Sep. 27, 2014 at 9:09 AM ET
Whether you’re stranded on an island with nothing but your wits or simply flat broke, repurpose what’s on hand to turn any moment into a glamorous one.
Advil Liquid-Gels= zit zapper
DIY dilemma: A pimple has reared it’s ugly head and you’ve got nothing more than the contents of the office first aid kit to tame it.
Mission accomplished: Aspirin has long been known as an in-a-pinch zit zapper--but technology has created pimple-fighter 2.0 thanks to liquid gel formulas. “I hear makeup artists use this all the time on models backstage at fashion shows,” says beauty guru Robin Coe-Hutshing. “Open up an Advil gel cap and apply it right onto the pimple. It takes the swelling down right away.”
Cup of Starbucks = makeshift manicure
DIY dilemma: Your nails are looking raggedy, but you hardly have time to grab a cup of coffee, let alone spend an hour at the nail salon.
Mission accomplished: Double-duty your caffeine run by grabbing a couple extra brown sugar packets and wooden stirrers while you’re there, says, Jin Soon Choi, owner of the Jin Soon Hand and Foot Spa salons in New York City. “Mix sugar with some lemon, honey, and olive oil and scrub into hands and nails for a minute, then use a wooden coffee stirrer to push back cuticles. Rinse off and your hands will look totally clean, soft and manicured.”
Onion = bug bite soother
DIY dilemma: You managed to swing a vacation in Mexico, but while you’re lunching at an outdoor café, mosquitos are lunching on you.
Mission accomplished: Grab that onion slice off your salad and start rubbing it directly onto the irritation. “The sulphur in onions work right away to fix the itch,” says Jordana Mattioli, aesthetician at the office of Dr Adam M. Kolker in New York City.
Milk of Magnesia = face mask
DIY dilemma: Your skin’s looking rough—but payday’s a week and a half away, so no salon facial for you.
Mission accomplished: Milk of Magnesia has talents beyond just neutralizing stomach acid. “Growing up I learned the great Milk of Magnesia face mask,” says Coe-Hutshing of her trick to keeping skin smooth, clear and china-like. “Dab it on with a cotton ball, wait until it dries, then rinse off. That’s it! It’s amazing.”
KY jelly= shoe polish
DIY dilemma: Your scuffed shoes are looking more “walk of shame” than “victory parade.”
Mission accomplished: Coe Hutshing’s non-date-night strategy works just as well when applied to your current situation. “This is embarrassing, but in an emergency I have used personal lubricant to polish my scuffed shoes,” she admits.
DIY dilemma: A day of volunteering at your kid’s kindergarten has drained the life from your face--and you’ve got just five minutes until you need to make a break for a restaurant with the family.
Mission accomplished: Distract the kids with a pitcher of cherry Kool-Aid while you grab a pinch of the powder for yourself and head to the bathroom mirror. Mix with a little water and you’ll have made an awesome ad-hoc cheek and lip tint, say Annie and Maggie Ford Danielson, global authorities for Benefit Beauty.
Black tea = foot deodorizer
DIY dilemma: Your feet, put frankly, are smelling like very expensive cheese, and you’ve got 15 minutes before you walk out the door to meet friends.
Mission accomplished: Rummage through your kitchen cupboard for black tea, says Ian Ginsberg, Owner of C.O. Bigelow. Steep 2-3 bags in a bowl filled with warm (not hot!) water – then set your stopwatch for 15 minutes and get soaking. The tannins are helpful in neutralizing odor.
Matchbook = nail file
DIY dilemma: You’re looking your best as you catch the bus to a job interview -- but when you push the ‘next stop’ button you chip a nail.
Mission accomplished: Reach into your coat pocket and fish out that matchbook you grabbed from your fancy meal out last week. The sandpaper-like strike strip on the back is surprisingly precise at shaping nails quickly.
Tennis ball = personal masseuse
DIY dilemma: Your attempt to channel Serena Williams on the court has left your back in knots, but if you have to choose between your mortgage and a massage, well, you know which one’s going to win, however reluctantly.
Mission accomplished: Dig those tennis balls out of your bag. Lie on your back and place one ball between your shoulder blade and spine, says massage guru Ben Brown. Gradually let your weight rest into the surface of the ball, relaxing around it. Now gently roll your shoulder and back over the ball. Instant relief.
Baking soda = deodorant
DIY dilemma: A hot kitchen and hours spent rolling out dough -- no doubt about it, your cookie-baking marathon has left you sweating. Party guests are on their way.
Mission accomplished: Reserve a little baking soda for yourself, and pat under your underarms. It’ll do the same job deodorizing you as it does your fridge, by absorbing odors.
Peppermint oil = breath freshener
DIY dilemma: You finished scarfing down an entire extra-garlic pizza moments before the doorbell rings, and who do you spy through the keyhole but the adorable man from across the hall.
Mission accomplished: Run to your bathroom cabinet, homing in on your bath-time products. A single drop of essential oil of peppermint on your tongue instantly freshens breath and kills bacteria, according to Ute Leube, founder of haute organic skincare line Amala.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.