Save money: Stop throwing out perfectly good product

Back in Cleopatra's day, when they made lipstick from ants crushed in a mortar, nary a drop went to waste. Alas, we have pesky health codes in 2011, plus elaborate packaging designed to make products irresistible. That means your favorite lotions are destined to perish in stubborn corners. Your lipstick dies at the stump. Perfectly usable nail polish globs at the bottom. Toothpaste tubes meet trash bins with fresh mouths still to give.

Except … not always. With a little effort, you can make your products last longer than Benjamin Button.

I'm not advocating using old, expired makeup. I'm talking about imagination. Going MacGyver on your bottles. Finding new and exciting ways to extricate valuable product.

Put on your ninja gear. We're going in.

Save that lipstick!

When your lipstick reaches its flat end, don't toss it. Get a tiny lip brush from a drug store. Better yet, check under the sink for the "Krazy 4 Kolors" mall makeup set your cousin Jazz from Jersey gave you last Christmas. There's probably one in there. Scrape out the remainder and apply. It should last a few more puckers.

Totally tubular

Soft tubes are great. So are sharp blades. You smell what I'm stepping in. When your plastic bottle makes that whiffing sound, snip the top corner and pour out the precious moisturizer. Store it standing covered with a bag so the goods don't dry out. This works for toothpaste tubes, too.

Thin it out

Before the economy became an Emmett Kelly routine, I got regular manicures. It was fascinating to watch nail technicians casually squeeze a few drops of magical elixir into glass bottles with thick paint. Turns out, it's nail polish thinner. You can get a 4-ounce bottle for $2.99 on Amazon.com.

Hands-on foundation

Don't pump your glass foundation dispenser like a crazy person. It won't work, and there are more effective arm exercises at the gym. Unscrew the top and dispense the remainder directly on a makeup pad or your hand. Use a droplet of warm water and a cotton swap to coax out the rest.

Powder in a bag

You drop your powder compact on the bathroom floor and shout choice vocabulary. You contemplate calling in sick because your forehead is hitching a ride on the Oil Slick Express. Pull yourself together. Place the broken powder in a zipper bag, shake it like chicken breading and apply it using a brush.

Turn it upside down

Humans have tilted shampoo bottles since the discovery of fire. It's time you got a shower caddy shaped like a bucket to hold bottles upside down when they get low. They won't tumble off the ledge en masse, and you won't become a shower safety cautionary tale.

Trade-ins aren't just for cars

Save your castoffs for rewards. MAC, for example, has a program called Back to MAC. If you return six old makeup containers, the company will give you a free lipstick. And you know what to do when that lipstick gets low, right?

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8857.

What tips do you have for saving money in this awful economy? Share your secrets for publication in an upcoming feature. E-mail us at heresthedeal@sptimes.com, on Facebook at Here's the Deal Tampa Bay; on Twitter at @HeresTheDealFL.

Save money: Stop throwing out perfectly good product 08/12/11 [Last modified: Monday, August 15, 2011 8:25am]

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