Guilty of moving on from a formula without making much of a dent? Loot your beauty leftovers and discarded products and discover dozens of new uses for them
When it comes to sins of not finishing every last skincare formula, tube of lipstick or eyeshadow, no one is innocent. We can’t help it—not every product works the way it promises, makes our skin feel fabulous or flatters our coloring. As for all those discarded jars and tubes, esthetician Sara Turbeville, owner of Skin Santa Monica, has deemed them “orphans” (a name that popped into her head while “guilting out” over her vast collection of unloved, abandoned items) and devised a system of reusing them on other body parts to much better results.
While researching ingredients for her own soon-to-launch skin toner, Turbeville had a eureka moment. “Several times I’ve bought real clunkers and felt awful about the wasted money, so I thought, Why not use this up as a luxury hand and décolleté cream? Guilt assuaged, the product was happily used while oft ignored parts got TLC.” Now, just to be clear, we’re not necessarily encouraging using Crème de la Mer head to toe, à la Jennifer Lopez.
Turbeville suggests trying a new product for at least a week to be sure you like—or dislike—the way it feels on your skin, with the exception of exfoliating products, where you can tell after one or two uses. After that, she has a new-use answer to practically every orphaned formula one can think of. “One of the most likely products to become an orphan—and the easiest to transition—is facial moisturizer,” she says. If it’s too greasy for your face, apply to your body; if it’s too greasy for the body, it’s perfect for a nighttime foot application covered by cozy cotton socks or as a “bedtime-only uber-rich hand cream.” A too-light moisturizer should be banished to the fridge until summertime when it is the perfect weight.
Exfoliating products, both gritty and acidic, are great for most body parts, including chest, arms, legs, hands, feet and even the butt. A glycolic-acid face cream Turbeville bought was too potent for her face, for example, so she began using it nightly on her feet, plus two to three times a week on her décolleté and tops of hands for silky-smooth skin. Eye cream is another common orphan, since a too-thick texture can lead to whiteheads and breakouts. Instead, try it as cuticle cream, eye makeup remover or use a teeny dab to tame flyaway hairs, soften unruly eyebrows or as a lip moisturizer.
“Facial serums gone awry are super for the neck, chest and décolleté, arms and hands,” says Turbeville. “Ditto for acid-containing products, but be careful not to overuse these if you’re heading into the sun, because it can make you even more vulnerable to damage from UV rays.” She applies these “prized beauty orphans” post-shower on her décolleté, “a highly visible skin area that usually gets neglected,” for several minutes. The skin star also suggests using castoff shampoo as body wash, hand soap or lingerie wash; orphaned conditioner as shaving cream; and applying oily body lotion in the shower for the perfect amount of hydration after rinsing.
When it comes to makeup, lipstick as blush might sound de rigueur, but Turbeville swears by using too dark or light foundation to contour or highlight, translucent face powder as dry shampoo or old brown eyeshadow to conceal gray roots between colorings, applied with a spooly mascara brush. Keep in mind though, that after two years—the standard shelf life—it’s best to just toss a product. “The possible germ fest inside isn’t worth it.” And if skin stings, turns red or blotchy, always rinse and discard. “Personally, much of my body skin’s relative health is due to utilizing beauty orphans, so think outside the box for beauty-full skin everywhere!”