When economic times turn tough, it may seem that beauty indulgences should be the first things to go.
But just because your budget calls for some belt tightening, that's no reason not to look better than ever. The trick is to bolster your beauty routine by making no- or low-cost moves that deliver maximum impact. From hiding dark circles to boosting hair's shine, here are experts' top tips for trimming costs--and a few years, to boot!
1. Pump Up Hair's Volume
Switch to mousse: It costs the same as other styling products, but because it contains resins that lightly coat strands to add thickness and lift hair at the root, mousse delivers far more oomph, said Renee Cohen, senior stylist at Serge Normant at the John Frieda Salon in New York City.
Dry hair upside down: To build volume when you blow-dry, work a palm full of mousse from your roots through to the ends, then flip your head over and dry your hair away from the scalp. "Hair should be barely damp before you flip it back up and style it," she said.
Brush in fullness: Using a round brush to style hair builds in more volume. Pick a medium-size brush (for longer hair) or small (for shorter)--the full circle of bristles will give roots a lift as you blow-dry, brushing in the opposite direction the hair is going to lay. Hook the brush under a 2-inch section of hair at the root, and lift as you roll it through to the ends--all the while following the brush with the dryer. Keep the nozzle above your brush and pointed down to increase shine.
Read More: 6 Tips for Healthy Curls
2. Restore Your Locks' Luster
Give yourself a weekly hot-oil treatment: Save a bundle by substituting jojoba oil (find it in natural food stores for about $10) for pricier hair-repair products. "Jojoba has a fine molecular structure that allows it to enter and fill the hair shaft, making it a perfect choice for conditioning," said Paul Labrecque, owner of the New York City-based Paul Labrecque Salon. Spread the oil liberally through dry hair, put on a plastic shower cap, then cover with a hot towel for 30 minutes. Wash it out thoroughly, then rinse with cold water to seal the cuticle and trap added moisture. "When the hair shaft is infused with oil, the cuticle lies flatter, so your hair looks smoother and shinier," he explains.
Keep a cool head: Heat opens hair's protective outer layer, damaging strands and creating frizz. "Frequently cooling the hair while styling helps keep your cuticle flat," said Labrecque. If your dryer has a cool-shot button, use it to deliver a blast of cold air after drying each individual section. (This also helps lock in your new style.) If it doesn't, he suggests holding your style in place with your brush for about 30 seconds to let hair cool off.
3. Reduce Redness
Get milk: Soak a clean washcloth in cold milk and place it over your face for 10 minutes. "Milk contains proteins, fat, amino acids, and vitamin A--all of which reduce redness and calm irritated skin," said Dr. David Bank, a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, NY. Bonus: The lactic acid in milk exfoliates, so skin looks soft and glowing.
4. Banish Brown Spots
Camouflage with care: First, dab concealer that's one or two shades lighter than your foundation onto the spot. Use a concealer brush--it'll give more precise coverage than your finger. Follow with a dot of foundation that exactly matches your skin tone. "The concealer lightens the spot, and the foundation helps blend it seamlessly," said New York City-based makeup artist Jessica Liebeskind.
5. Get a Healthy Glow
Replace your makeup wisely: "Switching from powder formulas to creamier ones gives your skin a soft reflective sheen," said Kimara Ahnert, a makeup artist in New York City. Cheeks tend to be drier than your T-zone, so as soon as you use up your powder blush, buy a light liquid or cream formula that imparts a youthful glow instead of leaving skin dull and matte.
6. Plump Thin Lips
Think pink: "Dark or bright colors call attention to the size of your lips, emphasizing thinness and fine lines around your mouth," Liebeskind said. Instead, choose a lipstick that mimics the color of your lips when you were younger.
Define your lips: After applying lipstick, line just at the outer edge of the natural border of your mouth with a pencil in a shade that exactly matches your lipstick. Don't try to draw on a bigger pout--it'll only look fake.
7. Brighten Your Smile
Mix your own whitener: Brushing with a paste made of baking soda and water a few times a month removes superficial staining and whitens teeth by a shade or two. "The graininess neutralizes stains and polishes teeth but isn't abrasive enough to wear down your enamel," said Jennifer Jablow, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in New York City.
Keep teeth whiter, longer: To sidestep stains when drinking red wine, chase your vino with a handful of crunchy raw vegetables. "They have a brushing action that can rub away newly setting stains," Jablow said.
Choose the right lipstick shade: "Colors with blue undertones make teeth appear brighter," explained Liebeskind. To figure out which of your lipsticks fit the bill, she recommends lining up three or four shades--in comparison to each other, it will be more obvious which are blue-based and which have yellow or gold undertones that bring out the yellow in teeth.
8. Minimize Undereye Circles
Be generous with your concealer: "The biggest mistake women make is using too little concealer," Liebeskind said. Start by putting on eye cream--concealer can settle into fine lines of all skin types, especially drier complexions. Then apply a generous layer of concealer from the inner corner of the eye around to the outer corner with a concealer brush. Pat and press the product into the skin to blend. If there's still any darkness visible, apply a second layer of concealer. Set the concealer with a dusting of face powder that matches your foundation.
Caffeinate your eyes: Tea bags can perk up tired-looking eyes. "The caffeine helps shrink the underlying dark blood vessels and forces out some of the liquid that creates puffiness," explained Dr. Ava Shamban, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA. Soak tea bags in hot water for a minute before plunging them into ice water for a few seconds. Lie down and apply them directly to your eyes for 15 minutes.
9. Smooth Imperfections
Keep makeup outside the lines: To be sure there's no excess makeup to settle into--and emphasize--the fine lines around your eyes and mouth, Ahnert suggested using a dry makeup sponge to gently smooth and blend makeup after applying it. Don't wipe, though, or you'll rub it off.
10. Give Eyes a Lift
Curl lashes correctly: When lashes are clean and dry (wet ones won't hold a curl), position the curler at the root of lashes and give three firm, gentle pumps. Release and repeat. "Holding it steady doesn't create a natural-looking, fluid curl," Liebeskind said. Create a long-lasting curl Heat your curler with your blow-dryer for 15 seconds first. "The warmth holds the bend better," saidNYC-based makeup artist Mally Roncal.