My Secret Shopping Hack For Getting High-Quality Products For Less Money

My most recent skin care epiphany was, like many of my epiphanies, a drunk accident. I was staying at an Airbnb and stumbled into the unfamiliar bathroom to remove (or at least attempt to remove) my make-up before passing out. I spent about thirty seconds conducting a half-hearted search for my toiletries bag, decided it was missing, and settled for what was sitting on the sink: baby oil.

I figured that if it was safe for babies to use, then it must be safe for me to use. And indeed, it took my mascara off faster than potentially anything else ever has. It left my skin feeling incredibly clean and smooth. And then I realized: just because this product is manufactured for babies doesn’t mean that I need to be a baby in order to use it. Earth-shattering, I know.

My skin is generally very sensitive and requires some extra TLC every week, but it had never occurred to me to look beyond adult products to baby products. You don’t really see baby skincare products in all of those pretty Instagram shelf photos — and yet, they are often just as effective as adult products, and often they are much cheaper, too. This baby product thing is probably my favorite drunk realization since the time I accidentally added balsamic vinegar to my avocado toast. I’ve since done some research and discovered a few more baby and/or children’s products that I have now incorporated into my routine.

1. Sunscreen.

My face is extremely sensitive to everything, so it makes sense for me to cater to it as one might a temperamental baby.  Also, there is sometimes a slight price reduction between adult sunscreen and baby sunscreen — it’s not massive, but in my own personal experience, I have found that the baby sunscreen seems to be a better quality for the same or slightly lower price of the adult product, so in that sense, it’s worth it to me. Two caveats: 1) I am not a doctor or chemist, so can’t guarantee that any sunscreen is safer than another, for kids and adults alike. I can just speak to what seems to work for my skin. 2) If you use baby sunscreen on your face, you might notice more of a white residue than with adult sunscreen, so generally, I just use the baby sunscreen for my body and then use a normal facial moisturizer with SPF15 for my face.

2. Cashmere.

I suppose this “hack” applies to clothing made of other fabrics as well, but I’m focusing on the super-expensive one for a second to really drive my point home. I bought my first ever cashmere sweater this year thanks to the kids’ section at Monoprix (France’s version of Target). I had my eye on an adult version, but even on sale, it would set me back about 100 euros. I happened to walk by the kids’ section on my way out of the store and noticed a few smaller versions of the same exact sweater…so I stopped to investigate. Turns out, I wear the same size as a 14-year-old — or at least, I can wiggle my way into the sweaters that are labeled “age 14.” My petite bra size has proven useful, for once. The kids’ sweater was only 40 euros on sale, so I could have gotten two for less than the price of the adult one! (In this case, I resisted — although I may be able to wear the clothing of a child, I try to practice the self-restraint of an adult. But it’s definitely information I’ve filed away for my future shopping ventures.)

3. Baby oil/baby wipes.

Baby wipes are amazing at removing makeup and very gentle on my super-sensitive face. And let’s be honest, they also feel great when used on the body parts where they were intended to be used, regardless of whether you’re a baby or not. Baby oil is great for any number of everyday tasks: taking off mascara; soothing red, inflamed skin after a bikini or eyebrow wax; use it in place of shaving gel for your legs, or in place of WD40 to quiet a squeaky door hinge or chair/bed frame. You can use a little bit of oil as a cuticle cream, or use a few drops in the bath + a few drops of your favorite essential oil (just be careful though — the bath becomes quite slippery when it’s time to get out).

When I took painting classes in school, I would use baby oil to remove all of the paint on my hands and arms after a particularly long and messy session. Baby oil will also polish the fingerprints off of stainless steel, and I’ve heard that you can also use it to help a stuck zipper get unstuck, though I haven’t tried that one myself yet. Moral of the story: baby oil is apparently magically multi-purpose, as it can be used in many aspects of adult life that don’t necessarily involve actual babies.

Jackie is a writer from Los Angeles living in Paris. She’s the co-founder of the TalesOnRail Artist in Residence program. You can find her at and on Twitter at @jackie_travels.

Image via Unsplash

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