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Vitamin C Serum photo credit Kelly Magyarics.jpg
A quick Google search led me to recipes for DIY serum using Vitamin C powder, vegetable glycerine and bottled water. (Image: Kelly Magyarics)

10 beauty hacks and money-saving secrets for your skincare routine

Can you be a beauty junkie on a budget? Absolutely. Just incorporate these insider tips and wallet-friendly products and you’ll have more coin for summer fun.

Make your own Vitamin C serum

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a magical ingredient for skin: it’s full of antioxidants, boosts collagen production and can even reverse the effects of sun damage. If you haven’t already added a Vitamin C serum to your regimen, now’s the time. For awhile I had been purchasing this serum; while not exactly expensive, the bottle is relatively small and I found myself ordering it a tad too frequently. A quick Google search led me to recipes for DIY serum using Vitamin C powder, vegetable glycerine and bottled water. A starter recipe calls for mixing half a teaspoon of the powder with 1 teaspoon distilled water and 2 tablespoons vegetable glycerine; be sure to store it in a darkly-colored bottle as it tends to oxidize rather quickly.

Wash your face with a reusable cloth instead of disposable wipes

Sometimes I cheat and remove my makeup with wipes, especially after a late night or when I’m feeling too lazy for my nightly 10-step routine. But they can be harsh and full of drying alcohol and chemicals. And traditional washcloths can be breeding grounds for germs if you use them multiple times before washing. The solution? Raw Cloth, a biodegradable face cloth derived from 100 percent wood fibers sourced from sustainably managed forests. When you wet a Raw Cloth it becomes incredibly soft, and when you are done it rinses 99.9 percent bacteria free. While it doesn’t seem cheap at first glance (two cloths cost $22), you can use them more than 1,000 times. In the long run that’s definitely cost-effective.

Eek out all of the goodness from a sheet mask

Sheet masks are the bomb! After you’ve had one on your face for the recommended 20 minutes, a LOT of those great ingredients still remain in the mask. Don’t throw it away! Rub it on your neck, arms, legs, waist and back, then use your hands to work it into your skin.

Keep a tin of German Nivea on your bedside table

Mention Nivea Creme and thoughts of your mother (or grandmother) slathering it on her face like cold cream may come to mind. The American version tends to be greasier and sets on top of your skin rather than be absorbed, but its German counterpart is way better. The secret lies in the fact that the base for that one is paraffin rather than petroleum, which makes a world of difference. Not only is it absorbed better, but it feels way creamier and won’t clump or cake up over time. You can use it in a zillion different ways, from making feet, elbows and knee softer to keeping your hands and cuticles more gorgeous. At $10 a tin, you won’t be sorry; just be sure to search online sites for the version produced in Hamburg. Das ist gut.

Skip pricey makeup setting powder and use this brand the pros swear by

I used to use Kat von D Lock-It Setting Powder in shade translucent after applying my foundation to set my face; but $31 a pop seemed a bit much. Then I interviewed Alexis Arenas and she turned me on to Mehron Makeup Setting Powder ($9/1 oz). It works just as well at a fraction of the cost and has absolutely no added color, meaning that it won’t conflict with your foundation or tinted primer.

Hair in need of texture? Use dry shampoo

There are lots of designer salon brands out there hawking texturizing products costing upwards of $20. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: dry shampoo works just as well. My favorite is Dove Refresh + Care Dry Shampoo, which costs a whopping $5 a can. Just blow dry as usual, then lift your roots, spray and use your hands to scrunch sections of hair and add volume. Continue to style with a curling wand or straightening iron, if desired.

Wear these under-eye masks to keep your eyes looking fresh on long flights

I know there are fliers who go into full-on beauty mode and wear sheet masks on long flights. I admit I’m a bit vain for that because I don’t think my fellow travelers want to see me sans makeup and looking creepy somewhere over Russia. But what I will do is use these 24K gold / collagen under-eye masks, which don’t mess with your face but keep your eyes from looking tired and puffy.

Buy this one lip liner pencil that will match pretty much all of your lipsticks

I’m addicted to MAC lipsticks, and it seems every time I go to the MAC store to buy a new shade and ask for a liner to match, the clerks suggest one liner: Burgundy. Now I’m not going to tell you that it works with every lipstick they sell, but it goes with a lot of them. At $18, the really long pencil that goes on smoothly and does not bleed, crease or fade is a veritable good deal.

Moroccan oil is just as good for your lips as your hair

The hair care aisle is flooded with shampoos, conditioners and serums and full of Argan oil, sourced from the seeds of the Argan tree native to Morocco. Moroccan Magic is a USDA-organic, cruelty-free, women-owned lip balm company. It delivers an ultra-hydrating formula of Argan and essential oils and herb, and comes in cool flavors like lemon thyme, lavender vanilla, coconut almond, elderberry and manuka honey. The price? Just $3.99 each, not much more than ChapStick or Blistex. I keep one on my nightstand, another in my makeup bag, another in my handbag -- you get the idea.

This drugstore brand makes a blush that’s a dead ringer for a cult favorite

NARS Orgasm Blush is one of the most popular cheek tinters on the market, with rabid devotees. I love it, too--I’m just not as big a fan of the $30 price tag. Luckily, Physicians Formula Powder Palette Mineral Glow Pearls Blush in Natural Pearl is a worthy stand-in at a third of the price. Because it’s comprised of different shades of mineral powder, it actually goes on with more nuance and dimension, too.