Five Beauty Products I've Learned To Live Without

By Joann Hong on 3 July 2007 34 comments
Photo: Gruntzooki

Beauty products are my weakness. I don't feel as guilty spending money on them because they're always cheaper than 20 dollars (well, the ones I buy anyway). But this is a bad habit because it's deceiving. When you buy many cheap things at different times, you don't feel how they are slowly depleting your bank account.

And guess what eventually happens to most of those newfangled products? They probably end up as clutter. And worse, it's clutter that will need to be thrown out for hygienic reasons in a few months. So finding ways to make the most out of what you already have may save you space, money, and best yet, they may even work better than some "specialized" products out there.

Here are some beauty products I've learned to live without:

1. Shaving cream: Unless you have terribly sensitive skin, you can probably do without the shaving cream. I know those commercials on T.V. make it seem so uncool to shave with soap, but with razors being so advanced nowadays, I find they're good enough to compensate for lack of foam. Plus, if you get an ultra-rich body wash like Dove it should get the job done just fine without irritating your skin. Just a reminder: never try this on dry skin!

2. Cover Sticks/Wands: They are supposed to be thicker and longer lasting than your everyday foundation, but I find it's hard to find one that matches both your skin and foundation. I say, if you've already spent the money finding a good foundation (one that matches your skin tone), why buy extraneous products? I've been using a small, flat eyeshadow brush to dab my regular foundation on my blemishes and find that it covers much better and lasts just as long as the thicker sticks. The brush concentrates the formula and still allows you to blend, without smearing it off. Tip: squeeze a dab of foundation on your hand first, then dip your brush lightly onto the dab before applying.

3. Hand/Foot Creams: I have extremely dry skin and have been through many different creams and lotions just to be disappointed. Now that's a waste of money! If you find a good all over body cream it's probably good enough to moisturize your toughest skin, even rough hands and feet. I personally like Cetaphil cream, the kind that comes in a tub. It's non-irritating, lasts a long time, and is rich enough to soften the toughest parts, even your heels. Best of all, at about 10 dollars a pop, it's cheap! If I need a portable cream, I just buy an empty bottle in the travel section in any drugstore and fill it up with the stuff.

4. Conditioner: I know, this one may seem a little extreme. I actually love conditioner. I love the way it makes my hair feel and smell, and, yes, it's just fun to use. BUT it is a luxury I can live without. Pert Plus just seems so blah compared to Herbal Essences, or other hipper brands, but I've found Pantene makes a good 2-in-1 shampoo that leaves my hair very soft. For those with more unmanageable hair, this may not be an option, but for shorter hairstyles it can save you time and prevent weighing your hair down.

5. Eye Makeup Remover: Again, unless you have extremely sensitive skin you probably don't need a separate eye makeup remover. Baby oil is very good at removing the most resistant makeup, including waterproof mascara. Remember to use a cotton pad with the oil, and be sure to remove your makeup before washing your face. The oil can get a bit greasy, but your face wash should solve that fairly easily.

Average: 2.7 (3 votes)
Your rating: None

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Guest's picture
Bob B.

I've not used shaving cream in years. I shave in the shower, and always start with a good cleanser (I like the Citrus Scrub from Noxzema), and then shave with a good razor (one of the ones with a thousand blades and the nice soothing strip at the top) under the spray. I've not had razor burn or any other irritation in years, and I rarely ever cut myself. I wouldn't even think of going back to shaving cream.

My grandmother used to have a solution for rough skin on hands or feet: Coat them in Vaseline before bed, then put clean socks over them (hands or feet). In the morning, you'll be smoother than Barry White.

Jessica Okon's picture

I agree with you on most of these, but the conditioner. I, personally, haven't had much luck with the two'n'one combos. There are many conditioners out there that are very inexpensive & work, that I don't think that this is a luxury. In fact, you can use it as a shaving cream (for you legs @ least), and it takes off mascara as well!

If you do splurge on a hand cream, make sure it has SPF in it!

Julie Rains's picture

Cetaphil is my favorite moisturizer and I discovered it upon the recommendation of a dermatologist who was treating my son for eczema. According to the doctor, lotions (as opposed to creams) have ingredients that may dry skin rather then moisturize them. There are also generic equivalents to cetaphil that seem to work well with our family, and are less expensive.

Guest's picture

I'd say go without the shampoo instead! I haven't used shampoo in years. I merely massage my hair with conditioner and then wash thorough every 3-5 days! Once your hair's moisture gets back in balance, you'll never need that drying, damaging shampoo again!

If you MUST use shampoo, avoid Sodium Laurel Sulfate. It destroys (dries) your hair!!

Guest's picture

i've used dove cream oil body wash as a shave cream since it came out. i've even gotten my sister hooked on it. its AMAZING. i dont think anyone should go with out conditioner though because it slowly dries out your hair to not use it and eventually your hair will be worse off without it...

Guest's picture

My mom is allergic to aloe. You have NO idea how many creams have aloe until you're avoiding it!!

The absolute BEST cream I ever got for my mom was one I got from an eBay seller. The cost? Two CENTS. The seller was offering two ounce, custom-scented samples for less than the cost of the empty jar, with any purchase of two items. I got a scrub (which I now make at home, but this was far less expensive than comparable store items), a room/linen spray (I don't usually use it, but I may have a pending surgery), and dry oil, which I haven't "gotten down" yet but which I love for a quick moisturizer for my tattoos (it leaves no shine). I loved the products I got for myself; they're as good as, if not better than, mass-produced, and the three + my mom's lotion cost less than one 1-oz lotion in a department store.

TWO cents. My mom's been using a dab here and there, as needed, for a few months. She's still got a goodly amount left. Furthermore, I helped an individual's business, and not a corporation.

Guest's picture

Rebekah, who offers these great buys on ebay? I hope you don't mind giving the information. Always looking for a bargain. :) Thanks

Guest's picture

Personally I think that if you need conditioner, you're using the wrong shampoo. I've found that using an oil-based, detergent-free liquid soap cleans very well without stripping. Walgreen's makes a good one (Peach Nut Oil Soap) and of course there's always Dr. Bronner's.

Guest's picture

I use conditioner every day because if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to put a comb through my hair.

Guest's picture

Soap is so bad for your hair! And speaking as someone who has had hair that gets oily excessively quickly ever since I hit puberty, oil-based anything is the worst thing I could ever do. I am sure I can speak for millions of other oily-scalped individuals when I say that that is absolutely not a choice.
And I'm positive that the ONLY reason this soap has not completely dried out your hair and given you breakage like you've never seen before is BECAUSE it's oil based. If it was not for that, I'm fairly certain your hair would be a disastrously dry and brittle mess. I don't know what Dr. Bronner's is, but I'm guessing that is also a soap, so... That is also most likely a very poor decision. Soaps are made to moisturize and clean your skin, which is a living organ. Your hair is just dead stuff that comes out of the pores in your skull. So naturally, soap and shampoo tend to have very different makeups intended for different uses.
And by the way, conditioner is wonderful. I have ridiculously oily hair, as previously stated, yet for the few years that I stopped using conditioner, my hair got very dry at the ends. My hair used to be fine, straight, silky, and beautiful, and now it has a very different texture. It's more coarse, although it's still soft now that I'm conditioning it again, but it's not remotely similar to the silky feel it used to have, and I'm sure it's because of that period in time when I only used shampoo.
Oh, and for those of you that are like me with the major overproduction of oil on the scalp, do not use conditioner throughout all of your hair. ONLY use it at the bottom of your hair, applying it no higher than the bottom of the hairline at the nape of your neck. The top of your head needs less moisture, conditioner will make the oil situation so much worse. If you have short hair, then you should just rub a VERY small amount on your hands the way you rub lotion in your hands before moisturizing your legs or the way you lather up the shaving cream, and then just lightly dab the conditioner on the tips of your hair with open palms.

Jessica Okon's picture

If you've dipped into the dye pot like I have, trust me, you need conditioner!

Guest's picture
Kyle K

Doesnt it pain you that you have to deal with these products on a daily basis? i mean...i guess if your job is to be a clown at a circus and you get paid for it...then why not? but, beauty products....come on!

Andrea Karim's picture

Don't even get me STARTED, Kyle. I could go on and on about unrealistic beauty expectation placed upon modern women, airbrushed models in magazines with flawless skin, and the eating disorders the plague the young women of the Western world, but I'll just go with this: Does it pain you to date a woman who doesn't shave her legs? Yes? Then hush up your mouth, boy.

Guest's picture
Kyle K

all im saying it really necessary for women to buy beauty products at such high prices to make some sort of enhancement on their facial feature? i guess its alot better and natural than surgical enhancement, which is debatable. Andrea, im just merely expressing my opinion, and please dont tell me to hush up. if what i wrote touch a nerve, then just disagree or whatevers. you have every right to not respond or even READ my comments. but dont ever tell me to hush. its immature. and doesnt pain me to date a woman who doesnt shave her legs...

Andrea Karim's picture

That was meant to be a lot less harsh-sounding than it was. No touched nerves here. I'm just familiar with the idea that guys like girls who are "natural" and "not fake", but then scoff when they meet a woman who doesn't go to all the trouble to primp and preen in the morning, you know? But my "hush up boy" was meant to be, well, it's kind of hard to say 'funny' at this point, but not serious, in any case.

You're right - we spend too much on this. I shudder to think how much money I'd have if I hadn't wasted it all on stupid beauty products that don't get used.

Guest's picture
Kyle K

In that case, i missed the joke and wrongfully overreacted to your comment. i wouldnt say that you are incorrect about guys saying that we like simplicity in women and yet, contradict ourselves at the end of the day. i mean, it was only ideal for guys to like natural looks but only when hell freezes over, i guess. as for beauty expensive as they are, arent there cheaper products? and would these cheaper products have the same effect as the more expensive ones?

Guest's picture

i have been experimenting with reducing the amount of beauty products i use, or at least not using them as much. but think of how many products we could avoid buying altogether. when I first got married I bought all the same things my mother did to do launry, det'g, clorox, cloroxII, downy, dryer sheets. I began to eliminate them one by one, and now I only buy det'g and clorox for whites, and I don't even use the clorox on every white load. Sometimes I even make my own det'g. I notices that my husband never ate the bread I prepared for dinner at night, and we only have one child left at home. So now dinner is minus the bread. If I really want some, I butter a piece of loaf bread just for me. I noticed I was always throwing out half eaten bags of chips because they got stale. I quit buying chips. There are probably coutless ways we can cut back, and our family would probably not miss it if we did.

Guest's picture

Baby oil is dangerous as eye make up remover. It builds up behind the eye because it is not water soluable and can cause problems with your vision.

It can also leave a residue behind -- making it difficult for your makeup to "stick" and creating the false idea that you need waterproof produts. (Yes, a vicious circle.)

The best idea is to use makeup that can be removed with water or gentle products or to find inexpensive remover.

Simply remember to look on the bottom shelves or the ones in the back corners of the stores. They are the cheapest "real estate" and contain the most reasonably priced products.

Guest's picture

I love jojoba oil to remove the last reminents of eye makeup that soap and water don't remove. Jojoba oil isn't cheap, but it is a good product and extremely versatile.

Guest's picture

I absolutely agree with luna you really shouldnt use baby oil around your eyes. No oil based products should be used around the eyes, the skin in this area is to thin and will absorb oil. This toxic build up creates puffy,swollen,saggy skin (or "bags") under and above the eye which leads to premature aging.

Baby oil is especially a big NO NO as a general rule it shouldnt be used for anything on the human body, it is full of crude mineral oils and chemicals that will damage and polute your skin. Make your own body oil using either almond, jojoba or olive oil with a few drops of essential oils for sent or make up your own mixture of oil and fresh herbs for the scent/nutrients. Again this can not be used as eye make up remover the best option is to use tea. Tea is full of antioxidants and feel great on and around the eye area. The best teas to use are chamomile and green but your average black tea is fine as well.


there is a couple of ways to do this the most effective easiest and budget friendly is to simply save your used teabags. Pop the moist teabag straight onto the eye area, hold it against the eye for roughly 30sencond making sure you soak the lashes and throughly moisten the area before you start to "gently" wipe away the make up. Use the tea bag as you would a cotton pad this not only eliminates the need to waste cotton pads but the soft tea bag will really sooth the skin. I like to make a fresh cup of green tea and use the warm(not hot)bag straight away the warmth is a really nice touch and shifts stubborn make up easier. otherwise you can save tea bags in a container in the fridge but make sure to re soak them in either chilled or warm water before using.
If you dont use tea bags just apply a generous amount of fresh warm tea to a cotton pad or to save time you can
make up a large batch of tea (roughly four days worth)and store in the fridge and use cold.

NOTE: chilled tea is best suited to puffy swallen eyes that need to be refreshed and warm tea is best for sore tired irritated eyes that need to be soothed. But its up to you what ever feels right warm or cold is fine.

NOTE: when using tea bags use one for each eye if you dont want to use two just use one side of the bag for each eye this will prevent the spread of germs from one eye to the other.

thanks for reading i hope this helps :)

Guest's picture

Sorry I forgot to make a note in my last post but its important to not use milky tea bags. So just to clear up any confusion, when making up batches of tea do not include milk just tea and water and when reusing tea bags try and remove them from your tea before you add milk.

Even though using milk on eye irritations has commonly been used as a home remedy for decades its actually not good for the this delicate area due to its lactic acid content.

Guest's picture

Nice list. Aside the conditioner, as leaving out the conditioner -in my oppinion- will be a rather bad advice.
Hair as grown out in the acid (aka antibacterial) environment of the skin is made for staying in this environment. Shampoo however is always alcaline (or neutral at least), as it will let the hair spread the cuticle (the outer shell of the hair) like a fir cone, which makes it easier to clean. However spreading the cuticle means exposing the delicate "spine" of the hair the so called cortex and it is highly advisable to "close" it or you will ruin your hair in the long run (Try this: Expand a wet hair and see how vulnerable it is!). It might be no big deal with short hair as short hair won't "live" long enough to notice the damage, with long hair who last for years however you will experience the dryness, split ends, that it will break, being dull and all those other bad effects when following your advice. So hair will need something sightly acid like a conditioner to close the cuticle, or -as sommebody has said before- don't use shampoo at all and wash your hair with conditioner, which might not be as effective as shampoo but a lot more gentlier to you hair.
A very easy, natural, effective and by the way a lot more cheaper possibility than using industrial condis is rinsing your hair with a home made "sour rinse" after washing it. A "sour rinse" may consists just of 1-2 spoons of vinegar (preferable cider or balsamic vinegar) dissolved in about 1 Liter(2 pints) of water. After pouring it on your hair rinse it with cold water et voilà - natural, healthy and obviously shiny hair (as closed cuticle means plane and plane = shiny). If you are afraid of the smell of vinegar (although you won't smell it anyhow afterwards) you can also use the juice half a lemon or citric acid etc.
So no need of the chemical cocktails the industry are offering as conditioner, but if you still want it, avoid by all means any of these conditioners with silicone oil as an ingredient (something with ...conol like dimethiconol). Silicones will coat your hair and ok, it may feel softer, easier to comb and shinier on first side, but in the end you will need the more "aggressive" shampoos the same companies are offering as you'll have to get rid of the silicone with every washing or you will layer coat by coat silicone on your hair until it's heavy and greasy.
So stay away from the crap from Pantene, Herbal Essence, Fructis etc. - all notorous known for being chemical cocktails full of silicone oils and at least the first and second got some bad reputation too hereover for containing ingredients which are considered carciogenic.
(For more info about the silicone problem f.e. google pantene & silicone).

My personal 2 eurocents ;) and congrats for your none the less great site!


Guest's picture
Maly Oudommahavanh

Wow! I never knew all this info about conditioners and acid rinse that people are posting. I'm definitely going to try some of these tips.


Re: shaving cream: in a post a few months ago, someone suggested using cheap $1 conditioner on your legs AFTER shaving, instead of expensive cream before. I tried it once and my legs didn't feel the difference so .. .goodbye expensive shaving cream!

Guest's picture

I'm amazed at jessica's post. I didn't know there was so much to shampooing and conditioning. I posted the conditioner option because I see so many girls put a HUGE glob in their hands and smother it through their hair, leaving a very uneven shampoo to conditioner ratio in their showers, causing them to buy more conditioner. lol. so i guess if you learn to use it the right way you can still save.
Personally, I've just become lazy and ever since I've cut my hair short I've found conditioner wasn't needed as long as I didn't overdo the washing. but thanks for the great tips!

re: baby oil - i've heard mineral oil is bad for the skin, but i haven't had any problems as long as I've used a good facial cleanser that will wash off the residue. I've only discovered it because I haven't found an eye-makeup remover that can adequately take off my waterproof mascara. But it never hurts to experiment with alternatives if this one seems icky, so bottoms shelves of the drugstore is a great tip.

Guest's picture

I use Cetaphil cleanser (because you don't have to rinse it off)to remove my waterproof mascara. I put a dab on a tissue then rub my eyelashes with it. It's very effective without being greasy.

Guest's picture
Maly Oudommahavanh

yep, I'm definitely one of those girls whose conditioner use to shampoo use ratio is outta whack! I'm always buying more conditioner . .

Jessica Okon's picture

If you color your hair at home (I know hairdresser hate this), it is a lot cheaper in the long run if you buy the dye & developer plus a reusuable plastic bottle, and a bag of plastic gloves at your local beauty supply shop. I only recommend this to people who have dyed their hair often and are comfortable with the process. Definitely speak with someone at the store to ensure you buy the right volume of developer. The box of dye will tell you what ratio of dye to developer you will need. The bottle of developer will last you though several dye jobs. When I was using a semi-permanent color a tube of dye and a tube of clear gloss lasted me two dye jobs. You can also go to the manufactures websites to find the ratio & devolping time if you're unsure. Not only is it cheaper, but you'll have a lot more color options.

PS. You MUST use conditioner after dying your hair!

Beauty supply stores generally have great prices on other beauty products. Go off the beaten path from Sally's and I promise you that not only will you find good prices, but you'll find some cool stuff.

Guest's picture
Kyle K

i think a movie about beauty products should be made. kind of in the realm of devil wears prada. and joann...why dont you write a screenplay?

Guest's picture

I made the switch from Estee Lauder to Revlon a couple of years ago. I buy foundation, eyeliner, mascara, blush - that is it. While lipsticks and eyeshadows come in so many beautiful shades, I have never been able to apply them right so I just go without. I would go without foundation except I have very dry patchy skin that is very uneven in tone. Going from Estee to Revlon was a big step for me due to my dry skin. I tried several drug store foundations before finding that Revlon Color Stay provides the same coverage as Estee at less than half the cost. The same with hair dye. I used to pay $60+ to have my hair colored professionally. Now, I buy the color and have my mom or sister apply it. Nothing removes makeup like good old fashioned cold cream. I skip Ponds and buy Walgreens - I get twice the amount for half the price. The same with Dove soap. My grandmother has used it almost her entire life, and her skin is amazing. I use Walgreens version of Dove and it is wonderful.

Guest's picture

If you're in a pinch, conditioner also doubles well as shaving cream. I always take about four times as long to finish a bottle of conditioner (probably well over a year), so I sometimes use it this way.

Also, I wanted to mention that instead of buying fancy masks or facial cleansers, there are many natural ones that can easily be made from the pantry. Like with oatmeal, honey, egg white or yolk, etc. I love doing this and there's no scary ingredient list to read.

Guest's picture
Jennifer McNanna

I use shampoo not only to wash my hair but as a body wash and to shave my legs. I could never do without conditioner; for long hair it is a must. Just don't buy shampoo with sodium lauryl sulfate. It is too drying and will strip the color out of dyed hair.

Guest's picture
pam munro

Why skip concealers when you can get perfectly good ones for $1 or so from the Wet N Wild brand? (or stock up when you see them at the dollar stores!)

They give away so many samples of conditioner everywhere - that you could use the freebies forever!
(Not to mention the great conditioners available, again, at dollar stores...)

I have never used shaving cream, but shave when necessary in the bath with soaped up legs and a blunt old razor from hubby.

The best tip I have been given about eye makeup remover was from an optician who told me to use baby shampoo to get rid of mascara. Somehow I don't like baby oil much - but any old oil will really do...I use petroleum jelly on my upper eyelids (like a flapper), too....

For more on-going tips from a bargain queen - check out - updates listed on twitter at pamphyila, too....

Guest's picture

Here is my Male POV:

Cans of green and blue goo: Get rid of this junk! You can buy REALLY Inexpensive pucks of shave soap, or soap bowl and brush kits at most any Rite Aid for around $10. These will last you a LONG time, and new pucks of soap only cost between 1-3$ for puck soap and a $5 bottle of Real Shaving Co cream or Kiss My Face cream will last MONTHS.

Use the soap as your preshave. This will damage the cuticle of the hair (along with hot water) and will make the hair cut easier.

Aftershave: I use an astringent after I shave. I rinse my face and inspect (may go touch up some areas) then I splash cold water, then some astringent, many use alocohol or witch hazel. I'm using up my facial scrub products that I don't need now that i learned to take better care of my face. I use the face wash and then rinse with cool water.

(THE ONE I SUGGEST YOU USE FOR SENSITIVE SKIN) After shave balm. Tons of products are out there to fit any budget. They're rather frugal because they go a LONG way, and aren't that expensive to begin with. I have used Gillette brand, Nivea...whatever. If you find one that makes your skin feel good stick to it.

I got rid of "after shave splash" products, waste of money on crap fragrance and no real benefit.

Shampoo AND Conditioner: I shave my head. What do I need your silly hair care products for? I used to keep a bottle of 2in1 dandruff shampoo (whatever was cheap and worked) on hand in case I had a problem. Since I started wet shaving, I have had no problems at all, used up what I had and haven't looked back.

Men's products have as much bloat as women's, and if you go to a nice Wet Shaving community you will see gentlemen with thousands invested in collections of badger brushes and dozens of Straight and Double Edge razors, with dozens of choices of Soap, Cream, Splash, Scent, Balm etc. There are also really nice shave mugs called Scuttles that hold hot water in the bottom of the mug to keep the lather nice and hot...or electric hot lather machines.

The essentials are: Brush, soap, razor, balm. Hell some shave creams (like the Kiss My Face) work fine without a brush, but since I already have them, I'll use them.

Guest's picture

While I agree that shaving creams aren't necessary, I don't think you should dry shave (though I am impressed with how your skin takes it so well).

I would recommend giving olive oil a try as a shaving lubricant. Since only a few drops are needed this saves lots of money, and actually keeps your skin healthier as opposed to drying it like the shaving creams tend to do.