Pretty for pennies: Smart beauty tips for nurses!


Taking care of yourself while taking care of others isn’t always easy, costing you time as well as money. Featured in the Fall 2010 issue of Scrubs, from appearance pros and nurses in the know, smart strategies for skimping on primping.
Less Is More

• To keep her complexion clear and youthful, Nancy Beck, a critical care nurse in Columbia, Mo., relies on the ultra-pricey SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic®—she just uses a lot less than thedirections mandate. “My dermatologist told me I can use it every two to three days and have the same benefit,” Beck says. “You probably won’t read that on the company website!” Apply the same strategy to your own beauty routines. Do you really need to “lather, rinse, repeat” or will one wash cyclegive you squeaky-clean hair? You may even want to shampoo every other day or every two days, since frequent washing can strip hair of its natural oils.

• Use a little less makeup. For instance, apply foundation only on blemishes and discolorations rather than on your entire face and you’ll prevent the aging effect that commonly comes with harsh hospital lights.

• By using only half a bottle of hair color at a time, Maggie Perez, a school nurse in Los Fresnos, Texas, is able to get two treatments for her white hair instead of one. “I also use a 10-minute application, which works fine and saves time as my life is so full of activity between working and homemaking.”

Rely on Refills

• Packaging runs up the cost of any product. The next time you’re out of a must-have makeup, see if it’s available in a streamlined version. “A refill is about $3 to $5 cheaper than a replacement,” says Eunie Lee, a WHAT KIND? nurse in Pasadena, Calif., whose favorites include M.A.C, Stila and Laura Mercier. “I buy approximately six to eight eye shadows and blushes a year, so that’s about $18 to $40 saved.” Many other major brands also offer refills.

•  Lee depends on UNII Palette, a magnetized makeup organizer that consolidates makeup refills of all sorts in a single slim, mirrored case ( “I’m up early and need to be on the go in a hurry,” Lee says. “This compact saves me time.”

Invest in What You Wear Every Day

• A good haircut

• A classic coat or jacket

• A purse you really love

Lip Tip

“YOYO lip gloss clips easily onto my ID badge so I never have to go searching,” says Anne Park, a WHAT KIND? nurse from Queens, N.Y. “I love the sheer texture, and at about $3 each, I can easily afford it.”

Foil a Faux Pas

• Nothing ruins a first impression as quickly as pantyhose that bags or snags. A splurge on Hot Sox starts at just $4.50, but you’ll look like a million bucks. Available at

Regular Massages—No Kidding!

“I get them at a massage school for a lower price,” says Karon White Gibson, an ER and psychiatric nurse in Chicago. While the atmosphere of a school may lack the luxury of a salon, services are performed by near-graduates working under the supervision of instructors—and you can’t beat the cost. Example: A 55-minute therapeutic massage at the New School for Massage, Bodywork & Healing in Chicago costs $35, a fraction of the usual fee (

Make It Last

“Extend the shelf life of cosmetic products by following a few simple rules,” says Clarky Davis, aka TheDebt Diva, of CareOne Credit Counseling.

• Never “pump” your mascara wand—this lets air in and dries it out.

• Store fragrance in a cool, dark place instead of on your dresser.

• The same goes for storing nail polish—and keep it capped tightly in an upright position to prevent discoloration.

Notes on Nails

• “I use discount coupons for manicures and I always ask for clear pink, which doesn’t show chips or defects for a long time,” says nurse Gibson.

• “I do my own manicures to save money,” says nurse Perez, who soaks her nails in baby shampoo with a bit of water to soften her cuticles. “I do it while I’m watching the TV shows I record while I’m at work during the day.”

Scent, Condition and Moisturize at DIY Prices

• Help for hospital skin. “Nurses are exposed to bacteria and other impurities in the air, which is why they often have complexion problems,” says cosmetic chemist Elina Fedotova, founder of the Association of Holistic Skin Care Practitioners. But there’s no need to blow your wad on a fancy facial or specially formulated soaps. “Products that contain sodium laurel sulfate strip the skin, so I recommend cleansing the face with kefir or organic yogurt, which have probiotics to neutralize skin and eliminate toxins and environmental pollutants.” Just dampen your face, massage in a small amount and rinse. If your skin is on the oily side, add a pinch of baking soda.

• Soothe skin and moisturize with coconut oil, which you can get in the grocery store, advises nurse Gibson, who uses it as her face cream (a hot tip a patient gave to a fellow nurse). “I check out products from Dollar Tree, too—they’re much less expensive than anywhere else,” she adds. Go to, where everything costs less than a dollar, to find a location near you.

• Banish double-shift eyes. No need for an expensive treatment or pricey products. Simply brew espresso or strong green tea, then freeze in ice cube trays. When you need to de-puff, gently massage a cube around the eyes in circular motions. “Caffeine stimulates micro-circulation and has diuretic effects that can release accumulated fluid under the eyes,” explains Fedotova. It also helps reduce dark circles.

Top Treatments at Rock-Bottom Prices

It’s hard enough to squeeze in time for a haircut, let alone the occasional mani-pedi. The last thing you need is to squeeze your budget, too.

• “Take advantage of the client referral programs many salons offer,” suggests celebrity hairstylist Billy Lowe of the Billy Lowe Hair Studio in West Hollywood, Calif. Turn friends on to your favorite salon and nab discounts or other incentives. Lowe’s salon, for instance, gives $25 off a future visit for each client referral. “Refer enough people, and it might just get you a free service or two,” he says.

• Sign up for online coupons and discounts for beauty booty and spa treatments., for example, delivers daily deals in more than 50 cities to your inbox. does the same, and helps you buy products at prices you can afford.

• Shop smart and bag name-brand products. Nurse Nancy Beck, for one, no longer gets skin care products from her derm. “I can buy a bottle in his office for around $130 or buy six samples with the same total volume on eBay for about $35 to $45.”
• Nurse Gibson buys her fragrances at an outlet near her home (Marlena’s in Chicago). “The packaging may be defective, but they still smell great.”

• Who has time for a long soak in a tub? Relax instantly like Sharon Morris, a peri-operative nurse from Kalispell, Mont: “I turn off the lights and light a hazelnut candle. It smells wonderful and reminds me of a latte.” Or try a few drops of lavender or chamomile essential oil, known for their relaxing properties, on your pillow. Sweet dreams!

• Scrubs’ choice for crack-free, smooth lips? Natural, earth-and-pocketbook friendly Medicated Lip Balm ($4) or Beeswax Lip Balm ($3) from Burt’s Bees. Forgot yours at home today? Snag a smidgen of Vaseline at work.


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