Ballin’ on a Budget

How to keep skin looking fresh without spending a dime

More stories from Alyssa Anderson

Getting Weird
December 13, 2018

After spending the weekdays pulling all-nighters, slugging coffee and eating Maruchan brand ramen noodles, pizza or whatever food is cheapest, students’ bodies are truly put to the test. Not only does overdosing on coffee and sodium-loaded ramen take a toll on the stomach, these habits can also cause a whole lot of problems for skin health.

Since my youth, I have struggled with troubled skin. My poor parents spent thousands of dollars on dermatologists, step-by-step acne kits and over-priced cosmetic products that all just ended up damaging my skin even further. When I came to UW-Eau Claire, I was used to forking over a significant amount of money for my skin care each month.

However, I soon realized I could no longer fit fancy skin care products into my budget. Goodbye, Lush and Glossier and hello, breakouts.

Or so I thought.

In the most recent season of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” cast member Jonathan Van Ness — the self-proclaimed “self-care guru” — advised a man with troubled, acne-prone skin to spread Agave nectar, or honey, all over his face.

According to Van Ness, Agave and honey both have natural anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties. So, I gave it a shot.

First, I squeezed about a teaspoon-sized amount of organic Agave nectar into my hands. Then, I rubbed it all over my (already cleansed) face and let in sit there for around 15 minutes. It smelled pretty good and, yes, I did lick some off my own face. After washing it off, I looked in the mirror and was astonished.

I was literally glowing.

I applied a bit of moisturizer and went to bed, only to wake up to the sight of an even better complexion. The few blemishes I had when I went to sleep were almost totally dried up. I use this method once a week when my skin looks dull or when I’m starting to break out. If you don’t have Agave nectar (which is on the pricey side) honey works just as well.

Exfoliating is an important part of every skin care routine, but finding a good exfoliator for an equally good price is nearly impossible. When I wasn’t a broke college student, I was a huge fan of Lush’s Cup o’ Coffee face mask and scrub. However, I learned to make almost the same recipe with common kitchen items.

All that’s needed is coffee, coconut oil and honey. Take a tablespoon of each, mix it up in a bowl or small container and spread it over your face. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes and wash it off while letting the coffee slough off dry or dead skin. Once it’s gone, apply moisturizer and admire your brand new, glowing skin.

I have only done this mask twice, but I have gotten several compliments on my skin in the past few days, which is more than I’ve gotten in my entire life. Coffee, while a natural exfoliant, has caffeine which works to brighten your skin; coconut oil provides a natural, nourishing hydration and honey is full of magic.

Most of these items can be found in any kitchen. Next time you’re at the store, walk past the cosmetic isles and head straight for the produce section. Your skin, and your bank account, will thank you.

Anderson can be reached at [email protected]