The holiday parties have vanished into the haze of Christmas Past. The weather forecast is “gray to gloomy” for the foreseeable future. Your mood could use a lift. Clearly, a full head-to-toe makeover is in order. Over the New Year, we all make lists of resolutions to improve ourselves. Yet when money is scarce, sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to achieve metamorphosis on a shoestring.
The good news is that transformation without a huge outlay is eminently possible. With some forethought, you’ll realize that items already in your closet, refrigerator, and bathroom can be repurposed to give you the makeover of your dreams for free. This year, why not resolve to look like a million bucks without spending any money whatsoever?
1. Treat Your Hair to a Day at the Home Spa
Does your fringe look frazzled? You could make an appointment with a salon to solve the problem, but that would involve tossing thirty, forty, or fifty dollars down your hairdresser’s sink. Instead, vow to add shine to your locks for no lucre. Treat your hair to a day of pampering worthy of a magnate-in-the-making with an ingredient that hails from the grocery store: mayonnaise. For deep conditioning, don’t hold the mayo. Instead, take a half cup of mayonnaise and comb it all the way through damp locks. Let it sit for fifteen minutes. For best results, cover your hair with a shower cap. Then wash out the mayo (thoroughly!) with your regular shampoo. Your hair will feel salon-conditioned–without the salon prices.
2. Lose Weight Instantly with the “No-Diet” Diet
Did you know that 99% of diets are destined to fail? Few bodies can tolerate deprivation for long. Instead, master a new habit and dress thinner. It’s the painless way to lop off weight that won’t come off any other way! Wear high heels (every inch visually subtracts three pounds). Brush contour on your cheeks (doing so will appear to subtract two pounds). Slip on monochromatic clothing (you’ll automatically look eight pounds thinner). Wear control-top pantyhose (to visually subtract five pounds). And voila—you will have shed eighteen pounds without having to invest in any special diet foods or a support group. Results from most actual diets last but a few months. But results from dressing thin are guaranteed to last a lifetime.
3. Walk Tall
It’s hard to trade in one’s parents for taller models, but one can always keep one’s eyes peeled for clothing that elongates the body. This helps add stature, which can only enhance one’s natural elegance. Seek clothes that draw the eye up and out. The trick is to uncover these body stretchers among the stash that’s already hanging in your closet. Then pair them in new ways for maximum impact. A slip dress over skinny pants or leggings updates your wardrobe to catwalk slinkiness. Sometimes you can “cheat” a longer leg by wearing skirts that sit higher than your natural waist. Wearing dark pantyhose (or any clothing that creates one unbroken line) can also streamline your appearance, until you look almost waiflike. Supermodels aren’t just born skinny; they also learn to walk tall.
4. Sleep Your Way out of a Visit to the Dermatologist
Botox temporarily paralyzes muscles to prevent them from wrinkling. Unfortunately, Botox also promotes long-term wallet paralysis. Before you squander a fortune that you don’t have on injections, serums, and potions, try to sleep your skin into peak condition by finding your ideal sleep quotient. How do you find your magic number? Keep a snooze diary. Pay special attention to your mood, energy, and health after varying amounts of rest. Also listen to all compliments. If friends start asking if you’ve “lost weight” or what you’ve been doing to look so fresh, it could be a sign that you’ve found your optimum sleep amount. Before you invest a lot of money in anti-aging injections that supposedly turn back the clock, try setting your real alarm clock for a good night’s sleep. Then be sure to do the same thing tomorrow night.
5. Put any Perfumes You Don’t Love to a More Spiritual Use
If someone gifts you with a fragrance that makes you swoon, don’t automatically toss the perfume in the trash. Instead, try adding a couple of drops to your bathtub and distilling it with several quarts of water. Then bathe in it. The scent may sit better with you that way, and you won’t be throwing away hundreds of dollars. The ancient Egyptians believed that perfumes could help one attain spiritual perfection. In more recent times, science claims that certain scents can help lift moods. Citrus-based scents may help promote happiness; rose scents may promote calm; the scent of bergamot may relieve anxiety and stress. Experiment until you find the scent that soothes and promotes your well-being.
6. Twitter Yourself Glamorous
Do you feel like you’re six generations removed—not just from Kevin but from anyone who brings home the Bacon? That no longer has to be the case, thanks to Twitter. With its unique micro-blog technology, we are all just one generation removed from the most glamorous stars on the planet. Sign up today to follow your favorite celebrities, many of whom will provide loyal fans with a steady stream of insider tips on everything from dressing elegantly to skin, hair, clothing, and makeup pointers. And the beauty is, all of this top-notch celebrity advice is free. Ain’t life tweet?
7: Give Yourself an Online Makeover in Lieu of an Offline One
Department store makeovers only seem as though they’re free. These beauty lessons can be risky business for the budget-conscious, as salespeople will be more inclined to try to sell costly makeup products now that the holiday store traffic has eased. Fortunately, an “online makeover” really costs nothing and generates proven results—at least as far as your social life is concerned. Take a good, hard look at your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles. On LinkedIn, beef up the Summary section. Ask former colleagues to recommend your work. If you’re an entrepreneur, add a company website or a link to your Twitter account. On Facebook, update your status and your profile picture. The upshot? More people will reach out to you and you’ll activate your social life without spending a cent.
For more pointers on saving money while you enjoy a luxe lifestyle, check out my new book, The Millionaire’s Handbook: How to Look and Act Like a Millionaire Even if You’re Not (Skyhorse, November 2011).
* * *
Vicky Oliver is the award-winning author of The Millionaire’s Handbook: How to Look and Act Like a Millionaire, Even If You’re Not (Skyhorse Publishing, November 2011) plus four books on career development, including the bestselling 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks, 2005) and 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions (Skyhorse Publishing, 2010). She lives in New York City, where she helps people turn around their careers and their lives. Contact her at GetTheMillionairesHandbook.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.