I’m nineteen and a broke college student (surprise, I know). For the past two years, I have been buying most of my own beauty “stuff.” I realized I have cheap’d my routine quite a bit from what it was in high school (when Mom was still buying). Here’s what I’ve learned:
Stop buying expensive shampoo.
I mean it. I have a lot of hair; I tend to use a lot of shampoo. When I did the math to figure out how much it cost per ounce, I felt silly and switched over.
Think about it; it’s just detergent and goes right down the drain.
My favorite cheap shampoos are Suave Daily Clarifying (ninety-nine cents at my grocery store). It’s great stuff and makes my hair super shiny. It can give you that “squeaky clean” feeling, which isn’t always my favorite, but when I need to get serious gunk out of my hair, this is the stuff. Smells and feels just like Paul Mitchell Super Strong (not that I would know, because I have never stolen my mom’s pricey shampoo from her hairdresser friend).
I also like V05. At my grocery store, it costs seventy-nine cents for a fifteen-ounce bottle. I’m a big fan.
Right now, I’m loving the Green Tea Nourishing Shampoo. You get tons of lather and it smells good enough to use as body wash when I run out.
Go ahead and pay (a little) more for conditioner.
The super-cheap conditioner can do the job, but three- or four-dollar conditioner is what does the job best. Super cheap conditioner makes excellent shaving cream. Keep in mind, Suave will make imitations of more expensive shampoos like Nexxus and John Frida for under three dollars a pop.
Wear less makeup.
No brainer right? Especially if you are someone who tends to buy cosmetics at department stores, this will save you. Can you get away with just mascara (my favorite being Maybelline Great Lash) and penciled brows instead of full eye makeup? How about ditching bronzer?
Most times, you get what you pay for.
I like to buy high-end brands on eBay. I got the DuWop Original Lip Venom for seven dollars (sixteen dollars at sephora.com) and the Benetint Pocket Pal for five dollars (twenty dollars at sephora.com). The second bonus of buying on eBay? My internal “There are starving children in Africa and you’re spending twenty dollars on lip gloss” goes away.
Shave less. Or shave on the cheap.
Switch your razor.
Refill packs of Quattro or Venus can cost upwards of twelve or fifteen dollars. These also come with a ton of unnecessary plastic packaging. Switch to a Noxema four-blade razor. They are cheap and last just as long.
Use your cheap conditioner as shaving cream.
Again, the V05. It ends up costing about a nickel an ounce and is better for the environment.
Invest in a blade sharpener.
This is green too. Check out Sustainable Village. Disposables are only disposable because we don’t have a good way to reuse them; this is it.
Learn to trim your own bangs and splits.
Most places will do a free bang trim, some won’t. I’m a little crazy about my bangs looking good, so trimming up every week or so myself really helps. This is just for trimming well-shaped bangs, Don’t try to cut new ones yourself, this will only end in tears.
… AFTER you get your hair cut someplace nice.
If you don’t have a hair dresser you go to already, find one. If you’re like me and out of the blue decide you need your haircut right now, you will have a better chance of getting a good cut if you already know the person instead of trying someone new every time you need a cut. I like to find a small, non-chain place to get my hair cut. It usually costs a little less than a nicer salon and you get bonus points for supporting small business.
Ditch your “skincare regime.”
It gets to be silly expensive. My skin got so much better when I stopped using a line of product and started using soap, a washcloth, and my favorite toner. But, like conditioner, get yourself a nice moisturizer. It makes all the difference.
Stop wearing perfume.
Find out what the main notes of your favorite fragrance are and buy the essential oil instead. Essential oil can be mixed in or sprayed onto almost anything, will last longer, and comes with less packaging.
Splurge someplace to get your brows done.
Especially if you have always done them yourself. Get a nice shape, see how they do it, and do it yourself. A few months ago I got my brows done for $30. I paid close attention to what she did (mostly trimming) and copied it. I have been able to keep about the same shape; they still look awesome.
Get your nails done.
Like brows. See what they do, get to your beauty supply store and then DIY.
Switch to a Menstrual Cup.
I keep meaning to do this. Check out ecomenses.com to compare brands. The Diva Cup costs $16 at online stores like luckyvitamin.com. For me, this costs about the same as two big boxes of my favorite tampons. These things can last ten years. If I get one soon, I will save $2,864 over the next thirty years. Not only is it way more green, it’s better for you, too. There are all sorts of nasty chemicals used to produce tampons.
Never buy products just because they are on sale.
I used to be so guilty of this, it’s embarrassing. I have boxes full of practically new unused lip gloss, lotion, everything. The worst part is, I’m probably allergic to about a third of it. All the cheap things add up. Treat yourself to a high end something and leave the sale bin behind.