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Milk and Cookies

with Kristen

I'm a mother of five, a bargain hunter, a recreational comparison shopper, and always trying to make more time - for me and for you, too. On this blog I'm sharing my favorite tools and finds to help make your work-life juggle a bit easier.

You can find my personal blog at

Cheap but good

Categories: Beauty


Every so often, someone will do a post on things they will/won’t buy generic. I am strictly brand-name on things like lotion and body wash and conditioner—but I’m CHEAP brand-name, which seems like it could be its own category. Like, I buy only brand-name face moisturizer, but the brands I like cost less than $10 a bottle; that seems different than only using La Mer.

So today I’d like to talk about the things we like that are brand-name but CHEAP.

1. Dove Deep Moisture face lotion (photo from I don’t have a link for this one, and it is for a panicky reason: I saw it on Amazon for, like, $40 a bottle by non-Amazon sellers, and there’s no way I’m linking to that crazy talk because it’s usually $7 a bottle. So I went to the Dove site to get a link from there instead and THE FACE LOTION IS NOWHERE ON THE SITE. Does this mean it’s…gone? I last bought it when it was on a good sale, and I got three bottles of it so I haven’t needed to buy it for a long time.

Well. If you can still find it (and you can bet I’m scouring Target for it the next time I go), it costs about $7, goes on sale for $5 or $6, and I love it. It’s SPF 15 and it’s moisturizing, so I use it mostly in spring, fall, and winter (in summer I like higher SPF). The thickness of it feels perfect to me: not as thin as hand lotion but not much thicker, and it goes on all smooth and nice.

2. Oil of Olay Firming Night Cream (photo from This is about the same price as the Dove day lotion (I buy it when it goes on sale for $6), but for two ounces instead of four. It’s thicker in a way that seems luxurious, and it smells like a grandma but in a good way. I don’t usually wash my face before bed, but when I DO I always put this on afterward and I feel like I’m doing huge nice things for my face while I’m sleeping.

3. Softsoap Ultra Rich Shea Butter body wash (photo from I’m linking to it on Amazon but don’t buy it there: I don’t know what that $11 price is about (well, I DO know: it’s the price of shipping added in), but it’s more like $4 in the store, and more like $3 on sale. It has a perfumey scent I like, and unlike a lot of moisturizing body washes, it seems to actually moisturize: I don’t need to use lotion as often when I’m using this.

4. Vaseline Intensive Rescue Repairing Moisture body lotion (photo from This is $6-7 in the store, goes on sale for about $5. It’s unscented, which Paul likes because he doesn’t want to smell girly, and which I like because although I DO like to smell girly, it’s hard to find a lotion I like that coincidentally has a scent I like. I like that it moisturizes well and leaves my skin feeling all soft and nice, but it soaks in well and doesn’t feel lotiony afterward.

5. Dove Damage Therapy Daily Moisture conditioner (photo from I’m realizing that pretty much everything I like is $6-7 and goes on sale for $5. This one sometimes comes with a pump as a special offer, and I recommend buying it then even if it’s not on sale: it’s a pretty big bottle and kind of bulky and awkward to use without the pump.


There: those are my cheapies. What are yours?

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15 comments so far...

  • I am pretty brand loyal to the Eucerin with the alpha-hydroxy stuff in it. All I know is it has a teal pump. But I have super dry skin and this keeps it from looking like it is snowing when I disrobe. (Gross, I know. This is why we are talking PREVENTION!) Anyway, it is about $11, which is kind of expensive…but it works.

    Misty  |  May 18th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

  • I’m a mascara junkie. So I am always trying out the new mascaras at Target. I have tried some of the expensive mascaras at Sephora, but I think the regular old $6 and some change tubes of Maybelline are much better. My standbys are Maybelline Lash Stiletto ($6.94 at Target) and Maybelline XXL Pro Extensions ($7.24 at Target).

    Okay, maybe they aren’t SUPER cheap, but I swear by them. They make my stubby pale lashes long and dark.

    Life of a Doctor's Wife  |  May 18th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

  • I’m in love with Aveeno bath products. The Smooth and Shine shampoo and conditioner does exactly what it says it will do without giving me that build-up feeling after awhile like most cheaper shampoos do. It runs around $6/bottle, so not the cheapest of the cheap stuff, but much better than the $20/bottle Bumble & Bumble that I used to buy.

    I also just discovered Kiss My Face Peaches and Cream Moisturizer. Amazon shows it for $10.50 for 16 oz, I got an 8 oz. tube at Wal-Mart (ick) for $3.97. It has completely changed my skin. The AHA is a little tingly at first, but I’ve been using it for about 3 weeks and am totally in love with it.

    For lotions, totally swear by Nivea, but mostly because the smell makes me think of childhood’s spent by the pool and getting greased down, post-sunburn.

    moojoose  |  May 18th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

  • Not Smooth and Shine. Nourish+Shine. Smooth and Shine is John Frieda.

    moojoose  |  May 18th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

  • For shampoo and conditioner I’ve been using a Suave Professionals knockoff of an Aveda product with almond and shea butter. The conditioner works really well, even when I’m in a rush and have to rinse immediately. The best part is the very subtle, vaguely nutty fragrance. Usually about $2.50; sometimes on sale; and I do see coupons from time to time.

    Paula Begoun’s website,, is the absolute bomb. It’s like Consumer Reports for beauty-aisle stuff. Used to be subscription-based but it’s been free for the last couple of months.

    Jenny  |  May 19th, 2011 at 12:36 am

  • I use ONLY neutrogena healthy skin face lotion and St. Ives gentle apricot scrub on my face. Swear by Maybelline Define-a-Lash mascara (and I always use waterproof to avoid smudging). Suave two-in-one shampoo for the kids. Curel lotion for me and Eucerin for my eczema’d kids.
    I will admit though, now that the husband is bringing in a little more money, I splurge on Aveda hair products!

    vegas710  |  May 19th, 2011 at 2:15 am

  • I am a huge exfoliating products junkie, but I STILL have not found a product I like better than St. Ives Apricot Scrub. It just works really well; I mean almost a little TOO well if you scrub too hard! But just do gentle circles and then it’s perfect… I use it a little more often in the winter when my skin gets dull and flaky, (2 or 3 x a week) and once a week in the summer, but coupled with a stronger face wash to avoid breakouts from summer sweaty face.
    Oh, and my absolute favorite hand cream of all time EVAH, and believe me I’ve tried them all, is Neutrogena Norwegian formula hand cream. It comes in a little box, usually, and then it’s a purse size tube. It is super thick and just a dab ‘ll do ya, as they say, but it is MAGIC. Which is what my cracked, bleeding hands need in the winter. It comes in scented and unscented, and what I do is keep a tube of unscented in my purse, so that when I’m applying in the car the smell doesn’t gag Jim (who hates almost all lotion smells) but I keep a scented one in the kitchen for when I’m repairing my hands after dish clean up.

    Sarah  |  May 19th, 2011 at 6:22 pm

  • I love this!!! Can I tell you how much I hate when magazines rate the “best beauty products” and the cheapest thing on the list is $25??? So, this is awesome. For face soap (and I have bad acne, even at mid-30s) I love Neutrogena; the Oil Free Acne wash with salicylic acid, and the clear pore cleanser mask with benzoyl peroxide. (But beware of the benzoyl peroxide unless you have very acne prone and tough skin. My fair-skinned husband used it one day in the shower, and felt like his face was burning off.)

    I also adore Pantene Pro-v for my hair, and have for 10+ years. Both the shampoo and conditioner in one, and the separate.

    For lotion, I tend to migrate towards the expensive stuff without mineral oil in it–works better with my skin. But Aveeno is pretty good stuff…

    phancy  |  May 21st, 2011 at 6:02 am

  • I love the Suave stuff - they have a new shampoo that is a knock off of a rosemary and mint one from Aveda. Love! It! For conditioner I use this cheapish ($7 a bottle at Walgreens) organic one with moroccan oil. I bought it because I think it smells good.

    Moisturizer is a hue-normous bottle of Lubriderm from costco. We all slather that stuff on, and I have a jar of Oil of Olay face stuff with sunscreen for me.

    I recently splurged on makeup from MaryKay. But I have a friend who totally cheated and gave me a huge discount so it wasn’t any more spendy than drugstore stuff. (I had to get all new makeup after a certain member of this family dumped it in the toilet!

    The kids both get washed with regular body wash from Target. Claire gets J&J curly hair shampoo and Ben gets his head washed with the body stuff. My hubs has had the same bottle of Suave shampoo for the last year. But then again, he shaves his head mostly bald.

    Di  |  May 21st, 2011 at 1:51 pm

  • Aquaphor. A giant tub is expensive BUT it lasts for twenty forevers…I’ve had the same tub for almost three years. I originally bought it for a stubborn diaper rash but now I use it all the time. I especially like to slick some on my lips before bedtime during the winter and it works much better than any other to heal chapped lips.

    jen  |  May 21st, 2011 at 3:34 pm

  • I love the old lady smell of the Olay night cream. It smells like my great grandma.

    I alternate neutrogena face wash bar and Acne Free face wash every other day. I’ve tried expensive face washes and this is the best combo for me. I use Olay Complete SPF 15 face lotion.

    I got a couple tubes of Burts bees coconut foot creme 50% off and love it. I also like plain old Vaseline for a lot of things.

    Rayne of Terror  |  May 21st, 2011 at 7:08 pm

  • About the Dove face products. My sister used to use them exclusively and they started disappearing around Christmas time. She emailed them and they are indeed discontinuing the face care line. Buy what you can find.

    I like the Suave Professionals humectant shampoo and conditioner. It smells like coconut and works great.

    Andrea  |  May 23rd, 2011 at 3:02 pm

  • I love the Softsoap bodywash in Orange Peel and Honeysuckle. Best smell EVER and also doesn’t cost a bunch.

    For face stuff, I use Cetaphil gentle cleanser and also the face lotion. The lotion has SPF 15, and the other day when we were all outside and forgot to put on sunscreen, the rest of the family got so burned and I didn’t even get a light tan. Amazing.

    I also love Carmex. I have yet to find a better chapped lip treatment, and it is also great when you’ve been sick and your nose/upper lip is totally red and dry.

    Amber  |  May 23rd, 2011 at 5:09 pm

  • I am completely loyal to Ombrelle sunscreen. It is a little more expensive (though not much more) than Coppertone/Bananaboat etc… but once I discovered it I decided that everything else is a SCAM. I exaggerate, but really; the active ingredient is just WAY better. Pity for you all it’s not available in the States. L’Oreal uses the ingredient in some SPF’d makeup but nothing in the head-to-toe-beach-size-bottle. There’s someone on Facebook begging L’Oreal to distribute it in the State too. Look for it online, I guess.

    Karen L  |  May 23rd, 2011 at 11:41 pm

  • I totally agree w/ some of the other folks - I used to buy the fancy (read:expensive) shampoos & conditioners for my curly hair, now I only buy Suave - there is one that is a knock-off of Matrix and one that is a fake version of Aveda. The Suave stuff works way better for me than either Matrix or Aveda ever did! And for $2 for a huge bottle you can’t beat the price :)

    Megan  |  May 24th, 2011 at 1:10 am