My vanity is one of my favorite places in all the land. Stocked with five perfumes, two bronzers, and enough hairspray, nail buffers, and skin solutions to tend the entire Miss America pageant, I have a product for everything from stress breakouts to hangover camouflage.
And none of it does any good when I’m at a guy’s house or the airport and my hair goes flat. Here are seven quick and easy fixes you can tackle with household goods.
The Situation: Dull Skin, a Lurking Holiday Breakout
A fifty cent box of baking soda will brighten your skin after a rough night, or simply perk up your complexion if you’re stuck at a relative’s house with hard water. Smuggle it out of the kitchen, pour a tablespoon into your palm, and buff over very wet skin as a gentle exfoliant. It won’t irritate your face, and can be used over your entire body if you forgot a loofah and need to feel extra soft for a hometown hookup.
For rougher patches, like your elbows, use 1/2 cup brown or white sugar. Bonus points if you can add a squeeze of lemon juice, smashed strawberries, honey, or olive oil.
The Situation: Red Acne
A crushed up aspirin does wonders for redness and pimples. Michelle Phan did it best circa 2009. Uncoated aspirin is key, which is probably what your grandparents have under the sink.
The Situation: Broken Nails
Traveling can be rough on your manicure. If you’re at a well-stocked home, round up a teabag and clear nail polish (or, in a pinch, super glue). Snip a tiny piece from the teabag material, place on nail, cover in clear coat.
Stuck at a bar or restaurant? Sand off rough edges and snags with the back of a matchbook when you can’t find a nail file.
The Situation: Dirty Hair
Dry shampoo is, essentially, starch + fragrance in a can. If you need to spruce your hair before brunch, tap cornstarch or baby powder into your palms, rub together, and run through hair starting at the roots. Repeat for more fullness. Brunettes: add a sprinkle of unsweetened cocoa powder to avoid a white cast.
If your hair is wigging out from a climate or water change (think Georgia to NYC, or a weekend ski trip) mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a 20 oz cup of warm water. Pour over hair in the shower after shampooing and conditioning, work it through, and rinse. ACV rebalances your scalp and will calm itchies from weather, hard water, or unfriendly hotel products.
The Situation: Oily Skin
Brown paper towels, like the kind found in cheap restaurant and airport bathrooms, make excellent oil absorbent sheets. Brown paper napkins (hellooo, Chipotle and Starbucks) work even better.
The Situation: Less than Party-Ready
Didn’t plan bring your party makeup? Hit any cheap eyeliner pencil with a lighter flame for a split second, and you’ve got intensely colored, blendable, sweatproof eyeliner that will not budge through a night of dancing.
The Situation: Stubble or Ingrown Hairs
If you need a substitute for shaving cream, try baby oil or hair conditioner. If you’re lucky enough to be stuck where men are present, his rusty can of Barbasol is probably gentler than what you have in your own shower.
For ingrown hairs, teen acne astringent helps kill bacteria and calm angry follicles. In a pinch, swab freshly shaved areas with 50/50 vodka and water. A quick sting beats a week of irritation.
It never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve when you’re away from home. Let us know yours!