7 Beauty Hacks that Save Us Thousands of Dollars Each Year

It costs money to look good. A recent article in the Huff Post showed that the average woman in the U.S. spends $8 a day on her face alone.

Montana girls came in at the lowest rate: $3.50 a day (go, Mrs. Montana Money Adventure!) while New York, Connecticut and West Virginia tied for the highest at $11 a day (although I doubt Mrs. Living Rich Cheaply spends $4k a year on her beautiful face. Andrew, what’s the scoop?).

So, in the cheapest of instances (at least from an average standpoint) women are spending $1277.50 per year on facial beauty supplies and in the most expensive instances they’re spending $4,000 per year.

Beauty Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

And that doesn’t even include the rest of the body. Spa treatments, gym memberships, miscellaneous plastic surgeries, etc. If you are okay with spending thousands each year on your face, more power to you. However, there are ways to improve and enhance your looks for much, much cheaper.

When we were deep in debt and out of necessity couldn’t afford to spend money on beauty, we realized we had to learn to do beautiful naturally. Today our money situation is MUCH better as we continue to pay down our debt, but we’re still frugal on skin care and other beautifying products.

Yes, even with four females in the house, we find a way to get “pretty” done for “pretty cheap”.

How much do we spend in The Frugal Farmer family for me and our three girls, age 17, age 14, and age 12? Here’s our spending history in the “beauty” category:

  • 2014: $132.66
  • 2015:  $60.04
  • 2016: 136.53
  • 2017 to date: $84.66

Notice we’re on track to be a little higher this year. That’s because my curly-haired baby has discovered DevaCurl Styling Cream, 5.1 Fluid Ounce and is convinced she can’t live and be seen in public without it. And I tend to agree with her. Here are Maddie’s curls without Diva Curl:

Those of you with curly hair know what I’m talking about. There are just some beauty products worth spending money on, for peace of mind sake, after you’ve naturally enhanced your beauty to the best of your ability.

So while sometimes we do spend for beauty luxuries, we’ve found ways to combat most of that spending with a few little tips and tricks. Believe it or not, there are ways to “beautify” yourself without spending as much as you would on a car payment. We’ve found several ways to look good and spend less. Here they are, for your money saving pleasure.

Bargain Facial Cleanser and Moisturizer

My friend’s renowned dermatologist (consistently voted one of the top docs here) recommended CeraVe facial cleanser and moisturizer to her a few years back and after seeing the change in her skin, we started using it too. It’s expensive compared to what we’re used to paying ($12-$16 at the local Walmart), but the bottles easily last three to six months.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, 12 Ounce

CeraVe has a facial cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin, and one for Normal to Oily Skin. They also have a cream and a lotion moisturizer that works wonders on dry spots.

Bonus: besides being affordable, they provide us with healthy looking, smooth skin. My mom even noticed the difference in my skin and got on the CeraVe program, and has been getting random compliments on her 72-year-old face as well.

You don’t need to get expensive department store or infomercial cleansers to look good – just do some research and look around for quality stuff that is also budget friendly.

You might need to try a few different cleansers before you find the one that works best for you. Make sure to give them each a couple of weeks at least before you make a final decision – unless a cleanser or moisturizer is causing you serious issues.

An Almost-Free Workout Routine

The expenditures for me and our kids’ workout routines consist of two pairs of free weights and a decent pair of running shoes for all of us.

We do lots of hiking walking and biking, along with a variety of stretching and weightlifting routines here at the house. For free.

We’ll often do these activities with friends and family for the social interaction that so many people find inviting at the local gym. Not only is a planned hike or bike great exercise, it’s a great way to entertain yourselves for very little cash. When planning longer bikes or hikes, we’ll usually pack a healthy lunch with items from home and bring bottles of water as well.

Hiking or biking with loved ones is awesome, but spending time doing those activities alone is nice because it can help you clear your head. It provides for quiet time that allows you to think, to dream and to plan.

*Bonus tip: with the exception of tennis shoes, you don’t have to pay full price for workout equipment you can use at home. Check out Craigslist, EBay or local garage sales or Facebook clubs for used workout equipment selling for cheap. 

If you don’t like to work out alone, or if working out with others motivates you, grab your spouse or a friend and head out for a walk or run. Easy. And free.

On the days I don’t feel like going for a walk, hike or bike, or on the days I’m not feeling particularly motivated, I’ll do a quick but intense 15 to 20 minute workout routine. Some of the activities I include in those quick routines are:

  • curls
  • bench presses
  • a complete and thorough stretching routine
  • body weight bearing exercises such as lunges, pushups or planks

I tend to do a lot in a short amount of time while still using the correct form. This puts a bit of cardio into the workouts. I love these quick workouts because I can be back to being lazy or reading or whatever in a short period of time, yet I’ve still gotten a semi-intense workout in – again, for free.

DIY Salon Services

Back when we lived in the ‘burbs I used to love going to the local salon for eyebrow waxes, facials, etc. It’s fun being pampered by salon professionals. It’s also expensive.

So when we started out on our journey to become debt free, I started doing my fave salon services at home. I went in for one last eyebrow wax and then started following the lines the esthetician gave me, plucking out new hairs as they came in.

Related: Six Health Hacks that Help Us Keep Medical Costs Low

I also started doing manicures and pedicures at home. I even learned how to do facials and body scrubs at home. The result? Healthier, more beautiful skin and nails without salon prices.

Note: if you are going to maintain your brows at home, I highly suggest a quality tweezer like the one I use:

Tweezerman Stainless Steel Slant Tweezer, Black

Cheap tools just don’t do the trick. 

We also DIY haircuts here, and I do an $8 boxed color from Walmart. It can be done!

To make the DIY salon treatments more fun, do it with your kids or friends by setting up a spa atmosphere at home. If you’re having trouble justifying the time it takes to pamper yourself, just remember that those at-home salon services will make you feel better about yourself and give you more motivation to succeed at your goals.

A Balanced Diet

People often don’t realize how much diet affects their looks, not just from a body image standpoint but from a skin clarity standpoint. My blotchy, acne prone skin cleared up within just a few weeks of eating more whole foods and less processed foods. Other diet tips we use to look good for cheap include:

  • Avoiding alcohol. I never touch it. It dries you up from the inside out and it shows in your skin as your cells are drained of moisture
  • Drinking lots of fresh, clean water. Our bodies are made up of 70-80 percent water. We lose that water through daily activities and it needs to be replenished. If you don’t, you’ll have dry, dull looking skin.
  • Eating more whole foods than processed foods. This isn’t always easy. Some days – like yesterday – I go full off the wagon and eat processed crap all day. To make up for that I’ll be having whole foods today and tomorrow. And my skin will thank me for it.

It’s not that you have to avoid junk or processed food altogether, but having a good balanced diet where you are eating more whole foods (i.e. foods the way God made them) than processed or sugary snacks will help you have better overall health and more beautiful skin, i.e. less need for expensive repairative and restorative skin procedures.

Nature Made Beauty Services

Remember earlier when I talked about doing facials and body scrubs at home? You wouldn’t believe how much nature can provide you will beautifying tools.

Want a good facial? Try plain organic yogurt on your face and cucumbers on your eyes. A roughly textured wash cloth will help scrub away dead skin cells, leaving your skin glowing.

Recommended Reading: The Natural Beauty Solution: Break Free from Commerical Beauty Products Using Simple Recipes and Natural Ingredients

Want to give your body a good scrub and leave it glowing? Try sugar with a touch of coconut oil (Trader Joe’s sells organic stuff cheap). Make a paste, scrub it on, rinse it off.

Want to soak away stress? Fill your bathtub with ultra warm water and Epsom salts and take a good long soak.

Want to heal and detoxify your body? Get 8 hours of sleep a night, take naps when you need to and work to reduce stress in your life.

If you’re looking to extrude toxins from your skin, try sitting at a table with a bowl of steaming water. After you’ve washed your face, put your face over the water and a towel over your head to trap the steam in. Sit there for ten minutes or so, then go and splash your face with cool water to help close up the pores.

Your skin will look rosy and clean.

We Work to Reduce Stress

A less stressful body will result in a better appearance. Figure out what is stressing you out, and then change it or get it out of your life. If money is stressing you, make a plan to pay off your debt. If your relationships are stressing you, work to make them healthier. If you don’t feel like you have enough time in the day, cut out non-essential activities and start saying “no”.

Put stress reducing measures in place like Epsom salt baths or cardiovascular exercise sessions. Prayer and meditation help too, as well as taking time alone to be with your thoughts.

Stress is THE number one cause of major health problems such as heart attacks and psychological diagnoses. Don’t allow stress to rob you of joy – or of beauty. Work to identify and eliminate – or at least minimize – the causes of stress in your life and you’ll find you need to spend a whole lot less on beauty measures that only cover up the truth.

We Wear Very Little Makeup

No foundation. Just a bit of blush, some mascara and some eye shadow. Sometimes. With our tips for healthy looking skin we don’t need the foundation, and honestly we want to look as close to our natural selves as possible, with a little “oomph”. We buy basic big box store brands like Cover Girl and Revlon, and we use them to enhance our natural beauty instead of change our total look.

Learning to accept yourself as you are is key to this. Treating your body well by eating right, exercising and following the other tips listed above is key too.

If you are not happy with the way you look, you can change things from the inside out and promote a truly healthier “you”.

So while the rest of the country is spending ridiculous amounts of money to look good by covering up their face, take your health (and your pocketbook) into your own hands and try some of the beauty hacks listed above. I’m willing to bet they’ll result in a happier, healthier you.

19 comments

  1. I think it is hard, especially for women these days, and especially women as we age. There is this undercurrent of you have to look youthful…always. I thought things like Botox and other fillers were kind of for “the housewives of Bev Hills,” but when I peeled the layers I found out that most of my friends have gotten some kind of treatment like that…many in their early 30s! I admit to falling prey to wanting to find that magic cream but have stopped before getting any kind of “work done.” But there is a lot of pressure! And I totally agree with you about stress! Reduce or manage that and that can take years off your life.

    • Laurie says:

      I think you are SO right about the pressure to look good. It’s terrible, really. Living in the country I’ve largely gotten away from that pressure, but that has allowed me to focus on healthy living as a whole too, which is nice.

  2. Haha- I’m a fan of wearing little to no makeup… it’s my accidental money saving technique that comes from the fact that I never really got into wearing make up in the first place and only wear it now on special occasions or for more important work meetings.

  3. I love that you focus on healthy living as a beauty routine, because that’s really where beauty starts. If you’re healthy, you have a natural glow already. Your skin tends to be clearer, you have more energy, you’re more trim, etc. There’s less pressure to do as much to yourself if you’re naturally healthy to begin with.

    I used to adore my makeup bag, but I’ve really laid off the makeup. I discovered it was making my skin age prematurely, and I hated how much the stuff costs!

    • Laurie says:

      So true!!! My revelation came when I asked my stepmom about her beautiful, glowing skin (she’s in her early sixties). “I never wear makeup” was her answer. I started following her advice and saw my skin clear up within weeks.

  4. Mrs. Groovy says:

    Great ideas, Laurie.
    Sleep, water and exercise are especially cheap ways to save on beauty products. A good sweat really flushes out the skin and wards of wrinkles.

    Does Maddie need to blow her hair when using DivaCurl? I had my hair cut very short and can gel it back. But if I want to avoid looking like I’ve just been electrocuted a hot iron still works best. But the one I have is too wide so I’m going to splurge on a 1/2 inch one.

    • Laurie says:

      Maddie uses the Diva Curl before blow drying, on damp hair. In fact she doesn’t even use a blow dryer because Diva Curl makes her curly look sleek and smooth. In the mornings she’ll plop a bit on her dry hair and it tames things down too. She loves it!

  5. Great tips, and fascinating statistics about average spending on facial products alone. I think I spent $35 on my face last year. Less than that on my hair. And I have frizzy hair and still have some acne at 31.

    I’m fortunate to run in circles where my friends aren’t highly made up so there’s not much pressure there. I’ve also received makeup as gifts and hand-me-downs (from my sister). Everyone is different and I think beauty routines should reflect that. I’ve never colored my hair or had a professional mani, pedi, or facial, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. That said, I don’t think those are wrong ways to spend money.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks for sharing. I think it depends on one’s financial situation too. If you’re deep in debt, spending $4k on your face may not be the greatest idea? There’s a large chance I’ll go back to salon trips once our debt is gone, but I’ll work to keep things under control for my comfort level. 🙂

  6. Laura Prather says:

    I don’t know who spends $3.50 a day on their face (much less $8), but I spend less than .50 a day AND I use Merle Norman (not cheap).

    Holy smokes, ladies! Are you rubbing your face in gold dust?

    That being said, I use natural cleansers (sugar scrub made with coconut oil), then treat myself to a Merle Normal mask about once every 6 weeks or so. My mask has lasted me 2 years so far and is still half full. Bam!

    • Laurie says:

      “Holy smokes, ladies! Are you rubbing your face in gold dust?” Funny. 🙂 Plain organic yogurt is my favorite mask to date. Costs $5 and lasts for a good four to six weeks. 🙂

  7. Brian says:

    I’m amazed at the variety of different products my wife uses. I’m smart enough to know not to question it. 🙂 We use CeraVe facial cleanser, our dermatologist recommended too. We found Costco has it for the cheapest price.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks for the Costco tip! You are a smart man not to question your wife’s beauty purchases. That’s often treading dangerous water. 🙂

  8. katscratch says:

    Yes, yes, and yes! The beauty industry is all about making us feel less than we are. Which is how many of us got into debt in the first place: spending money to achieve a version of ourselves that is not who we actually ARE at that moment.

    That said I do wax my ridiculously prolific eyebrows (myself, so they’re uneven most times) and I often wear mascara. But I love how you said it: “….to enhance our beauty instead of change our total look.”

    • Laurie says:

      Yes!!!!!!!!! Great comment, Kat. I haven’t gotten up the guts to wax my own eyebrows, but I do pluck them meticulously. 🙂

  9. I’m amazed at the average amounts women are spending – and just on their faces. Yikes! What you say about health and beauty is certainly true. Heavy drinking and smoking, for instance, really do show – especially with age. I appreciate those links, Laurie. I think I will try Cera V and that natural beauty book. (And I love Maddie’s curls! I understand her wish to tame them though – as I have the same issue. She is such a cutie! The niece I am visiting right now in DC is also named Maddie.)

    • Laurie says:

      I saw that your niece’s name was Maddie when I read your post! (been a bit behind on my reading). I hope you love the CeraVe as much as we do. It’s really helped our skin!

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