A Cheapskate’s Guide to Beauty

The past January has been in a way, my benchmark for how I hope the year would go. I have been trying to instill healthier habits on myself. One of my goals that I gave myself was to actually take care of myself better. I am fast approaching the big 3-0 and sleeping with your make up on and waking up the next day with a simple face wash, and I was ready to go, dewy-eyed, fresh and dare I say it, sexy thanks to the virtue of youth.

Oh, youth. I can’t do the same anymore. If I do, I will look like a ghoul that crawled out of my own grave the night before.

After spending the whole of 2012 pretty much moping, I had a giant checklist at the beginning of the year of what I wanted to see happen this year. Most of it was personal, like how I want to live a healthier life – eat better, exercise more, take my writing career professionally and work on The Good Tea Company to a great degree of success.

And I wanted to take care of my face. There I said it. I am shallow. I’m approaching 30 and the thought of getting wrinkles terrify me. Growing old gracefully be damned – I am going to do all I can to look as young as I possible even as I approach old age. Growing old gracefully is for those who give up.

The beginning of January, I spent a long time researching on how to do this. I’m not too keen on buying products off the shelf. I’m sure they work very well, but they are also, insanely expensive. And I am a cheapskate. A really big cheapskate. And I had a friend in university, who had the most beautiful and flawless skin I’ve ever seen. Her secret was, ‘I never use anything artificial on my skin.’

So I wanted to give it a shot.

I found this site, Crunchy Betty on the various ways on making natural beauty products at a fraction of the cost of buying products off the shelf. While sometimes the site does veer into paranoia at times – I don’t mind having flouride in water or toothpaste, and having been to countries where they don’t flouride their water like Vietnam where you can see the extent of teeth damage compared to Malaysia – I love everything else about the website. Most of the time, it means that most of my daily skincare regime is in the kitchen as opposed to having to head out to buy new stuff.

Which works out since there are days where I’m too lazy to actually eat, much less get dressed and head out to the shops.

After going at it for about a month, this is my current regime that I am quite happy with. My face is very sensitive and prone to drying out, so if you’re curious to try it out, bear in mind that it is like any new product: your skin might like it, your skin might hate it so you have to experiment to find what works for you.

Daily regime

Honey – I use honey to wash my face in the morning. One teaspoon of honey, warmed up at the tip of my fingers before massaging it into my face and wash off.

It used to be green tea with a bit of lemon juice. I used to tone my face until I realized it was the cause of my face drying out. And that Eizwan thought I looked rather ghostly, which I realized was due to the brightening (read: bleaching) effect of lemon juice.

Sweet almond oil from Culpepper. I’m going to experiment with jojoba oil and some other nourishing oils when my almond oil finishes. Which probably will be in about 6 months time since I only use about 2-3 drops a day and I have more than half a bottle left.

And boring old sunscreen to protect my face from those harmful UV rays.

Make up remover:

Eye makeup:
Plain old extra virgin olive oil on a cotton pad.

Face makeup:
Haven’t needed it yet, I don’t really use foundation or powder anymore. But honey don’t work on getting rid of make up unless you add a bit of baking soda to the mix, apparently.

Almond-Oatmeal exfoliant. Half oatmeal and half almonds blitzed in the food processor. Add a few drops of water to 1 tbs of the oatmeal and almond mixture and stir into a paste. Gently scrub your face and wash off. Almost guaranteed super soft skin.

I use this about twice a week. On Crunchy Betty she says it is gentle enough to be used daily and indeed there are a few blogs that extol the benefits of doing it daily – but I can’t. My face feels raw if I use it more than twice a week.

Face masks (weekly):

Egg-white and lemon juice mask:
And on nights when I feel like scaring the husband, I put on an egg white and lemon juice mask. The way to do it? Take one egg, use only the egg white, froth it up and then add a few drops of lemon juice. I paint my face with the mixture and leave it to dry for about 5 minutes. What I usually do after that is I put on Kleenex on my face and paint the egg-white mixture on the Kleenex.

Apparently I look something like this when I have this on:

I try to look as evil as possible too.

I try to look as evil as possible too.

Leave to dry for 30 mins and then yank off your mummy face. Well, yank it off as gently as possible. Wet a soft wash-cloth and wipe off any egg-white that remains on the face.

And since my skin is prone to dryness:

Yoghurt-honey face mask.
Mix about 1 tbs yoghurt and 1 tsp honey together. Paint it on your face and leave it for 20 mins before washing off. Your skin should be supple and soft at the end.

Am I benefiting from this way of taking of myself? I’m going to say, a resounding yes. Honestly, you can’t quite tell the difference though. I am blessed to have very good skin despite not doing anything with it – it is only recently that I felt the need to actually take care of it. My skin has been soft, more evenly toned and dare I say it, I look better today than on my wedding day.

Best of all. It has been the cheapest journey ever. A true cheapskate win.