If you've ever read a fashion magazine, even glanced at the cover, you've seen them: "SPRING ESSENTIALS," "GQ'S IT LIST," "TEN ITEMS YOU NEED IN YOUR CLOSET," and other hyperbolic variations. With so many publications hocking high-priced items, it's easy to lose track of what we need rather than what $65 Aesop moisturizer editors deem necessary for our medicine cabinet. And because most of us aren't fashion editors with access to free samples and disposable income earmarked for "THIS FALL'S BROGUE BOOT," we're left with identifying what items are most versatile for our budget and wardrobe.
Not to overlook the foundation of your budget-minded sartorial game, I start with grooming and a few products you'll need to get you from tousle-haired to squeaky clean lothario in the morning.
1. Colgate Wisps (drugstore.com, $7.49): Brushing in the morning and before bed is obvious, but what about after your chicken salad sandwich from Boudin? Throw a bag of Colgate Wisps into your car or bag, and you'll be sure not to have pecan bits in your teeth and afternoon halitosis.
2. Rembrandt 2 Hour Whitening Kit: (Target, $18.69): If you drink lattés as often as I do, you're familiar with the unfortunate yellow-stained teeth that come with it. Don't jump at the flashy packaging of other, more expensive whitening kits. Rembrandt's the most affordable on the market, and it includes custom-fit applicator trays that'll make the whitening treatment more bearable. Actually, pick a two hour rom-com or action flick on Netflix while you're at it and you have yourself a party.
1. Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser (drugstore, $6.79): A mainstay among the shelves of facial products, Cetaphil is a mild cleanser that won't leave your skin tight.
2. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control Triple-Action Toner (CVS, $7.49): If you have oily, acne-prone skin, I enthusiastically present Neutrogena's solution. The 2% salicylic acid is enough to keep your acne in check, and I'm convinced the cucumber extract soothes my otherwise problematic skin.
3. Cherry Carmex Stick (Drugstore.com, $4.00 for 3): Unsurprisingly, this tube of cherry and beeswax goodness is often passed over for everyone's favorite: Burt's Bees. I'm not a fan of the thin application, and as I'm a compulsive lip licker, I find Carmex's stickier wax more effective at combatting my chapped lips for hours. A huge plus: the smell is delicious, and ladies just can't get enough. Go ahead, smear it on and enjoy the extra attention.
Stay tuned for part two of The Truly Affordable Essentials: Grooming Edition