25 Items I Bought From Sephora, Nordstrom, and Amazon to Replace Beauty Services

the best at-home beauty treatments in every category



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When I was a teenager, I’d take on any at-home beauty treatment. Waxing my own legs? Sure! Dying the tips of my hair black? I can do that! Gluing in extensions? Can’t be that hard! I don’t know if it was because I was overly confident in my skills or just plain naive (probably the latter).

Now, though, I know what’s at stake: My face! And hair! And body! And mental state! Which is why I’ve passed the baton to experts because they’re… experts. But now that everyone is stuck at home and all my professionals have closed up shop for the foreseeable future, my brows are getting less defined by the day. Deep down I knew it was only a matter of time before I got in touch with my younger self and took matters into my own hands. So far, so good, except for a minor blip (aka giving myself a pretty visible bruise on my chin) using one particular skin tool. But more on that below…

Indulgent Facials 

To be clear, I’ve never gotten regular facials. My job has its perks and I’m gifted treatments I would never justify paying for myself, so I like to think that I’ve become pretty well-versed in giving myself a professional-level facial at home. Now more than ever, it’s important to indulge. So clear your Zoom hangs and opt for some much-needed TLC at home.

The first, and one of the most important, steps in giving yourself an at-home facial is to thoroughly cleanse your skin. I rotate between cleansers, but this has been my most recent pick. It works so well for acne-prone skin and helps heal and prevent breakouts without stripping your skin of all its moisture. It’s made with organic green tea, which helps reduce redness; salicylic acid to suck all the dirt and grime from your pores; and blue-green algae, which acts as a natural retinol.

Next comes this crazy-looking tool. Full disclosure, when I used this for the first time, I gave myself a massive bruise on my chin that resembled a hickey. It then occurred to me that I should probably test the various suction tips and levels on my hand before going to town on my face. Once you get the hang of it though, it’s really easy to use. It’s almost like going to the dermatologist for microdermabrasion, just without the hefty price tag. A lot of the images in the reviews make it look like a ton of gunk is going to come out when you use it, but that hasn’t been the case for me. It’s just a good way to exfoliate and get a brighter-looking complexion.

Then I follow up with some sort of exfoliant. I’m really into this super-nourishing one made with brown sugar and strawberry seeds. It makes my skin feel so soft and refreshed. I can’t say enough good things about it.

Now onto masks. I’ve never used such an affordable one that does such a good job of deep-cleaning my pores. It’s unique because it comes in powder form, and you need to mix it with equal parts apple cider vinegar (or water, but I always do the vinegar), stir well, and apply a thin layer to your face. Leave it on for no more than 20 minutes and wash it off with lukewarm water. I swear you’ll notice a huge difference in your skin, especially if you start using it routinely. I do want to mention that you’ll feel your skin tighten and tingle when you have it on, and your skin might be red afterward, but it usually goes away after 30 minutes.

Once I’m done masking, I go for toner. I find a lot of toners to be too harsh, but this is one of the few that doesn’t irritate my skin (and it’s so affordable!). It’s made with aloe vera, which replenishes skin, while rosewater and rose oil are added antioxidant boosts. I usually apply it with a reusable cotton round and press it into my skin, instead of rubbing.

The final product should be something that floods your skin with moisture, and this does just that. Your skin will be visibly plumper and brighter.

And now… the last step: Massage your skin! I’ll never stop talking about my gua sha board. I’ve praised it multiple times in my stories because it’s just that good. It increases blood circulation, which increases elastin and collagen, and it also helps with lymphatic drainage. My face looks so much more lifted after using it for five to 10 minutes. It’s the perfect way to end an at-home facial. Don’t believe that it actually works? This video is proof.

Spa Massages

I’m not one to get massages a lot, but before social distancing happened, I was trying to go once a month. I always left feeling like a new woman, which actually makes sense because a lot of massages focus on the lymphatic system, which is a key driver in staying healthy. It transports white blood cells throughout the body and helps eliminate built-up toxins—that’s why it’s so important to keep it functioning. It’ll make you feel lean, energetic and boost your immune system. While I can’t really give myself a deep-tissue massage (or ask my husband to), I’ve made it a point to incorporate my own at-home rituals to help flush out toxins and keep my body feeling its best.

I’m constantly having neck pain, especially now that I’m working from home and looking down at my laptop all the time. This little contraption is designed to massage those hard-to-reach trigger points on your neck and shoulders. It’s genius. Apparently, you can also use it on your calves, but I haven’t got that far with it yet.

I’ve only been using this for six-ish weeks, but I feel like I’ve noticed a huge improvement: I feel less bloated, and my cellulite is not as noticeable. I try and use this every morning before I hop in the shower (usually without oil during the week and with oil on the weekend). I first focus on one side of my body, using different parts of the paddle, depending on the area, about five times before moving on to the next section. You want to make sure you’re using it in an upward motion—the only exception is when you get to your core, then you want to use it going downward. This Melissa Wood video demonstrates how to do it.

This is one of my favorite purchases of the year. It’s manual, so you get a bit of an arm workout using it, which is a win in my eyes. You can use it anywhere to relieve muscle soreness and tension from your neck, arms, and legs to your shoulders and back. I mostly use it on my legs. When you roll the large knobs over your skin, it basically gives you a deep-tissue massage, depending on the pressure you apply, of course. Bonus: The knobs also work to break up cellulite, if you're worried about that kind of thing.

When I’m feeling extra lazy, I’ll use this electric body massager. I really love it! It comes with three different massage heads: one that’s catered towards exfoliating, another for cellulite, and one that mimics a deep-tissue massage. You can also adjust the speed to your liking. When I’m consistent with using it, I do notice a difference in the overall appearance of my legs.

Manis and Pedis

I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten used to getting a gel manicure every two weeks and a pedicure every four weeks, so let’s just say… My nails have been struggling. I used to do my own all the time—and was fairly good!—but my skills are rusty. So I’ve been relying on these goodies to make my nails look less haggard and more professional-looking.

I’m obsessed with these little nail mitts. They're easily the best, least-messy polish remover I’ve tried. Basically, you put your fingers into the mitt (one at a time), press, remove, and wipe off any polish.

To really make your nail beds look clean, you need a kit with all the essential tools: clippers, a file, and nail pushers. This kit comes with all the things, and it’s so affordable.

You might think it’s excessive, but I love to have these files and buffers on hand, too, because they give my nails a nice sheen.

Before I started treating myself to salon manis and pedis, this was my go-to topcoat. It’s hands down the best top coat I’ve ever used. I swear: Even if you have a shaky hand when painting your nails, this stuff hides all of it. It’s a patented formula that dries really fast and basically fuses your nail polish to your base coat, creating hard, shiny, and professional-looking nails. It’ll make your nails so shiny and so perfect. You’ll even get distracted by how they reflect light—similarly to how newly engaged people catch themselves staring at their new ring while out and about—because it’s just that good.

To keep my nails fresh and healthy-looking at all times, I apply a bit of cuticle oil before bed. It’s basically part of my evening skincare routine, and it makes such a big difference!

Salon Blowouts

I haven’t gotten my hair cut in longer than I’d like to admit, but I was getting used to treating myself to blowouts every once in a while. I have to say, I really miss it. I’m basically useless when it comes to my hair—I usually just let my locks air dry and call it a day. But how else am I going to keep busy during this weird time if I'm not attempting to perfect my hair?

A good blowout starts with good hair, and this is what changed the game for me. My hair just feels so much lighter, healthier, and less frizzy because of it.

Like most people, I need to use conditioner otherwise my wet hair will be a tangled rat's nest that’ll take forever to comb through. This stuff keeps my hair manageable and super shiny and soft.

I might be a hair novice, but even I know if I use any hot tool, I should use some sort of heat protector beforehand. I've been spraying this it onto my wet hair and using a brush to comb it through. Aside from smelling really good, it also helps tame my frizz.

This is seriously life changing, especially for a hair newbie like me (and a lot of my co-workers agree). It’s a dryer, hot brush, and straightener all in one. I’ve never been able to give myself a salon-level blowout before this, and it takes me less than 20 minutes—and I have long hair!

Brow Tints and Waxes

Turns out, I’m not actually able to get in touch with the younger version of myself who’d be totally down to wax her brows. I’m older and wiser now and just too damn nervous to do it myself. I’ve been seeing the same brow pro for years now, and I can’t stomach the thought of messing up all her work. So this is what’s getting me through until I’m able to go in for an appointment again.

At first, I was anxious to use this on my own, but it’s actually so easy. I’m definitely not a pro and doubt I’ll continue using this when we’re free to go out again, but for the time being, it’s legit. The set comes with everything you need to mix some color together and apply it to your brows. I use the angled brush to apply the color, similar to how I’d apply a brow product; let it sit for two minutes; and wipe clean my brows with a cotton pad. If I missed a spot, I’ll do it again but leave it on for less time. It’s kind of a game changer, you guys.

Instead of waxing, I’ve just been tweezing. For me, it’s a much safer bet. I’ve just been following the shape of my brow line and plucking any stray hairs that are out of place. So far, so good!

Golden Spray Tans

I don’t usually get spray tans. Not that there’s anything wrong with them—they're just not part of my regular routine. But if I have a special event or trip, I like to treat myself to an airbrush appointment. Now that I can’t go on any of my preplanned trips, I’m still going to enjoy a tan. It’s the little things.

Whenever I’m about to apply a self-tanner, I use this first. It’s a great way to keep blood flowing while exfoliating dead skin. Then I shave using the Flamingo razor and this shave gel.

If I don’t have a ton of time, I use these towelettes. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d love them as much as I do, but they’re truly the best. I’ve only used these on my face, arms, and legs, so if you want to do your whole body, I would stick to another formula. When you’re in a pinch, these give the most effortless, natural glow.

I've tried a lot of tanners, and this is one of my absolute favorites for using all over my face and body. It's not sticky or smelly, and personally, I think it gives the most natural-looking color when you use a mitt to apply it.