By Stefanie Polsinelli
Blender, check. Tea kettle, check. Forks and knives, check. Big bowls, check. Not only are you all set to make a cake, you also have the perfect tools to create a facial mask. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
The cosmetics industry would have you believe you should never scrimp on beauty products. However, when faced with tuition and rent, this is a hard practice to keep up. Being a student often means being broke, but it doesn’t mean you can’t look and feel your best.
The latest trend is to buy costly, bran-name products used by famous entertainers. La Mer face cream, used by Jennifer Lopez and Nicole Kidman, costs $235 for two ounces. Although the cream might be effective, it would be foolish, if not impossible, for you to buy such an expensive product when you are strapped for cash.
Stores such as Shoppers Drug Mart offer more affordable skin care lines. St. Ives, a line of facial cleansers, creams and exfoliators, is sold at Shoppers for under $5. Products from lines such as L’Oreal, Neutrogena, Marcelle, and Body Shop start around the $10 mark. But even those prices can be too expensive for students.
Enter “natural” products – creams and cleansers that can be easily made at home with fruits, vegetables and grains.
Melissa Lacuna, a first-year nursing student, has misgivings about natural products. “I wouldn’t make my own products,” she says. ” I wouldn’t trust them. I’d be afraid of making a mistake and ending up with a rash or seomthing.”
“There’s nothing to worry about,” says Jane Stevenson, a makeup artist who has worked with Ryerson’s theatre school. “I’ve taken courses on how products are made. They turn out great.”
She doesn’t use homemade beauty products for stage productions because they require heavy-duty makeup, but she’ll make them at home. “I make my own soap and lip balm. Since I make it in batches, I’m always giving out lipbalm to my friends. They love it.
Heather Esguerra, a second-year ITM student, normally spends about $75 a month on beauty products. “If making my own products would help me save money, then I’m all for it,” she says. “I would just need to know how to make them.”
A body exfoliator is easy to make. Mix enough olive oil and sea salt to form a thick paste. For smooth skin, rub it over your damp body in the shower and rinse it off.
A great moisturizing facial mask can be made by blending equal parts of honey, almonds and a touch of mayonnaise. Leave the mask on for 10 minutes and rinse it off with warm water.
If you have a big date and a zit to match, swipe a slice of garlic over it to make it disappear. You might want to do this well in advance in case you decide to get cozy.
Homemade products are not limited to skin care. Even makeup, air freshners and herbal remedies can be made using househould ingredients. Mix some vaseline with your favorite eye shadow to make a three-in-one eye gloss, lip glass and gel blush.
Not only are homemade products cheap, you know exactly what is going into them. Since no harsh chemicals are used, natural alternatives are gentler on your skin than name brands.
However, there are some drawbacks. They can be time-consuming to make, which is a problem for students who have little time to eat, much less mix a facial mask. Also, because there are no preservatives in homemade products, all leftovers must be refrigerated.
And don’t assume that natural products are great for sensitive skin. In fact, natural ingrdients, such as strawberries, can irritate the skin. Care must be taken when any ingredient is used in a product that has direct contact with skin.
One might argue that you are paying for quality when you buy high-end beauty products. It’s true that bigger companies often devote years to testing quality, but face creams and makeup react differently on each individual.
Dale Peers, program co-ordinator of cosmetic sales and esthetics at Seneca College, often runs across students who are angry about pricey products that never live up to the promise on the bottle.
“If you’re going to buy a product, you have to know that it can aither damage your skin or just not be as effective as you would have liked,” says Peers. “If you don’t have much money, and you are up against these odds, why not just go for cheaper stuff or even better, make your own?”
A few more tips
1. To deep condition your hair, put a small amount of mayonnaise on damp hair and cover it with a shower cap for as long as your hair needs.
2. Pour a bit of beer on your hair before you dry it to help retain its curl.
3. For an exfoliating mask, mix equal amounts of plain yogurt and ground oats. Leave on for 10 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water, gently rubbing your face as you do so.
4. If you run out of face cream and you don’t have time to buy it or make it, wet your face and spread some Vaseline on it.
5. Use Vaseline as a lip gloss and as makeup remover.
6. To make a toner for all skin types squeeze and strain the juice of a lemon, and mix it with half a cup to a cup of water (depending on the strength you want). Use a cotton ball to wipe the solution over your face.
7. After a late night, place cucumber slices on your eyes the next morning to take away the redness nd puffiness.
8. To make makeup remover, mix two tablespoons of milk and a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Shake the mixture before use. Apply it to your face with a wash cloth or cotton ball.