No one knows your hair better than you do. But is it possible that in your efforts to keep it healthy and looking good, you are washing money down the drain needlessly? Consider these costly mistakes many people make.

Some rights reserved by Bellafaye Garden

Some rights reserved by Bellafaye Garden

Mistake: Expensive shampoo

Come on … ‘fess up. You feel guilty using $.99 shampoo because it’s really bad for your hair. And anybody knows the $24 salon variety is so much better especially for chemically treated hair, right? Wrong! Price has nothing to do with it.

The secret to shampoo intelligence is to know your detergents. Look at the list of ingredients on the shampoo bottle. Water (or some fancy name for it) will always be the first ingredient. Next comes the detergent. It’s tricky, so keep this list handy.

  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate – very harsh
  • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate – harsh
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – still harsh
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – mild, great choice
  • TEA Lauryl Sulfate – gentle, good choice
  • TEA Laureth Sulfate – gentle, also a good choice

When purchasing shampoo, consider just two things: price and the type of detergent (the list above). If you clip shampoo coupons and match them with shampoo sales, you may never pay more than $1 for shampoo again.

Hint: Many in the Herbal Essences and Suave lineup of shampoos—found in most supermarkets and drug stores—contain the mild option Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). But don’t assume—read the label.

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Last week I heard from one of my readers who wrote about hydrogen peroxide—something I’ve written about in the past, but not so much in the context of this reader’s personal report.

I loved her story and outcome but needed to confirm that hydrogen peroxide is safe, reasonable and recommended to be used as a mouthwash.

woman-using-hydrogen-peroxide-for-mouthwash

In the process I ran into a whole lot more than I was looking for—multiple uses for hydrogen peroxide around the house, some new some not so new but perhaps forgotten.

Kitchen counters

Clean your counters, table tops with hydrogen peroxide to kill germs and leave a fresh smell. Simply put a little on your dishrag when you wipe, or spray it on the counters.

Cutting boards

After rinsing off your wooden cutting board, pour hydrogen peroxide on it to kill salmonella and other bacteria. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizer.

Teeth whitening

Mix salt, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide to make a paste for brushing your teeth. Not only will this help to reverse the early stages of gingivitis, used regularly, it will also remove stains and whiten your teeth.

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If you don’t happen to have an extra hundred bucks to enjoy a day at the spa, don’t sweat it. There are lots of ways you can be nice to yourself for less. A lot less!

14873611 - beautiful girl after bath touching her face skincare

SALT SCRUB

You can pay $32 for a 6.7-ounce tube of Salt Scrub™ by Origins, or make your own for about a buck.

Find a nice container (a small glass jar or with a tight-fitting lid works well) and fill it about 3/4 full with Epsom salt. Now slowly mix in either almond oil (better) or baby oil (cheaper) and stir until the mixture looks like wet snow.

It’s optional, but you can add your choice of aromatherapy-grade essential oil to add scent.

To use: Massage over wet skin in a hot shower with hand or washcloth. Rinse. Scratchy, scaly skin is suddenly gorgeous. Do not use on broken or freshly shaven skin.

PUFFY EYE TREATMENT

Here’s an off-beat but highly effective way to deal with morning eye “puffiness” that does not cost a small fortune. In fact, it’s more effective than all of those high-priced department store eye cream products.

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Today’s topic is not pretty, but unless you have $8,000 earmarked for dental care, it could prevent a lot of pain—both dental and financial.

Periodontal disease is an infection that destroys the attachment fibers and supporting bones that hold the teeth in the jaw bone and the bone itself.

Bacteria get caught between the teeth and also under the gum, forming a sticky substance called “plaque,” that hardens to form tartar.

This leads to infection known as gingivitis. As it spreads deeper into the bone it begins to decay and pus forms, which causes swelling, redness and bleeding. If not treated, the teeth will become loose and fall out.

Do I have your attention? Great because there are relatively inexpensive measures you can take to prevent this ugly situation and all of the very expensive treatments required to treat and (hopefully) reverse.

If you remove the soft plaque from the gum margin around the teeth you will toughen the gum and prevent the disease. Here’s how to do that: Read more

Faithful readers know by now that I love to open my mail to find your thoughtful, interesting questions. And when a question includes the words “cheap tickets” or what is the Best Inexpensive fill-in-the-blank, it makes my heart sing!

multi-ethinic arms outstretched to ask questions.

Any situation—like how to find a good financial advisor without getting ripped off—gets my engines revved up. Helping you, my awesome readers, find more ways to save time and money is right up my alley.

 

Dear Mary: We are hoping to take a short vacation in May. Universal Studios in Orlando would be great if I could find a way to afford tickets. Do you have any ideas for how to find cheap or free tickets to the big amusement parks? Linda

 

Dear Linda: Head over to MouseSavers, a wonderful website that is, without a doubt, the best source for discounts at all of the Disney Parks as well as the others in the area including Universal Orlando.

At MouseSavers, type Universal Orlando into the search box. Another option is to check Costco, which often has special discounts available to its members for major theme parks.

AAA offers its members a nice discount on parks like Universal, as does the Entertainment book (use promo code SAVE5 to get $5 off plus free shipping.) for that area. Check out these sources to find the best deal for the time you plan to visit.

As for landing free tickets for Universal Orlando, and other amusement parks, they’re out there but you’ll have to be super clever and willing to work hard to bag them.

Various timeshare properties in the area are anxious to present their sales pitches to people, like yourself, who will be in the area looking for every way to save a buck.

If you’re willing to sit through hours of sales presentations, you could walk away with free tickets to your park of choice. Just keep in mind that if you end up falling for the pitch, you’ll go home much poorer than when you arrived.

It takes nerves of steel and a willingness to dig in your heels while kindly saying “No, Thanks!” over and over again. And again. Read more

A recent post in which I wailed and whined about my very bad hair day started it. You may recall how I mentioned volumizing, styling techniques and a great can of hairspray. That brought an avalanche of desperate queries, suggesting to me that perhaps I’m not the only one dealing with an occasional bad hair day!

Which volumizer? Hairspray? What? Where?!

Not long after we visited the world of shampoos and conditioners. That stirred up lots more questions and very specific ones as in exactly which products?

So today, I’ve decided to tell. Exactly. Specifically. And trust me when I say that  I’ve tested many—none of which are sponsored, all of which I buy myself.

(From time to time I see these products at stores like Walgreens, King Soopers, Target, Walmart, but never all of them at the same time in the same place—except on Amazon. I am convinced that overall, Amazon consistently has the best prices.)

1. SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER. Currently, I’m using  Tigi Bed Head Moisture Maniac Shampoo and Conditioner because I got them on a terrific sale. My hair is dry, I live in a dry climate, my hair is (surprise!) color-treated and both are very gentle. These bottles are huge and since I get at least 4 days out of a hairstyle, they will last me a very long time.  Read more

Considering the huge reader response whenever I mention that the most inexpensive shampoos can actually be good for your hair, but not so for hair conditioners—a follow up post is in order.

Unfortunately, conditioners are not quite as simple as shampoos.

First, we need to demystify the term “conditioner.” It is a vague term that refers to a wide range of hair products designed to make hair more manageable and also treat common hair problems.

Conditioners fall into four general categories according to what they do and the problems they solve: moisturizers, reconstructors, acidifiers and detanglers.

Using the wrong product for the specific condition of your hair will produce disappointing results. For example, if your hair is thin and fine you are not going to be happy with my industrial-strength conditioner for thick, coarse, frizzy, color-treated hair!

While the specific products I am about to mention to you are available readily in supermarkets and drug stores, the prices quoted are for Amazon, at the time of writing.

MOISTURIZERS are concentrated with humectants, which are compounds that attract moisture into the hair and hold it there. If your hair is dry, brittle and limp, you should consider a moisturizing conditioner like Pantene Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal DreamCare Conditioner (about $7.50 or $.30/oz.) Read more

Apparently, my hair is my life. Believe me, I am as surprised by this fact of vanity as anyone. Had you checked with me about my philosophy of life a mere ten days prior, I can assure you that my hair would not have made the cut for my Top Ten Important Things.

Sure, I’ve had the typical number of issues with my hair over the years, but since I’ve always had plenty of it, I had options. That is until that day when I got a bad haircut.

I could go into long and agonizing detail, but suffice it to say I went in with a full head of hair and came out five pounds lighter. Let’s just say that Mr. Salon Owner (not exactly your Edward Scissorhands) thinned me out—a technique only fitness trainers should attempt.

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