Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Keeping Up Appearances

When I have a brand new hairdo
With my eyelashes all in curl,
I float as the clouds on air do,
I enjoy being a girl!

-Flower Drum song, 1959

Not that much has changed since this slightly sexist song debuted in 1959. Sure, the hippie movement (of which MatchGirl’s mom was a happy participant) of the late 1960s/early 1970s might have altered the way we viewed femininity for a while, but at the end of the day, every girl wants to be beautiful. And in our society, she spends big bucks to get that way.

Since yours truly has spent the past several years working in the glamorous world of high end fashion and beauty, I thought it might be fun to follow up my previous Getting It On The Cheap post with some of my favorite tricks to get around spending a lot of money to get pretty. And, gentle readers, I thought it might be fun to include my gal pals in on the fun – so I reached out to some of my favorite fashionista and makeup artist friends to find out their secrets to staying sexy on the tight budget of the unemployed girl.

First, my fabulous makeup artist friend Konnie has some great tips on keeping your skin healthy and moisturized without dropping big bucks on a New York City (or in her case LA) facial.

Konnie says:
my #3 beauty secret:
mixing just a dab of foundation into your favorite sheer lip gloss can give you that perfect pouty lip color you've been looking for.

my #2 beauty secret:
petroleum jelly is always great for removing the toughest eye makeup, and also doubles as a night cream for when your skin is feeling extra flaky or tore up. also great on dry hands overnight. it doesn't clog your pores and helps your skin heal!

my #1 beauty secret:
distilled water. you can get it anywhere. pick up a fine mist spray bottle anywhere for $1 and fill it with said distilled water. as a final step or even as a replacement to your face washing routine, spray the distilled water all over your face until it's coated and let it air dry. it sucks out the impurities in your pores and you will notice results. do it when you get out of the shower. do it anytime throughout the day when your face is feeling cruddy. be sure to dump and refill the spray bottle if it's been sitting for a while. water does go bad.

no more facials!

Don’t forget that a lot of products, not just Vaseline, are great multi-taskers. Friend Pam suggests Nivea lotion for keeping your skin silky smooth, removing eye makeup and standing in for an eye cream. This savvy gal also recommends using Suave conditioner as a stand-in for shaving cream.

Amy suggests checking out Bumble and Bumble and applying to be a hair model to get free cut and color from one of their stylists in training. MatchGirl’s own sister did that for years while living on the cheap in NYC. Most hair schools and salons offer similar if you meet the criteria for the class they are teaching. Craigslist in your own city is also a great resource to find these. If you’re feeling brave, Leana suggests doing your own color with your favorite boxed shade and use the included conditioner to keep it looking great until it’s time to touch up. Of course MatchGirl knows that once you’ve found a great stylist, you would be remiss to go elsewhere, gentle readers, which is why I highly recommend Jenn at Mousey Brown in Williamsburg – cuts start at $55 and just named “best bangs” by Time Out NY, with bang trims at only 15 bucks. Forget those high Manhattan prices, my ladies, and go see the gal that’s been keeping my locks lovely for the past several years!

And, now, on to the really good stuff. The stuff that’s so hard to resist - who can forget the makeup? Even the least girlie of girlie girls has some brightly colored lacquer or powder that she can’t resist. MatchGirl has her own favorite finds – drugstore mainstays that work great, cost little and look gorgeous. In general, you can’t go wrong with any mascara by Maybelline. My personal favorite is Define-A-Lash Lengthening, but dear Amy B sticks with the classic Great Lash in the pink and green tube. Friend Pam swears by L'Oreal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara.

Fidelma says that E.L.F. has the best cheap makeup around: “love Doe Eye Shadow creams only $1!” And Le swears by Bonnie Bell lip glosses – long lasting and tasty, too!

For nails, of course, the first tip is to do them at home. If you want to splurge on the same Essie or O.P.I. nail colors that you get at the salon, they only cost about $6/bottle at any beauty supply store (Zoe’s on Greenpoint Ave has a great selection of colors and brands). MatchGirl is also partial to the long lasting lacquers by Sally Hansen, most under $5 and available at any drug store.

Of course, make good use of the free little bottles in hotels, free samples from pricey places like Khiel’s and the makeup counters at department stores. Also, don’t throw away that color that didn’t quite work for you – maybe one of your friends looks way better in Blushing Berry than you ever will. A little give and take is always good karma.

Anyone else have any good tips for making the best use of your dollars and keeping up appearances in the “economic downturn”?


  1. Love all the tips! Thanks for posting, Matchgirl!

  2. The new issue of Lucky magazine is filled from cover to cover with clothes, beauty products, etc. with everything under $100. Check it out!