uses for household items

Illustration by Candace Napier

Hanging onto money isn’t an easy feat for most young women. Between today’s cost of living, socializing, eating, dressing, downloading, and pretty much everything else we do, it sometimes feels like there’s just not enough to go around. That’s why a girl’s gotta be resourceful when it comes to her beauty products, which—if you’re not careful—can add up fast.

Around here, we’re huge proponents of employing genius tricks to avoid shelling out hard-earned cash for certain beauty-related things that could easily be done using stuff we already have in our linen closets, our kitchens, or our bathrooms.

For example, did you know that the inside of a banana peel can whiten your teeth as well as an at-home kit, or a little cornstarch can work wonders on adding luster to greasy hair? It’s these small hacks that can save a little cash, a bunch of time, and overall keep your  stuff (and yourself!) looking fabulous.

Whether your plan is to start saving now, or whether you’re just naturally frugal, check out this list of 50 brilliant beauty uses for common household products! Once you’re done, be sure to share a few of your favorite tips in the comments below.

50. Cornstarch
Savvy women swear by this cheap-o pantry staple, which works wonders as an all-natural dry shampoo replacement. It soaks up sebum—which makes your hair greasy—leaving you with killer volume and clean-looking roots. Also, adding an eighth of a teaspoon of cornstarch to nail polish instantly makes it matte.

49. Banana peels
It might sound odd, but used banana peels can whiten your teeth! Rub the inside of a peel along your top and bottom teeth for about a minute each, and let sit for around 10 minutes. From there, grab a dry toothbrush and start brushing. Doing this a few times a week can significantly lighten teeth as well as any whitening kit.

MORE: Beauty Etiquette 101: Everything You Need to Know For Your Next Trip to the Salon

48. Ice trays
Use an ice cube tray to custom blend your own lip colors or foundation using two or more shades. Simply rinse and pop it in the dishwasher afterwards.

47. Matches
The rough strip on a matchbook can double as a nail file in a pinch.

46. Rubber bands
Wrap rubber bands around the cap of nail polish bottles and other hard-to-open tops for better grip.

45. Cold-pressed avocado oil
This fatty oil—found in any grocery store—works wonders when it comes to hydrating dry patches on your face and body, smoothing skin texture, calming redness, plumping up fine lines, and keeping pores cleaner. Don’t buy it? Studies have shown avocado oil can promote increased collagen synthesis and can also heal skin irritations.

44. Dryer Sheets
Use these to effortlessly remove static from your hair (oh, and a damp used dryer sheet can remove soap and shampoo build-up in your tub, too!)

43. Coffee
Give brown hair a boost with actual coffee. Brew a strong pot, shampoo, then douse your strands with lukewarm java. Leave it on for 10 to 20 minutes before rinsing and adding conditioner. The result: an all-natural color revitalizer.

42. A shoe bag
Hang it on the back of your bathroom door and fill it with loose hair ties, bobby pins, makeup, brushes, cosmetics, or hot tools.

41. Baby powder
Sure, we’ve all heard that baby powder has the same effect as dry shampoo, but did you know that makeup artists use it to make eyelashes look long and full? Simply curl your lashes, apply one coat of mascara, dust a little baby powder along your top and bottom lashes with a Q-tip or makeup applicator, then add another coat. It really, really works.

40. Refrigerator
Use your fridge to store eye cream, toners, and astringent. The cooling effect de-puffs eyes and skin.

39. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
These mini miracle-workers not only remove makeup stains on countertops, but also pesky self-tanner streaks. Dampen the sponge and run over the offending area, and the streaks should disappear.

38. Coconut oil
Given all the hype around the ancient practice of oil pulling, coconut oil has been on everyone’s minds lately. While the verdict is still out if it’s the miracle health phenom some swear it is, one thing it can do: Whiten teeth and make them blindingly shiny when swished around in your mouth.

37. Pomegranate seeds
Make your own lip and cheek stain with a few crushed up pomegranate seeds mixed with plain lip balm. Plus, thanks to its high levels of fatty punicic acid, the oil derived from pomegranate seeds can moisturize your skin.

36. Toothpaste
We’ve all heard the one about toothpaste getting rid of zits, but did you know it also can be used to whiten yellowing nails? It works! Add in a few drops of lemon juice—a natural bleaching agent—for extra effects.

35. Baby oil
Add baby oil to broken bronzer for a tinted body oil, or to a broken blush for a dewy cheek stain or lip gloss.

34. Tea bags
Shaving left you with some nasty razor burn or bumps? A wet tea bag will soothe inflamed skin and reduce the pain. No need to go for the good stuff—cheap black tea usually has the highest levels of tannic acid, which heals rashes.

MORE: 101 Beauty Tips Every Girl Should Know

33. Cooking spray
Giving yourself a manicure? Grab a can of cooking spray from the kitchen after you’re done, and spray your nails from about six inches away. This helps dry the polish, and it keeps cuticles hydrated.

32. Sharpies
In a pinch, a permanent marker can fill in chipped manicures—just make sure you match the color correctly (which isn’t that hard given the range of colors and neutrals available today!)

31. Hanger foam
You know the foam that comes on hangers after you get your dry cleaning back? It’s a foolproof way to remove deodorant marks on clothing.

30. Dawn dish detergent
Due to its high level of surfactants, Dawn dish detergent is especially successful at removing oil-based makeup stains from clothing.

29. Peppermint oil
Found in every health food store, dab peppermint oil on lips—it’s the main ingredient in most pricey lip plumpers. If it’s too tingly for you, cut it with a little coconut oil or lip balm.

28. A hairdryer
Use your hairdryer to instantly blast steam from your bathroom mirrors after a hot shower.

27. Shaving cream
Did you know regular shaving cream removes icky foundation and bronzer stains from shirt collars? It does! Simply rub the offending area lightly with a shaving cream and a damp cloth. If your garment is machine washable, toss it in afterward, otherwise, rinse lightly.

26. Baking soda
Between product buildup, dandruff, and the fact that it’s not kept in a case, your hairbrush can get pretty nasty, ladies. Keep it spic-and-span by submerging it in a bowl of lukewarm water mixed with three or four tablespoons of baking soda.

25. Raw honey
Legend has it that Cleopatra swore by honey to keep her skin in tip-top shape, and it’s easy to see why. Raw honey is packed with antioxidants, antibacterial and hydrating properties, and—surprisingly—it unclogs pores and clarifies skin. The best way to test it out: Put a thin layer on your face, watch a 30-minute TV show, and rinse it off with tepid water.

24. Safety pins
It might sound nuts, but actress Kate Bosworth recently told us her mother uses a safety pin to separate her lashes after applying mascara. When we passed that intel on to others, more than a few women copped to doing it too. Try this at your own risk (and make sure your hand is super-steady.)

23. Metal spoons
Sure, keeping ‘em in the fridge and popping them over your eyes to combat puffiness is a good trick, but who knew that you can curl your eyelashes with a spoon? Miranda Kerr is a fan of this trick! Not shockingly, there are a gazillion YouTube tutorials showing you how to do it.

22. Sticky reinforcements
Remember reinforcements, those circular white stickers that kept loose-leaf holes from ripping in your binder? Place them over your nails to create flawless nail art, like half-moon manicures or French-style manicures with cool colors.

21. A toothbrush
Spritzing hairspray on a toothbrush can help tame flyaways and style bangs.

20. Unsweetened cocoa powder
Some brunettes swear by mixing unsweetened cocoa powder with their cornstarch to refresh greasy hair for a perfect color match. (Bonus: It also covers grays in a pinch, and isn’t sticky at all.)

MORE: The 50 Best Beauty Blogs

19. Coffee filters
Ditch the pricey oil-blotting papers and use these instead—they work just as well.

18. Tissues
Besides the obvious uses, tissues can help keep lipstick in place. Place one tissue over your lips after applying, and dust lightly with translucent powder.

17. Band-Aids
Use a classic Band-Aid to add some sweet polka dots to your manicure! (Most are perforated with tiny dots.)

16. Apple cider vinegar
Acetic acid, the main ingredient in ACV, will remove product build up from your hair, as well as strengthen it, balance its pH level, promote new growth and nixes dandruff. Simply dilute 1/2 a cup with 4 cups of water and rinse after shampooing.

15. Olive oil
Take a tip from the pros and clean heavily soiled makeup brushes by spilling a few drops of olive oil on a paper towel and swirling your tools in it until the makeup breaks down.

14. Lemons
Sometimes the skin on our elbows and knees is a little darker than the rest of our bodies. Rubbing them with half a lemon every day works wonders.

13. Vaseline
Who knew dabbing a touch of Vaseline wherever you spray perfume makes your scent last longer. Why? Because the oils found in petroleum jelly “holds on” to scents and prevents evaporation.

12. Soy milk
Guess what? Soy milk can increase our levels of collagen! Soak a cotton ball in the milk, apply as you would any other type of toner, let it sit for 15 to 30 minute, and rinse with cold water. In a nutshell, soy milk contains genistein, which helps block enzymes that break down and age the skin.

11. An old business card
Use the edge of a business card or a Post-It note to draw a flawless cat-eye using eyeliner. Here’s an easy-to-follow YouTube tutorial.

10. Vodka
Did you know that soaking your razor in vodka not only cleans it, but keeps it sharper longer? Also, if you mix a little vodka with water and spray on your clothes, it’ll get rid of lingering perfume smells if you can’t make it to the dry cleaner.

9. Uncoated aspirin
Beauty junkies and acne suffers alike swear by the powers of uncoated aspirin to fix a variety of skin problems, including acne, dullness, redness, dry patches, and scarring thanks to its salicylic acid component. The most effective method: Take about 5 pills and add water so they turn into a paste. From there, add a little honey to the mix (see number 25: honey will NOT clog your pores!) and spread on your face. Let the mixture sit for about 20 minutes and rinse. If you’d rather not use honey, you can use your own face wash, or use the aspirin and water alone.

8. Mason jars
Instead of cluttering every drawer and shelf in your house with beauty products (we’re guilty!), buy inexpensive mason jars and separate your products by what they do (lipsticks with lipsticks, etc.) Not only will it look super-cool and organized, but they’re clear, so you’ll be able to see every product.

7. Microwave
Between warming up conditioner, hot oil treatments, moisturizing face masks, and even your eyelash curler, your microwave can be your beauty BFF.

6. Chapstick
If you’ve nicked yourself with a razor (or with a pierce of paper, for that matter), applying some classic Chapstick can soothe, heal, and stop a minor cut from bleeding.

5. Tomatoes
We’ve heard that eating tomatoes can make our skin glow, but—thanks to it’s lycopene content—they can also act as a natural sunscreen. Eat up!

4. Toothpicks
Standard toothpicks are a foolproof way to spot-fix any nail polish mistakes. You can also use ‘em to crate basic nail designs like shapes or letters.

3. Cinnamon
Got a pimple? Mix a little cinnamon with honey to spot-treat your zits. Several studies have shown cinnamon to be an effective acne remedy thanks its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

2. Tin foil
Did you know that tin foil can be used to create curly hair when coupled with a flatiron? Lean how with these tutorials! 

1. Distilled white vinegar
This pantry staple removes stubborn gel cheek stain residue from your hands faster than soap and water, and it won’t dry out your skin.

 

 

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