How to Look Like a Million Bucks (Even If Your Bank Account Is Empty)

Alchemist X BNKR

Fact: Money can't buy happiness. Younger-looking skin though? Well, yes, it can buy that. Botox, fillers, $400 face creams and serums—the wrinkle-fighting ways you can spend your cash are endless. We get it: There are bills to pay, Netflix fees to cover, groceries to buy. Beauty isn't cheap, but that doesn't mean those who can't afford a monthly trip to the derm have to resign themselves to a life of wrinkles and sun spots. No, we're throwing our fists in the air and taking a Marxist approach to skincare—everyone deserves young, bright, beautiful skin, no matter the funds in their bank accounts (or lack thereof).

Ahead, you'll find six ways to keep your skin in tip-top shape and even reverse the clock without going carte blanche with your credit card. From using your pantry like a secret Sephora stockpile to eating foods that bust wrinkles from the inside out, keep scrolling for the best ways to look younger on a budget. Broke girls, we got you.

Shop Your Kitchen For Supplies

S.W. Basics

Your kitchen is your best beauty weapon. You heard that right. Example: That pineapple you just picked up at the grocery store? Put it on your face; it's full of the enzyme bromelain, which helps remove the outer layers of skin to reduce age spots and wrinkles. Another tropical fruit to put on your face: papaya, which contains natural alpha hydroxy acids and high levels of papain, an enzyme that helps dissolve dead skin cells. Mash them up, and use a cotton ball to apply the juice to your face. It'll tingle, but after 10 minutes, your skin will glow after you rinse it off.

We could go on (so we will): There's Greek yogurt, which contains probiotics with gentle exfoliating propertieshoney, which is naturally antibacterial (no wonder Erin Heatherton swears by a Greek yogurt and honey face mask); and turmeric, which has been used for centuries for its skin-soothing, anti-inflammatory properties. (The turmeric-chickpea face mask cleared up our editorial director's skin overnight.) Seriously, the contents of your pantry are filled with skin-loving ingredients like lactic acid, probiotics, vitamins, and enzymes that will brighten and tighten your skin.

Get Iced


Another (free) way to get your glow on? The cheapest ingredient of all: ice. Gabrielle Union dunks her face in ice-cold water to wake up her tired complexion (Kate Moss does too), while Kelly Rowland dips a towel in ice-cold water and applies it to her face to close her pores and prep her skin for makeup.

Eat Foods for Healthy Skin

S.W. Basics

We're huge fans of the idea of eating your way to better skin, and even more so because there's actually research that proves the link between a healthy diet and plumper skin. Thus, why not kill two birds with one stone by loading up on foods that also help your complexion? Blueberries are full of antioxidants, which can clear up your skin and decrease free radical damage. Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are high in minerals and phytonutrients to boost the health of your skin. Even sardines (yes, those small, salty fish) are loaded with vitamin B12 for cell regeneration and selenium, which protects your skin from sun damage, according to nutritionist Kelly LeVeque. Want a complete guide? Here's a full list of foods that are proven to give you a Gisele-worthy glow.

Get Your Beauty Sleep

sleep mask
Slip Silk Sleep Mask $45.00

Sleep is free, so get a lot of it. According to one study, poor sleepers suffered from more fine lines, uneven pigmentation, and reduced elasticity than those who slept an adequate amount every night. Yikes. Make sure to set enough quality snooze time every night—your skin will thank you. (Just make sure to sleep with your head slightly elevated to help you avoid puffy face/eye syndrome.)

Click here to find out six more serious reasons you need more sleep.

Do Your Dew

Ilia Polka Dot & Moonbeams Highlighter $34.00

The number one indicator of youthful skin? That runway-reminiscent dewiness. Broke girls (and anyone trying to look more youthful), know this: A creamy highlighter is your best friend. A swipe above your cheekbones gives you an ethereal glow, a smudge in the inner corners of your eyes makes you look 10 times more awake, and a tiny dab on your Cupid's bow makes your lips look plumper which in turn makes you look younger).

Opt for a creamy, light-reflecting version with minimal glitter (too much and you'll look like a disco ball). Ilia's version is a cult-favorite, and all of Team Byrdie vouch for Maybelline's Strobing Stick ($9) too. (Here's a refresher on strobing, in case you need it.) Sure, it's not exactly free, but trust us, this product is the key to showing off your skin's best self. (Even Gigi Hadid's makeup artist thinks so.)

Look For Anti-Aging Ingredients


So the possibility of La Mer gracing your bathroom counter is low—that doesn't mean your skin should be deprived. When it comes to products, knowing which ingredients are powerhouse anti-agers will help you choose the best budget-friendly versions in your neighborhood drugstore.

Say, for example, glycolic acid: It's a skin brightener and will do wonders lightening your dark spots. Look for it in the ingredients list of your budget skin products; the closer it is to the beginning of the ingredients list, the higher its content is in the product. Another superstar anti-aging ingredient? Retinol. It's been proven to do everything from lessen wrinkles to brighten complexion, and you don't need the prescription version to see results.

Remember: There are a ton of wallet-friendly skin products out there that will do more than just hold you over until your salary blossoms.

Which of these tips will you try?

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Chowdhury D, Ray P, Sengupta A. Formulation and evaluation of herbal face mist. J Innov Pharm Biol Sci. 2020;7(1):14-21.

  2. Mandal MD, Mandal S. Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activityAsian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2011;1(2):154‐160. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(11)60016-6

  3. Bucci P, Prieto MJ, Milla L, et al. Skin penetration and UV-damage prevention by nanoberries. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018;17(5):889-899. doi:10.1111/jocd.12436

  4. Oyetakin-White P, Suggs A, Koo B, et al. Does poor sleep quality affect skin ageingClin Exp Dermatol. 2015;40(1):17‐22. doi:10.1111/ced.12455

  5. Garg S, Thami GP, Bhalla M, Kaur J, Kumar A. Comparative efficacy of a 35% glycolic acid peel alone or in combination with a 10% and 20% trichloroacetic acid spot peel for melasma: a randomized control trial. Dermatol Surg. 2019;45(11):1394-1400.

  6. Dhaliwal S, Rybak I, Ellis SR, et al. Prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageingBr J Dermatol. 2019;180(2):289‐296. doi:10.1111/bjd.16918

Related Stories