Beauty Products on the Cheap — Yes, It’s Possible

Photo courtesy of funny-p/

“Lose 5 pounds in two days!”
“Look 10 years younger in minutes!”
“Firmer skin now!”
“Reduce wrinkles!”
“Shinier, stronger hair!”

Women are bombarded by all of these media messages day in and day out. Is it any wonder many women have self-esteem issues? It’s as if you’re not good enough, skinny enough, pretty enough if you don’t use the latest products. They shout at us from magazines, billboards and television commercials — “You can be better!”

Companies are counting on advertisements to draw new customers in and get them to spend their hard-earned money in the hopes of improving their appearance. But how many of us fall for it? Sure, there are beauty products out there that actually do what they claim — reduce fine lines or help suppress your appetite. But how much do we shell out to find the products that work? And why do many of us believe we should conform to the way society believes we should look?

Beauty products fall under the category of discretionary spending. It’s not necessary for us to buy the latest wrinkle cream or moisturizer — we’ll survive without it. But it’s hard to avoid purchasing these products, especially with the pressure of looking your best all the time.

How do you avoid buying all this stuff — or, at least, avoid buying it at full price? There are a few options:

1. Go to sample sales. You not only get to try a bunch of different cosmetics, haircare and other beauty products, but you might just walk away with samples.

2. Become a beauty editor. Okay, easier said than done. But you’d be shocked at all the stuff that’s sent to you from public relations firms in the hopes you’ll feature it in your magazine or on your blog.

3. Make your own products. Matt Jabs over at Debt Free Adventure posted “Natural Homemade Deodorant — Easy & Effective!” Sounds easy enough — spray rubbing alcohol on your underarms. Whether or not it works, that’s something I might experiment with one day (not to worry, co-workers, I would only subject my husband to this one weekend day at home). For true beauty products like masks or cleansers, there is a plethora of homemade recipes using everyday household products like olive oil or fruit. has a great list of products you can make at home with stuff from the cupboard or pantry. Oils make great moisturizers; sea salt can become a foot scrub; baking soda transforms into toothpaste with a bit of water.

But I get most of my beauty products from work. How? Each magazine owned by our parent company hosts a beauty sale every now and then. For a small donation (usually $1 per product, which goes to assorted charities), I can pick up a $20 hairspray or a $50 cleanser. I’ve come home with a lot of items over the years, meaning I haven’t had to buy hair products like mousse or conditioner in years. The money always goes to a great cause, and I get to use relatively expensive stuff that I would never in a million years buy for myself. And especially love these sales when they happen near the holidays– what woman wouldn’t love a bag full of goodies to pamper herself with?

Do you splurge on fancy products? What’s your guilty pleasure? Being as frugal as I am, I can’t say I have products I buy on a regular basis — It’s a lot of fun, I admit, to go to my fully-stocked cupboard and choose what I want to use!

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