Look your best in a flash—for less!—by using these everyday products to combat under eye bags, moisturize, stand in for makeup primer, and more
Your medicine cabinet and makeup bag occupy different real estate in your bathroom, but the two play better together than you may have ever imagined. Items lining your shelves can double as excellent beauty stand-ins, often at a fraction of the price of cosmetics. “Many drugstore items are made for sensitive areas, which means they can work on other delicate parts of your body you may not have thought of before,” says Whitney Bowe, M.D., clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Here are seven products you likely already have that could revolutionize your beauty routine.
Beauty bonus: Eye makeup remover
“Using regular facial cleanser to remove your eye makeup requires you to rub the skin of your eyes, which can cause micro-tears and inflammation, and decrease the density and thickness of your eyelashes,” Bowe says. Instead, apply petroleum jelly to your eyelid and gently use a soft tissue or cotton ball to wipe it away. Your makeup lifts off as the jelly soothes and moisturizes the thin, delicate skin of your eyelid. We’ll call that a win-win. [Tweet this!]
Beauty bonus: Chafing, razor burn, or sunscreen
If it’s good enough for a baby’s bottom, then it’s good enough for your skin too. The main ingredient in diaper rash cream, zinc oxide, is extremely soothing and can heal areas that get irritated from rubbing and friction, Bowe says. “It’s really thick, so it’s best to use it overnight on areas such as raw skin between your thighs or razor burn under your arms or at the bikini line, and then wash it off the next morning. It’s also antibacterial so if you have an infection brewing, it can soothe inflamed skin.”
Of course zinc oxide is also a powerful sunblock that can protect vulnerable areas against the sun’s rays—but don’t go the white-nose route. “Since it’s so thick, I wouldn’t recommend rubbing it everywhere, but if you have a new tattoo or recently burned yourself cooking or with a curling iron, these areas are more susceptible to sunburns, so you could cover them with diaper rash cream,” says Amy Derick, M.D., instructor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University.
Beauty bonus: Makeup primer
Dimethicone, the primary ingredient in chafing gels, is also found in many cosmetics, including makeup primer. “Dimethicone doesn’t clog pores but gives you a nice, smooth finish and temporarily fills in lines and wrinkles,” Bowe says. Before using it, do a skin check to make sure you don’t react to the ingredient: Dab some on the inside of your forearm or behind an ear for three days. No reaction? You’re in the clear. If you notice any redness or a rash, you probably don’t want to put it on your face.
Beauty bonus: Moisturizer
Many products designed to fend off stretch marks during pregnancy contain shea butter, coconut oil, or silicone, which are very effective at trapping water to help repair the skin barrier, Bowe says. Since they’re primarily sold to pregnant women, they’re often free of ingredients you don’t need such as fragrances. Apply the creams or oils to any dry, rough spots on your skin such as your elbows, heels, and the backs of your ankles. [Tweet this!]
Beauty bonus: Rosacea or red, flushed skin
In a pinch, nasal spray can totally save the day. “If you have a big event coming up and have red skin characteristics of rosacea where you blush or flush easily or turn red when drinking alcohol or eating spicy food, spray the nasal spray directly on your face and rub it in with your finger pads,” Bowe says. When used in the nose, the spray constricts blood vessels to reduce inflammation, and it has the same effect on your skin and can last about four to five hours. However, nasal spray can have a rebound effect—where it worsens the condition it’s designed to treat—when used too often, so only rely on it for the occasional rescue. If you regularly experience signs of rosacea, ask your dermatologist whether a medication approved to treat the condition may be right for you.
Beauty bonus: Dry shampoo
Talcum powder, the ingredient in baby powder, wicks away oil, so applying it to your scalp can help your locks appear less greasy. Add a few taps of the bottle at a time onto your scalp, especially near your part, and then brush through.
Beauty bonus: Reduce under eye bags
The cream contains a chemical called phenylephrine HCI, a vasoconstrictor that shrinks hemorrhoidal tissue. Dabbing a pea-sized amount on the skin under your eyes can have the same effect on the blood vessels that are making you look 20 years older than you actually are. “Your body may get used to it the more often you apply it, so you’ll notice a bigger improvement if you rely on it less frequently,” Derick says.