As far as my beauty budget goes, I’m all over the place. I’ve had hundred-dollar moisturizers and fifteen-dollar moisturizers; I’ve spent $75 on haircuts, then gone years without even getting my split ends trimmed. I go back and forth trying to figure out what works best for my lifestyle and budget, while still allowing myself room to create a personal care routine that reflects who I am, who I want to be, and how I feel my best.
I definitely don’t think the expenses that come along with being a woman — like makeup, expensive haircuts, and other personal-care things — are frivolous and unnecessary, but I do know that I personally can get a little “extra” in this area, and I could always stand to shave a little off of my beauty budget. But right now, I feel like I’m in a pretty good place, and I feel so genuinely happy with my beauty/skincare/haircare routine — and even happier with how much it all costs me.
Here are six small swaps I’ve made in my personal care routine that were total game-changers to my budget and my life.
1. I started drinking a shit-ton of water.
I’m not trying to be like the asshole perfect-skinned celebrity who swears she does nothing to her skin besides washing it with plain bar soap and drinking lots of water. But my active decision to start drinking about 10 refills of my water bottle per day (versus my old routine of having maybe one glass per day if I remembered) has significantly improved my skin, no doubt about it. I don’t have acne or blemishes in general at this point, but over the past month or so since I’ve started sipping extra, I’ve noticed that my skin just looks better — more hydrated, less dull, and more glowy and smooth. I’ve been using a lot less makeup because of it (mostly just concealing the areas where I have old spots or redness) and I’m ~loving~ it, because I’m notorious for going full-face out of necessity. (Now I just do a full-face when I really feel like it — which is still pretty often, because makeup rules.)
2. I committed to a once-per-week face mask, and once-per-week exfoliating.
I’ve gone from a bare-bones routine of soap and water to an extra-as-hell routine consisting of two different face cleansers, a day and night moisturizer, tea tree oil for spot treatment, facial toner, exfoliators, and daily masks, and never really found either skincare routine to work for me. What does work for me, apparently, is a routine that strikes a balance somewhere in the middle. I use my favorite soap (that I never stop raving about) to cleanse my skin, remove my makeup at night with micellar water, use a day moisturizer and night cream, and exfoliate or use a face mask only once per week. Having one day (usually Sunday) where I add a little extra care into my routine by doing a mask and using an exfoliating scrub makes my skin feel pampered, but I don’t overdo it by using the harsh scrubby products every day. As for spot treatments/toners/oils/additional products, I’ve pretty much cut them out — mostly because my skin is a lot better than it used to be, although I’m sort of convinced it is better because I cut a lot of product out.
3. I found better ways of applying the makeup I already had.
I never really caught on to the Beauty Blender (or generic makeup sponge) craze and stuck to using dense, flat-top brushes to apply foundation and concealer. However, every time I deemed my foundation terrible and purchased new one after new one, I wasn’t even thinking that the real problem could be in how I’m applying the product. After a lot of hesitation, I grabbed a beauty sponge at a store, and I haven’t turned back since. It makes all of my foundation — even the ones I previously stopped using because they “sucked” — look exactly how I want them to on my skin.
As for concealer, I was applying it with so many different brushes hoping to get the type of finish I desired, and cycling through never really finding myself satisfied until I attempted gently patting my under-eye concealer in with my finger one day. Now, all the concealers I swore off of because they were streaky or creased under my eyes are some of my favorites, because I found out that applying them with my finger is the best way for my skin.
4. I joined the Dollar Shave Club
I am one of those people who shamefully used disposable razors for so many years before realizing that a) they are terribly wasteful, and b) they are barely passable as razors and need to be replaced after like two uses. And of course, I rarely replaced them as often as they needed to be, which resulted in a lot of cuts and stubbly legs. Unwilling to shell out for pricey razors at the drugstore, I joined the Dollar Shave Club and am in love. Basically, you get the first razor for just a buck, and every month thereafter, you get to choose which level razor you want, and you get it sent to you each month for either $3, $6, or $9. This is #notsponsored, I just genuinely love having smooth-as-hell legs. Having good razors is life-changing, and having cheap razors is budget-game-changing.
5. I stopped heat styling my hair on most days.
I wash my hair only once a week — this isn’t realistic for everyone, but my hair is super thin, and if I overwash it, it just becomes greasy and flat and lifeless. I used to love heat styling my hair, and curled it or straightened it on most days. Now, I only blow-dry my hair and heat style it on the day I wash it — all other days, I just let it do what it wants, use dry shampoo/hairspray to give it extra volume, or style it up instead of turning to my curling iron. My hair feels so much healthier as a result of this, and so much less difficult and expensive to maintain that I actually can’t believe how I used to wash, blow dry, and curl my hair almost every single day.
6. I never spend a lot on haircuts/color treatments.
I stopped coloring my hair entirely, so that is a huge expense cut out. I never was religious about it, but I did like to pick up boxed hair dye at the store to ~switch things up~ which ultimately cost me money because it damaged the hell out of my hair. So bye-bye, monthly $8 boxes of hair dye.
As for cutting, I went back and forth between swearing off haircuts altogether (would not recommend) and getting the insane $50-60 ones that gave me anxiety every time I booked an appointment.
I’m not here to say that professional hair stylists aren’t worth what they charge, because I totally believe that a $60 haircut is worth it for so many people, and I know a lot of learned skill goes along with the job of cutting hair. However, for my personal hair texture (thin, pretty healthy, easily manageable) and preferred hairstyle (straight, no layers, no fancy styling or anything beyond trimming an inch or two off every few months) it is totally fine for me to just stop into a place that will trim my hair dry for $15. I have no need to get my hair shampooed and blown dry after my cut, which shaves off a lot of money, and just get a straight trim off the bottom that takes no more than ten minutes. This really works well for me, and it has actually made me stick to getting my hair cut every four to six weeks instead of letting months go by because I was too nervous.
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