Verity Johnson: I tried the weirdest budget beauty hacks so you don't have to

OPINION: It's not hard to feel like you're being conned when you stand in a supermarket holding an elf sized, $55 bottle of some serum made with fairy dust and bull's testicles that promises to cure everything wrong with your face. You know you're going to get it home, slap it on, and see precisely no difference in anything except your bank balance. 

And because we're tired of being had by sparkly toothed brand salespeople, I set out to find the cheapest, most effective DIY beauty hacks that we've got out. And as it turns out, they tend to be somewhat weird. Exfoliating with a potato, anyone? 

1. Soap in your eyebrows

Brow gels are like Apple watches. You get one because it supposedly looks good, you just can't figure out how to use it. The logic here is to save money on those ridiculous gels and get down and DIY dirty. Use a mascara wand, roll it in soap and then comb it through your brows. Instant fierceness. And in a brow obsessed world where we spend more on brows than skin care,  $164.4 million USD worldwide,  this could be a big dollar saver. 

Does it work?

Yes, except you potentially will have white flecked, exceedingly stiff and heavy brows. You may feel like you have two ageing, fat hamsters stuck above your eyes. However in terms of getting body and shape then they certainly beat brow gels. The bad news is that you shouldn't do this very frequently. Top beauty experts reckon that while it's good in a pinch, you'll find that the PH of soap is highly alkaline whereas your skin and brows are mildly acidic. Using alkaline products on your face risks drying out your skin, flakiness and interfering with the growth cycle. So unless you want premature brow baldness, only use this technique the week before payday when you're dining on tuna.


Eyebrows with soap in them.
Eyebrows with soap in them. Photo credit: Newshub

2. Exfoliate with a potato 

So the internet is full of the benefits of using potatoes to exfoliate, it does everything from lighten discolouration to supposedly hydrating and moisturising. This beauty hack suggests cutting your potato in half, wetting it, dipping it in sea salt and exfoliating with it. It's particularly touted as a purse friendly pedicure solution.

Does it work?

No. What a shambolic excuse for a beauty treatment. Number one, it made my skin redder and angrier than a NZ First voter on immigration. And according to dermatologists, exfoliants that leave your skin irritated can dry out the skin cells and lead to even more oil production. Wonderful. Number two, it didn't make my skin feel buffed and polished. I just felt oily. Lastly, all day I smelt like a root vegetable. 

3. Red lipstick under your eyes

This is designed for all the women like me who have heavy black circles beneath your eyes. It's a budget alternative to splashing out on heavy foundation that looks like you covered your face in cake batter. You apply it with a brush over the darkest part, then blend your cheap concealer over like normal. It was developed largely from Youtubers who have too much time to think about these things. 

Red lipstick under the eyes...
Red lipstick under the eyes... Photo credit: Newshub

Does it work?

Mmmmm. Yes, and no. So the first problem is it takes about 45 minutes to do this. The initial layer of red blends terribly with your concealer and you end up covering your face in pink goo. You look half human, half powerpuff girl. You then have to heap on layers and layers of concealer and foundation to cover this. Okay, when you're finished, you do have a nice glow. Is it stupendously more effective than regular concealer? Not really. Do you have 45 minutes spare each morning to do this? Certainly not. 

4. Baby powder in your eyelashes 

Don't want to splash out $15 for a pair of false eyelashes that you'll use once, get home, drunkenly tear off and leave to crust over forever on your bathroom shelf? This is a trick for adding enough volume to your eyelashes to pass them off as the perfect falsies. You get a pinch of baby powder and rub it through your naked lashes. Then you apply mascara like normal. 

Adding the talcum powder.
Adding the talcum powder. Photo credit: Newshub.

Does it work?

Yes. Oh yes. This is the most useful of all of these homestyle hacks. Admittedly it is fiddly to apply, and halfway through you will look as though you have two snowglobes for eyes. But persevere through the blizzard and you will end up with voluptuous lashes. There's always a space for falsies, for those days when you want to feel like a Real Housewife. But otherwise this puts the va va voom in volume. 

After mascara and baby powder.
After mascara and baby powder. Photo credit: Newshub

5. Hemorrhoid cream under your eyes to treat bags

This is a trick inherited from years of tired TV journalists who need to crawl on camera at 5am. Good ol' Anusoil. The hemorrhoid cream is used to reduce puffiness and bags beneath your eyes. The chemicals of the cream restrict the blood flow to veins, decreasing the swelling, tightening your skin and banishing those bags. So if you've got a job interview and your face looks like a puffafish... apply the anus oil. 

Does it work?

Yes. But it's the KFC of beauty, so good but so so bad. It did reduce short term puffiness for me. However, the long term effects of using hemorrhoid cream causes skin thinning, fragility and enlarged blood vessels. Not to mention the fact that this stings like a bitch when it gets in your eyes. I also applied my cream over my inch deep concealer. This was before reading the commands of dermatologists to NEVER apply it over your make up or it will cause awful breakouts. This, combined with the itching sensation, means I didn't film the process because I was too busy scrubbing it off and screaming in the work toilets.

6. Drawing an X on your lips to make them plumper

If you can't shell out for botox, this is supposedly the solution. You draw an X with lip liner on your top lip, drawing a line diagonally down from the top of each peak of your cupid's bow. Then you apply your lipstick over the top, shading in by section downwards to the lip. This makes your lips look fuller adding contours to them. It's the boxed wine of the botox world, cheap but effective. Supposedly.  

Draw a cross with liner.
Draw a cross with liner. Photo credit: Newshub

Does it work?

This is utter crap. 

So what would I take away from this timely, sticky experiment? Don't trust Youtube. And just spend money on proper product so you don't spend hours pasting random goo on your face.


Verity Johnson is a Newshub opinion columnist and feature writer