Monday, June 5, 2017

My Cheap Favorites: the best bath, body, and hair products for $10 and under

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It's been over a year since I wrote my last cheap favorites master post! I still stand by my choices there, and I don't think I'd change any of them now if I had to do it over. I've had in mind to write this additional post all along, but since I'm admittedly not that picky about products in this category, it hasn't felt so pressing. Still, maybe there's something here for you to discover (or something you can suggest to me!).

Tree Hut Almond and Honey Body Wash

Favorite Body Washes: I don't really take baths, so all I've got here are shower products. My criteria for a good body wash or shower gel are simple: gets me clean, doesn't dry out my skin, smells good. There are lots of affordable options that check all of those boxes. I love almond fragrance when it's done well, and Tree Hut Almond and Honey Body Wash does it well. It's also very moisturizing and has a lovely texture. Luxurious, even. I like this so much that I haven't tried any of the other scents, though I suppose I should. The Almond variety is a bit difficult to find in stores. I got this one at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $6.

My Cheap Favorites: the best bath, body, and hair products $10 and under

Softsoap is more ubiquitous, and if you like fruity fragrances, the Pomegranate and Mango is so good. The little beady things you can see in the bottle aren't plastic microbeads, by the way; they're just encapsulated "moisture beads" that dissolve. I have noticed that since people have started objecting to microbeads, they've reduced the density of those bits in the body wash, I assume to avoid scaring people off. I doubt they really had much effect, anyway. You can get this just about anywhere for $3 or less.

At the super cheap end is Suave's Almond Verbena body wash for around $2. It also hits all of the marks for me and has more of a citrusy-herb scent than the sweet almond of the Tree Hut gel.

Favorite Washcloth: I really prefer Salux cloths to loofas or plastic poofs. They're a little scrubbier, they're easier to reach your back with, and I delude myself into thinking that they harbor less bacteria. Even if not, you can wash them in a gentle laundry cycle without their coming undone like a poof would. I usually get mine from Amazon for about $7 for a pack of 3, though if you have an Asian grocery or a supermarket with a good international section, you may find them cheaper there. I also cut mine in half and seal the raw edge with a lighter (do this at your own risk, but since they're plastic, they'll melt rather than catching on fire), because the big cloth is a little unwieldy for me.

My Cheap Favorites: the best bath, body, and hair products $10 and under

Favorite Body Lotion: I confess that I am super not picky when it comes to body lotion. In fact, I have a huge bottle of Suave Moroccan Infusion lotion that is basically swamp water at this point. Whenever I come across a moisturizer or eye cream or hand lotion that I don't like, I squeeze it into that bottle and shake it up. The original fragrance is strong enough to drown out the rest.

But when I recently had some sort of allergic reaction or dermatitis breakout on my legs, I picked up CVS's knockoff of Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($9), and it's great. It's very soothing and gentle and unscented. It also makes a good hand lotion/cream. I think any generic version of this product (or the real deal) would work similarly, so long as you compare the ingredients and make sure they're mostly the same.

O'Keeffe's Healthy Feet

Favorite Hand Cream and Foot Creams: I'm repeating these from my skincare favorites post, because they fit here just as well. My favorite hand cream is the effective, deliciously scented Caldrea Ginger Pomelo ($10). And if you have rough feet, O'Keeffe's Healthy Feet ($7-8) is a miracle. They sell it in a tube now too, which I'm going to opt for when my current tub is empty.

Mitchum Advanced Control

Favorite Deodorant: The defining quality of an excellent deodorant, in my opinion, is that I never have to think about it. I've been using Mitchum Advanced Control ($4) for several years, and it always works extremely well (better than "clinical" antiperspirants). I never notice how it feels or smells. I prefer the Pure Fresh scent, because it's the least obtrusive.

My Cheap Favorites: the best bath, body, and hair products $10 and under

Favorite Shampoo and Conditioner: Judging by my hair, I have no business recommending hair products. However, if your hair is similar to mine--i.e. fine, not thin, straight--and you are all about low maintenance, these things might work well for you too.

I'd recommend trying just about any shampoo/conditioner from L'Oréal's Advanced Haircare line ($6-9) (not the Pure line, reviewed here). Unlike a lot of other brands, every different variety in that line is genuinely distinct. They perform differently, feel different, and smell different. And they are effective in doing whatever they claim to do. I've tried at least half a dozen varieties, and I reviewed the Extraordinary Oil products here. From Tresemmé, I specifically recommend the Moisture Rich conditioner, which always make my hair very soft and smooth, and it's less than $4 for a big bottle.

(Everyone always recommends that Aussie 3-Minute Miracle Moist conditioner, but that stuff does absolutely nothing for my hair.)

John Frieda 7-Day Volume In-Shower Treatment is $4 from Amazon

Favorite Hair Treatment: John Frieda 7-Day Volume In-Shower Treatment is $4 from Amazon. This stuff really works well for my hair type. Full review here.

Batiste Neon Lights and Bare Dry Shampoo

Favorite Dry Shampoo: I've been using a lot more dry shampoo since I colored my hair red. Red dye tends to fade quickly, and the main causes of fading are sun and water. I've cut down my hair washing to every third day, and I use Batiste on the other two days. I have what I guess you could call combination hair, with oily roots and dry lengths, so dry shampoo is ideal for me. I like Batiste best of the many, many dry shampoos I've used. My favorite scent is Cherry (reviewed here), but I'm using Bare and Neon Lights right now, and I like them both as well. Bare is definitely not unscented, though it's slightly more subtle than the other Batiste fragrances. It's a generic floral. Neon Lights is more strongly scented, but I'm not sure I quite get jasmine and pomegranate from it. More just vaguely fruity and floral. But just like Cherry, they do all the things I need a dry shampoo to do: absorbs oil, doesn't make my hair feel rough, doesn't make my hair look dull, smells good, doesn't leave a white residue, and doesn't create excessive build-up on my scalp. The cheapest place I've found Batiste is Target for $6. Amazon sometimes has the same price, but it fluctuates. I got mine at Ulta with a BOGO 50% off deal (which is still active at the time of posting) and makes them the same price as Target's when you buy two.

As for styling products . . . . eh. I don't have favorites at this point. L'Oréal also makes decent shine/smoothing serums, if that's what you're looking for.

The "Wet" Brush

Favorite Hair Brush: My hair breaks very easily, but I have to at least comb through it when it's wet or it will dry a complete mess. The "Wet" Brush (why the quotation marks??) is some kind of magic for $9, and it slides through my hair much less violently than anything else (like a wide-toothed comb, for instance). I've heard good things about it even from people with thick, curly hair.

My Cheap Favorites: the best bath, body, and hair products $10 and under

Favorite Hair Accessories: These coily hair ties ($6 for 6) have changed my life. I'm not exaggerating! I used to almost never put my hair up, and now I always, always have it up when I'm at home, and half of the time when I'm away from home too. They hold a messy bun in place very securely without pulling the hair so tightly back so that it's hard to smooth on top of my head and/or gives me a headache. Ok, so they are more expensive than your usual hair elastics, and I get way more grumpy when 50% of them disappear within a week of buying them, but for me they're still worth it.

The Goody Spin Pins ($6; reviewed here) are also great, but require slightly more effort and skill.

So, any quibbles? What did I miss? What should I avoid in the future?

(Here are my cheap makeup favorites and my cheap skincare favorites.)


  1. Have you tried Tree Hut's body scrubs? I've been obsessed with their Brazilian Nut scent from that line for years. It works really well, it's a great value, and it smells like chocolate!

    1. No, I haven't tried anything else from Tree Hut, which is strange, considering how much I love this body wash! Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Michaels (yes, the craft store) has coily hair ties at 6 for $3.99. If they're not on sale, then you can use their ubiquitous 40% off coupon to reduce the price even more. ( Love your blog!


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