The beauty industry in the UK alone is worth a staggering £30 billion and it’s a fact that many of us invest our hard-earned money within the beauty sphere. If you love skincare, you likely own a multitude of products from toners and serums to mists and moisturizers. Am I right? However, as a society we’re slowly but surely moving to a more eco-conscious mindset and consumption of products is a lifestyle factor to consider. It’s fantastic to see many brands now working to produce recyclable packaging and more minimal use of throwaway plastic. But what about those situations when you have a product that’s nearly expired or one that simply didn’t work out for your skin? Do you chuck it? Or maybe you need a new product but feel bad about buying yet more beauty items? You’re in lockdown and don’t want to order non-essential products online? In today’s post, we’ve gathered our best tips and tricks to highlight the multi-functional benefits and different ways of using skincare items so that hopefully you can always find a use and minimize your consumption as well as your wastage. Make yourself comfortable and let’s chat about how to get the most out of your beauty products!
Cleansers can be quite tricky to get right, particularly if you have dry or sensitive skin. I’ve often found that I’ve bought cleansers that are just ok but not ideal, and I’m quite adamant that I use a cleanser that’s right for me. So, here’s what I do when I’m over my current cleanser and it hasn’t worked out: I use it to wash my makeup tools. If the cleanser is low pH and quite gentle, I’ll use it to wash anything from my makeup brushes to my beauty sponges. If it’s harsher, I just stick with washing my beauty sponges. This always works well and who wants to spend money on brush cleaner if you don’t need to? Not me.
Cleansers also double as body wash if again, you’re not enjoying it on your face. Bonus, if the cleanser is gentle and low pH it could be a great option for more delicate regions that may typically get irritated from regular body wash. I’ve seen chatter on social media about using low pH cleansers as intimate wash (outer body of course, no dangerous inner cleansing please) and as someone with easily irritated tendencies, I can confirm this has worked for me! I’ve only tested non-fragranced, super gentle options, but it’s a good ti p to bear in mind, particularly when traveling.
Using COSRX low PH morning cleanser to clean makeup brushes
Exfoliators are an integral part of any skincare routine, whether you decide to manually exfoliate with a facial scrub or chemically exfoliate with a product containing acids like AHA or BHA. Personally, I do both forms of exfoliation, and I have often been left with scrubs that are simply too harsh for my face. With these, of course I repurpose them for my body. I experience a lot of dry skin and build up on the surface of my body skin so using these scrubs on my body has worked out well for helping eliminate that.
Did you know chemical exfoliants also have a multitude of uses that don’t include your face? My number one use for products containing glycolic acid is to help treat my keratosis pilaris. Keratosis pilaris, also known as “chicken skin”, is a condition where a build-up of keratin blocks hair follicles and causes bumps on the surface of the skin. I get it mostly on my arms, thighs, and bum. I’ve found that incorporating an exfoliant into my body routine, along with the use of oils and moisturizers, has made a huge difference to smoothing out those bumps. After using an exfoliant on a cotton pad on my face, I then swipe it across my arms, or I splash a small amount into my hands then onto my keratosis pilaris and pat in. I let it dry before proceeding with moisturizing.
Another great use for chemical exfoliators is on ingrown hairs. This is something I learned from helping my partner with his ingrown beard hairs! He has very tight curly hair and had developed small lumps on his neck that he asked me to look at. I grabbed my tweezers, my BHA and AHA, and, much to his delight (!), gave him a lesson in exfoliation. (PSA- just to quickly recap in case you’re not familiar, products with BHA help exfoliate inside the pores while AHA products exfoliate the surface of the skin). After he showered and the hair was soft, much to my satisfaction I managed to pluck out the ingrown hairs with my sanitized tweezers. Once the skin was dry, I applied the BHA to help bring any remaining gunk from the lumps to the surface. After twenty minutes or so, I then went over his whole neck area with my AHA to help exfoliate the surface of the skin and ensure more ingrown hairs did not appear. We repeated this process for several days and, despite his protests, the results were undeniable. Lumps gone and no more ingrown hairs. I don’t mind sharing my acids with him for this purpose! (If you do use this method, be sure to patch test and ensure the skin can handle the acids you plan on using first.) We’ve since maintained this process for his benefit and I also do it if I have any ingrowns.
Acids seem to have a multitude of uses; I’ve seen blogger Tracy of Fanserviced-B talk about the use of acid as a deodorant and also to exfoliate the scalp- be sure to check out her blog for more great tips on those uses.
Toners, Essences, Serums, Mists
Ah, my favorite skincare category. I love my toners and serums and I own way too many of them. I have purchased many duds in my time or products I’ve kept for too long that needed used up before expiration. I have a couple of go-to practices to avoid wastage of these products. My favorite option: DIY sheet masks. There are two ways to do a DIY mask. The first is to use very thin cotton pads (many Korean or Japanese cotton pads are thin and square) by soaking them in toner and applying to areas of your face. I’ve also folded thin cotton pads soaked in fragrance-free products and placed them under my eyes as DIY eye masks. Alternatively, pre-made sheet masks that come in small capsules are widely available online. For these, add a healthy amount of your toner to a small bowl and soak the capsule until it opens out to a mask, then apply. You need to use a product with a very watery consistency and the process requires a lot of liquid to work well, thus a toner you want to use up quickly is ideal! These are great little treatments for an intense pop of hydration.
DIY mini mask (Mélusine, the founder of Kōsame Beauty)
My second option for using up a hydrating liquid or serum is using the product on my body. As I mentioned, I have dry skin and keratosis pilaris. The first time I used toner on my body I couldn’t believe the difference in how soft and supple my skin became. I suspect this is largely to do with the fact that toners and essences prep the skin and help the skin absorb moisturizer more efficiently. Toners often have conditioning ingredients within their formulas for softening the skin, too. Serums, which are heavier in weight, can be great for drier areas such as elbows and knees, and mists are a perfect way to get toner all over your body in the least messy way! I’m certainly not suggesting you go out and spend yet more money on toner for your body, but if you have an old one lying around this is a great way to repurpose it and get it used up.
I love my sheet masks! But although great for a pampering session, it can seem a little wasteful to use a sheet mask once and then dispose of it. I’m happy to see to brands becoming more aware of this, as mentioned earlier, and looking for environmentally friendly packaging and mask material options. But what about the masks in your current stash? There are always those who advise to keep the remaining essence from a sheet mask for later days and admittedly I used to do this. However, did you know that many of these sheet mask serums do not have the correct preservatives within the formulas to stay fresh for more than one day after opening? You could potentially expose yourself to a tainted, unsafe essence if you decide to keep it for later use. I would suggest instead to use that remaining essence all over your body! I ensure that my neck and chest, areas that are more prone to premature ageing, are soaked with essence and then I start on the rest of my body. I usually have enough to cover my entire arms and legs and I appreciate that extra moisture.
Moisturizers are easy items to get the most of. If a product has a super strong fragrance that I didn’t expect, I tend to repurpose it for my body. I much prefer a fragranced body cream to an intense fragrance on my face. If the moisturizer is in a tube, I place it by my sink for hand cream. I’ve also repurposed eye creams that haven’t worked out for me in the past- if they’re in tubes they’ve become my purse hand cream or if in tubs, I’ve used them for additional moisture on my elbows and knees! Eye creams tend to be richer so they’re perfect for dry areas of skin or even as a neck cream.
I absolutely adore facial oils. I usually add a drop or two to an evening moisturizer or alternatively use my gua sha tool to massage my face with an oil. However, using them so sparingly often means I struggle to use up the product and so I find myself reaching for the oil for alternate uses. My most typical use of a facial oil (that isn’t on my face!) is for my nail cuticles. That’s particularly true for my toes, which tend to get extremely dry around the nail beds. I massage in a few drops when I get out of the shower. I will also often make DIY foot masks with a facial oil. When my feet are damp, I’ll pat toner onto them and then slather oil all over. I pop on a pair of old socks and leave them on for hours. This really helps keep my leathery feet as soft as possible during the summer months.
I’ve also found oils can help with my extremely dry scalp. I don’t treat my scalp too often with oil, as it can be a nightmare to rinse out, but occasionally dropping an oil into the roots of my hair and massaging into the scalp can help relieve some of the itchiness and irritation.
There are so many uses for your beauty products if you think a little outside the box. I’m someone who owns a huge collection of skincare and these tips and tricks have helped me rethink my wastage and find ways to utilize what I have. As many of us are now stuck indoors and not looking to spend unnecessarily during such uncertain times, it’s also a good way to look at what you own and make the most of it. An extra pampering session is never a bad idea!
I hope you found this guide useful and please feel free to share any thoughts or ideas in the comments below.
Katherine Spowart from www.skinfullofseoul.com