There are so many items on the market to meet our skincare needs but sometimes all we have to do is dig around in our kitchens to find gentle alternatives that work just as well (and don’t leave a hole in our pocket!). Our homes are stocked with surprisingly effective natural beauty products that are kind to our skin and cost next to nothing. Here are five beauty products that have been sitting right in front of you all this time.

Lemon’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties combined with its natural oils make a brilliant two-in-one nail product. This refreshing citrus fruit can be used to brighten and cleanse nails as well as add moisture to cuticles. Soak hands in a mixture of equal parts warm water and lemon juice for 10 minutes or use ¼ wedge of lemon directly on your nails, making sure to rub and press the white part of the peel into your cuticles for bright, squeaky clean nails.

Oats have anti-inflammatory properties that work wonders on sunburns, insect bites and irritated skin. Grab a couple of handfuls of regular oats, wrap them in a clean tea towel and tie-off with string. Plop it in your bath for a calming, milky soak that will soothe your tender skin.

Olive oil
Makeup removers with oil are the ones that remove every last scrap of paint on your face. If you haven’t had time to replace your favourite makeup remover or simply don’t have one, try using olive oil. This delicious golden elixir is gentle enough to use on your delicate eye area and successfully wipes away makeup just like your store-bought product.

Baking soda
Do you feel like your skin needs a big ol' boost of radiance but you don’t want to spend the dough on micro-dermabrasion? Pick up some baking soda. It’s commonly known as a fridge deodorizer and rising ingredient in your favourite cake but celebs like Lauren Conrad and Emma Stone swear by this white powder to smooth and exfoliate their skin. Mix three parts baking soda with one part water until a paste forms. Gently massage in circular motions over a (clean) face and rinse with water. Follow up with a hydrating moisturizer. Depending on your skin type, you can do it once every week or two. Your skin will appear brighter and softer…really, it will!

Coconut oil and sugar
Earlier this month I wrote about beauty tips using coconut oil. One of them was a sugar body scrub. The hydrating properties of the coconut oil and the granular exfoliating effects of the sugar combine to make the perfect at-home scrub. Mix equal parts sugar and coconut oil and add some grated citrus rind for a divine at-home full body exfoliation. Don’t feel like doing the full monty? Use your homemade exfoliant to soften dry, over-worked hands and feet. (The oil is slippery so use caution in the shower.)

Next time you run out of a beauty product, just open up your kitchen cupboards and you’ll find a natural, easy alternative that will save you a trip to the drugstore. Oh, and it’s always a good idea to do a patch test before trying any new products, even natural ones.

Louise Griew is a Toronto-born makeup artist whose second home is Melbourne, Australia. Her work can be seen in national and international advertising campaigns, magazines, music videos and on TV.