Hair, Nails and Makeup on a Budget: Save Money and Still Look Gorgeous

beauty on a budget
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Since I started getting serious about paying off my student loans, I’ve been taking a hard look at my spending habits to figure out how to cut down on my costs.

One area I’ve hit hard is beauty. Through a combination of strategies, I’ve been able to save approximately $2,400 over the past two years on my beauty routine. I would much rather save that money for other things (future new home, I’m looking at you)!

Here are the tactics I’ve used to slash my beauty and personal care spending. How much could they help you save?

Save Money on Hair Care

I used to spend around $150 every six months to get my hair cut and highlighted, and $100 every three months for highlights only. This worked out to be about $500 a year. I now go to a friend of mine who gives me a great discount, so I pay about $180 a year. That’s a savings of $640 over the course of two years.

For those of you rockin’ the bangs, some hairdressers will trim them for free in between your regular cuts. It never hurts to ask — but don’t forget to leave them a tip!

While not everyone knows someone who can give them a discount on hair care, it’s worth asking around. Check with friends, local Facebook groups, Yelp or even local beauty schools for potential options.

If you can’t find a hairdresser who can give you a good price, try saying good-bye to coloring your hair. Reuniting with your natural hair color for a little while will revitalize your hair — and your wallet.

Save Money on Nail Care

I rarely went for manicures and pedicures before I cracked down on my spending, but I’ve now given them up almost completely.

Sure, the massage with the hot stones feels good on your legs when you get a pedicure, and it’s nice that they cut your cuticles and all, but you can do all of this yourself! Why spend $50 or more on a manicure and pedicure when you could spend $10 on some nail polish that will last you months, if not years? Plus, recent reports suggest there’s a much higher cost to that “cheap” mani-pedi than the price you’re paying.

Save Money on Makeup

I know a lot of people are 100% loyal to specific brands or products. I’ll be upfront: I am not one of those people. I don’t know much about makeup (can someone please explain contouring to me?), but I do prefer certain brands.

However, my loyalty will definitely waver if I come across a similar product that is much cheaper. Tons of drug-store brands do just as good a job as higher-end products; you just have to find the ones that work for you! These beauty-focused YouTube channels can help you learn which ones are worth checking out.

You can also get your generic beauty items, like cotton balls or makeup remover pads, at a dollar store for the biggest savings.

Don’t Waste Beauty Products

I used to use far too much product, especially shampoo and conditioner. I’ve realized that a quarter-sized amount of shampoo is usually enough, as you only really need enough to get at your roots. Conditioner is a different story; my hair is rather long, so I always use more conditioner than shampoo. However, I still try to use as little as possible to begin with, and then I can squeeze more out of the tube if I need it.

The same goes with other products like face wash, hair spray, nail polish remover, ointments, moisturizers, creams and more. Be cognizant of how much you are using each time, and you may start seeing that your products last much longer!

At the end of the day, you don’t have to give up all your favorite products and services to help your beauty budget.  Instead of completely shutting down your beauty spending, cut back on one or two expenses.

If you have your heart set on getting your nails done regularly, do it! Don’t deprive yourself to the point where you feel frustrated or resentful of your budget, as that’s just going to tempt you to blow it on a Sephora binge.

Kelly Russell is a marketing professional with a goal of saving more and paying off her six-figure student loan debt in five years. She resides in Massachusetts.