Frugal Choices: My Personal Care Routine

Frugal Choices, My Personal Care Routine _

Inspired by Elise Blaha Cripe, Mrs. Frugalwoods and Lisa Valinsky, who have all recently shared their beauty routines, I thought I would share my own beauty and personal care routine. While I surely haven’t hit Elise’s level of green, Mrs. Frugalwoods’ frugality or Lisa eco-friendliness, I have been able to optimize my routine to achieve some financial and sustainable efficiencies.

I try to keep my beauty routine as simple as possible. I do care how I look, but I am generally pretty happy with the way that I look, so I don’t feel the need to spend a ton of time or money on my appearance. My goal is to keep personal care quick, easy and cheap!

Here are the details of my beauty routine:

  • I donate my hair. For about the last six years, I have been in a cycle of growing my hair long and then chopping it off to donate to a great program called Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which uses donated hair to make wigs for women with cancer. This has several benefits. First, of course, is that it is a nice thing to do for other people. I think of it a bit like giving blood, only less painful. Next, it provides me with a good excuse for changing my hair drastically every two years. Without this my hair would likely always look exactly the same. I’m kinda boring that way. Finally, it gives me a good reason to keep my hair the same between donations, which helps me save money on haircuts. Because I am basically always trying to grow my hair out, I only get it cut about twice a year on average. In fact, I recently cut my hair for the first time since July of 2014, and you know what? It was completely fine!
Before and after shots from the second time I donated my hair, back in 2012.

Before and after shots from the second time I donated my hair, back in 2012.

  • I don’t care where I get my hair done. I don’t have a stylist I love, and I don’t color my hair at all (another HUGE money saver). My hair just isn’t that complicated, and I’m not too worried about someone messing it up. This allows me to go wherever I can get the best deal for a haircut. Typically, I look at Groupon and Living Social when I decide a need a haircut and see what salons in my area are offering a deal. I usually pay about $25 for the coupon and another $10-ish for tip (I always tip on the full amount of the service).
  • I do my own everything. Aside from haircuts, I do all of my own personal care. I paint my own nails, tweeze my own eyebrows, blow dry my own hair. Heck, I even give myself back massages using tennis balls! (Sounds weird but feels AMAZING!)
  • I experiment. Over the years, I have played around with cutting down the costs of my beauty products. While I can now purchase all of my beauty and personal care products at Target, there is of course a range of options even there, and at times I have purchased more expensive products from stores like Sephora. Now, I don’t buy the most expensive stuff, but I don’t buy the cheapest stuff either. I do experiment to make sure that the products that I am paying a little more for are actually worth the money. A great example is Dove body wash. At about $5 a bottle, it certainly isn’t going to break the bank, but there are many less expensive options available. I have tried many of these other options, including competing brands and store brands, in an effort to find an equally effective but less expensive body wash. In the case of Dove, I’ve found that all other products are inferior, so I go for the name brand. In other cases, I’ve found that the expensive brand isn’t as effective for me. An example of this is face lotion – I’ve tried basically everything, including fancy stuff like Boscia, but Oil of Olay just works best for my skin. In either case, the important thing is that I have tested out the alternatives and know that I actually value the features of the product I use.
  • I don’t wear much makeup. If I had it my way, I’d never wear makeup at all. I like the way I look, so why cover it up? Unfortunately, without makeup I sometimes look like I’m 13 years old, so for work I do put on a bit of makeup. I keep it as simple as possible, forgoing foundation and cover-up altogether. In fact I do not even own foundation or cover-up. Or lipstick. Or more than one eye shadow. For work, I wear eyeliner, mascara and a cream blush. I can put it all on in less than 3 minutes, which is great on busy mornings. Even for special occasions, I’ll only add a touch of (very subtle) eye shadow.
Me sans makeup and without styled hair. I took this photo as part of Mrs. Frugalwood's less makeup more confidence manifesto.

Me sans makeup and without styled hair. I took this photo as part of Mrs. Frugalwood’s less makeup more confidence manifesto.

  • I buy on sale. I talked all about how I use Evernote to save money in this guest post, and one of my favorite ways is to keep a running list of non-perishable items that I am running low on. I typically keep an extra bottle of most products on hand, and when I start using that extra bottle I put that product on my list so that I can keep an eye out for a good sale. When I shop, I consult my list to see what items I’m low on and buy any that are on sale.
  • I splurge on certain items. There are a few items in my beauty routine that are clear “splurges.” Several years ago, I received a Clarisonic Mia as a gift and I LOVE it. At $100, it isn’t cheap, but it has lasted years and works so well. The brushes are actually the real splurge, running about $25 each with recommended replacement every three months. Fortunately, I have found a way around that by purchasing these brushes . I did little experiment (figuring that I’d only be out about $5 if it didn’t work) and learned that these brushes work perfectly and are a fraction of the cost. My other big splurge is on Venus razors. I find that they are much better than the cheaper alternatives and are of such high quality that I can use the same blade for months. I probably only use three to five blades a year, which helps reduce the cost.

What is your personal care routine like? Do you spend a lot of money on beauty products?

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20 thoughts on “Frugal Choices: My Personal Care Routine

  1. I think we are all so different when it comes to this. I don’t spend a lot on makeup or brushes, but I do on getting my hair cut (however, I color my ow hair). And while you wear some makeup to look older, I invest in skin care to hopefully look a bit YOUNGER. Oh, funny how that changes over the years. When it comes down to it it’s all a very personal choice. I do think there is a TINY argument about looking your best, depending on what you hope to achieve in life (for instance, I’m sure attractiveness plays a huge role if you are in sales).


    • I agreed, it is all about personal choice. Some people really love putting on makeup and doing their hair, in which case I say go for it! It just holds no appeal for me.

      And you’re absolutely right, there have been studies that show that you will earn more over a lifetime if you are taller/more attractive/whatever. Its sad but true!


  2. I donated my hair this past summer and it felt great! And so satisfying to cut it all off (win win)! I am with you on the straightforward maintenance. I don’t colour my hair, although I do get it cut every 3 months. I use products from Shoppers and always buy on sale. I use expensive makeup (MAC) but only use under eye concealer and blush. I find their products stay put really well and last a long time. I just buy mascara at the drug store and most days I don’t wear it anymore (as I’m home with baby).


  3. Oh boy. I’ve never really cared about this kind of stuff, which awesomely throws me into the “winning at frugal” category for personal care (though in reality it’s just because I haven’t ever done anything more). I wash my face with shampoo in the shower (eek!), I don’t wear makeup, and I either go to Great Clips or make my husband cut my hair. I did recently try DIY bodywash and it was horrible, so I just buy whatever I can get cheaply (I am extravagant because I use a loofa and a body wash rather than a bar of soap!).


  4. I can’t wait to get my hair cut this month and donate the extras. I’ve usually gone through Locks of Love but I think I’ll try Pantene this year. I always wait for it to grow super long and then I get it cut short and add bangs. And then I regret getting bangs for about 2 weeks because there’s constantly something on my forehead that wasn’t there before…but then I get used to them and love the way they look. Fun times ahead 😉 Great post and examples of ways to save on personal care!


    • Haha I do the same thing! I always want to try something new when I go in for a drastic cut/donate, and then I immediately regret it when I have hair in my face for weeks!


  5. Carolyn says:

    I went salon free after my then new boyfriend gave me a haircut shortly after we started dating. He does a great job, never a bad haircut and it is free. I was finally able to grow my hair long which I always wanted to do, but the stylists seem to chop off even more when you mention you are trying to grow it out. Get my hair colored at home every 10-12 weeks to cover emerging grays with henna. No toxic chemicals and color looks great. Between both at home services, it saves me over a grand a year with better results. Not just frugal, but very smart. I rarely wear makeup, but when I do it is basically lipstick and not much else. Do my own manicures and pedicures as well. Not a high maintenance lady, but always look very nice at work.


    • You must really trust your boyfriend! I’m not sure my BF could handle giving me a haircut, but it would be a great way to save money!

      And I completely agree that you can look great at work without spending a ton or being high maintenance!


      • Carolyn says:

        I was on a rant about how I hated going to the salon, it costs a lot, they never do what I want, etc. well he told me he could cut it for me. He had a girlfriend many years ago that was a hairdresser and she showed him how to cut her hair. He had probably given over a couple hundred haircuts to former girlfriends and his ex-wife. He showed the pro grade shears he had, explained how he would section it, pin up the layers, check to see it was even etc. BEFORE I submitted to the shears. So I was sure he had a clue what he was doing. And he gave me a great haircut. If he had reached for the kitchen shears, I would have told him NO WAY! He wasn’t eager to be my colorist, but I told him he was the only one allowed near my hair with shears, did he think I was going to the salon and have them ruin my hair with their toxic chemicals? He agreed and he does a great job applying the henna mud to my hair. I even got compliments on the color from a lady who runs a salon. Wanted to know where I had it done. She was amazed the color and cut was done by my guy. So I’m not walking around with a wonky haircut or bad dye job to save money. And he always sets a glass of wine out for me when he does my hair, before he capes me. I get a neck, shoulder and scalp massage as part of the experience. No way I’m firing him as my stylist. BTW, I got him to learn how to French braid my hair for me , and a couple other braids as well. He is actually quite quick at it too, about 2-3 minutes after combing it out.


      • Oh my goodness it sounds like you’ve got a full service salon going on! Sounds amazing, and it is so great when couples can do things together to help each other out!


      • Carolyn says:

        Yes it is great doing things together, he loves getting back rubs, which I am always glad to give him being he always does as I ask with my hair. The one place we don’t always do so well with is in the kitchen where we all always getting in each other’s way as the kitchen in his house is on the small side. Begrudging I have admitted he is a really great cook, but my forte is baking, I get lots of Compliments on my cookies, cakes and pies.


  6. One of my favorite topics! The best thing about a simpler beauty routine, besides saving money, is less exposure to chemicals that have icky effects in our bodies. We now make a lot of our products, including anything moisturizing (or just use straight argan oil for face or grapeseed oil for body), lip balms, scrubs, etc. For shampoo, conditioner and soap, we use products that get the thumbs up on the EWG Skin Deep database ( — faves include Dr. Bronners concentrated soap, Kiss My Face olive oil soap, and the Acure shampoos and conditioners. All can be had for the lowest price on 🙂


    • Great point! I’m not great about paying attention to what ingredients are in my personal care products, but if I pay attention to the food I put into my body I should really start paying more attention to the ingredients I put onto my body. I love the idea of making your own products, since then you know exactly what you’re getting.


  7. I don’t have much of a routine, outside of the basic hygiene stuff. I rarely ever wear make up, or do my nails. The next time I cut my hair, I’m going to look into that charity! ❤


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