My Story: Frugal Beauty Tips

contributed by The Diva

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Before I make any suggestions to the lovely ladies reading this, I would like to say that I am considered by my friends to be a very high-maintenance girl! My friends have all nicknamed me "The Diva" because of this fact. I use makeup every single day, and my manicure and pedicure always looks fresh. I dye my hair on a monthly basis, and blow-dry my curly locks weekly. All by myself!

So, of course, when the girlfriends have a date or party when they want to look smashing, a trip to the Diva's house to get their hair and nails done is a must! (And I look forward to it every time!)

So now that I have established credibility, I would like to say that although I am a hard-working woman who is trying to put herself through law school, "The Diva" cannot afford to buy the expensive cosmetics and treatments she would like. I have, through experimentation, found some great budget-friendly tips to look great and feel great on the cheap. Here are my tips:

  1. Exfoliation really makes a difference in the way your skin looks! I cannot stress this enough. I love the feeling and look of my skin after I exfoliate. However, the sugar and salt scrubs that are sold commercially (for your face and body, respectively) are usually very expensive. What's a girl to do? I make my own!
  2. Sugar scrub (for your face) - Simply take a little bit of regular white sugar in the palm of your hand and squeeze a little bit of honey onto this pile of sugar. Mix together as best you can, and gently scrub on your face in a gentle, circular motion. The sugar exfoliates while the honey acts as a moisturizer and its antibacterial properties help clear up your skin. Your skin feels great afterwards and it looks amazing! I do this about twice a month at the most. Over-scrubbing can potentially over-stimulate your oil glands and cause more blemishes.

    Salt Scrub (for your body) - Take regular table salt and mix in a small jar with the body oil or cooking oil of your choice. I suggest olive oil or Vaseline for its moisturizing properties. Mix together and scrub all over your body. The result is clean, refreshed skin that is already moisturized. No need to use lotion afterwards either. Don't do this right after shaving as it may irritate the pores and watch out for slickness in the tub.

  3. The best moisturizer for your whole body is Vaseline! Use Vaseline on your face, body, lips, under eyes, etc. and instead of lotion for a manicure/pedicure. You can also substitute Vaseline for oil to make your own salt scrub (see above). It's even great when used sparingly on the tips of dry and frizzy hair.
  4. I buy all of my makeup, skin care products and hair care products at the drug store. Love it! I have purchased the very expensive department store stuff before and have been disappointed too many times. I wasn't disappointed because it didn't work, but because it did the same thing as the "cheap" stuff. But, I paid twice, thrice, or four times the amount of money on it! There is no magic to products, and many large companies have a "cheaper" division to their company, using mostly the same ingredients as the expensive stuff. Don't be fooled by packaging; it means nothing about the product inside.
  5. I have learned that great tools do not have to cost a lot of money. I used to buy very expensive boar-bristle brushes to blow-dry my hair with, but then I experimented with a $5.99 ceramic brush that works wonders! I felt duped. I used that brush for a year until it just got too grungy and messed up, forcing me to throw it out. And I went right back to my drugstore and bought a new one. That one's been going strong for almost a year already too. (And in case you're doubtful, my hair is very curly and pretty coarse, and it gives me silky gorgeous hair in minutes.) I use that brush all the time!
  6. I layer my own hair. A hairstylist explained the basic concept to me and I was amazed at how simple it was. I have been cutting and layering my own hair for at least two years now! To layer your hair, when you hair is very wet (you don't want it dripping), turn your head upside down and brush all your hair in front of your face. Brush it straight and make sure to get all of your hair. Starting on one end, cut about an inch or so in a straight line (do this in sections). Take another section and align it with the previous section (the one you already cut so that you're cutting in a straight line). Keep doing this all around. And keep brushing the hair periodically to ensure you are cutting a straight line. Once you are done, flip your hair back and brush out. You will see that the hair falls in graduated layers from the top to the bottom. You will notice that the overall length of your hair is almost not affected, but now you have some great layers! I have cut my hair like this for the past two years, and I always get compliments on my beautiful layers! I always look like I just left the hair salon. Just remember to use a sharpened pair of scissors to get a clean cut.
  7. Keep in mind that the darker your hair is, the less any damage is visible (from coloring, using heating tools, etc). And the closer to your natural color you go, the cheaper it will be for you to maintain.
  8. Clear mascara works great at holding your brows in place. But if you don't want to buy it, use some hairspray on an old toothbrush and brush your brows into place.
  9. Sponges are not necessary! Instead of wasting your money and, more importantly, your foundation on sponges, simply use your hands. Sponges, for the most part, absorb all your foundation and you end up running out much more quickly. Nature provided you with ten great makeup applicators, your fingers. Even professionals use this when applying their own makeup (although not on clients because of cleanliness).
  10. For a shaving cream alternative, always buy the cheapest shaving foam/cream, even men's! It doesn't matter what the bottle looks like or what it smells like because it gets washed off anyway, and honestly, nobody is smelling your legs! Another alternative is cheap conditioner. You can buy those cheap conditioner for less than a dollar, spread a little bit on your legs, shave, and in one motion, you have smooth and moisturized legs. Now that's frugal!
  11. I was wasting money on those little bottles of nail polish remover for years util I figured out that you can buy a huge bottle of 100% acetone at beauty supply stores and even Wal-Mart! What's the difference? Well, those little bottles contain a whole lot of water, which means that it's basically diluted acetone. Why are we paying more for diluted acetone when we can buy a huge bottle of the pure stuff for around $2 at Wal-Mart? When you buy the pure stuff, it comes out to be so much cheaper because you don't use as much. One cotton ball swiped across each nail will remove the nail polish off all of your fingers! I love this because I do my nails at home a lot. It also removes red and even glitter nail polish with no effort.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by email to

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