Looking fabulous can be hard work. And we're not talking about the sweat you need to shed for that killer body. Women spend nearly $450,000 for a lifetime of beauty products and treatments, according to Newsweek.com's "The Beauty Breakdown." That's a huge investment in these tough economic times.
But keeping up appearances doesn't have to be so pricey. WalletPop asked a number of beauty experts to help us find ways to save on our beauty bill. Here's what they recommend:
Our hair is our crowning glory, and we treat it as such -- we shell out on average $252 a year on haircuts, according to the Professional Beauty Association. But you can slash that bill by a third by selecting a long hairstyle that doesn't require a lot of maintenance."As a general rule, shorter cuts need to be maintained more often to keep their shape, and with a 'bob' haircut, it just looks frumpy as it grows out," says Brian Magallones, a hairstylist to stars like Keri Russell and Olivia Wilde. "The easiest haircut that will grow out with style is a classic, long-layered cut. With a cut like this, you can go three to four months between visits, depending on the length and condition of your hair."
But that also means keeping your hair healthy. Save by investing in 2-in-1 products, such as shampoo-conditioner, and heat protectant-shine enhancer, a spokesperson for Totalhair.net recommended to WalletPop. And keep that shampoo bottle around longer by washing every other day. Have your conditioner double as a deep conditioner by leaving it in your hair for 15 to 20 minutes.
Hair highlights and coloring take a big bite out of our wallets. We spend about $1,000 a year to brighten our manes, according to the Professional Beauty Association. You can keep within budget by opting for one color, which is cheaper than foil highlights, according to Totalhair.net. And choose a color that's closer to your natural shade so you're not sporting two-toned hair when your tresses grow out.
Make the color last longer by washing with color-extending shampoo and conditioner. The ultimate money-saver: turning to the drugstore instead of a salon to color those locks.
To keep eyebrows in line, we spend on average $516 a year, according to the prices listed in Allure.com's salon and spa directory that shows beauty costs in 14 cities across the United States. To trim that bill down, eyebrow and make-up guru Ramy Gafni recommends spending a little more at first to have an expert shape your brows and then being vigilant about maintenance.
"Think that there's a halo around your eyebrows and clean obvious strays every day," says Gafni, owner of Manhattan's RamySpa. "Mishaps occur when you skip a couple of days and lose the line. So keep the tweezers by your toothbrush. A good point of reference to see [an expert] is when brow hair has to be trimmed. Trimmed hair takes longer to grow back, so you don't want any mistakes."
Gafni, who charges $75 per session, has trained the brow experts at Duane Reade's Look Boutique, where a tweeze costs $30 a visit. A Tweezerman tweezer -- the kind experts often use and recommend -- will run you about $20.
On average, American women plunk down about $100 every month, or $7 billion a year, on cosmetic products, according to the YWCA's 2008 report, "Beauty At Any Cost." But our makeup habit doesn't have to be so steep. Instead, fulfill your craving with strategic buys, said Gafni. He urges splurging on name-brand specialty items, concealers, foundations, and powders. Their high price tags can be worth it, he explained, as they "wear better, have better pigment and are better for your skin" than some drugstore brands.
Pare down your bill by hitting your local drugstores for mascara, lipsticks and glosses, blush and other eyeshadows. Maybelline's iconic Great Lash mascara, for example, sells for just $4.99; on the high end, Lancome's Definicils mascara rings in at $25.
Wean yourself off pricey face lotions by making your own. Kimberly Sayer, founder of Kimberly Sayer of London Organic Skincare, has a recipe for a moisturizer with just enough alpha hydroxy acids to help your face look smooth and youthful at just $9 for at least 25 applications.
1. Combine 1 teaspoon of honey with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
2. Next add 1 tablespoon of rice or almond milk.
3. Finally add 1 teaspoon of apple juice. Those with sensitive skin should skip this step.
4. Mix together well. Apply generously to face.
While Dysport is making some inroads in the smooth face arena, Botox is still the drug of choice when it comes to removing those pesky frown lines. If you can't kick that $443 per session three times a year habit the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons' 2007 Cosmetic Surgery National Data Bank Statistics reports that we have, there are still some ways to save.
Some of Dr. Anthony Youn's patients are stretching their dollars by asking him to inject half a treatment dose in an area instead of the full dose. Others are seeing him a little less frequently.
"Nothing works the same," says Youn, a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Michigan and author of the memoir In Stitches. "Until Dysport, there was no other FDA approved botulinum toxin for cosmetic use so it had a monopoly on the cosmetic neurotoxin market."
This skin-smoothing treatment is so popular that we spent on average $834 per year on it, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
Fortunately, obtaining younger-looking skin just got a little easier, thanks to over-the-counter microdermabrasion kits like Olay Regenerist's Microdermabrasion and Peel kit (about $27) and Neutrogena's Advanced Solutions At Home MicroDermabrasion System (about $104).
"These aren't as powerful as the ones we do in the office, but they can exfoliate nicely for a lower cost," says Youn. "You'll need to use them more often to get the same professional results."
Another inexpensive solution: Make your own kit. Organic esthetician and chemist Kimberly Sayer's Baking Soda Treatment, which will run you almost $10 for 30 treatments, is great once a week for sensitive skin, twice a week for less-sensitive skin.
1. Pour 2 tablespoons of baking soda into a small bowl.
2. Slowly add water until you make a thick paste.
3. Add the juice of half a fresh lemon. Forgo this step if your skin is highly sensitive and substitute chamomile tea instead.
4. Wet fingertips, dip them into the paste and gently massage in small circular motions.
5. Massage entire face area for one to five minutes, depending on your skin's sensitivity level.
Who doesn't love a relaxing visit to the nail salon for a mani-pedi? But a $500 bill every year, according to the Professional Beauty Association, can be a bit hard on your pocketbook. Lower your costs by extending the life of each mani-pedi by investing in a bottle of clear top coat, says Susan Nam, co-owner of Polished Beauty Bar in Manhattan. "Between manicures and pedicures, you should put a top coat on to help extend the life of the polish."
Be a frugalista by saving nail polish for summer months, when your feet will actually be seen and noticed. Lastly, turn your bedroom into a nail salon whenever you feel the urge to try out a new color. For a DIY pedicure, Nam recommends cleaning your feet and then soaking them for about 20 minutes before scrubbing and moisturizing each foot. Clean each nail surface with acetone or rubbing alcohol before applying polish. Repeat twice. Protect with a good top coat.
Looking sun-kissed is great, but the price tag can melt your wallet. We spend about $150 to $1,050 a year on tanning beds and spray tans, according to John Overstreet at The Indoor Tanning Association. To lower our sun bill, International Smart Tan Network executive director Joseph Levy recommends signing up for packages which offer discounts for multiple vists, spray tanning only body parts that are visible during the winter months, and alternate between over-the-counter spray solutions and salon visits.
"The technology in today's sprays has improved so much that these tans look natural," Levy told WalletPop in a telephone interview.
For the ultimate savings plan, Dr. Richard Baxter, a board-certified plastic surgeon and medical director of Seattle-based Calidora Skin Clinics, recommends forgoing tanning all together. "Tanning beds are a class 1 carcinogen," Dr. Baxter says. "Skin damage will lead to higher skin-care costs later on."
That weekly waxing visit is getting a tad hairy -- ringing in at about $246 per year, according to Newsweek.com. Nix this from your planner by opting for hair laser removal, advises Dr. Baxter. The nearly $1,000 procedure, with a $100 maintenance treatment every few years, removes hair from your body for a lifetime.
If you're not ready for such a commitment, then volunteer your body to salons like Shobha in New York City. Trainees will wax you for free, but you can't be shy as several observers will also be on hand to check out the results.
Another strategy clients use, Shobha brand manager Jennifer Pesce says, is to opt for the cheaper shaving method and save waxing for special occasions. Or do most of the maintenance yourself by using Shobha's Sugaring Kit ($30).
Frugal Tips to Help You Afford Your Inner Diva