Bargain Beauty

Look great with this list full of real deals.

The best beauty bargains, of course, are absolutely free: lots of water, enough sleep and exercise, falling in love, and avoiding people who annoy you (that last one is easier said than done, but worth the effort). The rest we have to go searching for, and sometimes the best buys are found in places you might not think to look. . . . 

There are the really affordable items you can get at the drugstore (try Bartell Drugs, 600 First Ave. N., 206-284-1353, and other locations) that are old-fashioned but still work like a charm. Dickenson's Witch Hazel ($4.19 for 16 ounces) is dirt cheap and a great astringent in a pinch—though it's not recommended for dry or mature skin—and can be diluted with water so the bottle will last forever. . . . Cetaphil ($6.99 for 8 ounces) is popular as both a face wash and a shaving cream; people swear by it, dermatologists often recommend it, and it's a great price. . . . Believe it or not, there's a shampoo called Mane 'n Tail ($7.49 for 32 ounces) that was made for washing horses but is now a favorite of two-legged prancers—rumor has it that Jennifer Aniston uses it on her tresses. . . .  

Eyebrow waxing can cost up to $30 here in town (if you go to an eyebrow guru like Anastasia or Robin Cosio in L.A. or New York, it can be $50 to $80), so a great cash saver is to keep on hand a brow powder to define your brows and perhaps let you wait a little bit longer before you make that appointment. Laura Mercier Brow Powder ($26 at Nordstrom, 500 Pine St., 206-628-1111, and other locations) comes in six colors—ranging from light blond to brunet—so a perfect match can be made. Each powder comes with two shades, so you can fill just the right amount of color, and it doesn't have the waxy feel of an eyebrow pencil. . . . 

The best cosmetics counters have smaller, less prominent sections featuring new lines of cosmetics you may not have heard about. Benefit, a cosmetics line available at the Bon-Macy's, was founded in San Francisco by twin sisters and keeps its prices low — almost all of the products are less than $35—by not advertising and not offering a free gift with purchase. Dual-purpose items can save money, and Benefit's Ooh La Lift ($18 at Bon-Macy's, 1601 Third Ave., 206-506-6000, and other locations) is an eye treatment cream that both helps diminish puffy eyes (algae is the firming agent) and conceals with subtle light-reflecting pigment. Keep it refrigerated, so when you put it on it has a cooling effect—great for the morning after. . . .

Kiehl's has a bargain for men that serves two purposes: an aftershave and moisturizer in one product called Facial Fuel ($20.50 for 2.5 ounces at Kiehl's, 2625 University Village, 206-985-4414). Calming to the skin after shaving, it also lightly hydrates with a subtle, masculine scent that quickly dissipates. . . . 

Downtown's brand-new Sephora (413 Pine St., 206-624-7003) also provides some quality deals. If you're tired of hosiery that costs a fortune only to get snagged right after you struggle to get it on, check out the unscented, SPF formula Air Stocking ($28 for 4.23 ounces), a spray-on powder for the legs that looks great, is good for many applications, and lasts much longer than the fragile hosiery we shell out the cash for. The spray resists sweat and water, and covers all imperfections. Just make sure to pick the right shade for you: Natural, Terra Cotta, or Bronze (the company needs a couple of darker choices, to tell the truth). . . . 

Dying to get rid of that annoying pimple but can't afford a facial? Head down to the Origins Store (Bellevue Square, Suite 230, Bellevue, 425-452-9344) for their spot remover ($10 for 3 ounces). This treatment gel with salicylic acid helps clear up acne one spot at a time, and since you only need a tiny pin drop on the problem area, this little bottle will last. . . . 

What's better than finding a great skin-care bargain in an unexpected place? There are items that are very affordable popping up on even the shelves of stores like Ravenna Gardens (2201 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206-283-7091). The large and long-lasting Mistral soaps ($6.95 for 7 ounces) come in seven different scents including Orange Blossom and Verbena Flower, are handcrafted in Provence, France, and are made with oils of olive, palm, and coconut so you can get your body clean without drying your skin out. . . . 

Another gardening store that has great beauty buys is City People's (2939 E. Madison St., 206-324-0737). Fruits & Passion's Repairing Action Hand Butter ($6.29 for 2.1 ounces), with carrot extract and shea and cocoa butters, is a great deal for people who need intense moisture. All you need is a drop to soothe rough, dry hands—if it's good on gardeners' hardworking hands, think what it can do for your lazy mitts. . . . 

Another unusual place to snag a deal is at Seattle's many open markets. One find is a handcrafted aromatherapy line called Brown Butterfly at the Ballard Farmers Market and at other markets in the Redmond and Kirkland areas. The simple packaging holds incredible scented oils, soaps, lotions, and pure shea butter. Brown Butterfly's Lavender Body Oil ($17 for 4 ounces at www.brownbutterfly.com or 425-836-0448) is one of the best-smelling lavenders—not too sweet, and not overpowering. The carrier is hazelnut and meadowfoam seed oil, with easy absorption but enough slip for a great massage. . . . 

Get your shopping done at the Fremont Sunday Market all year round and look for Gracie Parker ($15 for 16 ounces), a scented line of scrubs made by local gal Liz Anderson. Try the scrub made with unrefined cane sugar for a finer, gentle body polish. Comes in Mango, Vanilla Mint, and Tuber Rose. . . . 

Fall is the time for renewal, so you can't have too many polishing potions to choose from! If you want to go organic with your body products, Ling Body Scrub ($24 for 8 ounces at Bronze Bar, 2615 First Ave., 206-374-8512) is the all-natural jar of wonder to pay a little extra for. It's made with rice and walnuts, but it smells like almonds. . . . 

If you wear lipstick daily, you end up ingesting close to a whole tube a year, so why not get one with no chemicals in it? An all-natural lipstick made by German company Lagona ($8 at the Herbalist, 2106 N.E. 65th St., 206-523-2600) comes in a variety of colors. . . . 

Vivacious Queen Anne entrepreneur Jamie Goldberg has a great solution for curly hair, cornrows, dreadlocks, or just keeping hair dry while still maintaining glamour in the shower: Made with high-quality, mildew-resistant, waterproof fabric, her cute shower caps ($28– $38 at Robert Leonard Salon and Day Spa, 2033 Sixth Ave., 206-441-9900 or www.byjamieanngoldberg.com) are a blast from the past—they look like something out of a Doris Day movie. Roomy and breathable, this genius shower chapeau is great for the environment, unlike the disposable plastic kind.

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