More Thoughts on Frugal Beauty

Last week Sierra wrote about how to look good on a budget with some great tips for the frugal and the do-it-yourselfer. It was popular, too — as of Sunday, her article had a whopping 275 comments! It seems most readers fell into one of two camps: the DIYers who enjoy making salt scrubs and don't mind getting a haircut from a helpful friend, and those who argued that products can be purchased inexpensively and nothing beats the results of a professional.

I'd read through comment #217 when I thought it'd be fun to write a follow-up with tips for the type who prefers to buy products and services rather than going the DIY route. Maybe you have no interest in making products or skimping on services, or maybe you you lack the time. I myself have tried DIY skincare using Ayurvedic methods and all-natural haircare recipes, but had disappointing results — no matter how I tried, it didn't work for me.

But there are ways to look good on a budget without changing your personal care routine too much. The following are the best ways I've found to save cash without sacrificing the treatments and products I've come to enjoy:

  • Seek out discounts on personal care products. Sure, it sounds obvious, but there's more to it than Sunday coupons and store sales. Sign up for membership programs at stores you frequent. For example, Ulta regularly sends 20% coupons in the mail to members. Check out discount warehouses like Costco to see if they stock your favorite products. Even dollar stores and discount retailers like T.J.Maxx can have surprising finds — like $14 shampoo marked down to $4.
  • Think big to save big. If the deal is better on larger sizes or bulk purchases, stock up. For example, I special order professional sizes of moisturizer from the spa because it's cheaper per ounce to buy the largest bottle. If you don't want to keep items in bulk in your house, check with friends and family members to see if they'd want to split a bulk purchase with you.
  • When shopping online, get rebates. Ebates, which gives you cash back when you shop at certain retailers, is a favorite of mine, but online retailers also offer their own incentive programs. When you shop at drugstore.com and beauty.com, for example, you earn 5% back in “drugstore.com dollars” toward your next purchase. Stack this on top of the currently 8% rebate from Ebates, and it can add up to serious savings.
  • Experiment with a mix of product price points. You might find that you don't need a pricey cleanser, but the only shaving cream that works for you comes from a department store. If you suspect you could swap a high-end product for something cheaper, give it a test run and find out if you'd want to make the trade. I've tried expensive eyeliner and drugstore brands, and I prefer a drugstore brand. You never know until you try.
  • Do your research. Unused products cluttering your medicine cabinet are a waste of money. Rather than buying something on impulse, do a little homework. Check out reviews online before you make a purchase. Also, although I know magazines have monetary reasons to favor their advertisers, I've had good results with Allure's Best of Beauty award winners. And lest you think I'm forgetting the gentlemen, there's a guy's stuff section, too. In addition, there are tried-and-true products that are usually a safe bet. For example, many readers mentioned Cetaphil skin cleanser. It's been around for a long time, and it's popular for a reason — odds are good that it'll work for you.
  • Use longer-lasting products. This tip came from GRS reader Ru, who writes, “A good bar of soap is much cheaper and just as cleansing as a bottle of shower gel, is better for the environment (concentrated and less packaging) and, in my experience, lasts a lot longer. You can get six-packs of moisturizing soap at the [dollar] store. Make sure you store it on a dish out of the spray of the shower so it lasts longer.”
  • Consider beauty schools for haircuts, color, facials, and other services. A lot of finance writers recommend this, and I'm going to give you the low-down. You will pay less than you would in a salon, and the students are carefully supervised. That said, they are learning, so be prepared for your haircut to take twice as long. To improve your chances of getting the results you're after, ask the receptionist when the more advanced students are on the floor, and make an appointment to see one of them. Also, I can't stress enough how important it is to bring in a photograph of the look you're after. Telling a stylist that you want to go “shorter, but not too short in the front” is vague, and a recipe for disaster (or a mullet). Finally, go to a school with a good reputation or trusted name. Some schools churn out skilled professionals who are up on the latest in hair and skincare, while others can't be bothered to fix the faucet on the shampoo stations.
  • Call around to comparison shop. You can comparison shop for haircuts, manicures, and any other regular service. Sometimes you get what you pay for, but other times you just find a great deal. I used to work in the beauty industry, and I've had awful haircuts from stylists who charge more than $100, and fantastic haircuts from $40 stylists. In fact, I feel that my current stylist should charge more.

Finally, to reiterate what Sierra said, if you want to save money on your personal care, make trade-offs. I like regular shampoo, but my favorite deep conditioner is coconut oil. I would never cut my own hair, but I prefer to give myself a pedicure because it's faster, cheaper, lasts longer, and I've gotten really good at it. Experiment and do what works for you.

How do you save money on personal care products and services?

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sarahk
sarahk
8 years ago

What’s wrong with a mullet?

Just kidding. Good tips. I do a lot of that hippie stuff, but not because it’s cheaper. I still like my expensive moisturizer and I gave up on the beauty school because I need consistency… I have difficult hair and have found that a stylist needs a few cuts to “get to know” it.

Courtney
Courtney
8 years ago
Reply to  sarahk

I remember a local radio station went out on the streets once and offered anyone they saw with a mullet a free haircut to change to ANY other style. Exactly zero people took them up on the offer. There’s just something about mullet culture.

Margie
Margie
8 years ago

I’ve gotten perfectly good results from Hair Cuttery. If you figure out a cut that’s flattering for you and you know how to describe it, a $20 cut (including tip) has looked as good and grown out just as well as a $50-100 cut. At the end of the day, I just need to look good enough: neat, tidy, professional. I DON’T need to be bleeding edge fashionable.

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
8 years ago
Reply to  Margie

I would agree here, especially considering that even to work at a chain like Hair Cuttery, the stylist (or whatever they like to be called) has to be licensed. That’s one of the big things, seeing as how they actually went to school and had to put in hours of practice before being allowed to style on their own.

James
James
8 years ago
Reply to  Eric J. Nisall

The converse is that in a place like Quebec, there’s no license requirement for cutting hair. Anyone can hang out a shingle and charge whatever they like. The end result is that you can still get a good (or bad) haircut at any price.

Mom of five
Mom of five
8 years ago
Reply to  Margie

I would encourage folks who may have tried a Hair Cuttery or SuperCuts in the past and didn’t like them, to go ahead give them another try. The downturn in the economy has forced more experienced and very talented stylists through their doors. I recently made the switch about 6 months ago to a stylist at Hair Cuttery and have never looked back. I also would encourage people who are covering only a little grey to give it a try a themselves. Several years ago I surprised myself by liking the look better than the one I got from the… Read more »

Annelise
Annelise
8 years ago

These tips are *much* more useful than those in the original post. I think DIY skincare and self-cut hair are very much a niche hippie thing. I don’t want to reignite a debate from the previous article (since I took quite a battering for my views) but since I’ve found make-up is a must for any professional woman who wants to be taken seriously, I would also suggest a free consultation at a department store beauty counter. A good sales assistant will genuinely try to advise you on what products suit you best, and won’t try to sell you unnecessary… Read more »

barnetto
barnetto
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

“I don’t want to reignite a debate from the previous article”

Then I’m just going to pretend you stopped writing at that sentence. :/

Mary H
Mary H
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

“I think DIY skincare and self-cut hair are very much a niche hippie thing.” I wish you would just say DIY is not for you without acting so snooty about it. I am not a hippie (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but I have found several personal hygiene DIY things that work for me, better than any commercial products due to skin sensitivity to certain ingredients. Also they saves me money and are environmentally friendly.

FrugalTexasGal
FrugalTexasGal
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Really, you dont want to start a debate? dould have fooled me. As afifty something professional woman who doesnt wear makeup-ever, I find it amusing that you think everyone who doesnt follw your guidlines is a hippy. While I enjoyed this article and use some of its tips, I also use a great many of sierras tipps. I interact with business people and through the chamber of commerce on a daily basis and cannot think of the last time anyone thought of me as hippy-ish, just because I make my own products, dont wear makup and choose olay instead of… Read more »

Annelise
Annelise
8 years ago
Reply to  FrugalTexasGal

I really don’t want to start that debate again – if there’s one thing I can say in favour of the no-make-up brigade, it’s that they put up a fearsome fight! The thing is, in order to give my beauty counter tip, I needed to mention make-up, and why make-up is important. Honestly, beauty counter consultations have saved me a fortune over the years in dud make-up products that I was tempted to buy without trying.

Andrew
Andrew
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

This is good advice, but every female friend I have has at one time or another gone for a free makeup consultion at a department store and come out looking “like a rodeo clown” (not my wording!). Just be careful that the consultant knows what she is doing–

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

@ Andrew — That was my experience! Clerks are good at selling their products, but they aren’t experts if you don’t fit into their formula. Last one I consulted actually told me I should get a tan because her product line didn’t make a colour light enough for my skin tone. And maybe if I wore contacts instead of glasses… @ Annelise — as some who has sensitive skin, being able to try products has been a boon. Plus it gives me an excuse to dodge high-pressure sales tactics when I can honestly say I want to give the product… Read more »

barnetto
barnetto
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

I’m going to test this claim you made, “The thing is, in order to give my beauty counter tip, I needed to mention make-up, and why make-up is important.” By re-writing your original post: >>These tips are *much* more useful [to me] than those in the original post. I don’t want to reignite a debate from the previous article (since I took quite a battering for my views), [but I do want to quickly] suggest a free consultation at a department store beauty counter. I’ve found it’s a great way to try out products without buying them first — I’m… Read more »

KS
KS
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Fine – women who don’t wear makeup aren’t as awesome as you are. You’re right.

“Don’t want to start a debate”. Yes, you do.

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Most people who comment on blogs, articles, etc. aren’t editing professionals trained in stylistics, tone, etc. It’s easy to give offense online (I’ve unintentionally done it myself!)

Generally, if you want people to agree with you it’s a good idea not to offend them. Doesn’t matter which side you’re on.

Annelise
Annelise
8 years ago
Reply to  FrugalTexasGal

@ Beth – You’re right: I didn’t mean to offend. And I don’t think I’ve “talked down” to anyone nor said anything “ignorant” as abby has claimed. I notice nobody has jumped on Jenzer’s back for saying that women who care about their appearance are incompetent. And in reply to Beth and Andrew – in the past few years beauty counters have improved an awful lot, and the scenarios you describe, where the makeover is badly done and the sales assistant pressures you into buying inappropriate products, rarely happen. In any case, I’m not advocating heavy, overdone make-up. I go… Read more »

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Actually, my bad experience was just last fall after they discontinued my favourite foundation. I usually wear mineral make-up, but in the winter my skin gets too dry and I prefer a liquid. The clerk didn’t really understand what rosecea was, and treated me like it was my fault for not taking care of my skin. You’re right though — I’ve had good and bad experiences over the years. The best thing my mom did when I was old enough to wear make-up was book a consultation for me and a friend with someone she knew who sold the product.… Read more »

Jenzer
Jenzer
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

“I notice nobody has jumped on Jenzer’s back for saying that women who care about their appearance are incompetent.”

… because I didn’t say that. I talked about a very specific example of two different women with different degrees of time investment in their appearance, and my experience with their professional abilities. Nowhere did I claim that all women with a certain appearance have a certain level of competence.

Alysa@ImpulseSave
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

As a professional women who works mostly with men I do need to look sharp, I need to be myself but to be taken seriously I need to look on top of it. Now whether I make my own make up or purchase it it a mute point. Personally for me I LOVE natural products but I don’t have time to make my own stuff. Now, we could get into a feminist debacle here about wearing make-up in general and if you are one of those blessed people with no need to wear it, good for you! – But don’t… Read more »

Patti
Patti
8 years ago

I would love to know how to get the at cost catalogue that carries Burt’s bees products! That sounds fantastic!

Jenzer
Jenzer
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

“Appearances say everything, about a person’s pride in him or herself, self-esteem, how much effort he or she puts in to life, how much he or she respects other people, and so on.” This comment reminds me of the first CPA we hired when our businesses grew large enough to require one. Said CPA was always, always dressed to the nines, perfectly coiffed, nails done — really, she was a very elegant woman. She also made numerous mistakes on our tax returns which *I* discovered, not her. Mind you, I’m self-tutored in small business bookkeeping and accounting — I didn’t… Read more »

Amanda
Amanda
8 years ago
Reply to  Jenzer

I’d say this describes me. I feel I can use less makeup is because I am self-confident. Some people use makeup to give themselves confidence, and I do to a degree also. One concealer I use is Clinique, only place I could find that particular consistency and color. If you buy at Nordstrom and something doesn’t work-return it for a 100% money back guarantee. Does Walgreens do that? I’ve had the same eyeliner for at least a year, purchased at a grocery store. Probably more. Nothing irritates me more as my mom and sister always having tons of colors that… Read more »

abby
abby
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

I’m very happy these tips are “*much* more useful than those in the original post” FOR YOU. For some of us the tips in the original post were quite helpful too.

If you don’t want to reignite a debate, don’t talk down to people and don’t say ignorant things.

KM
KM
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Why do you keep labeling as “hippie” anything you don’t like? If your lifestyle is so obviously awesome, why do you feel the need to denigrate and label other people’s choices?

ali
ali
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Here’s how you do it without sounding insulting to anyone: “Another trick I’ve found useful is having a I would also suggest a free consultation at a department store beauty counter. A good sales assistant will genuinely try to advise you on what products suit you best, and won’t try to sell you unnecessary items. I’ve found it’s a great way to try out products without buying them first — I’m sure lots of readers will have made the mistake of buying a product, then trying it out at home and finding it’s no good, as I have. Just be… Read more »

Grace
Grace
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

I don’t agree with Annelise’s viewpoint on makeup. She does, however, bring up a good point that the department store beauty consultants can be useful. I only wear makeup when I have to or when I feel like it, both being pretty infrequent. Since I never have had that much experience with makeup, I’ve definitely wasted a bunch of money on the drugstore brands that just didn’t work well. The next time I need makeup, I probably will either be going to a department store counter or buying at Sephora since they have a generous no questions asked return policy.… Read more »

Jessica
Jessica
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

“since I’ve found make-up is a must for any professional woman who wants to be taken seriously . . .”

I’m a professional woman who doesn’t wear make-up and gets taken seriously. If you don’t want to start a debate, Annelise, I can only assume you’re referring to a very particular kind of professional woman, whose profession isn’t actually legal in my jurisdiction, and who do indeed tend to look quite amateurish without makeup.

I.N.
I.N.
8 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

Dear Jessica,

As someone who has been in the profession you are describing, I can assure you that make up is not necessary there either, unless we are talking about a minimalistic and natural look. What truly is required to be that kind of a professional, are intelligence, strength, good self-employed business skills and compassion for others.

Angie
Angie
8 years ago
Reply to  Annelise

Annelise wrote, “A lot of people have claimed that a person’s appearance is no reflection of his or her character. I beg to differ — appearances say everything, about a person’s pride in him or herself, self-esteem, how much effort he or she puts in to life, how much he or she respects other people, and so on.” Yeah, right. /I/ beg to differ. I’ve known of LOTS of people, both personally and through the media, who put major effort into their appearance, but it’s so obvious they were lacking self-esteem, and sometimes their lack of respect for others is… Read more »

STRONGside
STRONGside
8 years ago

The local community college where I live does give very reduced services such as haircuts, facials, hair coloring, and other skin type services. There is also a massage school in the same building with full body massages for $10. Not a bad combination!

lawyerette
lawyerette
8 years ago
Reply to  STRONGside

Another tip is to use the deal sites – Groupon, Living Social, bloomspot, et al. They always have salon and spa deals for things like haircuts, color, mani/pedis, massages, etc. Also, from personal experience, call the business and make an appointment ASAP. Once a business runs a Groupon, appointments (esp Saturdays) book up so fast. I’ve been known to make an appointment before I buy the Groupon just to make sure I can get a day and time thats convenient for me.

Sarah
Sarah
8 years ago
Reply to  lawyerette

Remember to tip based on full-price, not the discount! I have friends who work in salons whose incomes have dropped due to their bosses running these deals.

Amanda
Amanda
8 years ago
Reply to  lawyerette

NO!!! NO! NO! NO!

I had a disaster with this. They are just trying to get customers. Good stylists don’t need anymore customers. They get word of mouth advertising.

The lady that cut my hair was missing several fingers. They also didn’t even give me the full list of things mentioned in the package.

NEVER AGAIN!!!

Celia
Celia
8 years ago

I have really sensitive skin and some allergies, and have found that mineral makeup is the way to go for me personally… But the major brand is wicked expensive. I end up buying “off” brands that have free samples. (Everyday Minerals is one I like that is ridiculously cheap for mineral makeup and still high quality.) I do a lot of things myself now because it just works for my family, but when my hair was long I got it cut by someone who ran a studio out of her home. I got a fantastic haircut and color for about… Read more »

xysea1971
xysea1971
8 years ago
Reply to  Celia

I am like you. I have found that Physician’s Formula (sold at Target, CVS and places like that) – is a very good brand. They have an organic line, too, which I enjoy. I use their mineral face powder, blush and eye shadow. The price is comparable to something like L’Oreal, but I often buy it when it is 50% off at CVS and there can also be coupons from time to time. The quality is always superior and I have found it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin.

xysea1971
xysea1971
8 years ago
Reply to  xysea1971

One tip I can share, that works for me (and I am a definite brunette) – I got a pot of chocolate brown mineral eye powder and a nice slanted brush. I can use this on both my eyebrows (to darken) and on my eyeline (as a liner). Also, some forms of lip gloss can double as creme blusher, if gently applied.

Sometimes, using tips like these will allow you to spend a little more elsewhere on more expensive products that work for you. 🙂

brooklyn money
brooklyn money
8 years ago
Reply to  xysea1971

I love Physician’s Formula. I just started switching from MAC to PF. I only use makeup not tested on animals and try to get more natural/organic brands so the fact that this is a drugstore brand and meets those requirements is great.

abby
abby
8 years ago
Reply to  Celia

I’ve also had good luck buying my mineral makeup on ebay and amazon for much cheaper than in the store. I wear BareMinerals and I don’t know the last time I paid full price for any of it!

Amanda
Amanda
8 years ago
Reply to  Celia

I think Costco has a mineral line…

Priscilla
Priscilla
8 years ago

Use beautypedia.com to read reviews of skin care and cosmetics at all price points. Many of their “best” picks are drugstore brands, so you can use whatever coupons or loyalty bucks/points you have to further discount the price.

Another great site is thebeautybrains.com, where they talk about different ingredients and whether it’s worth purchasing (or avoiding) products that contain them.

Ali
Ali
8 years ago
Reply to  Priscilla

I highly recommend the book, Don’t Go To the Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun. It’s a comprehensive guide to most of the cosmetics available in both drugstores and department stores. She analyzes the ingredients and makes recommendations based on that information. Great for people concerned about the ingredients of their cosmetics. It also debunks advertising claims by cosmetics companies. For example, I grew up using Clinique, but their claims of being dermatologist approved or preferred or whatever are essentially baseless. Any cosmetics company can make a claim like that. I’ve quit using my $43 moisturizer and switched to… Read more »

Amy
Amy
8 years ago

Thank you April for writing a sensible article that addresses a broader spectrum of people on the personal hygiene/beauty scale! I’m with you on the Beauty school tip – Back when I lived in a city, I was able to get $15 dollar haircut (that included a $6 tip!) from Ogle Beauty School. Yes, it took an hour or more for them to cut my hair, but I couldn’t beat the price OR the quality of the cut. The instructors have to inspect and ‘finish’ each student’s work, so I never walked out looking less than great. I can’t say… Read more »

Becca
Becca
8 years ago

I would also recommend Lifehacker if you live in a major city. They have daily deals, but mostly they have standing discounts on salons if you book through them.

I have hair that grows very fast, so I really do need a haircut every 5-6 weeks. I pay $40 for one and I live in nyc.

Tiffany
Tiffany
8 years ago

I prefer the do-it-yourself methods.Something that wasn’t mentioned is a lot of products sold today have harmful chemicals in them. I find that making your own usually has better results than buying a cheap product.

cc
cc
8 years ago

i am jealous of everyone who gets these mystery haircuts in nyc for $20 incl. tax and tip and they look fabulous. i pay $100 for my stylist and he’s worth every penny. my friends have tried to sway me to other stylists, but every time i go somewhere else to try and “save money” i end up looking like a beatle or a moppet or myself when i was 12. as a tradeoff, i only get my hair cut a couple of times a year. i figure it’s got to even out. my hair right now is superlong and… Read more »

Valerie
Valerie
8 years ago
Reply to  cc

Where you live makes all the difference. In Boston proper, $80 was the general going rate for a reasonable stylist. In the small town where I live, $35 is the going rate for a top-level stylist. (I actually called around several salons after moving here, thinking that the $35 would be a horrible cut! Only to find out it was the same rate all over town).

That said, the best stylists in the small town are not as good as the downtown Boston ones. But still, definitely matters.

One cent at a time
One cent at a time
8 years ago

As you said to split with others, we buy cream and lotions from Costco and they have two pack products so we split a bottle each with another friend

But splitting is difficult as individual choices vary

Chad
Chad
8 years ago

Not necessarily a “cheaper” way of getting a haircut, but for guys (and frankly probably women, too, though I think they generally do this already), I’ve found that waiting a bit longer between cuts can save considerable money. If you go every 6 weeks instead of every 4 weeks, for example, that’s about 4 less haircuts per year — at $25 a cut, that saves you $100.

Malorie
Malorie
8 years ago

Salon schools can certainly be a cost-effective way of getting your hair cut and styled; however, I’d warn you not to go there if you’re someone who would cry over a haircut. My last haircut was at a training salon, and it seems the most common thing those stylists learn is to be VERY CAREFUL with hair because people WILL cry and scream. I’ve never been that compulsive about my hair, but if I was, I wouldn’t go to a school to get it cut. Also, my stylist said some people go to the school thinking the supervisors/teachers would cut… Read more »

Heather
Heather
8 years ago
Reply to  Malorie

I got my hair cut once at a local beauty school … and it’s one of the worst cuts I’ve ever had (though my dad’s cut when I was a kid was still worse). I’m not super-picky about my hair (typically went to SuperCuts; I wear it buzz-cut now and am a hippie DIY 😉 ) but I will definitely not go back there. Sure, the students have changed, but the supervisor who gave it her stamp of approval?

Mikey
Mikey
8 years ago
Reply to  Heather

I was going to say, my best haircut was at the Vidal Sasoon Academy in Beverly Hills. They gave me a cute short bob and magenta highlights in my strawberry blond hair. It was fabulous and free. Granted, it was the eighties….but still, it was fab.

Amanda
Amanda
8 years ago

For buying decent makeup and bodycare products, I start my research at Beautypedia.com. My experience does always agree with the sites recommendation, but at least it has a scientific basis instead of expensive equals better, or organic/natural equals better. Poison ivy is natural but I’m not putting it on my skin. I second the vote for local beauty schools, and thank Sierra for pointing out that they do take longer. I second Annelise’s comment on your appearance says alot about your character, it shows how much you care for yourself. I’m not advocating buy designer items, buy clothes from Goodwill… Read more »

maggie
maggie
8 years ago
Reply to  Amanda

makeupalley.com is also great for reviews of products before you buy.

Erika
Erika
8 years ago
Reply to  maggie

I second makeupalley.com. Some of the reviews are very detailed, and I used the reviews/discussion on hair color to choose a product and color my hair myself, which turns out great now. In the past, I did the beauty-school route for hair coloring, which I also recommend. The best thing is: if you don’t like the color they can almost ALWAYS fix it. Price was $50 at the beauty school ($300 at my regular salon!), and I asked many, many questions of the students and got a better idea of the products and methodology behind coloring hair. With their help,… Read more »

lawyerette
lawyerette
8 years ago
Reply to  Erika

Tritto for MUA. One of the best resources on the web.

Robin Burks
Robin Burks
8 years ago

Makeup is one of those things I choose to splurge on. I have extremely sensitive skin and can only use certain products. However, I have learned that my $40 foundation lasts about four times longer than the $10 foundation you can buy at drug stores. I’ve been using the same Lancome foundation for nearly a year. Because it’s a better product, it takes only a few drops for full coverage, unlike a cheaper brand. So I think an important thing to consider is if you’re getting the most value for your money. And if you time it right, you can… Read more »

Alexandra
Alexandra
8 years ago

I get my hair cut and coloured at an “at home” salon. I asked one of my friends who has a GREAT hair cut where she gets it done, and that’s how I found out about this little secret. $63 total for a great cut, colour and style…I’m saving a fortune. I agree with other posters – this article was much more helpful and down to earth than the other one. Hey, just a question – for those who do the at home salon thing…you’re not supposed to tip them, right? I figure I will give him something at Christmas,… Read more »

Mom of five
Mom of five
8 years ago
Reply to  Alexandra

I think no tipping for a home stylist is the norm, but I also know that they’re happy to take a tip if you’re happy to give them one. Personally, I’d probably offer a tip. She may turn you down, but it’s a good bet you won’t offend her.

Ren
Ren
8 years ago

Great article. As a beauty school owner I would make one modification to to the writers advice. Asking for an advanced or “senior” student doesn’t always result in a better service. You get students who care and students who don’t. And usually the work shows the difference.
Ask for a students that does great “insert your style here”. You’ll be better off.
Great article.

Erin
Erin
8 years ago

I didn’t have a problem with Sierra’s article. It may have been extreme for some people, and some of her suggestions aren’t for me, but I don’t mind reading about what others are doing to create a frugal lifestyle. Isn’t that the point of this blog?

Anyway, I really enjoy my $14 dollar hair cut at Supercuts. I normally have a coupon too!

Mary
Mary
8 years ago

I love both posts on this subject. As someone with very dry, thick, coarse hair and very dry skin that’s prone to break-outs, I must say that I do buy the “good stuff” and if I’m not careful it can be definitely be a budget buster for me. I use coupon codes and combine them with ordering through sites like MyPoints, which helps some. And I’ve also saved some by spending more….there’s a rather expensive skincare product that my mom loves and tried for years to get me to buy, but I refused b/c it was too expensive. But, I… Read more »

Holly
Holly
8 years ago

I also thank you for a sensible article reflecting a different perspective.

Having reached young adulthood in the 80s, I’m all too familiar with the results of the flow-bee and Marilyn Quayle’s home hairstyling. I work in a professional environment which requires me to look professional. The flowbee look wouldn’t cut it. My professional mid-range hairstylist is worth every cent, particularly for the coloring. I am frugal in other areas.

Anne
Anne
8 years ago

I would also add, use less of a product (except sunscreen!). A handful of shampoo doesn’t get hair any cleaner than a dollop. You can trick your family into using less without even realizing it by transferring the shampoo or body wash or whatever to a container with a narrower spout or with a pump that dispenses less of the product than the pump it came in.

Soap may be cheaper than shower gel but you’ll spend more on tub cleaner because of the soap scum!

Karen
Karen
8 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Try glycerin soap – no soap scum!

Monica
Monica
8 years ago

I hear about the beauty school hair cuts all the time. I gave it a try one time … never again. It was a disaster.

I have had the same hairdresser for 13 years. There is something to be said for consistent quality. It’s not cheap, but I go several months between haircuts and don’t color my hair.

If not coloring your hair is an option … that’s a definite beauty money saver!

Mary
Mary
8 years ago

I switched to baby shampoo and my scalp cleared up like magic. The anti dandruff shampoo I was using was only making it worse and was much more expensive.

Ellen K.
Ellen K.
8 years ago
Reply to  Mary

Baby shampoo offers a lot of value for a very low price. In addition to using it on my hair and my children’s hair, I use it to wash my makeup brushes and my dog. Not all at the same time, of course. : )

Kate
Kate
8 years ago
Reply to  Mary

I also prefer baby shampoo and don’t use conditioner on my short hair. Most other shampoo/conditioners make my scalp itch terribly.

Laundry Lady
Laundry Lady
8 years ago
Reply to  Kate

I was using dandruff shampoo too and I was concerned about the high levels of chemicals, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding. So I switched to California Baby Tea Tree Oil shampoo. It’s very concentrated so you don’t need much and I buy it at Bed Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon. I don’t even always have to condition but when I do I use vinegar or lemon juice.

maggie
maggie
8 years ago

Caution on the bulk buying – many beauty products do have a shelf life. Especially moisterizers, creams, any liquid or cram makeups, anything with oils in it. The preservatives only last a limited time, and some “natural” products don’t have preservatives at all. They can easily go rancid before you use them up.

Mom of five
Mom of five
8 years ago
Reply to  maggie

I just want to add that in my experience shampoo and conditioner do not have a expiration date. These are two items you can stock up on with confidence when there’s a sale and you’ve got coupons, you shouldn’t be paying much of anything at all for them.

Adam P
Adam P
8 years ago

Sierra’s article was very good for two types of people, those who want to have minimal negative impact on the environment (bravo to them) and those who are in dire straights financially and need to strictly budget everything. Financially speaking, the article was far from “low hanging fruit”, meaning it would take big efforts for small gains financially. I prefer to go for those big gains that take little effort before going to such radical methods suggested (radical to me). But again, if its for environmental reasons, then that’s a different animal and full of merit. I know I could… Read more »

James
James
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam P

I was in a similar situation. I’ve been with my hairdresser for almost as long as I’ve been with my husband. I talked to her honestly about wanting to come less often and she gave me a style that would last longer between cuts (6-7 weeks instead of 3-4 weeks). She wasn’t offended about me wanting to come less often… she’s so popular that she is booked solid 2-3 weeks in advance, so it’s not like she will be destitute without my business. I preferred to stay with her because we are friends and because she knows my hair so… Read more »

Amber
Amber
8 years ago
Reply to  James

I finally have found my magical hairdresser. She is actually in my hometown and we are good acquantainces. I travel home about 5 times a year and every time my first stop is to her chair. Added bonus: Everyone at home thinks I look that fabulous all the time!

Jana
Jana
8 years ago

I go to a nice salon for a weave and in between she does a couple of foils to keep it fresh. That “inbetween” only cost me $20 but buys me another 4-5 weeks.

Then i get a cheap haircut at a discount place because my hair is thin and I blunt cut it straight across. I wish I could cut it myself. it takes them no more than 5 minutes.

Crystal @ BFS
Crystal @ BFS
8 years ago

I get straight cuts but don’t have friends willing to take a chance, so I go to those mom and pop places that give $8 trims and just have a couple of inches taken off when I get split ends.

somsiah
somsiah
8 years ago

Indeed, personal care is very personal. To have it all or make a trade off. DIY or go professional. Yet I believe we can still feel beautiful and be beautiful, frugally. May be not all the time but most of the time. Hair for example, when it is time to put away the money, I let mine grow long. The only thing I dare to do on my own is cut a bang. Even then I cannot make it right the way my hairstylist does it. But if I only want her to cut a bang – she would only… Read more »

Marie
Marie
8 years ago

One quick tip: last winter, I was battling unusually dry skin on my face. Nothing worked and I was talking myself into splurging on one of the VERY expensive brands I had a sample of once and really liked. But on a whim I bought one of the $1 blue tins of Nivea cream and gave it a whirl – it’s amazing! Worked like a charm and saved me a ton of money.

beth
beth
8 years ago

I have no problem with DIY: the first two words being DO IT. Sierra was proposed NOT WASHING, which is NOT DIY, it’s Not Do It, lol. Shampoo can be bought at the dollar store for less than you can make it yourself, especially since stuff sometimes goes on sale for 2/$1!

bob bolesic
bob bolesic
8 years ago
Reply to  beth

Beth, thank you! You’ve made the point the non-bathers have missed… not washing hair isnt a frugal beauty tip. I’d LOVE to see some self photos of this beautifully unwashed hair and skin people are getting hysteeriical about. Ditto makeup. Ditto fashion. Wouldn’t that lend a lot more credibility? Like a “look-book” comparison that shows how ur friend gave u a haircut “just as good” as a $100 stylist.

Dean
Dean
8 years ago

A little off-topic, but I think this is a very funny article when you picture J.D. writing it. I missed the by-line crediting April the first time through.

Carol
Carol
8 years ago

I use moisturizing shampoo for hand cleanser and body wash. As for makeup, NY Color, available really cheap in drugstores, is a pretty good brand—–and I’m a makeup junkie!

MJ
MJ
8 years ago

I know this blog is about saving money, but I urge all of J.D.’s readership to consider using organic, biodegradable personal care products. Beauty products contain chemicals that are toxic for us and the environment. Yes, they cost a lot more than dollar store shampoo, conditioner or soap but they are an investment in our health and the health of the planet.

Kate
Kate
8 years ago

This is going to sound completely anti-budgeting, but the best way for me to save money on my personal care is to spend some. For instance, my hair is a top priority, if I’m having a great hair day, I can go out with no makeup and feel beautiful…but it takes some money for that to happen. With my unruly, thick, coarse, mass of hair, the only solution I’ve found is a well done keratin treatment several times a year. Yes, it’s expensive and not particularly environmentally friendly, but my hair looks and feels gorgeous. Because my hair is so… Read more »

xysea1971
xysea1971
8 years ago

My beauty routine is a combination of my eco-friendly tendencies coupled with a frugal nature. I like looking nice, and I like quality, natural, chemical-free products – but I don’t always like the prices! lol My beauty routine is as follows: I wash my face with Kirk’s Coco-Castile soap. My skin is both oily & sensitive (oh joy!) and this soap works like a charm. It doesn’t dry my skin while getting it clean. A three pack is about $2.59 at my local healthfood store. If I need to scrub dull skin, I have a small container of baking soda… Read more »

Lara
Lara
8 years ago
Reply to  xysea1971

This was very useful information to me. As someone who would like to use more natural things, but is afraid of, well, smelling like I use natural things(lol), I really appreciate you outlining the products you use. Thanks!

xysea1971
xysea1971
8 years ago
Reply to  Lara

I am glad you found it useful! 🙂 I forgot to mention also that when I give myself a pedicure, I will use kosher salt (the coarse kind) to scrub the bottom of my feet. I mix it with some peppermint oil (like Aura Cacia brand) for a little ‘pep in my step’. If witch hazel doesn’t work as a toner (sometimes it still has a bit of rubbing alcohol in it and that’s harsh on some), try just some regular hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball. That stuff is dirt cheap. For dryer skin, this will still provide the… Read more »

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  xysea1971

Kudos! Thanks for sharing your tips.

xysea1971
xysea1971
8 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I forgot to mention that I also use meditation as a relaxation technique and it is my experience that it also contributes to my beauty routine and well-being. 🙂

Sloane
Sloane
8 years ago

I use the drugstore.com rebates, but I also like to use cash back with my toiletry purchases – Discovery gives 5-10% cash back on purchases from drugstore.com, beauty.com, ulta, and sephora. Then, using ShopDiscover, a cashback reward can be increased from $40 to $50 at the same vendors. So, if you get free shipping, use the rebate, and then get the cash back reward increased, it’s a pretty good deal! I promise I’m not paid by Discover – I just really love those rewards for toiletries!

xysea1971
xysea1971
8 years ago
Reply to  Sloane

You can also go through Ebates, too, for cash back on drugstore.com purchases.

http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=gl3u4SSxcHlhfrg6dreKQg%3D%3D

And not just at drugstore.com, either. 🙂

Tonya
Tonya
8 years ago

I have had great success finding name-brand products for sale on eBay. I love Nick Chavez’s Plump ‘n Thick hair products, sold on QVC for a ridiculous amount. They’re not always cheap on eBay, but I can usually get them for a discounted price, especially if I get lots of 3 or 4 of the same item. Beware, though…sometimes I’ve found things just as expensive on eBay (or more!) as QVC, so make sure you know the price of your product.

Carla
Carla
8 years ago

I’ve been looking up product reviews for skin, hair and makeup on makeupalley.com for years now and it has been a money saver for me.

Kerry
Kerry
8 years ago

I’m pretty easy going about my makeup and what I prefer, typically Cover Girl or Maybelline, etc.. I use Oil of Olay for my moisturizer and that does amazing. I prefer Head & Shoulders shampoo and the occasional Selson Blue. That being said, I don’t think I’ve PAID for any of these things for the last few years. I shop at Rite Aid, Walgreens & CVS for mine & my husband’s beauty products, including but not limited to: Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap (Bar & Liquid), Facial cleanser/lotions, all make-up, deodorant, and anything the hubby needs for his daily “regimen”. As long… Read more »

Tazz
Tazz
8 years ago

I used to go to a beauty school for haircuts. Taking a picture (printed from the net/cut from magazine) makes it easier for the student stylist to know what kind of haircut I’d like. It became my saloon of choice because I found a stylist who I was quite happy with so I always rrequested for her service each time I made an appointment. Make sure to go on a day when you’re free tho as sometimes they can take a while. Be clear and firm about what you want as sometimes the teacher can be pushy and tries to… Read more »

shorty j
shorty j
8 years ago

If you’re not into the beauty school thing, check craigslist if you live in an area with lots of salons. I’m in NYC and a lot of the salons here will do test/practice/”model” cuts when they hire a new stylist, or just to increase or sharpen their skills, so to speak. Especially if you’re a woman with short hair; since a lot of stylists don’t cut short hair often, they’ll seek out short-haired (or willing-to-become-short-haired) folks in order to have pictures for their portfolio. It’s often really experienced stylists, or people directly under the supervision of really experienced stylists, and… Read more »

Sara
Sara
8 years ago

Love the post! Couple more tips:

1) When buying higher end, ask for a sample before buying the whole thing. Sephora is great about this, they have a ton of little containers to give you a sample of things that you wouldn’t have thought possible!

2) Get in on awesome sites like Groupon where you can buy services for really cheap in your area; if you’re interested in laser hair removal, for instance, check Groupon until something you want pops up and jump on it! Being patient can lead to big savings.

Danielle
Danielle
8 years ago

I do my own manicures & pedicures — I’ve also gotten quite good at them and it’s fun/relaxing! I don’t wear much makeup, and find that an eyelash curler and some mascara, possibly some lip gloss do the trick. I typically buy these items at Target or Wal-mart. I also recently made the switch from Clinique to cetaphil. I actually like that the cetaphil feels lighter and non-greasy. For hair, I get my hair cut maybe once or twice a year at Supercuts or a similar place for which I have a coupon. This typically costs me $15-20. I usually… Read more »

margot
margot
8 years ago

The author of this post generously refers to the last post on DIY products as “popular.” It was not. Lots of comments does not equal popular. Hundreds of negative comments means it was disliked, if anything, popularly disliked.

Tanya
Tanya
8 years ago

I like makeup. I like using products that work. That being said, I recently made my own lip gloss by combining a freebie container of plain lip balm with the remnants of favorite Clinique lipsticks so that I wasn’t wasting the last of the lipsticks I really like. Result: A pot of lip gloss that will last a long time. Sometimes, store-bought and DIY approaches can really complement each other.

Oh, and I LOVE Bare Minerals lip gloss and eye shadows. They work great.

Kathy F
Kathy F
8 years ago

Comment No. 40 I also like Nivea cream! I bought the small $1 tin to tryout but lost it- I need to get another one. I liked the smell. I use an expensive spray-on detangling lotion from Bumble & Bumble called Tonic lotion that costs about $20 per bottle that only available at the salon (so I thought). I have oily hair and don’t like to condition it in the shower- makes it too slick. But I was able to save by buying several bottles on Ebay and saved even with the added shipping. I used those up and then… Read more »

Jenzer
Jenzer
8 years ago

I’m partial to daily facial cleansing pads for my nighttime skin cleaning. The pads themselves are quite large, and well saturated with cleanser. When I get a new tub of pads, I get out my scissors and cut each pad into four pieces, turning 28 large pads into 112 small pads, each about the size of a cotton cosmetic square. The small pads work just as well as the large ones.

Five minutes of effort saves me $21 over the course of four months.

bkwrm
bkwrm
8 years ago

I found a stylist through a friend that is very reasonable. It is a new business and they are working on building a good customer base. I have a large family, so maybe we get a bulk discount or something, I don’t know. They do a very nice job and charged my daughter and I only $27 for a wash, cut, and style. They trim my bangs for $3. I color my own hair, so I bought a gallon of hair color developer on sale at Sally’s beauty supply. When it’s time to color, I pop in and buy the… Read more »

Nathalie
Nathalie
8 years ago

Annelise, I’ve found your commentary, and the reactions that follow, more entertaining than the post itself. You seem to have equated commercial, chemically-laden and heavily marketed products with one’s self-esteem, pride, effort, and respect. While I don’t find your comments personally offensive, the way in which you’ve chosen to express yourself suggests an ill-informed and narrow-minded point of view. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “hippie”. I work in a high-level aesthetically-driven industry, and my friends, colleagues and acquaintances have all described me, at one time or another, as “rather glamorous”. I also happen to make… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Nathalie

Nice post, though I think people are conflating Sierra’s “once-a-month shampoo” with the organic/health conscious regular grooming. I was one of the people who came down hard on that article, but I’m in no way advocating harsh chemicals or overcleaning– I’ve had eccema since I was 14, so I know what’s bad for me (harsh soap, harsh laundry soap, very hot water, etc). I shower daily and shampoo 2-3 times a week depending on grime levels, but I use only organic products for my (basic, admittedly) grooming, with the exception of Vanicream soap that’s certainly not edible but it’s the… Read more »

lawyerette
lawyerette
8 years ago

If the men on GRS needed any fodder for the idea that women are catty, this thread is surely providing it! Reow! Retract the claws, ladies! 🙂

lawyerette
lawyerette
8 years ago
Reply to  lawyerette

But as a feminist, I must note that the defensiveness is likely the result of all the brainwashing/societal pressure that women are subjected to regarding our appearance. Anything that can even be halfway perceived as a critique on how a woman chooses to present herself draws out defensiveness. Whether women we buy into the mainstream norms or go the “hippie” route and rebel against them, it seems that many of us are not totally secure in the choices we’ve made. Just a thought but I’ll probably get some backlash for it.

barnetto
barnetto
8 years ago
Reply to  lawyerette

Let’s test that theory!

The next article should be about how stay-at-home-moming saves you money. 🙂

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
8 years ago
Reply to  barnetto

Oh Barnetto, Barnetto, Barnetto. You’re going to die when you see tomorrow’s post.

Nathalie
Nathalie
8 years ago
Reply to  lawyerette

I know, but it’s so fun. I can’t resist a juicy debate.

And Annelise, I do hope you know that I’m poking at you respectfully; we hold differing views because we’re different people with vastly different experiences. The underscore of my point is that what works for you works FOR YOU; suggesting that others are ‘less’ in any sense because their views oppose yours doesn’t serve anyone. We’re here because we’re frugal. How we achieve our financial frugal-ness doesn’t matter.

Except when it’s a juicy debate. 😉

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