“It costs me a lot of money to look this cheap”

There’s something so inherently fabu-trash about Dolly Parton that is most definitely only skin-deep. Like any Southern woman worth her salt, the more disparaging she is about herself, the more she shows her inner class. I’d love to meet her, so if you can arrange it, I would be grateful. But unlike Dolly, whether I look class or not, I’m always cheap.

I’m referring to the cost of grooming products, so hush.

Broke or not, grooming and hygiene are incredibly important for men and women, and if you skimp on this, make sure it’s just the cost, and not the quality. Sometimes, you can’t really go cheap without sacrificing quality. I won’t insult you, and offend the people near you, by telling you that you can skip deodorant and just rub a lemon on your ‘pits. There are just some things you can’t do without. Honestly, many of the products I’ll tell you about are more relevant to women, but men, you can use some of this information, as well. However, when it’s female-centric, I’ll warn you so that you don’t get sucked into an explanation about feminine hygiene, deal?

“I swear they rub their armpits with onions.”

I gotta love the awesome evil-ness of Glee’s Sue Sylvester, and man, I have to agree. You just cannot skip out on washing and deodorant. Having said that, in the past few years phasing out some chemicals from my daily routine has become important and a bunch of trial-and-error. Antiperspirants are a casualty from this little battle on expensive, yet  possibly harmful products. Having grown up in a very warm climate, keeping stink-free is paramount in personal hygiene for me. Dallas (and for that matter, New York) summers are brutal, and smelling like I just got drug through the cow-town stockyards while I’m in polite company is like pouring barbecue sauce on your ribs before putting them on the grill. It’s just not done.

Many people have explained in detail about why it isn’t all that healthy to use antiperspirants instead of deodorants on a daily basis. No need to go there, again. I’m going to tell you why it’s not healthy to my nostrils to use them on a daily basis: personal chemistry. You know how some perfumes or scents seem to almost blend with the smell of your skin and are pleasing and yummy, and how some, no matter how good they smell in the bottle, smell like you’re wearing $2 perfume you got from a discount drugstore when on you?  I personally love to wear Chanel, but can’t abide the smell of Poison on me, for instance. They smell good in the bottles, but it’s a whole different story when I spritz some on. Chemicals in products react with the chemicals on your skin and create their own odors.

I’ve noticed that most guys use deodorants as opposed to antiperspirants, and vice-versa for women. I’ve also noticed that during hot weather, many women have a (sorry, sorry, it’s true) musty, odd, almost pungent odor in the ‘pits spot. It’s not a sweat-stink, either. For years I thought it was me, that maybe I just didn’t mix well with certain brands, but I noticed it on other people, too. Men’s reaction to the aluminum smells slightly different, but there’s still that overlying chemical reaction stink. It builds up on clothing, and stains and coats certain fabric like cotton, and it’s almost impossible to get out. Those arm pit stains aren’t sweat, they’re antiperspirant stains. When I put it all together, I started trying lots of natural deodorants, and wasted too much money (and occasionally got a bit stinky) finding efficacious product. I’ll save you the trouble: here are two products that actually work, and don’t cost much, because you don’t have to smell like Coco to smell good, but you don’t want to smell like Conan. (The barbarian, of course. I’m sure Conan O’Brien smells pretty yummy. I’d take a sniff!)

Mennen Regular Deodorant

Many guys will tell you this is their go-to ‘pit rub. It works, smells pretty good, is reliable, easy to find at just about every grocery and drug store, and is fairly cheap at about $3.25. Men don’t like fancy fragrances mixed by some perfumer, they just want to know that when they put their arm around you, you won’t end up taking shallow breaths through your mouth while trying to think of a good way to sneakily spray some deo on the B.O. Ladies, there are also unscented versions, and some fresh versions that don’t smell like you borrowed your dad’s deodorant on a trip home to see the parents. I’d point you to the Mennen ladies non antiperspirant deodorant, but there isn’t any,  proving my point about women and antiperspirants.

Queen Helene Mint Julep Deodorant

Uni-sex, minty, and surprisingly good, Queen Helene is the best of all of the deodorants I tried. I tried 24-hour protection natural this, and 12-hour protection crystal mineral that, and yet, after 2 hours in moderately warm temperatures, I’d start worrying about smelling like chicken soup. Ugh, just gross, right? Never mind waking up in the morning; re-washing was something I did continually throughout the day. I picked this up because I love mint, and I was happily surprised. Even after hard exercise, any odor is fairly minimal, and no funky, musky chemical smell! This almost-forgotten product line reminds me of trips to the beauty supply with my mother when my beauty regime consisted of soap and toothpaste. Their Mint Julep Face Mask seemed so exotic to me at that age. The deodorant is fairly inexpensive with prices ranging from $3 online to $4.50 at natural foods stores like Whole Foods.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!

I have fine, soft, curly hair. For lots of curl-heads out there, that means lots of expensive, curly hair products. As I’ve previously posted, I grew up in a salon, learning hair care from my mother. She was right about not having to spend a lot of money to make your hair look great, as it turns out. What I do is use what’s known as the Curly Girl Method. It sounds like an acting school for hairdressers. What it is, is the best and absolute cheapest way to take care of curly hair, or any hair, really. Before I explain a bit, just get those eeeews out of the way now.

I don’t use shampoo.

Let me clarify: I wash my hair, but not with shampoo.

I know, I know! It sounds like my hair stinks and is oily and stringy and gross. I assure you, it is not any of those things. Sometimes it looks unruly because I ride in my car with the windows down all the time, so I look like I lost a fight in a wind tunnel, but I promise when I don’t do that, my hair is soft, shiny, bouncy and smells great. You can read up on the particulars, but the long, and short, of it is, you don’t use sulfate based shampoos, and you don’t use silicones, which are not water soluble. Silicones also dry your hair out after regular use, which makes you need them in order to not look frizzy and dry. I go the absolute cheapest way and don’t buy the specialty, expensive non-sulfate shampoos. I use cheap non-silicone conditioners to wash my hair. Most commercial conditioners include quite a few surfactants in them in order to ensure a clean rinse. Those same ingredients, plus a gentle, but thorough scalp massage with them in the shower, leave your hair squeaky clean without stripping. This also means your hair products, like gels, need to be silicone free. I’ve tried the expensive curly method hair products, but the cheap ones are almost better, at least for my hair. Again, read up on it to get the ins and outs and learn how to read the ingredients list, but I’m going to give you a few of my favorite cheap hair cair products that leave my tresses shiny and smelling yummy.

VO5 conditioners are silicone free, 99 cents, and clean your hair without stripping. They also have lots of different scents although I keep away from the fake fruit smells.

Freeman Papaya and Lime Shine Conditioner is $2.99 for a largish bottle, smells great, leaves your hair lovely and shiny, but it contains parabens, so if you are trying to avoid them, that could be an issue.

Loreal Studio Line Out of Bed Texturizer is $4.99, easy to find, silicone free and has great hold without too much stiffness. It gives a nice texture to hair that I prefer in the winter, when it’s very dry out. Guys with curly hair will really like this stuff, too.

Loreal Studio Line Silky Curls Gel is $4.99 and has water-soluble silicone, so it can easily rinse out of your hair, and won’t dry it out nearly as much as regular silicone. I like this when it’s especially humid out.

Okay, gentlemen, this following section is about the sort of things that guys are never comfortable reading about so feel free to skip this section. If you are curious, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ladies, you know how sometimes there will be this amazing new idea that turns into a product that changes everything and makes your lives immeasurably easier? Well, this isn’t one of those. This is a product that came out before most of us were born, was mostly ignored, reviled, misunderstood, and then reinvented with modern materials to become a “Best $30 I ever spent” item.

Menstrual Cups

Go ahead, get your eeeews out, again. I admit, I was an ew-er, myself, but after years of using O.B. Super-Plus and wondering if there was a higher absorbency, they were discontinued seemingly forever. Oh, the tragedy! I envisioned disaster. So I did some more research, tried out the Instead Cups again, and, by the way, figured out how to make them bar none the EASIEST ones to use. (If you want to know, send me a message and I’ll explain. It is far too much information to put here, no matter the disclaimer at the top.) The only reason it isn’t my pick for cheapyummyshiny is that at $9 for a box of 24, they aren’t nearly the bargain one of the regular cups is, plus it’s a lot of material to throw out regularly.

Follow this link and do some reading up. I had to think about this for a few weeks before I tried the non-disposable ones, but now that I have, I’m just angry I never tried this before. I can imagine all the worry, stress and money I could have saved. 

I personally use the Diva Cup, and at $30 I think it’s a great deal, because I won’t need to buy anything else but a pack of liners every few months. The cup lasts years, and you don’t need anything else. The other upside is that it reduces your carbon footprint, not to mention not having to dispose of used anything in public, or at other people’s homes.

I won’t explain my experience, exactly, as that blog link I provided is a well-spring of information and experience, and it really did help me quite a bit. What I will say is that during the first cycle with my cup I was a bit frustrated and disappointed until I had the ah-ha! that I read about in some other people’s experiences, and I haven’t once looked back. What it means for me, is I spend a fraction of the money I was spending, and I can run any day of the month, without worrying.

Okay, guys, you can look, again.

You may be financially challenged, have to take care of your clothing because you can’t afford new, and unable to splurge on a new bottle of Chanel, but good grooming and nice hair go a heck of a long way to making you look pretty good. So use soap, use your deo, and if you see Coco (O’Brien, that is), tell him he’s got great hair, and I’m ready to do a sniff test, too.

Cheap Love,