I have been working on getting myself back to my pre-baby state. Not in a “uh, someone please take this baby” way, but in a way that involves not always wearing yoga pants and looking somewhat awake and maybe running a comb through my hair sometimes and usually brushing my teeth and putting on a bra.
Before I decided to fill my oven with an enormous bun, I worked in the beauty industry for about eight years and am a licensed cosmetologist. I have mostly worked as a nail technician and a makeup artist. And I am damn good at those things. But you wouldn’t have guessed it from looking at me during most moments of the past six months. Babies are weird and needy and want attention and to be fed and it kind of cuts into your babe-routine.
As a stay at home mom, with a limited budget and limited me-time, it hasn’t really been possible to buy or do some of the things that I used to. I’ve been running low on my makeup, skin and hair products for a bit, but it wasn’t in the budget to buy the salon quality things that I have used for years. So I went on the hunt. I have replaced a lot of my products, but not all, with cheaper versions that work just as well, some even better. I have read a million reviews of a ton of products, compared them all, and watched more YouTube tutorials than I thought could exist, so you don’t have to.
So, without further ado..
What I Used Before.
Most of these are the products that I could not justify in my budget, and found good, sometimes better, alternatives to.
I love this stuff. I put a little bit in my hair when it’s wet before I blow it dry, and my hair is smooth, soft, and shiny. Plus it smells amazing. It was great for calming down general fuzziness and giving a polished look when styled. But it is also around $40 a bottle.
Eminence Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser
I have had ish skin since fifth grade. Can’t have brains and all the looks, I guess. During my pregnancy, it was pretty good, and it is better when I am on birth control. But it has always been prone to breakouts and a crazy mix of oily and dry. This stuff is like pretty soap. It left my skin feeling soft, smooth, although not always totally hydrated. But it got the dirt and the gunk off and my skin was better with this cleanser than any of the others I have tried. And it’s organic. And it’s from Hungary. Fancypants. And 32 dead prezzies.
Maybelline Define-a-Brow Eyebrow Pencil
This being in the “used before” column is kind of a fluke. Every Target/Walmart/grocer/pharmacy near me was out of these puppies. I don’t think it was due to high demand, but more because every makeup restocking person ever near me must be the laziest. Everywhere was out of a bunch of crap. But this was the only thing they were all out of that I needed. When I don’t fill in my brows, I feel close to the same as if I were not wearing my shirt in public. Okay. Maybe just not wearing a bra. Still. I have been using this pencil for years. It’s thin, has a little comb attached, and it’s self sharpening. You never have to sharpen that sucker! I can’t be the only one that can never find a sharpener when I need a sharpener. If I am, then screw all of you and your ability to locate your own shit. But whatever. This pencil is only about $6. But I found something better AND cheaper. So just hang on.
Benefit Bad Gal Lash Mascara
Okay. If I had to go back to using any of my “before” products, I would choose this. It really is just great mascara. I was using drugstore mascara and got a sample of this with a purchase at Sephora, and I immediately switched. I always thought mascara is mascara is mascara. Nope. This is it. I love this stuff. I miss it often. But I don’t $19 miss it.
You can use this as cheek color or lip color, but I never like liquid cheek colors. As a lip color, it is great. It just gives your lips a little bit of a pink hue. I’m not big into lipsticks because I am a chronic lip-chewer. It’s cute. I don’t have to worry about getting a chunk of this on my teeth or ending the day with a ring of lip liner and naked lips. If you like a low maintenance, natural look, this was my go-to. But it is also $30.
What I Use Now.
These are the products I replaced my old products with.
Garnier Fructis Moroccan Sleek Oil Treatment
This is not as good as original Moroccan Oil. But it does a great job and I don’t miss my old product. It doesn’t have much of a smell, whereas I really liked the scent of Moroccan Oil. But I can go without the nice scent for less than $5. I can shove a dryer sheet in my bra and feel fresh all day. You also need very little at a time, so it lasts.
Castor Oil (mixed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
This. Is. IT. As one enormous dirt ball, nothing gives me greater joy than to shout from the rooftops “I DON’T USE SOAP!” I may only not be using soap on my face, but let me have my moment. Anycrap, washing your face with oil is the best thing I have ever found. It goes like this.
-Make a mixture of olive oil and castor oil. If you have oily skin, 3:1 castor to olive. For normal or combination skin, equal parts. For dry skin, 3:1 olive to castor.
-Shake up your bottle before each use because the oils separate. Pour a quarter-sized amount in your hands and rub that shit all over a dry face. It even takes off your makeup, and the castor oil is good for your eyelashes, so go to town on that motherbucket.
-Wet a washcloth with hot, but not scalding, water. Wring out the cloth most of the way. Lay it on your face and give yourself a little face steam bath for a minute or so until the cloth cools.
-Wring the cloth out the rest of the way. Gently use the cloth to wipe the excess oil from your face. You’re gonna feel a little oily. Chill out, it’ll soak in. Olive oil has the same pH as your skin, so it soaks in and moisturizes you within an inch of your life.
You may be saying, “But what about soap?” Soap is stupid, that’s what’s about soap. It strips your skin of natural oils, and then you use a crapload of moisturizer to try to fix it. Don’t be dumb. Also, like dissolves like, so the oil is dissolving the bad oil from your face, but not stripping it. You get to keep the benefits of oil and lose the clogged up pizza face and then someone will finally ask you to the sock hop. You’re welcome. Price-wise, this ish is cheap. You can get EVOO in your grocery store, and if you can’t find castor oil there, just order some on amazon. Then send me a thank you card.
e.l.f. Studio Eyebrow Kit
Let me start off by saying this is three bucks. I am pretty sure this is less expensive than a Happy Meal, and you will actually be happy because you will have fantastic eyebrows and no McJiggle in your wiggle. Like I said, I wasn’t looking for a new brow product until mine suddenly disappeared from this earth. But I am so glad that no one restocked my old brow pencil because I am never going back. It hasa gel on one side that you use the stiff end of the brush with to fill in your brows with little strokes, mimicking little hairs. The other side has a powder and a softer brush to set the gel and kind of fill in your work. This is my new best friend. I love this I love this I love this and I swear to SHIT if I go to buy it next time and it is out of stock I will see you all on the five-o’clock news.
Covergirl Lashblast Fusion Mascara
I’ll say it. I miss my old mascara. I do. But I couldn’t justify it on a budget. So I found the next best thing. Let me be clear when I say these two products are not the same. But this is still really good mascara. It lengthens, adds volume, and it has pretty decent wear throughout the day. And at only $8, it does a great job.
L’Oreal Color Riche Balm
I have this in three colors. As someone who likes to have some color on their lips so I don’t look like a corpse, but still wants the easiest product I can find, this is it. I bought Rose Elixer, Heavenly Berry, and Calming Coral. Those names blow. The colors do not. They go on sheer, but still manage to have a lot of pigment. Plus, they are a lip balm, so it keeps my chewed up lips looking and feeling smooth and hydrated. This is everything I have ever wanted in a lipstick. Basically, for it to not be lipstick. It’s only six bucks a pop. Buy this.
Products I Did Not Replace
This is the stuff I loved from my old products, that I just cannot find a decent substitution for.
Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Matte Foundation
I have been using this for about eight years. I have strayed here and there, but I always come back. It is just a great quality foundation, with light coverage, and an excellent finish. As someone with less than flawless skin, I frequently get compliments on my skin when I have this on. And I totally pretend it’s just my skin and not my $26 makeup.
NARS Blush in Orgasm
My favorite blush in the world. Everyone else’s, too. I do not care. It’s the best. The color is gorgeous, the pigment is loaded, it lasts all day, and the product lasts forever. It takes me almost a year to go through one of these. That’s how I justify spending $27 on cheek color.
Products I Added to My Routine
These are the things I didn’t know I needed until I found them.
L’Oreal Studio Secrets Magic BB Cream
I had heard a bunch of business about BB creams recently, but didn’t really pay attention to them. Then a sample of one came in my Birchbox and it was good enough to pique my curiosity. This posting I found on Pinterest was a great resource for narrowing down which BB creams would be right for me. I love this one. It comes out of the tube pearly white. But once you rub it on your skin, these tiny beads of pigment burst and it adjusts to your skin tone. If I am rushing around and put no other makeup on, I use this real quick because it evens out my skin tone and freshens up my face. This needs to be used with your fingers, though. For some reason, it doesn’t work well with a foundation brush.
NYC Smooth Skin Bronzing Face Powder in Sunny
I am a fair-skinned chick. Reflective at times. And I tend to shy away from bronzer because it tends to look ridiculous on me. I also used to not be that into contouring. Get into contouring. What is contouring? Making your face pretend it is skinny by using darker makeup to shrink your chipmunk cheeks and fool the planet into thinking you have cheek bones. This bronzer is light enough that even Ol’ Whitey Whiteface over here can use it. I don’t know where this has been all my life. It is also around $4. Go team.
There you have it. Go forth, into the world, and be a babe on a budget, my children.