Shay is a beauty blogger with a knack for falling down Internet research holes and an addiction to before-and-after photos.
This is a guide to beauty products and cosmetics that to do double (or triple!) duty as well as beauty tips and secret uses for makeup you may already own. Regardless of what you use, it's always a good feeling to know you're getting most out of the products you buy. Take a look at my suggestions for multi-tasking makeup, skincare, and cosmetic products. You might learn something new!
Multipurpose Makeup Poll
Multi-Purpose Cosmetics Defined
The purpose of this article is to provide a guide to multitasking skincare, cosmetics, and makeup products. This means that these products can be used for more than one purpose in your beauty routine. This is not to be confused with a product that has multiple benefits, like a foundation with SPF or a lip balm that plumps, for example. You won't find any of those here.
A good amount of the beauty products I've included here are designed and marketed explicitly as multitaskers, but I also have some more unconventional ideas and alternative uses. Why does this work? Many makeup and cosmetic products are made of the same ingredients or have the same benefits, but aren't specifically marketed as multipurpose products. Others are so cheap and common that cosmetic companies wouldn't dare sell them for their actual worth. It's much better for business to slap a trendy label on it.
Read on for recommendations for some of the best multipurpose makeup around, as well as some beauty tips and secret uses of common makeup and skincare products.
#1 - Lipstick and Blush
This combo is a no-brainer. Lipstick and blush tones tend to fall in the same color family, so it's no surprise makeup companies have combined the two. The trick is, the blush must be cream based (I've never heard of a powder lipstick!). There are a ton of lipstick/blush hybrids on the market, so the key is to find the best color to compliment your skintone, and the best formula for your skin type. Since it would be going on your cheeks as well, pay close attention to the ingredients, especially if you have acne prone or sensitive skin.
#2 - Lipstick AS Blush
If lipstick and blush are so similar, why not use lipstick AS blush? Here's a beauty secret: There is absolutely no reason why you can't; Makeup artists have been doing it for YEARS. Dab a few spots on the apples of your cheeks and blend blend blend.
Things to remember:
- Take extra care to choose a color that matches your skin tone because lipstick tends to be more pigmented than blush.
- Go easy on the application on the cheeks because of this higher pigmentation.
- More moisturizing lipsticks tend to be easier to blend than the matte formulas, but dryer lipsticks may work if you mix them with primer, face moisturizer, or aloe vera on the back of your hand before applying.
- If you are acne prone or have sensitive skin, be very careful with putting lipstick on your cheeks. Test it out on a small area of your face spreading it all over.
A Makeup Artist's Take on "Lipstick as Blush"
This guy is my absolute favorite makeup guru on Youtube. He's worth a watch (and subscribe)!
#3 - Multipurpose Stains
Stains are similar to the lip/cheek products, except for one major rule: they deposit a light wash of pigment, hence the name "stain." Don't expect much moisturization from a lip/cheek stain, but do expect staying power. When choosing a color, keep in mind it will go on and blend to a lighter color than it looks like in the bottle or tube. So a deep red (like Benetint) will stain to a very flattering rose shade. Some products are gel based and may provide a little more hydration than a straight up stain.
For cheeks, apply three dots of the stain on the apples of your cheeks and blend immediately. For lips, apply in the same way you would a lip gloss, then press your lips together. Repeat if you want a brighter or darker look. If you want more moisture on your lips, dab some Chapstick or Vaseline over the top
#4 - Eye, Cheek, Lip Color
... and More
These multipurpose makeup products are similar to the cheek and lip products, but come in a wider range of shades, colors, and finishes. Golden tones are great for eyes and lips, and also work as an overall highlighter or bronzer. Red or pink tones work for lips and cheeks, while darker tones can be used as lip color or eye color.
Drugstore brand "Elf" and Department Store brand "Nars" both make a fantastic multi-purpose makeup stick.
Mac has a whole line of multi-use products. Their "Pigments" come in a huge range of colors. Depending on the shade, this product can be used as an eyeshadow, eyeliner, bronzer, or a highlighter. Because it is so pigmented, it can also be mixed with vaseline for lip color or with clear or white nail polish for a custom color. For Mac, it's best to buy directly from them or a certified supplier (such as Nordstrom) - they seem to be susceptible to counterfeiting.
#5 - Eyeshadow + Eyeliner + Eyebrow Filler
I have ALWAYS used brown eyeshadow as eyeliner. It's much more forgiving than an eyeliner pencil or liquid liner and works very well for everyday makeup. If you want a more defined line, wet the brush first, then dip it in the shadow. Recently, I started using my brown eyeshadow as an eyebrow "pencil." Be sure to apply with a light hand - you want it to look natural.
For eye lining and eyebrow filling, use an angled eyeshadow brush. They sell these just about anywhere that sells makeup. Alternately, if you want to go for a cheaper option, check out your local art store or Michaels. Some paint brushes are virtually identical to the angled eyeshadow brush that you'd pay triple for at cosmetics counters. Be careful with the softness of the brush, you don't want to get something to stiff and have it irritate your skin. Wash it with a mild face or hand soap before using.
Just about any brown colored eyeshadow will work as an eyeliner and eyebrow filler. The key is to find a product that is highly pigmented and is matte (no shimmer or shine) and is a color that works well for your complexion. Darker haired women may opt for a matte black shadow to serve the same purpose.
#6 - Mascara
In a pinch, mascara works very well as a gel or liquid eyeliner. You may ask yourself, "Why would I do this? I see three scenarios:
- You're doing a retro wingtip eye for a special occasion, and don't want to invest in a product you may not use again.
- You've run out of your go-to eyeliner or eye gel.
- You want to get the most out of your makeup and mascara tends to go bad quickly. (Wet eye makeup tends to dry out much faster than any other cosmetic. Also, for health purposes, it's recommended to replace mascara every few months.)
Put a dab of the mascara, from the tip of the wand, onto the back of your hand and use a slanted brush or angled eyeliner brush to apply it. Best of all, mascara is already designed to be safe around the eye - you can apply worry free!
If you color your hair, mascara can also be used as a root or grey touch up between dye jobs. Of course, take extra care to get a color that matches your hair!
#7 - Clear Mascara
What the heck would you want to use clear mascara for?? Clear mascara works well for gals that want a natural, low maintenance look, or for women that have naturally thick and/or dark lashes. I use an eyelash curler then apply the clear mascara. It holds the curl and instantly opens my eyes up, without pigment! On some days, I prefer to use clear (rather than black) mascara because it's not going to get under my eyes, regardless of the situation. It helps you avoid raccoon eyes if:
- If it's raining.
- You're going to the beach/pool/lake/river and actually plan on getting in the water.
- You're watching a particularly weepy movie.
WAIT. It's a multipurpose product, right? Of course! Use it as an eyebrow setting gel for a neat, polished look. If you carry it in your purse, it can also be used on the go to tame those pesky, misbehaving fly-aways.
I've used Maybelline's clear mascara since Jr. High.
#8 - Foundation
If you buy a good foundation with buildable coverage, there is no reason why you can't use it as a concealer as well. If you want a smoother, more natural look, this could be an option for you. It's also a good emergency trick if you're without concealer for whatever reason. Keep in mind, using foundation as concealer may not provide the same camouflage as a good concealer, and may not be the best choice if you have a lot of hyper-pigmentation or very dark under eye circles. For medium coverage, foundation it can be an excellent choice.
Apply foundation under your eyes in the same way you would apply concealer - dab on with your ring finger or makeup brush until it's blended. For spot coverage, use a brush, or do what I do: use a q-tip. Dab on little to cover the spot you're concerned about, and let it dry a little. use the unused end of the q-tip to blend, adding more foundation from the used end until you get the coverage you want. Set with a translucent (colorless) powder. The best thing about q-tips is that you can throw it away and use a new one each time. Yay for never having to clean makeup brushes!
I discovered the foundation as concealer trick when I ran out of my go-to concealer (which had been discontinued). I learned that I liked the natural coverage of my foundation (applied in layers) much more than any other concealer I tried.
#9 - Multipurpose Salve
... aka Vaseline
Vaseline is the ultimate beauty product. Don't believe me? Check out a few of the many things you can do with it:
- Moisturizer - For hands, feet, cuticles, elbows, knees... anywhere!
- Lip Balm - Wear it alone or mix it with color. My go-to beauty secret is to lightly dab on lipstick then apply vaseline over it. It gives a touch of color without looking overwhelming and lets you get the most out of your makeup (without buying a ton of products).
- Eye Cream - I use Vaseline on a regular basis to moisturize my eyes at night. You can dab it on with you finger or use a q-tip. Here's an unlikely beauty tip: Used it over eyeshadow for a dewy take on the smoky eye look.
- Wound/Scar Ointment - A dermatologist once told me that if a wound is clean, you don't need antibacterial ointment. He also said that fancy scar creams are a total rip-off. What did he recommend? You guessed it: Vaseline. He said the best way to prevent a scar is to keep the wound moist. Vaseline does the job just fine.
- Baby Skincare - Vaseline is also gentle enough to use on a newborn's skin. This stuff is fantastic.
Did I mention Vaseline is non-comedogenic (won't clog pores)? It's good news for acne prone gals like myself.
#10 - Mild Face Lotion
Everyone needs a good face lotion. I have oily, sensitive AND acne prone skin, so once I found a product that didn't give me problems, I stuck with it for LIFE. Neutrogena's Oil-Free face lotions are gentle enough to be used to remove eye makeup and can also be used as a light eye cream. To remove makeup, pump some on a cotton ball or q-tip and wipe gently over the eyelid. Once it's spread around a little, wipe it off. Vaseline (shock me!) also works well as an eye makeup remover. I haven't actually purchased eye makeup remover in almost a decade.
Note: If you do get any in your eye, wash away with water. Generally, I'd avoid SPF face lotion around the eyes.
#11 - Shampoo + Body Wash + Bubble Bath
Why not try a multipurpose soap?
Shampoo was first developed as a gentler way to wash hair than the traditional bar soap. The key with shampoo/body wash hybrids is to have a product that is gentle enough not to strip hair and good enough to wash the body effectively.
Philosophy's 3-in-1 soaps are sudsy, moisturizing, and come in delectable scents. They also make for a killer bubble bath. If you're looking for something more natural, Dr. Bronner's is a trusted brand for pure castile soap that comes in a ton of scents (peppermint, tea tree, almond, lavender...). I've even heard some people brush their teeth with the stuff.
#12 - Conditioner
Can be used on hair, of course, but I’ve also used it to shave. It's infinitely better than using a bar of soap, it's more moisturizing than body wash. If you like using shave gel and you're fresh out, give your conditioner a whirl.
#13 - Apple Cider Vinegar
Yes! Vinegar is a beauty product! Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is particularly beneficial for body because of it's high concentration of Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), which are used heavily in many skincare products and cosmetics. ACV can be used as the following:
- Toner - There are lots of recipes for this online. The most basic toner is a mix of ACV and distilled water. You can also add tea tree oil or essential oils (such as lavender).
- Facial Mask - When mixed with Bentonite Clay, ACV makes cheap, effective face mask.
- Spot Treatment - ACV is a great natural remedy for post acne red marks or hyper-pigmentation. Apply with a q-tip nightly.
- Mole Remover - Apple Cider Vinegar can burn off moles and skin tags, but do so at your own risk.
- Hair Rinse - I haven't tried it myself, by lots of folks swear by using ACV as a "hair conditioner." Dilute it with a 1:4 to 1:2 ratio of ACV to water, apply and let sit for a few minutes, then rinse it out. I'm also intrigued by the people who do away with traditional shampoo and conditioner entirely by replacing their shampoo a baking soda paste.
Victoria on March 12, 2016:
Hi, I'm new here but I really like this article. It's so cool:)
Mariana Fuzaro from São Paulo, Brazil on September 03, 2015:
Sometimes I use lipstick as blush, mascara as eyeliner and an extra coat of base over the compact powder then another layer of compact powder over the base as a corrective. The last ends up working better than actual corrective!
Maya Smith from London on July 30, 2015:
Great hub! So many useful ideas at one place! Personally I used clear mascara on my eyebrows and I've seen my mom using lipstick as blush for like 20 years. Will try some of your ideas, too.
Jasmeet Kaur from India on February 05, 2015:
I am so amazed that we can use our makeup in such manners. I do use powder blush as eye shadow sometimes, but other makeup options are thumbs up!!
Shay Marie (author) from Southern California on July 09, 2013:
@cwilson360: It really is an under-appreciated beauty product!
cwilson360 on July 09, 2013:
Love love love apple cider vinegar! i use it for my face.
Shay Marie (author) from Southern California on April 05, 2013:
@lisln: I have to admit, I was wearing foundation in that photo - oh the wonders of makeup! Thank you for the compliment regardless!
LorLinda from Denver Colorado on April 05, 2013:
These are new to me some of it anyway, I can use all the help I can get lol. Anyway you have a beautiful complexion according to your picture.
anonymous on March 28, 2013:
I like this! I have multiple uses for make-up, and hair products...especially hair conditioner ;)