7 Beauty Secrets that Cost Almost Nothing

By Andrea Karim on 22 July 2008 (Updated 3 May 2010) 27 comments
Photo: Yuri_Arcurs

Open the pages of almost any magazine, or turn on the TV, and you're bombarded with ads that claim (if indirectly) that their products will make your life fuller, more rewarding, and all-around better. The message is pretty simple: spend, and you'll be so much better.

There are, however, a few beauty methods that are nearly guaranteed to make you look and feel like a million bucks, and you don't have to smash your piggy bank to get them. It's tired to talk about how beauty comes from within, so rather than worrying about the purity of your soul, here are a few ways to bring out an inner glow that don't involve liposuction or deep contemplation.

1. Get Laid

There's something about regular sex that makes people beautiful. I don't know if teenagers still talk about this stuff today, but back in my high school days, we believed that sex cleared up acne. It was probably an excuse to start having as much teenage sex as possible, but although there doesn't appear to be any direct correlation between sexual activity and zits, people who have regular, satisfying sex tend to have a glow about them.

It's not just about love, although people who are in the throes of a new, passionate relationship frequently have that shining, happy face that everyone comments on. But even if you aren't falling head over heels in love, you can still get off, be it with a partner or alone. Not only are orgasms like little happy pills, but self-exploration is good practice for when you are no longer flying solo.

Sex gets your blood flowing. Orgasms reduce stress and increase pain tolerance due to a natural boost in oxytocin and endorphin levels. Sexual satisfaction also helps you sleep better at night, and who couldn't use a good night's sleep? In short, orgasms are good for your brain, and when your brain is happy, the rest of your body will respond in kind.

2. Get Some Exercise

Something about that bordering-on-Zen feeling that follows a vigorous workout is really lovely. Wrinkles get smoothed out, endorphins flow, skin is lightly flushed and smooth. Sweating clears out your pores and helps to avoid acne. Even though I personally regard the gym as a chamber of torture, I find that I look like a million bucks about an hour after huffing and puffing through a weight routine, or 30 minutes of tripping over the elliptical machine.

But it's not like you have to push yourself to the limit to get benefits from exercise. A short routine of yoga will get your blood pumping, as will a long, meandering walk around a park or city street.

Being healthy isn't necessarily about being thin. One of the prettiest women I know is plus size, but she practically leaps through the city of San Francisco with her boundless enthusiasm and energy. Men always look twice as she goes skipping past them with a big grin on her face.

3.Laugh Until You Cry

You'd never know it from the popular media, but smiling is such a simple way to immediately look better. We spend so much of our days grimacing at the computer screen, or glowering at the line in the post office, that it can be tough to bring ourselves to smile in a genuine, open manner.

When was the last time you doubled over in laughter? Laughter, like orgasms and exercise, releases hormones that reduce stress and lower blood pressure. In fact, just anticipating a good laugh can help to reduce your overall stress levels. Both hot tempered anger and laughter cause blood to flow to the cheeks, which is probably where the whole "You're so beautiful when you're angry" saying came from.

Some people avoid smiling because they don't like their teeth, but even a genuine close-lipped smile on a normal face is more attractive than a blank stare or a glaring model with perfect features. Think about how wonderful a face that is shining with laughter looks. It doesn't matter if you laugh like a hyena or snort like a pug (like me), laughter enhances your beauty. Rent your favorite movies or watch comedy clips online. Hang out with your goofy friends. Stick duct tape on the bottom of your cat's paws and giggle at his antics. Whatever it takes. Laughter is infectious, and it is gorgeous.

4. Get Some Sun

No, I'm not talking about baking on the beach, because I'm an advocate of avoiding skin cancer whenever possible. But a daily dose of sunlight helps regulate your vitamin D levels, prevents depression, and UV light can kill acne-causing bacteria. As we all know, too much sun can damage your skin and lead to loss of elasticity, but even a leathery old woman with a happy countenance is better than a grumpy one with perfectly dewy skin.

5. Have a Glass of Wine

Assuming you're not allergic to alcohol or prone to rosacea, having a glass of wine not only gives your cheeks a healthy glow, but can give you a good dose of resveratol, a polyphenol with antioxidant properties. Sure, I might be looking for an excuse to have a glass of champagne with lunch, but as long as I'm not driving around or performing open-heart surgery after a lunchtime aperitif, what's the harm?

If you're not much of a drinker, you can get the same health benefits by enjoying fresh fruits and veggies, but you won't be nearly as fun to be around.

6. Stay Hydrated

I don't believe in drinking great quantities of water if you don't want to, and it's probably not necessary to take in the 8 daily glasses that were randomly recommended to the general public for no reason. But drinking a little extra filtered water helps keep your kidneys happy, your skin cleansed (again, the sweating helps here) and plumped, and the toxins flushed out of your system.

7. Go Easy on the Medication

It can be so easy these days to pop a pill for every little ache and pain, or to take meds when conditions start to trend in the wrong direction. As someone who has to deal with a multitude of incredibly boring conditions, I usually trust my doctors to do what's right for my health. Sometimes, though, doctors seem too busy to deal with the source of your problems and are more than happy to push a prescription across the counter at you. A couple of years ago, I counted the number of daily medications that I was taking, and they numbered eight, five of which were either unnecessary, redundant, or causing MORE problems that required other medications to combat. Overnight, I switched from a regimen of 8 medications to 3, and found myself feeling better, looking better, and experiencing none of the previous side effects that I had been plagued with.

Obviously, you should consult your doctor before changing your diet or medications, but don't be afraid to push your doctor to help you find ways around taking more medicine; on the flip side, be sure to listen to what your doctor tells you. If s/he tells you to lose weight or change your diet to avoid taking cholesterol medication, you had better take the advice seriously rather than to simply continue on as always.

So, you might be asking, I'll be better looking if I stop taking so much Ibuprofen, drink more water, and laugh uproariously while drinking champagne and having sex in the sunshine?

Well...yes. But don't quote me on the outdoor sex part.

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Guest's picture
Guest

Loved the article!

Guest's picture
Guest

1. I would agree that bullet point #1 merited the most print of the 7. At last, a home remedy that can never be sullied by Medicare/cal, any private insurance plan or any pharmacist's unsolicited advice.

2. Bullet point #7 has much merit with the sole necessary eradication and stamping out of the use of 'medications', a hoity-toity advertizing agency word, best ignored for its ancient predecessor 'medicine.'

Guest's picture

I enjoy reading your article about this. And yes. I love how things in life for free can make anyone beautiful/handsome if they are happy.

Loved it and keep working on it.

Guest's picture

I love that these are all things that I can do without spending too much money (or any at all) and all deal with things that I have control over. It's nice not to read an article telling me what kind of foundation will change my life ...

Guest's picture
Guest

ha! all good suggestions. and another one for the ladies -- orgasms relieve menstrual cramps. really, try it. it works.

Guest's picture

You're so right about #1! I almost always get hit on when I'm currently getting lots of it, which is amusingly ironic. Why don't people hit on me when I NEED it?! :p

There's definitely a glow around people who are getting laid.

Andrea Karim's picture

So, so true. It'd be nice if wanting sex were a catalyst for being approached by others. Odd that like attracts like, you know?

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

HAH! I like the adult subject matter warning on this post.  I think sex does clear up acne, though.

Andrea Karim's picture

Yeah, I kind of have a feeling that it does, but I can't seem to find proof.

Guest's picture
K. P.

Simple, very easy. I like numero uno the best.

Guest's picture
Sam

There should be some restriction on #4. Exposure to sun minus sunscreen early in the morning is best, as it boost the production of vitamin D which in turn promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphate from food and is essential in the formation of bones and teeth. A deficiency of Vitamin D leads to a failure of the bones to grow and causes rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. Recent research also suggests that Vitamin D can help reduce the risks of colon, breast and prostate cancer.

Guest's picture

I just read your #1 tip with the boyfriend, who couldn't stop laughing! Great article :)

Guest's picture
Lucille

Vitamin D deficiency is really common due to people being inside all the time and can cause people to feel lousy, have more pain or make other symptoms worse.

The amount of over medication is also a big issue. Doctors put people on statin drugs without even trying anything else. Statin drugs have some significant side effects including chronic muscle pain that in some cases can become permanent even after quitting the drug. I have found that most doctors don't even know what the side effects of the drugs they prescribe are, let alone tell patients.

Guest's picture
Laura

...that is increased by orgasm. Try "oxytocin," which is a hormone, not a narcotic.

Andrea Karim's picture

And that's what I get for typing to fast and not using spellcheck. Thanks for that.

Guest's picture

These are definitely good tips, some that you wouldn't find in a magazine at all. I can definitely agree that sunshine, exercise and sex are all health increasing - and the healthier you are, the more beautiful you are. :)

Guest's picture

Although it doesn't really mesh well with what you're writing about, Sam has a good point, you missed some of the best things about vitamin D! In particular, the research that has linked it to lower levels of cancer is really important to be aware of I think.

Guest's picture
Guest

I can't agree with the recommendation to have sex to look better? especially to teenagers? Come on? Let not further the decay of our morals any more than the failed liberal policies have already done so?

As for Water, you should have picked up a basic physiology textbook instead, such as Guyton’s Textbook of Medical Physiology. If they (those doing the studies to refute drinking water) had looked there, they would have found a section in the chapter on fluid balance that talked about how much water we lose every day under normal conditions:

* Skin (not from sweat)--12 ounces
* Lungs--12 ounces
* Sweat--4 ounces (without exercise)
* Feces--4 ounces
* Urine--48 ounces
* Total: 80 ounces per day. And remember, that’s without sweating due to exercise or high heat and humidity.

The recommended 8 x 8 would provide 64 ounces, and that means we would be 16 ounces short based on typical fluid loss, even before your daily exercise routine. That’s why eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day is still a good idea. Notice I said fluid. Tea, coffee, sports and energy drinks, soft drinks, juice--all fluids count toward that total. So does the food you eat.

Andrea Karim's picture

Right. So, taking into account food and other fluids like soda, 8 glasses of water seems a bit excessive. Then again, that's NOT taking into account all the fluids lost during all that hot, sweaty, morally-decaying, liberal sex I'm having.

I'm of the stance that since every body is different (some people sweat a lot more than others, some people eat a lot more fruit), it's difficult to decide exactly how much of something every single person should ingest. I like to leave that up to individuals. Note that I didn't advise against drinking 8 glasses of water. I personally drink about three liters a day (again with that liberal sex!) - but that's just me.

For the record, I never suggested that teenagers should have sex, although it'd be stupid to pretend that most of them don't; I merely related an age-old urban legend of sorts surrounding clear skin.

Guest's picture
Guest

Agreeing with Drink Water here. (Sorry, I love most posts at Wise Bread but this one appeared to be one of those articles on the cover of the tabloids.)

It is really discouraging and sad that sex has become a national "sport". No romance, mystique, or intrigue left. Using people is rather sad and pathetic. And we wonder why our children think what they think and do what they do. Maybe it was the crude headline grabbing title: Get Laid?

A really simple formula we learned in Anatomy and Physiology class:
take your body weight, divide it in half, and that will equal the amount of ounces of fluid per day that is a reasonable intake. Of course, if you have medical issues your doctor can best advise you. It is not a good idea to encourage the reduction of water intake.

Marion

Andrea Karim's picture

Don't forget that I also suggested that people who abstain from drinking alcohol are no fun. I haven't heard anyone complain about that yet. Are we in agreement on that point, at least?

Mind you, I didn't actually suggest that anyone should reduce their intake of water or use people, but hey, why actually read the blog post when you can skim the headlines?

Listen, everyone has different morals that they live their lives by. Mine might be different than yours, but don't misrepresent my words because you disagree with them.

Guest's picture
Paul

I disagree with champagne at lunch...that's ludicrous! Clearly author forgot the summer beverage of choice is a nice weiss or hefeweizen with an orange slice!!!

Seriously though as a man, a manly man, I think the rest of the article was spot on. We're all after the same things...to look and feel good. Some of the most relaxed and happiest people I know are healthy, sexually active, social, funny sorts with a great tan. Others that look horrible (or unhealthy) are usually intense people with rigid rules/morals and it shows on their body.

I prefer alotta laughs and fun liberal sex.

Guest's picture
Guest

Great article. I would just like to add to the note about sex. I don't know about other young women, but my hormone levels are very responsive to how much I'm getting. For example, I did not develop breasts AT ALL until I became sexually active at 18. It did nothing for my acne, but it was great for my figure and it helped regulate my period. I told my doc about this, and she noted studies of women in which women who did not have regular access to men or other arousing things simply stopped ovulating. Instead of periods, they had breakthrough bleeding every month.

Bottom line, it helps regulate hormones. And anyone who has spent ANY time around a pubescent boy knows that regulated hormones are a wonderful and often underappreciated thing!

Guest's picture
Jill

"Maybe it was the crude headline grabbing title: Get Laid?"

Pardon me, but the headline is, "7 Beauty Secrets That Cost Almost Nothing", which is not really tabloid fodder, is it? What you are referring to is one of seven section headings, in which Andrea CLEARLY states that masturbation was as equally beautifying as sex. No teenagers have reached moral decay through a little private solo sex. I've also heard it's excellent for reducing self-righteousness.

Andrea - While I can't state my sources, it seems sensible to extrapolate that if circulation is helpful in clearing up skin conditions, then the activity involved in a robust sex life and (one hopes) resulting orgasms might leave participants with clear complexions. A bargain indeed.

Nice to see you back!

Guest's picture
Margot

I just discovered you today (spurred by financial angst) and after you made me LOL re: blueberries and beer IVs I had to read more. So please give yourself a pat on the back for helping MOST of us with number 3! I have recently become infected with the blog and forum virus (but only where there’s humor and sarcasm), and a morals-toting, Think-of-the-Children-spouting post can kill the flow of humorous banter like a fart in church! Wait. That would probably make me laugh. Like dropping your funnel cake in the dirt! Yeah, like that. There was a subject matter warning PEE-PULL!

Well I’m laughing, drinking water and pain-free at the moment, so I just need to get home, cop a buzz and satisfy myself on the deck before the sun goes down! (I live on the 2nd floor, so I’ll consider number 2 covered too.)

Andrea Karim's picture

Thanks, Margot! It means a lot to me that you like the posts. :)

Guest's picture
Amy

LOL! The first one got me thinking, maybe this is why I have little acne.. hmmm =/