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10 Beauty Products That Are a Waste of Money – Natural Alternatives

It goes without saying that we all want to look and feel our very best. Unfortunately, these desires sometimes drive us so strongly that the latest diet fad or skincare trend can have us whipping out our wallets and plunking down obscene amounts of money, solely in the hopes of dropping a few pounds or looking a few years younger.

But slow down. While some products certainly are worth their price tags, some are not. Learn to look beyond the hype, and avoid spending money on the products that aren’t worth your money. That way, you can better afford those that are.

Beauty Products That Waste Your Money

1. Teeth Whiteners

Among the most common beauty product money-wasters are over-the-counter teeth whiteners. I’m a big tea drinker, and my teeth have always had a bit of a yellow tinge to them. I’ve tried using whitening toothpastes, but have never noticed any benefits. Since whitening toothpaste costs more money than regular toothpaste, I’ve come to see such products as a waste of money.

Teeth-bleaching kits can also be a serious waste of money. This isn’t to say that they don’t work; however, the cost and side effects are entirely undesirable. Using trays and strips to bleach your teeth can lead to discoloration, tooth and gum sensitivity, and even chemical burns.

Natural Alternative
There is a better way to obtain a bright smile on the cheap with no harsh side effects. In a small jar, combine enough hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to make a watery paste, and then add 5 to 10 drops of essential clove oil. Voila! You have an instant brightening toothpaste that keeps your mouth fresh and bacteria-free.

Peroxide and baking soda are both natural bleaching ingredients that offer a bright, even smile with no side effects. You can also use an electric toothbrush to naturally polish teeth.

2. Diet Pills/Shakes/Foods

Most diet pills work in one of two ways: They either use a stimulant to suppress your appetite, or they prevent your body from absorbing fat from your meals. Neither is a healthy or effective way to lose weight. Moreover, the side effects associated with them include anxiety, sleeplessness, loose stools, and abnormal cellular growth in the colon, a precursor to colon cancer.

The majority of commercial diet shakes and meals follow the caloric restriction plan, which makes you lose weight by slow starvation. This plan is unhealthy because your body does not get the nutrients it needs to function properly. Soon, it enters “starvation mode.” You may drop some serious pounds, but this comes at the expense of feeling dizzy, rundown, and tired – and as soon as you start to eat “normally” again, you’ll gain all that weight back and more.

Natural Alternative
To lose weight the natural way, cut junk food from your diet, especially food products containing high-fructose corn syrup, which can trick your body into eating more food. Replace heavily processed foods with fresh fruits and vegetables, and follow a regular exercise plan and stick with it. Implementing such changes in your lifestyle is much healthier and cheaper than any fad diet.

3. Anti-Aging Creams

According to a Consumer Reports Health study reported by CBS News, even the most expensive anti-aging creams have little to no effect on the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.

Natural Alternatives
Aging gracefully does not have to be an expensive (or painful) process. Try some of these natural alternatives for wrinkle-free skin:

  • Dry Skin Brushing. I’ve been using a dry skin brush for several years, and I love the way it makes my skin look and feel. Using a dry skin brush before taking a shower each day helps slough off dead skin, improves circulation, and detoxifies your body. Watch this video on dry skin brushing to get the proper technique.
  • Coconut Oil. This natural oil contains high levels of lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid, which can help ease inflammatory skin conditions. The high antioxidant levels in coconut oil fights the free radicals that cause premature aging. Plus, the gentle exfoliation provided by this oil helps reduce the signs of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Antioxidants. Free radicals are the cellular waste products produced by the body in response to foods, smoking, and pollution. Adding an antioxidant such as vitamin C, CoQ10, selenium, vitamin E, or vitamin A can help reverse the aging process from the inside out, as it scavenges free radicals and moves them safely from your body.

4. Expensive Body Scrubs

Some women believe the more products they use, the better their skin will look. Expensive body scrubs are a waste of money because they may actually speed up the aging process. This is because most commercial skincare products, ranging from lotions, to makeup, to body scrubs, contain dangerous additives, dyes, and perfumes.

Natural Alternatives
My two favorite natural exfoliants are Epsom salt and baking soda, which are both inexpensive and completely safe for your skin. For a quick, gentle facial exfoliation, sprinkle some baking soda onto your hands and add enough water to make a paste. Scrub your face and neck gently, and then splash with cool water to close pores. You can do the exact same with Epsom salt, though it’s better as a body scrub because it can be a bit harsher than baking soda.

Anti Aging Creams

5. Perfume

Many people use perfume and cologne on a daily basis and don’t even consider how unsafe it is. Many commercially-produced scents are nothing but a cocktail of chemicals that can cause everything from allergic reactions to cancer.

Natural Alternative
Instead of dropping $100 or more on the latest and greatest scent, try making your own perfume from essential oils – it’s homemade beauty at it’s most creative. All you need are some dark-colored glass jars, jojoba oil, and the essential oil of the scent you love. Essential oils go a long way, so you may only need to add a few drops to your jar of jojoba to get a pleasant scent that will absorb right into your skin.

6. Store-Brand Makeup

I had skin cancer in 2007. Since I was never a sunbather, the only cause I could deduce is because I had a history of autoimmune disease (celiac disease and ITP) and vitamin deficiencies, as well as a habit of using commercial makeup, self-tanner, and skincare products. According to, common commercial makeup ingredients such as DEA, TEA, cosmetic talc, and pesticides (such as DDT) have all been linked to the development of cancer.

Natural Alternatives
Since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve rid myself of all commercial products and traded them for natural, affordable alternatives – I buy cosmetics from Sun Cat Naturals, Burt’s Bees, and I love the selection, as well as the way my skin looks and feels with natural cosmetics. These are just the products I use – there are literally hundreds of companies dedicated to providing safe, affordable, natural makeup.

7. Cellulite Creams

I’ve had cellulite on and off since I was in my early 20s, and if you have it, you’re one of millions of women. Cellulite is just fat deposits concentrated in one place, and whether you’re a size 2 or a size 20, you can develop it.

Cellulite creams are expensive beauty treatments that are frequently hit or miss. These creams usually “work” to reduce the appearance of cellulite by either filling it in with collagen or using caffeine to dry out the skin, making it temporarily firmer. They do nothing to actually eliminate cellulite – they just mask it temporarily.

Natural Alternatives
Two things I’ve done that have worked to help reduce my cellulite are a coffee-cellophane wrap and dry skin brushing. Dry skin brushing works to improve circulation and remove toxins from your body, resulting in smoother, clearer skin.

8. Shave Minimizing Lotions

The chemicals contained in shave minimizing lotions may make body and facial hair finer, lighter, and softer, but they do not actually prevent hair from growing back any faster, which is what such products imply. Plus, as with the makeup and perfume, these lotions and creams often contain unhealthy additives that can cause serious health problems down the line.

Natural Alternative
For some people, hair simply grows back faster than for others. If you want to reduce how often you shave, you can try “sugaring.” Sugaring is a natural method of hair removal that uses only sugar, water, and lemon juice. Most say it’s less painful than conventional waxing.

Shave Minimizing Lotions

9. Hair Growth Products

According to Dr. Bernard Cohn, products such as Rogaine do not regrow hair, but rather increase the fullness of existing hair by 20% to 30%. This simply makes hair appear thicker and fuller without any actual regrowth.

Natural Alternatives
The best way to treat hair loss is to first discover what’s causing it. Undiagnosed gluten intolerance made my hair fall out in clumps due to nutritional deficiency. Other autoimmune conditions, such as thyroid disease, lupus, anemia, and diabetes, can also contribute to falling hair. Stress is also a common factor in sudden hair loss.

Addressing any underlying medical conditions with a trusted healthcare provider can help you get to the root of your problem and determine ways to solve it. By doing so, you can improve your health and avoid wasting money on “hair treatments” that don’t really do what they promise.

10. Skin Lotion

That fancy bottle of high-priced skincare lotion may make promises of healthier, younger-looking skin – but what’s really in the bottle? Most commercial cosmetic and skincare products contain a host of irritating chemicals such as parabens, lanolin, and cosmetic-grade talc that may not only dry out skin, but cause allergic skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Natural Alternative
Coconut oil is chock full of antioxidants and skin-soothing vitamins. It absorbs quickly into your skin and leaves it feeling smooth, supple, and moisturized.

Final Word

In addition to taking a second look at the products you use, consider what you allow your children to use. Are you spending a lot of money on unhealthy chemical shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and play makeup? If your child has allergies or behavioral problems, it may be something they’re inhaling or getting on their skin. In addition to causing allergic reactions and cancer, many cosmetic chemicals act as neurotoxins, which can result in behavioral anomalies.

Have you ever paid good money for a beauty product that didn’t work?

Jaime A. Heidel
Jaime A. Heidel is a Connecticut native who recently moved to North Carolina. She's a published fiction writer who has recently made her way into the non-fiction and blogging world. She has a passion for natural health, career advice, and frugal financing. When she's not writing, she enjoys hiking, reading, and playing The Sims, which after years of refusing to play video games, she's become addicted to. Her holistic health website, I Told You I Was Sick, is dedicated to helping those suffering with mystery symptoms find natural ways to heal.

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