Where affordable beauty products offer great results

Beauty and the No-Beast Budget

by Anne Katir

Related Articles

Stretching Your Hair Care Dollar

Affordable, Natural Homemade Shampoo

Look Younger

Pears are on sale today, under $1 pound and USA grown to boot. My budget-girl plan is to stock up, go home, and while my hair color is setting, blanch pears for freezing.

Visions of fruit salad and hot ginger pears dancing in my stomach, I trek my bargains to the register. But what's the ruckus? Oh, Brad and Angelina are fighting again. And Sandra Bullock's upset Jennifer got her award.

And me? Well, I'd thought my five-minute makeup and Pebbles Flintstone hairdo were cute, until I caught the beautiful people staring at me from the checkout tabloids, the folks who pay thousands to smooth a wrinkle and keep the airbrush industry afloat. Mention beauty to them, and you're speaking their language. But say budget, and eyes lined with two hundred dollar mascara will widen like they've seen a beast.

When your salary can't compete and Macy's make-up counter makes you feel faint, what's a budget-girl to do? Meet beauty and the no-beast budget with these affordable beauty products and tips:


  • Blend top-of-the-line shampoos and conditioners with economical brands, without losing the results of pricey products. Start with a half-and-half mixture. Experiment with ratios to find how much of that expensive stuff you really require.
  • Or use store brand shampoo, but chase it with high quality conditioner.
  • Save on haircuts and color without changing hairdressers. Book appointments less frequently. Few people have hair that grows too fast to schedule an additional ten to twenty days between cuts. A nice, dollar-store barrette, drop of gel or ponytail holder can style extra miles into that cut, saving the cost of several cuts per year, and time and gas traveling to salons.
  • Don't rule out beauty academies. Do choose schools that only allow students to work supervised. Call ahead to be sure students don't work alone. The instructor leaves while you're being cut? You leave too. Some of the best haircuts I've seen came from beauty schools, for under $10.
  • I'd use a school if I hadn't learned to cut my hair online for free. Type "cut your own hair" in your browser, and save hundreds of dollars a year. Works especially well for medium to long hair.
  • Color your own roots or have them done at the beauty school, which will be a great chance to sample the academy for future use.
  • Color with henna, particularly if you're a redhead or brunette. It's non-toxic, covers gray, conditions, looks natural, and costs me about $30 a year. If currently using chemical colorants, read about henna first to avoid mishaps when applying to colored hair.


  • Mix a pinch of baking soda or sugar with a drop of cleanser and make a fabulous exfoliant.
  • Money literally goes down the drain with liquid soaps. Do use them. Don't use large amounts. A small squirt does the job. I use a pricey anti-aging facial cleanser that recommends two pumps per use. But a half-pump works great. While the initial cost is high, I only purchase the product twice yearly.
  • Someone in your household treating that pump like an exercise machine? Dilute liquid soaps with water. Then they can pump away, while you pay for only drops.
  • Keep expensive products away from general use. Give kids basic soap. Your pricey cleanser's not a toy. Tuck it in a drawer.
  • Stretch moisturizers. I buy a higher-end product but find I only need half what's recommended. It works great and lasts months.
  • Extra virgin olive and coconut oils make great natural moisturizers and makeup removers.
  • Buy super-effective, natural cosmetics containing vitamin C, ALA, and DMAE at online vitamin discount suppliers. Save bundles. Visit www.swansonvitamins.com, www.vitacost.com, www.harvesthealth.com, and others.
  • Drink lots of filtered water to hydrate skin. Find filter pitchers by PUR® for under $20 at WalMart.
  • Keep sugar for the exfoliants and not consumption. It causes blemishes and wrinkles.


  • Try no-risk makeup. Rite-Aid's and Walgreen's makeup guarantees are for real. Try new cosmetics, and if you dislike them, the store issues no-questions-asked refunds. So keep that receipt. Some discount department stores will match this policy, so call ahead, ask and avoid wasting money on makeup you won't use.
  • For sanitary reasons, experts recommend replacing makeup every three to six months. But, you can avoid throw-aways and stay safe. Before using your new foundation, pour half into an empty vitamin bottle or small container and refrigerate. Stretch eye shadows and powders by breaking them up and storing likewise.

Additional Tips

  • Never pay retail. Shop big box and salvage/surplus stores for familiar cosmetics you know you'll use./li>
  • Eliminate tanning salon fees. Consider a sunlamp for under $225. Visit www.sperti.com./li>
  • A wet towel drying in the bedroom at night keeps skin moist.
  • Buy nail files, clippers and tweezers at the dollar store.

Take the Next Step:

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.

Stay Connected with TDS


Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Get Out of Debt