Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

What have we learned by surviving the recession, the housing market meltdown, unemployment rates in the double digits, and a volatile political season?

Our family has learned that you can do more with less. We have learned to prioritize what’s really important and that most of the “stuff” of life is not really important, especially if you’re buying it because of the brand, the label, or the promises made.

We have learned that simple is best, in all things.

One of the biggest money wasters (besides the weight loss industry) is the beauty industry. While I wish more women would simply be happier with who they are in their natural state, beauty is one place where simple is best.

Stand in the shampoo aisle at the store sometime and read the ingredients. You’ll find there’s not much difference between the one you pay $8-10 for and the one you can get for $1.29. But it’s not just the shampoo where you can save money and shop smart. There are many natural beauty solutions that don’t cost anything and work way better than the $30-per-ounce wrinkle cream you think you need.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Sunscreen. If you really want to prevent aging, protect your skin from too much sun exposure with the use of sunscreen. I don’t believe in buying the uber-expensive made-for-your-face, $30-for-five-ounces sunscreen, either. I buy sunscreen made for babies…it’s the gentlest you can buy and much cheaper per ounce than the fancy stuff.

2. Vaseline. Skip the expensive moisturizers and wrinkle creams and use vaseline. It’s very inexpensive per ounce, can be used safely around your eyes, on your neck, and even on your feet (lather your feet in vaseline, slip sandwich baggies over them, then tube socks. You’ll never need a pumice stone again). Vaseline also makes a great lip gloss, and you can treat your hands the same way you treat your feet if they get rough in the dry winter air.

3. Olive oil. Not just a delicious salad dressing condiment, olive oil is perfect for home manicures (soak your fingers in a small amount of olive oil to treat the cuticles, strengthen nails, and moisten your fingers). Olive oil is also the perfect deep conditioner for your hair.

4. Baking soda and peroxide. Two of the cheapest ingredients on earth combine to create the perfect teeth whitener and breath freshener. This inexpensive concoction also works to replace nasty chemical cleaners in your home.

5. Obsessing over removing every scrap of hair permanently from your body is pricey. Instead, save laser, electrolysis, and waxing for very visible or troubling spots, and do home waxing or shaving on the rest.

6.  Rely on natural, easily available ingredients for home spa treatments: honey and sugar makes a great facial scrub, coffee grounds work better than any store-bought treatment to minimize cellulite, lemon juice is an excellent astringent.


The best beauty regimen doesn’t take money. Drink water, exercise, and eat right. Fruits and veggies are full of the vitamins and minerals that keep your skin healthy and your cells strong; water helps flush toxins from your body to keep you looking your best, and exercise keeps you youthful. Oh – and the best way to prevent wrinkles?