I Test Out Four Beauty Hacks

by Katy on October 16, 2017 · 29 comments

This post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com. Enjoy!

It seems that the internet is crowded with every category of life hack, you know the type. “Seven life changing hacks, you won’t believe number four!” Unfortunately, 9 times out of ten there’s not even a single piece of new or useful information within those dratted listicles.

Lucky for you, I’ve tested out the following four beauty hacks, which should hopefully steer you in the right direction.

Re-solidify powdered makeup

I must be a closet klutz, as it’s pretty common for my pressed makeup (such as eye shadow and blusher) to transform into a powdery mess, tempting me to just toss it into the trash.

But I recently came across a tip of how to bring accidentally powdered makeup back to a solid state, requiring nothing more than a few drops of isopropyl alcohol, commonly known as “rubbing alcohol.”

  • Step one: Gently break up the makeup until it’s a uniform powdery consistency. (I used the back of my makeup brush.)

  • Step two: Drip in the isopropyl alcohol until it’s uniformly wet, but not watery.

  • Step three: Smooth the mixture so there’s an even top surface. Make sure to leave the lid open so it dries in a timely manner.

  • Step four: Enjoy your refreshed product!

Grade: A+ 

Scrape out every last bit

Another frustrating makeup experience is when a tube or bottle of liquid makeup has an inaccessible amount of product that stubbornly clings to the side. Of course you can spend $5.78 for a “beauty spatula” to address this issue, but there’s a free option for those of us who prefer to hold onto our money, which is the Starbucks green plastic stick, officially called a “splash stick.” (See? You learned something new right there!)

Did it work as well as a spatula? Probably not, but it was certainly able to get into nooks and crannies that my applicator sponge couldn’t access. Just make sure to not use this hack as an justification for an expensive coffee purchase!

Grade: B+

Shave with conditioner

I recently had an opportunity to try out this beauty hack as I was staying in a hotel and staring down one of those tiny bottles of conditioner.

Although the conditioner was a thinner consistency than a traditional shaving cream, it still did a serviceable job of providing a smooth shaving experience. This is a perfect use for hotel conditioners, which are already a travel friendly size. (Actually smaller than official travel-size shaving cream.) Plus most of us have a few of these already floating around in our homes.

Will I replace my traditional shaving cream with conditioner? No. But I can certainly add this into my travel routine.

Grade: A

Powdered cocoa as eyebrow filler

I should preface this hack by admitting that I normally don’t give even a moment’s thought to my eyebrows, so it’s hard to compare this product to its traditional counterpart. However, in the name of research I dove right in.

This hack was a bust, as I ended up smelling like a Hershey bar, but looking like Groucho Marx.

Perhaps someone with superior eyebrow grooming skills would have better luck with this hack, but for me, this one was a hard “no.”

Grade: D-

The best frugal hack when it comes to makeup and general beauty products is to buy from a store with a liberal return policy. This includes Rite Aid, who promises that “Any opened or used beauty product of any brand name can be returned for a full refund when accompanied by a receipt.” Although think twice before buying from Walgreen’s whose “Returns and exchanges for specific items, particularly cosmetics and electronics, are handled on an individual basis by individual store managers.”

Hopefully you’ve learned something that will help you to simplify your beauty routine while keeping your hard earned dollars in your wallet.

Your pal,

Groucho Marx

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen October 16, 2017 at 11:55 am

Katy, I think we need a pic of your Groucho eyebrows But at least that cocoa powder had to smell yummy!

Seriously, though, I don’t really get this obsession with perfect eyebrows. My own are heavier than our cultural expectations for females, but I’m fine with what the gods gave me. Who sets up these standards anyway?

Thanks for trying out these hacks! Very informative.


susan October 16, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Heavier eyebrows seem to be desirable these days, don’t stress it… wasy back in high school, many, many years ago, we all thought that we needed to have pencil thin eyebrows… I plucked and tweezed my eyebrows nearly into oblivion, and I am so sorry now. but there are several really good products. I myself recently started using Anastasia brand eyebrow wiz. Excellent and easy to use product, it is not inexpensive but somethings are def. worth it!


Rb October 16, 2017 at 11:58 am

Katy, your a blonde like me. Cocoa is way too dark for our brows. My brown haired cousins have great sucess with it, though.

However walgreens has a very niice blonde brow pencil for less than 2$. I love it and use it daily. If i dont fill in my brows and use mascara i look like i dont have any.


Mary in Maryland October 16, 2017 at 11:59 am

Actually, the best frugal hack with respect to makeup is “do without.”


A. Marie October 16, 2017 at 12:48 pm

What Mary said. I’ve slightly upgraded my shampoo and conditioner over the years because of postmenopausal hair issues–but I haven’t used a thing on my face but moisturizer for 40 years.


Denise October 16, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Yup. What Mary said.

I’m 51 and decided five years ago that I wouldn’t dye my hair as I went grey, and that I couldn’t be bothered with makeup 99% of the time. What I’ve settled in my own head is that none of us should be told what we “should” do. My 55 year old sister dyes her hair and wears makeup daily. She looks fab and feels comfortable about it.

I do neither and I’m great as I am.

One size fits one: but no makeup and no hair dye is definitely more frugal – I also save on eye and facial makeup removers!


Aj October 16, 2017 at 12:02 pm

At CVS the return policy is great, plus if you go digital, you never lose aa recipt also since I always submit my recpts to Walmart’s savings catcher app, I never have a problem finding a recpt


andrea October 16, 2017 at 12:50 pm

I know listicles is a portmanteau of list and articles. But, at first glance, my dirty mind went to another word that ends in “sticles”.


Denise October 16, 2017 at 1:55 pm

Why Andrea: I didn’t know you had such wild thoughts!!


Katy in Africa October 16, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Thanks for the great tips Katy!

While I don’t know if it works good as the splash stick, I have used a q-tip to get lipstick out of an almost empty bottle.

And you probably already know this but cocoa powder works good for dry shampoo, at least for my brown hair.


Denise October 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm

And acetone to declog (word??) gunky nail varnish.


Jennifer October 16, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Love these hacks! I had not heard of the cocoa for brow powder so I will have to try this one. I was surprised how well the blush turned out. I regularly use things that do double duty. Conditioner to shave and for my hair then mixed with water then put in a spray bottle for detangler, lipstick for blush, coconut/olive oil for lotion, a light brown lip liner for a brow pencil, old mascara brush for a spoolie eyebrow brush, Vaseline for chapstick/Cuticle softener/and I mix a blob into my oil/lotion for dry winter skin, clear nail polish for nails and to stop fraying fabrics, cornstarch for dry shampoo/light face powder/shoe deodorizer, hairspray for my hair and to remove ink stains, and dish liquid for jewelry cleaner/oil stain remover. So great to get more than one use from so many products. I love some of the ELF brand makeup and it doesn’t cost a lot. Also, Dollar Tree has some of the more expensive brands for $1.


Betty Winslow October 16, 2017 at 2:37 pm

I haven’t used make-up in years, but the dark circles and bags under my eyes were really bugging me. I am trying a VERY expensive eye cream from Rowan & Fields ($62 for a tiny jar that is supposed to last 6 mo.) that comes with a 60 day money-back guarantee – you aren’t satisfied with change you can see in 60 days, you get the $62 back. Honestly, if it helps the bags and circles, I’d pay more than that! I’m happy with my salt-and-pepper hair, too, and get wash-and-wear cuts. I work out at the gym 5 days a wk, I’m 65, and I am comfortable in my skin.


Kym Hopkins October 16, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Would love to hear from you in +- 6 months to see how the expensive product has worked. I’m afraid I’m skeptical; but hopeful for you.


Jennifer October 17, 2017 at 4:12 am

Oh yes, definitely update us on the results…please.


Mrs. Picky Pincher October 16, 2017 at 3:58 pm

The cocoa powder definitely seemed like a stretch, hahaha. For a while I’ve actually been shavng exclusively with conditioner. I also like to shave with a homemade sugar scrub with coconut oil.


TheClassicCarol October 16, 2017 at 5:04 pm

I keep my lip gloss when its empty and use the sponge brush to dig out the rest of my lipstick. There’s at least a 1/4 of a tube beneath the surface.


deb October 16, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Does no one use a bar of soap for shaving anymore? I have been doing that my whole life instead of buying an additional product.


Jennifer October 17, 2017 at 4:15 am

I do sometimes in a pinch, but my skin is sensitive so inexpensive conditioner helps coat the skin keeping me from getting rashes.


Julie C October 17, 2017 at 5:47 am

I use bar soap for shaving every day, the same one that I use for washing my face & body. Ivory soap because it’s cheap and unscented. Sometimes my daughter gets some shampoo or conditioner that doesn’t work and I’ll use that for shaving just to use it up.


Jo October 16, 2017 at 5:34 pm

I use Kirks Castile Soap (bar) for face, body, hair, shaving, and even the dishes. Works for me!


Pam October 16, 2017 at 6:34 pm

I have dry skin and the very best thing for shaving my legs is to just put plenty of lotion on my legs and use a damp razor–that’s it! So easy for my nearsighted self to do at the sink with glasses on instead of a steamy shower and no glasses. What doesn’t absorb into my skin or get scraped off by the razor wipes of easily and leaves my skin so soft.


KJD509 October 17, 2017 at 8:25 am

Ooh, I’m going to try this! Increasing nearsightedness + very dark leg hair = I’ve pretty much given up wearing skirts to the office. Always miss a patch or two, and always in a place that becomes obvious just as I’m standing up to give a presentation. . .


Sandra October 17, 2017 at 12:30 am

I use a lipstick brush to get all of the lipstick out of the tube. They last almost forever and can be bought for just a couple of dollars. You could probably use a fine watercolor brush, too. Dollar Tree has a powdered eyebrow compact with a small eyebrow brush….only a dollar and it lasts a long time. I use the hotel conditioners for hand washing delicates. Don’t forget to cut open hand lotion tubes. There is still a lot of lotion inside. I keep a small empty hand cream jar for just such a purpose.


nancy from mass October 17, 2017 at 3:24 am

Since i am allergic to makeup – i don’t have to worry about any of these things! But i am going to let my niece know about the powdered makeup hack – that’s a great idea!

Like Sandra, i also keep an empty container for extra lotion. i have a DT rubber scraper i keep just for scraping lotion out of tubes/containers. it’s amazing how much is left there! (the scraper was originally for food but i broke the handle and repurposed it for lotion extraction 🙂 )


Sarah October 17, 2017 at 3:52 am

Years ago, as a swimmer we were taught to ‘dry shave’ before big meets. So I consider my upgrade to shaving with water and sometimes soap during my shower quite nice, and very frugal. I guess not shaving at all would be cheapest since razors are the priciest part, but that always leaves me feeling itchy.


Tracy October 17, 2017 at 3:58 am

I do wear makeup but not expensive products. I find that Dollar Store eyebrow powder and liner pencil works great. I use cheap (the cheapest) shampoo and conditioner, and inexpensive moisturizer. I like Ulta for their two for one lipstick specials. One product I have recently started using that is truly AMAZING is called Lavish Lash and it’s not super cheap but it actually makes your eyelashes grow! I had given up using mascara because even with it on I couldn’t see my eyelashes but now I have very long and nice eyelashes. Very worth it to me! Babe Lash is another brand that is also supposed to work well. And much cheaper than the eyelash extensions many of my much younger colleagues are wearing these days…


ouvickie October 19, 2017 at 7:39 am

Thanks for that tip, I’m going to look for Lavish Lash. I’ve never heard of it, but I’m willing to give it a try!


ouvickie October 19, 2017 at 7:13 am

LOL!! The cocoa eyebrow hack had me laughing. I would have never thought to do that. Thanks for the tips, especially the powder solidification. I’ve had that happen more than once, but I refuse to waste my blush or eye shadow. That will come in handy.

I’ve been using trial size shampoos and conditioners to shave with for several years now. The ingredients in them, especially conditioner, actually keep you from getting razor nicks. So, when I run out of the trial size, I just use cheap hair conditioner from the Dollar Tree. Multi-use and so much cheaper than shaving cream, plus it’s one less piece of packaging into the landfill.


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