Grandmothers are known for their folksy fixes—some of which are more legitimate than others. Have a cold? Chicken soup may actually reduce inflammation, so go ahead and take her up on a nice big bowl. Have a fussy baby? Think twice before opening the “magic teething whiskey.” Have a bad hair day? Start taking notes, friend.
Yes, grandmothers are the original beauty hackers—from skincare shortcuts to blowout-saving secrets, they know a thing or two about looking good for less. Here are seven simple, straightforward and thrifty vintage beauty tricks the experts (and, likely, your grandma) still use today.
7 Beauty Tricks You Need to Know
Don’t tell your gloss, but shine-free lips are having a moment. The low-key matte look, which first surfaced on Instagram and runways, is now officially out in the wild. If you’re not quite ready to trade in your favorite cream shades, try the trend using this old-school trick from Elizabeth Johnson, co-owner of Delaware-based cosmetics boutique Houpette.
“After applying the lipstick, place a tissue over your lips and let it stick,” she says. “Then, brush setting powder on top of the tissue over your lips. It will mattify the lip color and make it more long-wearing.”
These days, a brow pencil is a beauty basic. But before beauty megastores and one-click shopping, a little repurposed eye shadow did the trick just fine. Despite the hundreds of options available in 2018, Johnson still finds herself subbing in shadow when she wants to perfectly match a client’s hair color.
“There are so many more shades available!” she says. “Take an angled brow brush and apply the eye shadow starting in the middle of the brow arch, working back toward the start of the brow and then, finally, through the brow to the ends.” (Eye shadow is messier than a pencil, so make sure to tap any excess pigment off the brush prior to applying.)
Have unruly brows? Skip the specialized brow gel and use Johnson’s quick fix: lip balm. Take a small amount on your fingertip, dab through your brows, then comb through gently with a clean spoolie brush.
Grease Be Gone
Dry shampoos are a great way to freshen up your hair between washes. But, as your grandmother would be obligated to point out, the main ingredient is usually some type of starch—which was used to extend expensive salon blowouts long before dry shampoo (and hand-held hair dryers) hit the market. Simply sprinkle some organic corn starch at the roots, comb through, and be on your way.
Dark circles have never been in style. Although there are endless illuminators (and, ahem, filters) on the market, take a cue from Old Hollywood makeup artists and try using red lipstick to brighten things up. Johnson recommends opting for a coral shade and dabbing a tiny bit under the eye where the purple undertones are prominent, keeping the application light and sheer. Then, top with your usual under-eye concealer and setting powder. “Voila—dark circles no more!” she says.
Something to Smile About
Before modern teeth whitening treatments, Hollywood stars turned to their kitchen cabinets for a brightening boost. Baking soda, which is still used in many whitening toothpastes, releases free radicals that break down stains on tooth enamel. Brush it on a couple times a week, rinse thoroughly, and smile often.
The Magic Eraser
Grandmom used petroleum jelly for everything—including removing her eye makeup. As strange as it sounds, petroleum jelly swipes off makeup like magic, and at a fraction of the cost of specialized makeup removers.
However, petroleum jelly can easily clog pores and lead to acne, depending on your skin type. And, as a byproduct of the oil refining industry, it’s an unsustainable resource with varying degrees of purity. For a gentler, more Earth-friendly alternative, try coconut oil, suggests Philadelphia-based makeup artist Deanna O’Hanna. Simply whip the coconut oil in your palms to get it to an almost liquid state, then gently rub onto your face, paying special attention to any areas that have more makeup (such as your eyes). Rinse with warm water, pat dry, and say goodbye to those wasteful makeup wipes.
A Freezing Facial
Legendary screen queen Joan Crawford was known for her high-maintenance beauty routine. While we wouldn’t recommend her “secret” to a sculpted jawline—chewing gum, constantly, to strengthen the muscles—her DIY facial stands up today. After removing her makeup, Crawford would splash her face with ice water 25 times to reduce puffiness and tighten skin. Model Kate Moss still swears by the trick and takes it one step further, filling a sink with ice cubes and submerging her face for a quick refresh.