Friday, February 24, 2012

Broke and Beautiful: Tips and Tricks to Save Money on your Beauty Routine

Being broke doesn't mean you have to LOOK broke. As college students, it's a requirement to look put-together for career and networking events such as career fairs or even class projects. This can be tricky when you're on a tight budget, but it's not impossible! Here are some tips and tricks to save money on your everyday beauty routine. And here are some possibilities to save on brand name beauty products through these coupons for Macys.

1. DIY Tinted Moisturizer: Tinted moisturizer - a lightweight, sometimes sheer foundation that moisturizes your skin - has become a hot product, especially for the summertime. It's my go-to product for those days when I'm super bored/lazy/tired/have class in 5 minutes/want to apply foundation and moisturizer at the same time (so basically always). But tinted moisturizers are pricey, often WAY more expensive than either moisturizer or foundation. Chances are, you already have a foundation in your color and a moisturizer that you like, so here's how to make your own tinted moisturizer: combine them. Yup, it's that easy. You can put them in their own little container or just mix a drop of each on the back of your hand before you apply it to your face. Voila! Tinted moisturizer.
  • Even Better: Make your tinted moisturizer multi-task even more by adding other products to it such as self-tanner or tea tea oil (for acne - but don't add regular acne cream because it tends to flake). Anything you put underneath your makeup can probably be added to your tinted moisturizer to save time and keep you from buying multi-tasking products that you can make yourself!

2. Apply your makeup right: Using the right applicators to apply your makeup can make the difference between smooth, blended makeup and a streaky mess. It can also make a difference in your wallet - using a sponge to apply makeup sucks up the majority of your product, leaving most of it in the sponge instead of on your face - aka wasting your money! Sponges also tend to grow bacteria and must be thrown out frequently, meaning you have to purchase more sponges, which adds up. Instead, use clean, dry fingers to apply foundation, moisturizer, and concealer. Your hands (which are free) won't absorb as much product as a sponge, and your body's natural warmth will help the product sink into your skin.
  • Even better: If you use makeup brushes to apply your makeup, make sure you wash them frequently with cold water and soap (or shampoo, or face wash, etc). Washing them more frequently helps the brushes work better, avoids dirt and oil buildup which leads to acne, and ensures no bacteria growth. Use cold water because hot water loosens the glue which holds the brush together, causing your brush to fall apart over time.
3. Get sparkly white teeth: Teeth whitening can cost an arm and a leg, but it doesn't have to! The primary ingredient in every whitener - be it at your dentist or the pharmacy - is hydrogen peroxide. The secondary ingredient is typically baking soda. You probably know what I'm about to say, but here it is anyway: you can make your own teeth whitening paste by combining hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. These two magical products are available for around $1 at your local grocery store, pharmacy or dollar store! Just combine them and use it in addition to or instead of your normal toothpaste for super white teeth. (Note: it tastes gross, so you might want to add some flavoring or mix it with your normal yummy toothpaste or mouthwash.)

  • Even Better: You can use hydrogen peroxide as a whitening mouthwash. It won't give you that tingly feeling or make your breath minty fresh, but it WILL whiten your teeth. You can also use it to help clean out your ears and sanitize cuts. You can use baking soda to wash your hair and your house! Who knew such cheap products were so amazing?

4. When it comes to your face, less is more: For those of us with "problem" skin (oily, acne prone, flaky, etc) our tendency is to buy tons of "miracle" products to try to fix our face. We buy special cleanser, moisturizer, treatment cream, toner, and more for our face and slather it all on there. If it doesn't work, we buy different products and try again. The result is an endless cycle of expensive products that aren't helping anything and are, more likely, creating the very problem we're trying to fix. Let me explain. If you happen to have acne-prone or oily skin (like me) you might be drawn to products that promise to soak up all the oil in your face, dry it out, treat all of the acne with strong acids or peroxides, and leave us with clean, clear skin. Your skin might feel tight after you wash it, but end up an oil slick within hours, resulting in zits and shininess. So maybe you go wash your face again to get rid of all that oil - only to find yourself repeating the cycle over and over. This is because your skin actually NEEDS that oil! It needs to be hydrated so that it can move and stretch and do all of the things skin does. Without oil, things would be painful and uncomfortable. Over-drying our skin causes it to overcompensate by producing MORE oil than we might actually need, creating that oily mess that can lead to acne. If you have oily skin that gets dry and flaky in the winter, this applies to you most of all. Stop drying out your face! Stop stressing out your skin with too many harsh products! Just let it do its thing! 

         Now, I don't want you to have dirty skin - but you can cleanse and treat your skin WITHOUT the harsh chemical cleansers. Try using baby wipes instead. Baby wipes are the cheap version of makeup-removing towelettes, and they also tend to be infused with aloe, vitamin E, and other nutritious stuff for your face. They are designed not to irritate sensitive skin so they don't stress and upset your skin (especially the "unscented" or "sensitive skin" types.) And they do just as good of a job at cleaning off the day's makeup and dirt as your harsh, chemically cleanser would, without stripping your skin of its natural oils and leading to too much oil production. If you're skeptical, try this experiment for a week: use baby wipes in place of your cleanser.  Moisturize afterwards, and spot treat any acne with your usual spot treatment (DON'T slather it all over your face, though!) Check if there's a difference in your skin at the end of the week - most likely, it's a little bit less dry and flaky, a little bit less oily, and a little bit more clear.  Keep using those baby wipes and you'll find that you never need to buy an expensive cleanser again. Just make sure you moisturize and use those baby wipes every day, and you've have clear, beautiful, unstressed skin at a fraction of the cost in no time. (PS: if you  also use the DIY skincare treatments below, your skin and wallet will thank you!)

5. Get the most out of your nail polish: Have you ever opened up your nail polish collection only to find that your favorite colors are clumpy, flaky, or just plain dried out? Save yourself the cost of new nail polish by saving those polishes with this nifty trick: just add nail polish remover! I know it sounds strange, but adding a few drops of nail polish remover as needed will make out your polish and make it last much, much longer. If it's an older polish, you might have to do this before EVERY application - but at least you'll be able to finish out the bottle instead of throwing it away only half empty! Go on, try it - what do you have to lose? You'd just be throwing that polish out anyway!

6. Natural (and affordable) DIY beauty solutions: You can give yourself a spa day just using stuff you already have in your house! If you don't have these ingredients, they aren't very expensive and can be purchased at any grocery store.

  • For Your Skin
    • Apple Cider Vinegar makes a great bacteria-killing toner for acne-prone skin. More details here
    • Witch Hazel makes another excellent toner! Apply it to a cotton ball to cleanse the dirt from your pores. More details here
    • Green Tea makes yet another great toner, especially for oily skin. Read some reviews here
    • 1/2 tsp. of sea salt + 2 egg yolks + 1/2 cup of yogurt = Toning Mask! Add all ingredients, apply to face and let dry. This is an exfoliating, tightening and soothing face mask.
    • Sea Salt + Olive Oil = Exfoliating Scrub! Add some vanilla or yummy smelling scent to overpower the smell of the olive oil. The Dollar Tree has some good smelling oils in their candle aisle. Use this scrub on hands, feet, and anywhere your skin needs exfoliating moisture.
    • Aspirin + Honey = Exfoliating, moisturizing face mask. Great for acne-prone skin. Instructions Here
    • Coffee Grounds make an antioxidant-rich, de-puffing exfoliant for face and body. Add olive oil, yogurt or honey to coffee grounds after your daily cup! More details here and here
    • Honey is a great humectant and bacteria-killer for your face. It's great for acne-prone skin! More details here
    • Yogurt is great for skin as well, especially when combined with honey. Instructions here

7. You are what you eat: Beauty comes from the inside out, so eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated are vital for the health of your nails, skin and hair. Eat as many fruits and veggies as you can, and remember that canned and frozen are just as healthy and much cheaper than fresh! Pick up a box of green tea bags from the dollar store to benefit from antioxidants and disease-fighting free radicals that will help clear your skin (read about more benefits here). Plus, you can use the tea bag on your face after you've brewed it! Make sure you're drinking enough water each day - staying hydrated helps keep your skin from flaking, especially during the winter! Make sure you're getting plenty of protein and calcium, which help your hair and nails grow stronger - dairy is a great source of both! And if your diet is lacking, try to take some vitamin supplements. You can find hair, skin + nails supplement mixes at the grocery store for less than $10!

8. Get every last drop out of your beauty products: You know that feeling when you're squeezing some empty plastic tube every which way, trying to get out the last drops of your expensive beauty products? You KNOW there's some left in there, but you can't get it out - so you probably just throw the product away. Well next time, don't! Just cut the container open so you can access the last bit of your product before throwing it away. There's usually more than you'd expect, so have a baggie on hand to hold the opened product so it doesn't dry out. This works best for plastic containers that are easy to cut open, especially tubes such as for moisturizer or spot treatment, but you can use it for basically any product that appears to be empty. As long as you can break open the packaging, you can make sure you get your money's worth!

More pictures at this blog entry!
9. Don't throw away broken eye shadows: Have a loose or crumbled eye shadow? Don't throw it away! Eye shadows are easy to press back into place using isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). The alcohol evaporates away from the eye shadow, leaving it perfectly in place! Just mix a few drops of alcohol with your eyeshadow powder to make it easy to pour into a pan and set. This trick will actually work with any powder makeup, such as blush! Instructions here and here

10. Buy beauty products for cheaper: I get a lot of beauty products from HauteLook, where brands such as LORAC, Stila and Urban Decay sell makeup for insanely discounted prices, and there's almost always a good hair-care line. HauteLook is where I discovered 100% Pure, which is my all-time favorite beauty brand - but too expensive to afford full price! Bonus: refer friends to HauteLook for free purchase credits! Read more here. I also get a ton of beauty goodies from Amazon thanks to my free gift cards from Swagbucks.  Read more about Swagbucks in this entry - personally, I earn about $25 in Amazon Gift cards each and every month! Did you know that Sephora has an entire store on Amazon? That means that Amazon gift cards = Sephora gift cards - and they're FREE! It's like Christmas every day! You can also get high quality, cheap brushes from CVS - their Essence of Beauty line is great - and Target - their Sonia Kashuk line is pricier than CVS, but still high quality!

So there you have it! You can be broke and stay beautiful! Don't see your favorite cheap beauty tip posted? Let me know in the comments!

Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on FacebookTwitter and Tumblr.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Best (Free) Apps for College Students

Many of us, self included, received smart phones/tablets/iPods what have you this year. After the initial joy of joining the 21st century wears off, one question remains: what apps should I download? Well, I'm here to answer that age-old question. And if you don't have yourself a fancy piece of touch screen machinery yet, no worries - I'm also going to recommend a few apps for Google Chrome! In fact, I'll start with that first. (Note: if you're not using Google Chrome as your browser, please go download it. Mozilla is fine too - just as long as you're not still using Internet Explorer. Please tell me you're not.)

The Best Chrome Apps for College Students
First thing: to get to the Chrome app store, click here in your Chrome browser.

1. StayFocusd This is the app that will change your life if you, like me, happen to sit around on the internet for hours and hours and suddenly realize it's 2am and you didn't get anything done. This app is for us. Using StayFocusd you can limit the amount of time you spend on time-wasting websites. You set the time per day (such as 40 minutes) and you set the websites you want to limit. (Example: Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter etc.) You can also set "allowed" sites and even set a window of time for unlimited browsing (mine is set to 2 hours at night and weekends). And possibly the most useful of all: you can "Go Nuclear," which means ALL websites except, if you want, those on your "Allowed" list (Blackboard, Oncourse, etc) are completely blocked for as long as you want them to be. It is a LIFE SAVER when you need help focusing, or when Wikipedia articles on celebrities are more exciting than the essay you need to finish writing. Download it here.

2. Evernote This is basically like an electronic notebook where you can paste and clip anything you want to remember later. Write notes, add lists, pictures, videos, whatever you want - and you can sync them to your phone or other devices, too! Download it here.

3. Remember the Milk This is a task-management app for those of us who DON'T regularly keep To-Do lists handy. Simply add a task to your list, prioritize it, and if you like, give it a time estimate or due dates. If it's really important, you can have the app send a reminder to you to complete the task by phone or email! A must-have organization and productivity app. Download it here.

4. So this one is really less of an app and more of a bookmark, but if you haven't yet signed up for - the BEST money management and budgeting tool ever - take this opportunity! To learn more about Mint, read this blog post. Download it here. 

The Best Smart Phone and Tablet Apps for College Students
Most of these apps will be available for iPhone, Android, iPad, Kindle Fire, etc, but make sure you check first (and don't kill me if it's not available for you!) I have an iPhone 3G, so these apps are all for sure available in the App store at the very least. Anyway, here are my recommendations.

1. Any app from your school! If your school has an app, download it! School apps can help you catch a bus on time, check your meal points, give you instant updates on campus closings or dangers, help you find buildings on campus or numbers to call if you need help, and more. Search for your school to see if you have an app available.

2. CampuSpecial An app created by Many of you may already get the little coupon booklets from CampuSpecial containing awesome local deals around your campus. Well, imagine if you could get all of those coupons, deals and more, right on your phone, using a handy locator to find which ones are closest to you? It's pretty freakin' awesome. The app is free, search for CampuSpecial in the App store or Android Marketplace.

3. Unfortunately, this app is only available for newer iPhones, so 3Gs can't use it. It is available for Androids as well as Kindles from the Amazon App store. Anyway, if you haven't gotten the message yet, is the most amazing, super easy, incredibly awesome way to track your spending and budget your money. Even if you don't do anything more than just set it up to look at where you're spending your money, it's insanely helpful.   To learn more about Mint, read this blog post. (Note: even if you don't use Mint, at least download your bank's app to keep track of your spending so you never incur overdraft fees!)

4. Evernote Evernote is the best way to make notes for yourself on your phone. Unlike the regular "notepad" that comes with your phone or tablet., Evernote allows you to create notebooks or organize your notes and include photos, audio clips and more to your notes. If you're the kind of person who frequently finds themselves writing cryptic notes in your phone or taking photos to "Remember for later," this is the app for you.

5. Amazon Price Check, Google Shopper or Shop Saavy Both of these apps are price comparison apps. Google Shopper searches for prices in your local area - so if you're in, say, Target looking at some nail polish, you can scan it with Google Shopper and find out that CVS next door has it for cheaper. Price Check searches for prices on Amazon, which is good for things you might not need immediately but want to save money on. Shop Saavy will search for a scanned bar code both online and in local stores, and also has reviews available for the product you scan. Making sure you're getting the best price possible means saving money!

6. Shopkick So you know how I love paid-to sites like  Swagbucks where you get points to do super easy stuff and then can redeem those points for gift cards and other rewards? Well, Shopkick takes that idea to a whole new level. Shopkick gives you points you for going into stores and doing super easy stuff, and then you can redeem those for gift cards and other rewards. Let me repeat: GOING INTO STORES AND DOING SUPER EASY STUFF. For example, you'll get 50 "kicks" (points) by just walking into Best Buy, or Old Navy. Just WALKING IN! You can get more kicks for doing "scans", which just means finding a specific product and scanning its barcode. (Like a treasure hunt!) Yesterday, for example, there were 750 possible "kicks" for scanning items at Target. A $2 gift card is about 500 "kicks", so if you were going to Target to pick up some toothpaste or whatever anyway, you would've just gotten it for free and then some. In my experience, one trip to the mall can usually get me about 500 kicks, so this is a very easy to get rewarded for just walking around stores. If you want to save up your points for the rest of your life, you can get a cruise for a couple million "kicks" - I prefer to redeem my points for gift cards and do as little work as possible to earn them. I highly recommend this app- it's fun, easy, and gives you free money! What could be better?

Other Free Apps I Love: These might not be college-specific, but they are very useful:
- Pandora: better than listening to your playlists!
- AroundMe: For when you're wandering around and want to know where the nearest whatever is.
- HopStop: When you need to figure out how to get from A to B using public transportation!
- HauteLook: I'm just addicted to HauteLook, basically.
- Thrift Hunter and ThriftBuddy: I love thrift store shopping, especially in places I've never been. These apps help locate the thrift stores nearby.
- Shazam: For when you hear a really cool song and want to know what it is.
- Find My Car: Helpful in big parking lots, or for people who forget where they park their car every single time.
- Yelp: Need a review of a restaurant, salon, bar, etc at a moment's notice? Yelp has it covered.

Want to know about new freebies, samples, deals and money-saving as soon as they happen? Follow The Broke Student's Guide on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
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