1. Mascara wands make the best eyebrow brushes. When its time to toss your favorite tube of mascara, save the wand. Wash it clean with soap and water and, voila, free brow spoolie! (Tip: ideally, you should replace your mascara every 3 months to protect your eyes from bacteria; see: When In Doubt, Toss It Out.)
2. Turn any eyeshadow into a long-lasting eyeliner with a drop of saline solution. I learned this trick years ago from Carmindy on What Not to Wear. Wet an eyeliner brush with a drop or two of saline solution (the same stuff you use to clean your contact lenses) then dip the brush into a powder eyeshadow and apply it like liquid liner. When it dries, it’s sweat and smudge proof and lasts all day. I love using this trick with purple, green and teal shadows for a night out.
3. Clean stained fingernails with a whitening toothpaste. Even with a base coat, dark and bright nail polishes may leave behind yellow stains after you take them off. Give your nails a good scrub with a nail brush and a whitening toothpaste to remove them. (For a cleaner removal of dark polishes, use a cotton swab to apply a thick hand cream around your cuticles and fingertips before you go in with nail polish remover; it will help it all come off in one clean swipe without staining your skin and cuticles!)
4. Beat dry, peeling lips overnight with Aquaphor. I’m terrible at properly hydrating throughout the day, so my lips are always in need of TLC. When they’re really chapped and flakey, I cover them with a generous dab of Aquaphor right before bed. It works its magic overnight, and I remove it with a warm wet wash cloth in the morning; all of the dead skin wipes right off with it, and my lips are left soft and hydrated with minimum effort. (And you can get a big tube on Amazon for $7.)
5. Out of eye makeup remover? Coconut oil works in a pinch. Bonus: it’s all natural and really moisturizing for the delicate skin around your eyes!
6. Freshen up unwashed hair with cornstarch. Cheaper and greener than dry shampoo, corn starch helps absorb oil and odor from your scalp. Sprinkle a tiny amount on your roots (you can always add more if you need to) then brush it through with a boar bristle brush until it’s completely gone.
7. Cure nail fungus with tea tree and olive oil. I picked up a nail fungus in a salon a couple of years ago, and had the hardest time getting rid of it for good. It started out looking like a tiny bruise under the nail and later the nail started to lift from the bed. Yikes! I tried over-the-counter treatments, but it kept coming back. Then I discovered the tea tree oil trick, and I haven’t had a problem since. Every night, I applied straight tea tree oil to my fingers and toes, rubbing it in to the cuticles and getting it under the infected nails. Tea tree oil can be really drying, so I followed it up with a little organic olive oil. I did this nightly until the fungus disappeared, and I continue to do it several times a week to keep my nails and cuticles healthy. These days, I love a home mani/pedi; check out my tips for making a DIY manicure last more than a week.
8. Dry nail polish in a snap with ice water. Since I started using Essie’s Good to Go and Seche Vite quick-dry topcoat, I haven’t had to use this trick, but it’s a good one: fill a bowl with ice water, then carefully dip your drying nails in for about a minute. If they’re still tacky, dunk them again.
9. Clean makeup brushes with castile soap. You could spend $14 on a 6.75 oz bottle of brush shampoo from Sephora, or you could spend $16 on a 32 oz. bottle of multi-tasking Dr. Bronner’s pure castile soap. This natural and vegan mild cleanser removes every trace of makeup from synthetic brushes, even dissolving long wear foundation and concealers. I’ve also used Dr. Bronner’s to wash my face and soak in the tub, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of its “18-in-1” power.
10. Grab a stack of napkins on your next Starbucks trip. This one is weird, but true. The coffee powerhouse’s unbleached recycled napkins make excellent blotting papers. So when you stop in for your latte fix (or shaken peach iced green tea) grab a few extra napkins and stash them in your purse for a quick skin touch-up on the go!
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This post originally appeared on the blog on 7/22/13 and is one of the most viewed posts in the archives; I thought it deserved a revival.