Every time I sit down to write this column, there are usually several items or ideas that I can't wait to share because they worked so well.
With 2008 wrapping up, I thought it would be fun and informative to bring back what I call my award-winning favorite finds that readers and viewers told me they liked, that tested well and continue to hold up nicely months later. Take a look below to see the best beauty bargains and favorite finds tested by me, my gal pals and supported by the research I did for your budget and for mine! Special thanks to my gal pal panel of women ranging in age from their 20's to 60's who regularly test and report back to me their opinions of the good and not-so good stuff that I include in my column.
Favorite beauty product find #1 - Splurge vs. Steal
Not only did I find a face cream that is a fraction of the cost of the more expensive brands, but it also performs well. Discovering a product that is inexpensive and top quality is a rare find, so Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Face Cream tops my list as my #1 favorite find of 2008. In a recent study done by Good Housekeeping Research Institute, the Olay cream hydrated skin cells better than several leading creams that retail in fine department stores for up to $350. In fact, as an example, if you place the $350 La Prairie face cream next to the $25 Olay jar, you will notice that the containers are exactly the same size at 1.7 oz. each. However, the La Prairie comes in a glitzy round silver box placed inside another big fancy box and the container has an oversized lid. So you end up paying the price for all of that attractive packaging that is not necessary. Best of all, the Olay passed the Good Housekeeping test and continues to be the favorite find of my gal pal panel as well!
Favorite beauty product find #2 - Eye shadow
In my opinion, this eye shadow is unbeatable! Maybelline Shadow Stylist does it all. It glides right on, looks beautiful and lasts all day. The unusual bottle looks more like lip gloss because it comes with a wand that just whips out of the container and applies to the eye lid in an instant. Application is easy and mess-free. One bottle does cost $6 at drug stores, but it will outlast your cheaper eye shadow every time.
Favorite beauty product find #3- Multi-purpose hair brushes by Goody
Of all the hair product lines, I continue to favor Goody because the company has unique ideas that work. Two of their hair brushes work overtime to style your mane and solve issues like flakes and dullness. Goody Therapy Copper Styling Brush is infused with copper-plated bristles which kills 88 percent of the fungus that causes dandruff. I found that it did quickly rid my scalp of those annoying white flakes with a few strokes. I bought this brush at Target for just under ten bucks.
Goody also introduced a brush that wakes up dull hair called Goody Styling Therapy Add Shine Hair Brush that I found for $8.99 at CVS drug stores. To give hair that celebrity-desired silky look, this product is infused with Jojoba oil. Plus it has flexible bristles that are gentle on the hair. The added oil helps to repair dry and damaged strands while adding a nice silky shine. My hair really did look nice after using this innovative tool, but make sure you read the directions first because this brush may melt if you try to use it with a hair dryer. It also does a good job of taming the frizzes.
#4 Favorite worth-the-money beauty product
Although $28 is a lot for a bottle of sunscreen, DDF Organic Sun Protection UV Moisturizer is the only sunscreen, and I mean only one, that doesn't irritate my daughter's sensitive and Eczema-laden skin. I also have bouts of the itchy annoying Eczema skin condition and to my dismay, my daughter inherited that from me. However, her condition is much worse than mine and she can even be heard scratching her spots in her sleep at night. She scratches those patches until they bleed, bless her heart! I have noticed that her most severe outbreaks come in the dead of winter and the height of summer. So, when I am slathering other brands of sun block on her skin, she cries that the stuff makes her Eczema burn and sting. DDF to the rescue for her skin and for her temperament which improved her stress and my stress as a struggling mother trying to protect her from the sun, but also soothe her body. For sensitive skin conditions, this price tag is well worth the results. DDF is sold at Ulta Beauty Stores and www.ddfskincare.com.
Favorite beauty product find #5 - Beauty food
In addition to covering products, I also like to include natural remedies that you probably already have on hand. This year I showed sugar scrubs, yogurt facials and tea tree oil solutions. These items were all top notch, but my all-time favorite find can be found right in your kitchen cupboard...good ol' olive oil. For your hair, nails and skin, the beauty boost that olive oil gives many of your body parts just can't be beat, especially for the price. One of my favorite 2008 segments included my 10-year-old son who served as a good sport and let me demonstrate how to combat dandruff by spraying olive oil in his hair followed by applying a crushed aspirin. This comes from my favorite book by Reader's Digest called Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things which is a wealth of useful information that sells for only $16...a great last minute gift idea, too!
Another one of my favorite books, 501 Easy Health Tips by Kellie Collins suggests soaking your hands in a warm bowl of olive oil once a week. I also know a nail tech that regularly gives her clients hot oil soaks to fix dry and damaged nails. So, the next time you grab some olive oil for your favorite recipe, stop and give yourself a manicure, too.
Before bedtime, simply rub some olive oil all over your feet (or use an olive oil spray can and spray away) put on your socks and sleep while your feet enjoy nature's pedicure. I tried it and the next morning my heels looked great in my sling-back heels. Plus my husband stopped telling me that my feet felt like sandpaper under the covers!
For an all natural moisturizing lip gloss, dab a bit of olive oil on your lips so you can touch up your kisser while you cook that holiday meal. Olive oil benefits are endless and almost free since you can just borrow from your pantry to stretch your beauty budget.
Favorite beauty product find #6 - Nail saver
For brittle weak nails that peel and won't grow, I really put this one to the test because not only did it work when I used it, but after I got lazy and stopped applying it, my nails went back to their weak and unattractive state. The powerful potion is called Duri Rejuvacote and after I showed it the first time, several viewers told me that they tried it and still swear by this bottle six months later. In a matter of weeks, my former acrylic-eaten nails became strong, vital and natural nails, which was truly a first for my hands. I have never had strong finger nails. Duri Rejuvacote can be worn over nail polish or alone as a clear cover.
I first learned about Rejuvacote from nail pro Kathy Weishan, who specializes in natural nails and healing nail beds that have been covered by the fakes. Kathy provides pampering hot oil manicures and more at Just For You Salon & Day Spa located at Warner Rd. & McClintock in Tempe. She sells Rejuvacote for $14 a bottle and she can be reached at 602-531-9335.
Favorite beauty product find #7 - Cheat product
Last but not least, I bring this quick fix trick back because I have had several viewers ask me to show it again. In the category of you get what you pay for, Aveda Pure Abundance Hair Potion at $23 a bottle is definitely a pricy potion, but one that works well and enables you to skip shampooing for a couple of extra days. This product was recommended to me from both a Denver hair stylist and my gal pal, Becky who swears by the stuff. Becky tells me that this product really adds volume to her fine hair. I personally like it for the mornings when I wake up late and don't have the extra time to wash and blow-dry. Working the powder in my scalp absorbs excess oil and gives me an extra day to put off a shampoo, which by the way, is healthy for your hair. Plus, dirty hair actually makes a better up do, so using this potion will provide more lift when massaged into the roots while absorbing the excess oils. This results in a beautiful bun or terrific twist with little effort and a lot of time saved! Find it at www.aveda.com or in Aveda store mall locations.
So, there you have it -- the 2008 Beauty and Life on a Budget award winners for best products that pass my gal pal panel test! I'll be back soon with the lowdown on what's hot in the 2009 new product beauty bag...hard to believe another New Year is upon us. And if you have a product or idea that you think would be great to cover in my column, add a comment and let me know here because the best ideas usually come from each other as us wonder women who balance budgets, families and our own beauty dilemmas need to stick together!