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How to Look Beautiful on a Budget

Stefanie O'Connell

Do you know how much money you're spending on your appearance before you even get dressed in the morning? Everything from the moisturizer you slather on after coming out of the shower to your latest trip to the nail salon helps contribute to the massive amount of money that women spend each year on beauty products.

It adds up quickly, but the good news is, it doesn't have to. You can maintain a polished look for a fraction of the cost. Cut your beauty bill down from the thousands to the hundreds by following these budget beauty tips.


So much personal care and maintenance can be done at home on your own, products and treatments alike. Waxing, threading, manicures, and pedicures are just a few of the regular services you can skip with little sacrifice or risk of failing catastrophically.

Thanks to the Internet, an endless array of all natural ways of making everything from firming masks to hair conditioner are available to anyone with a Wi-Fi connection. All you need is some basic kitchen staples and you've got yourself a chemical and cruelty-free beauty solution for a fraction of the drugstore price.

Space out professional visits:

If your hairstyle is something you simply can't sacrifice or handle on your own, just rethink your timeline instead. Even squeezing in an additional week between each coloring can mean one less salon visit a year, and that's $100 worth of savings right there. If you only go for cuts, you can probably afford to extend that timeline even more.

Get creative:

One of the best ways to save on your beauty routine is to make it less regimented and go with the flow. If you feel you have to have a very specific product or a very specific service on a very specific timeline or at a very specific place, you're not leaving yourself open to some of the alternatives, which can be cheaper and sometimes even better.

When you get a free product sample, use it up and save yourself from having to buy a new mascara or lip gloss for a few months. When a new salon is offering an introductory special, check it out instead of committing to your usual fixed-price stylist.

Be a guinea pig:

High-end and low-cost meet in the world of hair modeling. You can get cuts, blowouts and even color done for cheap (and possibly even free) when you allow your hair to be used for demonstrations, workshops or classes at a beauty school. And you don't need to worry too much; sessions are supervised by the pros.

This method isn't limited to hair. Massages, facials and nails all have low or no-cost alternatives for those who are willing. A simple web search for the treatment you'd like in the city you're in, along with the word "school," "free," or "cheap" can help you find a low-cost option near you. (Just remember, even with a free service, it's still nice to tip.)

Let others pay:

If you have a tendency to draw a blank when people ask you what you'd like for your birthday or an upcoming holiday, think about what you need. It could be something as basic as moisturizer or as indulgent as a massage. Gift cards are also great, giving you the flexibility to spend where and when you need.

Decide what to skip:

You can make fun of Teri Hatcher's red wine baths or Angelina Jolie's caviar facials, as long as you're just as honest with yourself about your own ridiculous and unnecessary beauty rituals, such as eyelash extensions or tanning. It's great to feel pampered, but it's another thing to be wasteful.

Stefanie O'Connell is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to "live the dream" on a starving artists' budget at thebrokeandbeautifullife.com.

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