Itty Bitty Beauty Budget Bits | by Ardith McCann

The only budget smaller than my beauty and skincare budget is what I can cough up for new shoes. After decades of splurging for brands like Lancome and Caudelie, my new beauty hunts are CVS and Walmart, Amazon, and Pinterest (for DIY recipes). 
I have attempted many times to McGyver my way to homemade beauty remedies, but honestly I fail every time. I have learned that my skin hates coconut oil, that rosehip oil does nothing at all, that Castille soap drives me crazy with its scum property and the fact that it clogs my pores. I gave up my dream of making my own foaming facial cleanser because every single recipe calls for that darn Castille soap! I’ve learned that cocoa butter is not the cure all I’d hoped for. (I still hold hope for the promise of glycerin.) On the retail side, Burt’s Bee products failed me, as have other natural brands like Acure. 
Outside of trying to use soap nuts as a facial scrub, I feel like I’ve tried virtually all of the organic, natural, simple skincare ingredients and recipes plastered all over Pinterest. Plus, it costs some serious dolares to build an inventory of ingredients and tools for natural homemade products. And then there is the storage of said items to consider.
After five long years of diligent research and experimentation, here is what my skin has taught me about how to care for it within my budget constraints.
#1 Budget Beauty Lesson
I am not an all-natural gal. 
I cannot simply go to my pantry and slather on coconut or olive oil. I don’t look great without makeup. Just because something is pure and organic does not mean I’ll be able to use it on my namby-pamby epidermis. My skin is picky, very picky about what I put on it (as is my hair).  
#2 Budget Beauty Lesson
It gets expensive trying to find the right inexpensive skincare and makeup products. 
I am still on the hunt for a reasonably priced facial moisturizer. I have tried those raved about on social media, like Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel Cream. It’s bunk, at least according to my skin (although their hydrating gel cleanser is surprisingly good). Ditto for Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. So much hype, so little reality for me. 
This ongoing search is really, really frustrating. How can there be so many choices out there, but not one right for me? So, I just keep using Aquaphor as I continue my apparently quixotic quest for the perfect facial cream.
On a positive note, I just fell in love with Curél®’s Ultra Healing body lotion. I can’t believe my joy about the fact the hype is real. My skin loves this lotion. It’s been years since it felt this normal, soft. But it took a couple of millennia and many small dollars to reach this point.
#3 Budget Beauty Lesson
Someone needs to develop a brilliant parametric search tool/app for skincare and makeup products.
I’d do this myself, except I have absolutely no technical aptitude. There are a bazillion products to choose from, with more being introduced everyday. It makes my head spin, The Exorcist style. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have access to a database that accurately translates your personal input into a short list of brands, even groups of products best suited for you? That, my friend, would be beauty bliss.
This budget-challenged beauty maven must live in the real world. For what it’s worth, here is a quick breakdown of the brands that I have found work for me thus far and how I use them:
  • Aquaphor: Face moisturizer (for my extra dry skin)
  • No 7: Foaming facial cleanser 
  • Neutrogena: Gel face cleanser
  • e.l.f/skincare: Cream face cleanser, oil-to-foam face cleanser
  • e.l.f/makeup: Eyebrow kit, face powder, cream highlighter, eyeshadow, eyeliner (I do not like any of their lip products, at all)
  • Stila: Cream blush, the best blush I have used to date (it blends beautifully)
  • Jordana: Lip gloss, by far the best I have tried at any price point
  • L’Oreal: Foundation, mascara (Butterfly)
  • Ponds: Eye makeup remover (cold cream), the best I have ever used
  • Curél: Body lotion (Ultra Healing)
  • Bain de Terre: Shampoo and conditioner (Coconut Papaya and Passion Flower)
So, how goes your beauty products quest?

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