Over-the-Counter Beauty Tips

Eggs, lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley aren't just for salads anymore -- they're beauty products, too!

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
5 min read

When you're feeling drab, no need to head to the department store and max out those credit cards. You may already have all the beauty products you need. Just open the medicine cabinet or fridge!

How healthy is your skin? Take our quiz.

Diane Irons is the author of many low-cost beauty books, including Bargain Beauty Secrets and Age-Defying Beauty Secrets: Look and Feel Younger Every Day. She tells WebMD that common household products, found in almost every medicine cabinet, can be used to for purposes other than those listed on the label:

  • Hemorrhoid cream. The cream version, not the greasy one, can be used for undereye puffiness. Let it soak in and apply makeup. "It's also good to de-puff the jawline."

  • White toothpaste. Regular toothpaste, not the gel kind, can be dabbed on pimples to dry them overnight.

  • Eye drops. If you don't have time to treat a pimple overnight, anti-reddening eyedrops can also be applied to pimples with a swab, left for 10 to 15 seconds, then makeup applied. The drops take the red right out, making the blemish coverable.

  • Vitamin K salve, available over the counter, helps prevent stretchmarks.

  • Pepto-Bismol makes a great face-tightening mask. Let it dry, then remove with warm water. It also helps seal the fate of cold sores, Irons says.

  • Milk of magnesia. If your skin is oily, apply milk of magnesia and let it dry, then rinse before making up.

  • Baby wipes. Forget the expensive face cleansing pads or cloths. These work fine to remove grime and makeup.

  • Aspirin can be used to treat dandruff. In her book, The Model's Way to Beauty, Slenderness and Glowing Health, former Wilhelmina model Oleda Baker recommends mixing an inch of warm water in a coffee cup, dissolving 30 aspirin tablets and 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda, and applying the foaming concoction to your hair after shampooing. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then comb to work out flakes. Doing this every day for a week can eliminate dandruff.

  • Vaseline. Even though many of the high-end beauty gurus sniff at "mineral oil" for your face, Alexa B. Kimball, MD, MPH, assistant professor of dermatology at the Stanford University Medical Center, tells WebMD that no one is allergic to petroleum jelly and it makes an excellent moisturizer, especially around the eyes. The layer holds in moisture. "It never irritates from perfumes," she says.

Beauty Tips for Hair From the Kitchen

After cruising the aisles of the drugstore, don't forget the kitchen. It is a beauty counter unto itself.

For more beautiful hair:

  • Olive oil. Irons prefers this to the often-recommended mayonnaise for conditioning hair. Heat some extra virgin olive oil in the microwave for 10 seconds and apply to DRY hair. Leave it on for about 10 minutes, then shampoo (forgetting that last step will leave you lank and smelling like a salad).

  • Flat beer. Be sure to use beer that has lost its zing, or else heat fresh beer and allow it to cool. Wash your hair, pour it on, and comb. "I guarantee it will not smell after it dries," Irons says.

  • Baby food. Brace yourself -- strained liver! Wash hair and apply a tablespoon of lemon juice mixed with 2 ounces of strained liver. Wrap your head in a towel or wrap with plastic and sit under a warm dryer for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly (liver+hair=obvious).

  • Vinegar. This is a marvelous rinse, according to Baker. Cider vinegar is good for brunettes, white vinegar for blondes. Four tablespoons in three glasses of warm water. Then use lots of cool water to remove the salady smell.

  • Lemons are a blonde's best friend! The juice of two lemons in two glasses of lukewarm water should do it. If your hair does not tend to be dry, you can skip the rinse and let the sun add some highlights.

Kitchen Beauty Tips for Gorgeous Skin

According to Irons, food works to beautify skin better on the outside than the inside! Some new uses for:

  • Lemon juice. Added to water, this makes a great facial toner.

  • Orange slices. Just rub a slice of orange on your face, Irons says. It revives dull skin -- the acid, the vitamin C!

  • Vegetable shortening. This is great for eczema, Irons says. "Hospitals call it Cream C, for Crisco," she says. Heat it in the microwave for 10 seconds, then slather it on.

  • Egg whites. For an instant facelift, dab egg whites over your face, sit stock still until it dries, then apply makeup. Sort of a poor woman's Botox!

  • Avocado. Mash one up, mix in a little lemon juice, and apply to face and neck and let it dry. "A great neck firmer," Irons says.

  • Rice flour. This is an "old-timey" secret, Irons whispers. Put some in a compact -- it's "the best face powder money can buy."

  • Pumpkin. Yup, out of the can, hold the sugar and cinnamon. It's a great conditioner for the face or whole body.

  • Parsley flakes. Put a few spoons in an ice cube tray section, add water, and freeze. Rub it on a pimple and it takes down swelling in a few minutes.

  • Coffee grounds. Actually, these are for the whole body, especially problem "rear" and thigh areas. Rub the grounds into your cellulite with a veggie brush. "Better than any loofah," says Irons. Then wrap with plastic wrap and sit for 15 minutes. Make sure you use full-octane coffee -- no decaf.

  • Eggs, honey, lemon juice. This is a mask for rough skin, not dry. Combine one egg, one tablespoon of honey, and a half teaspoon of lemon juice, apply with your fingers and leave it on 20-30 minutes, then rinse and apply freshener.

  • Beets. Had to include this one from Warhol superstar Ultra Violet (remember her?). She used to cut the top off a beet and carry it in her purse as a lip stain. Bet that drew some stares in restaurants!

Overall, dermatologist Kimball is lukewarm on do-it-yourself cosmetics. "None of these will hurt you," she says. "But cosmetic companies have put a lot of work and technology into developing their products."Hey -- is that a shot at those beets?