I have never been what anyone would consider a “high maintenance” woman. I don’t get manicures – I don’t do my own nails, either – I don’t get regular massages, I color my hair at home when I think of it, I get my hair cut at Supercuts twice a year (if I’m lucky), I choose my shampoo by whatever is on sale at CVS or Target, I rarely wear makeup except on stage, I don’t have anything vaguely resembling a “skincare regimen.” And there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, they’re just not something I particularly enjoy or care to spend time and money on.
But I do have a few products that I use that make a difference (to me, anyway), and that are easy to find and inexpensive. Let me share with you the top five items that I find are worth using, even for a “low maintenance” chick like me.
Tom’s of Maine Whole Care Toothpaste (4.7oz, $3.86 at Target)
I don’t remember when or why I started using Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. I think I saw a TV show about the company (Chronicle, maybe?) and I bought a tube out of curiosity. I hated it. It was gritty and bitter-tasting. But being the frugal Yankee that I am (and possibly also a poor college student at the time), I refused to throw it away. By the time I finished up the tube, I had gotten used to the taste and loved how clean that “grit” made my whole mouth feel. The cool, clean feeling lasted much longer than my old Aim and Colgate, and I could drink juice immediately after brushing my teeth without throwing up. For a few cents more than my previous brand, I enjoyed the feeling of brushing my teeth, and the sensation of freshly-brushed teeth, much more than I ever had. And I’ve had very few cavities since, so I know it’s doing its job!
Clean & Clear Morning Burst Facial Cleanser (8 oz., $5.49 at Target)
I was fortunate enough to have pretty good skin growing up, so other than the rare dabble with Clearasil in my teen years, I never used specialized cleansers. Unfortunately, as an adult I have developed some weird allergies and skin issues that make me want to scrub my face with heavy-duty cleansers several times a day. But it kills me to pay a fortune for fancy soaps that don’t really make a difference. Fortunately, after trying a few products, I came across this inexpensive cleanser that felt like it removed the oil without stripping my skin and making it itchier. It does contain microbeads, so I suspect I’ll soon be removing it from my morning routine, but hopefully they’ll reformulate it with a different exfoliant like almonds, oats, or jojoba.
Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer (4 oz., $16.99 at Star Market)
I’ve never used moisturizer, either (sorry, I’m sure several of you just fainted), but between reaching my late 40s, scrubbing my skin with cleanser more often, and living in a climate with wild temperature swings, I’ve finally given in. I really had to bite the bullet at the $16.99 price tag on this tiny bottle, but after only a few days of using it, I was hooked. It rubs in quickly and leaves my skin soft and smooth but not greasy, and that soft feeling lasts for hours. It helps soothe the itchiness of my skin issues, and it minimizes the flakiness I sometimes get at the sides of my nose during cold season from my constant nose-blowing. And it has a very soothing, incredibly subtle non-scent that makes my face feel clean and fresh all day.
Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer (0.09 oz, $4.99 at CVS)
Although I don’t generally wear makeup, sometimes I want to look a bit less bare-faced when I go out somewhere. If I don’t bother with blush and eye makeup, lipstick feels overdone to me, but I’ve discovered that Lip Shimmer adds just a hint of color that makes me feel like I’ve added a bit of polish without actually having to put on makeup. The texture is less heavy than lip balm, but still moisturizing, and the color seems to last better than lipstick, perhaps because it is so subtle, and because it sinks in rather than just coating the surface of your lips like lip balm. It also has a nice minty tingle that perks me right up.
Bohemian Body Butter (5oz, $12.50 at VermontBeeBalm.com)
In addition to my dry face, I have discovered that my 40s brought along horribly dry feet. I remember my mom complaining about how cracked her heels would get in the winter, and I realize now that those complaints started right when she was the age that I am now. I’m not sure what it is about being in your 40s, but it’s sure done a number on my feet. They’re so dry and flaky that I sometimes have a hard time putting lightweight socks or pantyhose on, because they actually catch on the dry skin! No matter how well I scrub them with a pumice stone, they’re still rough and dry. But this wonderful body butter, which is made with olive oil, cocoa butter, and beeswax, makes a huge difference. All you need is a tiny bit. The olive oil and cocoa butter soak in, the beeswax forms a seal, and the lemongrass and lemon and orange oils make a nice relaxing scent. And I’ve had this 4 oz jar for nearly a year and a half and it’s still half full, so it’s absolutely a bargain, even after you pay for shipping.
So those are my favorite inexpensive, low maintenance beauty products. What do you use that you love and can’t live without?