A bathroom full of toiletries for $26. Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the Dollar Tree.

Dollar Tree Toiletries.jpg

All for a dollar.

By Kim Wingfield

OK, so it's a rough economy and most of us are trying to find ways to cut back on anything possible. 

Necessary?  Sure.  Sucktastic?  It doesn't have to be.

Toiletries are a good place to start. It's amazing how quickly those little items can add up and break your budget. If you're like me, and have a particular kind of product that you don't want to sacrifice (i.e. pricey makeup, special haircare products), it's a lot easier to find space in your budget for that occasional splurge when you're saving a bunch on the rest of your toiletries.

I've found a really painless way to slash the costs on these little necessary expenditures: dollar stores. 

No, really.

You can get nearly all the toiletries you need in a dollar store for $26.

I happen to be particularly partial to the Dollar Tree chain; the stores tend to be clean, well-lit, well-stocked, and pleasant to shop in. You can pretty consistently get in and out of the store with your purchases in ten minutes. And there are Dollar Trees all over the Capital Region.

Most of the products there are basically the same quality as the generic brands you'd find in any big chain store or supermarket, sometimes they're even brand names.

Are you going to find high end salon stuff for a buck? No. But there is no free lunch, either. What will you find?

 Dollar Tree-Toiletries.jpgThey have knockoffs of Lubriderm, Vaseline Intensive Care, and Baby Magic lotions but occasionally you'll see a national brand. They tend to carry V05 shampoo, and they usually have some Pantene. V05 can vary from .88 to $1.05 in grocery stores so the $1 price (everything in the DT is indeed just a buck) is comparable to what you'd pay for it elsewhere. Pantene, on the other hand goes about $4.99 for a 12-oz. bottle at CVS. The sizes that are in the DT are generally all the same sizes that other stores carry. Other name brands I've seen at Dollar Tree include Softsoap, Aim and Crest toothpastes, ($1 vs. $2.00 for Aim and $3.50 for Crest at CVS,) and Irish Spring soap, which is usually sold by the 3-pack for a buck, as opposed to $2.99 at CVS and Price Chopper.

Generally, the rest of the toiletries are generic, but I've got hyper-sensitive skin and have never had a problem with them.

So if you can forgo the brand label what can you cart home for 26 bucks? Here's a sample cart:

Body lotion, dental floss, mouthwash, toothbrush (pack of 2 to 4,) toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, moisturizer, makeup removal wipes, hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, soap/body wash, bath pouf, lip balm, hand soap, razors (usually in packs of 5-10,) shaving cream, cotton balls, band-aids, aspirin, Tums, tweezers, and nail files.  Total cost of 24 items at a buck each, with 8% sales tax added in?  $25.92.  For most single people, the bulk of the items on that shopping list will last at least 6-8 weeks before needing to be replaced, putting your basic toiletry expenditures per month at well under $20. 

So if you can part with the brand name stuff, give it a whirl. Your wallet will thank you later. 


I even like their frozen fruit! Which reminds me, I haven't seen a DT up here yet with a frozen foods section (I lived in their hometown for a few years)... Anyway, I got there for an embarrassing amount of stuff.

If you love the Dollar Tree, you'll so heart the Dollar Store Show, which is happening TONIGHT at VALENTINE'S, 7 pm. Ten or so writers will read things they've written about dollar store objects they were randomly sent. (Mine is a CD that is also a gift tag, which is shaped like a star and plays a really ridiculous version of "When You Wish Upon a Star." uh huh.)

@Alison--The Dollar Tree in East Greenbush has a small refrigerated food section, actually! Here's the address:

Shoppes at Greenbush Commons - Store #1737
600 North Greenbush Road
North Greenbush, NY 12144
Hours: Mon – Sat: 9:00am – 9:00pm, Sun: 10:00am – 7:00pm

No, I *don't* have a problem! Stop asking! ;)

Beware of what you buy at dollar stores, they might not even be that cheap and it might even be dangerous:


Alison - check out the Dollar Tree on Route 4 / 9&20 in E. Greenbush. It's in the same plaza as Home Depot and Target. Freezer section and non-hfcs based fruit juice!

I'm not sure whether to be proud or concerned that I only use 5 of the items on your shopping list.

I'm not a fan of the perishables at the dollar store, but I always buy my vacuum cleaner bags (3/$1) and "disposable" aluminum foil pans. Oh, and mylar helium balloons.

Really? This wasn't that long ago. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/02/us/02toothpaste.html
I'm sure it's all safe now, I guessed I'm just surprised to see someone recommending it so soon after. If you do end up saving a bunch of money on toiletries, and you really want to make that cash work for you, I know a great place to invest: http://www.madofftrustee.com/

Good to know! Thanks! Next time I'm over that way I'll have to check it out!

I suppose from time to time you could find a good deal but many times I see a "brand-name" product, it is for a small size compared to the normal size products I usually buy.

I usually stick to wrapping paper/gift bags and other disposable type things. Oh and cheap wine glasses. :)

@Jackers--Valid concern, which did cross my mind, but there are usually a couple of well-known (non-poisonous) national toothpaste brands (Colgate, Crest) at the Dollar Tree at all times, so it's ok.

@DH--Really? Most of the time when I've bought a brand name item at the DT, it's been the same size they carry at most other retailers. *shrug*

Love the Palmolive bar soap. Years ago they used to sell it in other places, but now the only place I can find it is in a Dollar store. Not sure what chain it is, but it's the one in the Price Chopper plaza next to the Verizon store in Clifton Park. Good stuff, and super cheap.

@Kim - Those national brands of toothpaste at the dollar store may or may not be legitimate. There were some counterfeit tubes of Colgate that contained the sweet and tasty poison.


My favorite dollar store buy of all time was in California. They were selling these six packs of knock-off Zima. Being in my early twenties, I thought, "how bad could it be?"

When it turned out to be undrinkable, I turned the four cases of the stuff (only $16 total, can you believe it?) into an entertainment center. I covered the boxes with a nice sheet, and the TV and components sat on top.

I discovered Dollar Tree 19 years ago when I moved to VA. I lived less than a mile from their headquarters. I sure wish I'd bought stock in DT when it was cheap,cheap, cheap.
Finding DT when I returned to Albany made my day! Love DT!!!

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