Mindfully Spent is about managing finances, time, and more in pursuit of meaning. It chronicles my journey to use money and moments for things I truly love.

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This eyeshadow isn't empty: 11 ways to save on beauty products & services.

This eyeshadow isn't empty: 11 ways to save on beauty products & services.

So much of how we live is based on a status quo that we accept without question; social norms that we absorbed somewhere along the line as gospel without too much thought. The unfortunate truth is that many of the things that we blindly accept are, well, hogwash. And many of those things cost us our hard-earned money. 

In my journey to cut non-essential spending and pay off all our consumer debt, there have been certain things I wasn't willing to part with. Some of those things (like doggie daycare) were thoughtful, values based decisions. Other times, I found myself clinging to old habits needlessly, spending too much money for no good reason at all. 

Let me provide an embarrassing example of how I was slipping up in this way until just a few weeks ago.

At certain times in my life, I have been so impressed by a hairdresser than I was wooed into buying $45 shampoo or a similarly-priced hair product the salon was selling. Those times were luckily short lived. However, there was a much longer period of time when I clung to my $12 per bottle shampoo like it was the only thing saving me from an expedited return to the trailer park I grew up in. (Spoiler alert: It wasn't.)

In fact, I had hard evidence that overpriced shampoo wasn't a beauty necessity. When I quizzed one of the best looking millennial mamas I know about what shampoo she used on her glorious locks, she confessed that it was some pretty thrifty stuff. That was about three years ago. 

After I set a goal to pay off all our consumer debt, I began to feel uncomfortable about how much I was paying for my shampoo. The guilt continued until I was faced with an offer I couldn't refuse. With a grocery store app coupon and an Ibotta rebate, I realized that I could purchase a normally $4 bottle of shampoo for about $1.50. It took me a week to talk myself into it (I told you I was overly attached to my shampoo habit!). Eventually, I convinced myself to try the cheaper alternative using this trick: I told myself that this would be a test run. If I had frizzy, dry hair after two weeks, I could immediately go back to the $12 stuff. Fortunately, using a money-saving shampoo has not changed my hair a whit.

Missing out on six months worth of savings because I wouldn't test out a cheaper alternative taught me a valuable lesson: It can be expensive to cling to old habits. 

Luckily, other changes to my beauty products and routines haven't included so much foot dragging.  Here are 11 ways more ways that I've saved on beauty products and routines: 

1. Homemade Dry Shampoo.
Dry shampoo is super easy to make. Some recipes are as simple as cornstarch and cocoa powder (to match hair color). I use one that is cornstarch, baking soda, and cocoa powder. (I've saved a few recipes on Pinterest if you'd like to check 'em out.)

2. Let the Beauty Bloggers be your guide! 
When my $20 mascara started running out, I was not remotely excited about paying that price again. With a little research, I found an article recommending five drugstore options similar to the exact mascara I loved, including a $5 mascara with the power to withstand sweaty workouts. In fact, there are lower priced, drugstore brand imitations of almost every expensive product on the market.    

3. Low Maintenance Mane.
Before I started cutting back on expenses, I had a stick straight bob that hit above the shoulder. Every 6-8 weeks, I would get a trim to keep it looking sharp. The costs of these frequent haircuts made me rethink my style. I now have longer hair that whips up easily into a ponytail and only needs infrequent trims. And the balayage-style highlights that I'd splurge on twice a year? Yeah, no. I decided that watching my debt drop dramatically was better than occasional hair color. When our debt is paid in full and our savings is fat, a little weekend adventure will still rank well above hair color when it comes to budget priorities. 

4. DIY Eyebrow Tint.
I used to love getting an eyebrow tint at the salon, but at $25 a pop I gave it up well before I started saving in earnest. A few months ago, I found a tutorial online that showed me how easy it was to do it myself at home. The best part? It costs about $3 per session! Was it terrifying the first time? Yes. Were the results amazing? Absolutely. The low cost of DIY allowed me to add this beauty routine back into my budget, and I've been enjoying having tinted brows again. 

5. Witch Hazel Toner / Clarifier.
Old school home remedies are still sometimes the best. Witch hazel is a natural astringent, and many people use it mixed with a little lemon juice as part of their face cleaning regime. My husband and I get the cheapest generic store brand we can find and use ours just as it is. (It also feels great on mosquito bites!) 

6. This eyeshadow is not empty.
Many methods of saving are age-old, including "Use it up,wear it out, make it do, or do without." I've been using the eyeshadow pictured at the top of this post since I started changing my spending habits over six months ago. I'm still using it now (the photo was taken about two weeks ago). When it's gone, I'll start using up something else taking up room in my makeup bag. 

7. Cinderella didn't do it alone. 
For rare special occasion looks, beauty products are a lot like a fancy gown: It's best if we can borrow from a friend we trust. I recently got to try out a night of true red lipstick for the first time on a night out dancing. I didn't spend a dime on it. 

8. Aspirin Masks.
Instead of facials or high priced exfoliation products, all you need are a few aspirin. Crushed and made into a paste with a small amount of water (or honey or lemon juice or yogurt), this low cost treatment will have your face looking fresh. See the PopSugar tutorial. I cannot rave enough about how soft my skin is when I use an aspirin mask somewhat regularly.

9. DIY Eyebrow Maintenance.
Although I miss the exfoliating effect of eyebrow waxing, I now avoid the reoccurring expense and pluck my own. I did invest in a great pair of tweezers at the recommendation of a good friend, and I haven't regretted it. The newest Mindfully Spent Pinterest board includes a couple tutorials for those who want to take on tweezing their brows. 

10. Coconut Oil.
Coconut oil is eye makeup remover, and so much more. I love that I can completely eliminate purchasing eye makeup remover due to having coconut oil on hand (other moisturizers work well too!). Coconut oil can also eliminate the need to buy shaving cream, moisturizer, and many other products

11. Make Up Brush Maintenance.
Last year, I was about ready to toss my makeup brushes. They were really good ones, but I'd had them for years. Before giving up, I gave them one last wash, this time using a little bit of dish soap. After a thorough rinse and dry, they were like new! (And I can't imagine how gross they were if it made such a huge difference!) 

A focus on cost cutting has not reduced the quality of my beauty routine. If the $1.50 shampoo had been hard on my hair, I would have tried something better. But since it worked out, I'll now save at least $8 each time I buy shampoo (more if there are coupons!). I still use some products that aren't inexpensive drugstore brands, but I will no longer let the status quo cause me to spend extra for no reason. I'm continuing to test whether each of my more expensive products are truly necessary as they start to run low. 

I'm not sacrificing to the extent of others I've known. Last year, a friend of mine quit buying and wearing makeup all together because it just wasn't in the budget. While I don't wear much makeup, I frankly don't feel comfortable going "au naturel" at all times when our face can end up on the internet at any given moment. This is probably another social standard that warrants some future questioning. 

What are ways that you cut costs on beauty products and routines? 

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The intimacy of asking for help.

The intimacy of asking for help.

Money can't fill a hole.

Money can't fill a hole.