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Two hands holding open a tube of mascara.

The beauty industry is consistently rolling out innovative new products to solve our skin and hair woes. You may start out with a few basic products — a hairbrush, some mascara and concealer — but quickly overwhelm the space in your bathroom cabinet with a continuous collection of new products destined to serve every unique beauty need.

It begs the question; do we really need this much stuff? We took a look at eight hair, makeup, and skincare staples and the rules for using them. Then, with some creative thinking, we uncovered ways to get more out of each one, lightening the load on our cabinets — and our budgets.

Product: Hairspray

Rule worth breaking: It’s only for keeping your hair in place.

  • Add volume. When your hair’s fallen flat, hairspray makes a great volumizer. Spray it directly at the roots, then simply tease hair with a little backcombing, and you’re back to full volume.
  • Get extra grip. Give bobby pins some extra staying power. Mist each one lightly with hairspray before pinning into your hair to create longer-lasting grip with less slipping for all-day wear.

Product: Loose setting powder

Rule worth breaking: It should only be used on your face.

  • Soak in. Setting powder’s oil-absorbing makeup benefits can perform double duty when used as dry shampoo. Simply dip your makeup brush in the powder and dust over dry hair — along your part, in your bangs, or wherever else your hair produces more oil. Try applying it before exercising and you’ll save yourself time getting ready after your workout.
  • Bulk up. The rough particulates in loose powder also make it a great hair texturizer. If your hair is too silky and clean to hold a style, apply loose powder to dry hair along the areas you need more hold or volume. Combined with a little teasing, the powder’s mattifying effect adds friction between the hairs to help bulk up the area where you’ve applied it.

Product: Conditioner

Rule worth breaking: Always apply after shampooing and rinse out.

  • Smooth over. The moisturizing and conditioning agents that help detangle the hair on your head also make it a great shaving cream substitute. Hairs on the body are softened and skin is lightly lubricated for a smooth shave. Simply apply conditioner over damp skin or in the shower, then shave and rinse.
  • Protect against. Massage damp hair with conditioner before swimming to help protect your hair from chlorine damage. The conditioning oils will act as a barrier between your hair and the chlorinated water. Shampoo and condition your hair as soon as you can after swimming to further help prevent damage.

Product: Brow color

Rule worth breaking: It’s just for your brows.

  • Cover up. If your hair color is growing out, you can hide any gray hairs poking through with brow color. Use the spoolie brush to apply color on the roots, around your part, or on your hairline. Then, give it a quick blast with a blow dryer on a cool setting to dry the color.
  • Get creative. In a pinch, the subtle pigment in your brow color can make a blendable cream eyeshadow. Apply it to your eyelids or use it to shade the crease. Depending on the shade and consistency, it can even double as a cheek contour for a monochromatic look.

Product: Lip Balm

Rule worth breaking: Apply only to your lips.

  • Hold ‘em. Dealing with unruly brow hairs? Comb a spoolie brush through a clean lip balm and use it to shape your brows into place as you would with a brow gel or pomade.
  • Soothe ‘em: The moisturizing ingredients in your lip balm can help treat dry, rough, or sore cuticles. Dab on the lip balm at bedtime and massage into your cuticle area and wake up with softened skin.
  • Tame ‘em. If your hair is dry or staticky, apply a bit of lip balm between your palms, rub your hands together lightly to warm it up, and then smooth your hands over flyaway hairs to add moisture and staying power.

Product: Eyeshadow

Rule worth breaking: It’s only for sweeping across your eyelids.

  • Line up. Use a damp angled eyeshadow brush dipped in powdered eyeshadow to create your own eyeliner. Apply to your upper lash line or just below your lower lashes in light strokes to help define your eyes.
  • Add color. Don’t toss out a broken eyeshadow — instead use it to create a new lip or nail color. For lip color, mix the powder with lip balm or gloss (brown, rust, and peach shades work well). Create a nail color by mixing eyeshadow with a clear topcoat. Simply add shadow pigment to the bottle, then stir or shake to mix and apply to your nails.

Product: Liquid eyeliner pen

Rule worth breaking: It’s just for your eyes.

  • Get detailed. The fine tip on a liner pen, usually used to draw a cat-eye shape, also makes a perfect precision tool for intricate nail art. Try painting your nails with a light base color, then use your liquid eyeliner pen to create small polka dots or other shapes. Once dry, add a clear topcoat to seal the color.
  • Switch it up. Everyone enjoys changing up their look now and then. Try adding a youthful, playful touch to your complexion by drawing on faux freckles or a small beauty mark with your liner pen. Dab each freckle with a makeup sponge or your fingertip to blend and lightly diffuse the color, then set with loose powder.

Product: Spare toothbrush

Rule worth breaking: Keep it only for your teeth.

  • Brush off. More than a dentist’s parting gift, a spare toothbrush makes a great all-in-one beauty tool. Use it to brush up your brows for a fuller look and set with your favorite brow gel (or lip balm!).
  • Separate. A toothbrush also makes a handy lash comb. Apply your mascara, then before it’s dry, gently pull a clean toothbrush through your lashes to separate and remove clumps.
  • Kiss goodbye. The gentle bristles on the toothbrush even make a great lip exfoliator. Apply your favorite lip balm, then gently brush lips in a circular motion to remove dry, flaky skin. When you’re finished, apply your favorite lipstick, and enjoy a soft, more even color application.
Lindsey
Lindsey Frey Palmquist

Lindsey Frey Palmquist is a senior copywriter at Life Time.

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