Make Yourself Beautiful on a Budget

Mix up these recipes for homemade scrubs, masks, and cleansers, and you'll look like a million bucks without spending a lot of cash.

Medically Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on November 02, 2012
3 min read

Throughout history, women have tried some bizarre do-it-yourself beauty treatments. Geishas applied nightingale droppings; English nobility used mercury and puppy urine; Cleopatra reportedly soaked in sour donkey milk.

Today, we still want to keep our complexions radiant, smooth, and firm. Fortunately, there’s no need to slap disgusting or potentially deadly ingredients onto your skin. A simple trip to your local grocery store and you’ll have the ingredients to make the most beneficial and budget-friendly facials you can find.

For a simple DIY scrub, mix a teaspoon of white sugar, corn meal, baking soda, or cooled coffee grounds into your daily cleanser.

A packet of instant maple brown sugar oatmeal is one of the beauty secrets Cristina Bartolucci, founder of DuWop Cosmetics and celebrity makeup artist, uses to keep her skin soft. She combines a handful of the oatmeal with a few pumps of cleanser in her palm and packs it on her skin. In about 10 minutes, Bartolucci gently scrubs it off. The oats fight irritation while the brown sugar exfoliates.

New York City restaurateur Donatella Arpaia squeezes fresh apricots onto sunburned skin to relieve itching and burning. Another way to calm irritated skin: Soak a washcloth in cooled whole milk and apply it to your face.

Expert facialist and founder of Lather skin care Emile Hoyt says turmeric is one of the best anti-inflammatory ingredients around. Mix a half teaspoon of the spice with 6 ounces of plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons of honey, and half a cup of oat flour and spread it on clean skin. Hoyt says that dry, irritated complexions will feel moisturized and refreshed after 15 minutes of this treatment.

Oily or acne-prone skin can benefit from brewer’s yeast. Whisk two egg whites with 2 teaspoons of the yeast and apply with a paint brush or large makeup brush. Leave on for 20 minutes and rinse.

Rather than pay for an expensive mud mask, a bottle of Milk of Magnesia can dry up oil just as well. Paula Begoun, author of The Complete Beauty Bible, advises blotting unflavored Milk of Magnesia on your skin and letting it dry. Rinse it away with a washcloth after about 15 minutes for a shine-free fix.

Take advantage of buttermilk’s astringent qualities and dip a cotton ball in it, dab it on your skin, let it dry for a few minutes, and rinse it away with a gentle cleanser to send excess oil down the drain.

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, author of The Snack Factor Diet, suggests mashing a banana and grating five almonds for a mask that exfoliates, smooths and fights aging.

Normal complexions will soak up the age-fighting, antioxidant benefits from olive oil, dermatologist Leslie Baumann says. Dab the oil onto flaky areas, or mix a teaspoon of brown sugar with a quarter cup of olive oil for a nutritious cleanser.

Ole Henriksen, founder of the Ole Henriksen Spa in Los Angeles, says you can perk up your skin with a cleanser that combines a cup of plain yogurt and 2 teaspoons of dry red tea leaves. Sponge on the mixture and use it as a cleanser. Henriksen says the yogurt helps fade uneven pigmentation and the tea leaves are gentle enough to scrub any complexion.

The method used to apply your homemade product is crucial for the best facial results. “The reason you look so great after a facial is because you have increased blood circulation to your skin due to the facial massage,” Eva Scrivo, owner of Eva Scrivo Salons in New York City, says.

It just takes three minutes and you can do it whenever applying a homemade beauty treatment or even just cleansing. “This is the reason aestheticians have beautiful skin,” Scrivo says. Apply light pressure (enough to feel the bones on your face) with your fingertips when you treat or cleanse your face, she says. Start at the jaw line and move up to the forehead using upward strokes.