16 Low-Cost Beauty Hacks You Can't Live Without

The bad news about getting serious with beauty is that the products cost a lot. You can easily burn through several hundred dollars in a single shopping trip just to buy one of each kind of item for your hair, face, and skin. In fact, statistics show that cosmetics are a billion-dollar industry, and product prices are on the upswing.

The good news with getting serious about beauty is that you don’t have to go that route. Plenty of simple beauty hacks can get you the results of those uber-expensive options for less — and while saving yourself from unnameable chemicals with unknown effects on your health.

A lot of options exist in this department. Read on for our favorites.

Low-cost beauty hacks

1. Fall in love with coconut oil

Coconut oil has powerful moisturizing qualities. With a texture more like butter than oil, you can rub coconut oil into your skin, hair and cuticles to moisturize and protect.

If you skip the branded skin lotions, hair conditioners and cuticle oils, you’ll save big. Coconut oil’s price point is half or less than the price-per-volume than branded beauty products. And another bonus: you save space in your bathroom by tossing three jars of product for just one.

Coconut oil is also a popular ingredient in several homemade care products such as lip balm, but that’s for another blog post. Just know that it’s a great alternative to many expensive and pointless beauty products that make big (and unrealistic) promises about more youthful skin.

2. Use yogurt as a pimple cream

Pimples are an unavoidable part of life, even for adults. And pimple creams and concealers are unbelievably expensive. Maybe you’ve heard about the toothpaste hack — using toothpaste to reduce the appearance of those blemishes. But here’s an even better strategy.

Take a drop of yogurt (folks say full-fat Greek works best, but whatever you’re buying anyway for breakfast is fine). Dab it on the zit and leave it there for 20 minutes. The coolness will reduce inflammation and discoloration, and the bacteria in the yogurt will help mitigate the bacteria that clogged the pores in the first place.

3. Powder your lips

Touching up your lipstick all day long makes that pigment disappear faster than anybody would like. This technique cuts those touch-ups to emergency-use only, so you spend less re-upping your supply.

After you’ve applied your lipstick, sprinkle face powder (or even baby powder) onto a tissue paper. Press the powdered paper to your lips, including between your lips, to blot the lipstick. This fixes your color in place. It’ll rub off less often, and only under more serious circumstances.

4. Find a favorite product and stick with it

Trends are not your friends. If you buy the new big thing each time it comes out, you end up buying more makeup and beauty products overall. Plus, you’re buying them when they’re the most expensive.

Stick with the brands, styles, and colors you love most. Experiment with new things only as an occasional treat. If you find a new favorite, stick with that — but buy when the price drops after the fad has run its course.

You get bonus points for buying those favorites in bulk online, and by working your favorite loyalty programs.

5. Lock in hair dye with vinegar

A home hair dye saves $100 or more right away, but those buy-in-a-box treatments don’t last as long as the salon jobs. Sun, weather, and just daily use fade them quickly. So you end up buying another box sooner, and you have to live with a week or three when you’re not happy with your hair color.

A cheap bottle of apple cider vinegar saves the day. Once you’ve finished the steps outlined in the instructions for your dye job, rub a cup or so of the vinegar into your hair. Wait 10 minutes for it to set, then rinse. You’ll get two to three weeks more out of each dye session.

6. Meet your local beauty school

Beauticians still training in a school can only work on mannequins and teaching dummies for so long. After that, they need to work on real, live human beings to complete their education.

Those human beings get beauty treatments from qualified, soon-to-be-professionals at prices less than half what you’d pay in a salon. The quality is usually as good, and sometimes better. After all, these students are looking to prove themselves in a new career. They’re excited to show their stuff.

Find your local beauty school. Call to introduce yourself and volunteer.

7. Dry your hair with a t-shirt

If you’ve been buying all manner of potions and lotions to keep your hair manageable, try drying your hair with an old t-shirt for a week.

The piles on towels are great for wicking away moisture, but they also pull and break your hair to make it frizzy, seem dryer, and generally act out of control. A t-shirt has a smooth surface. It’s more gentle on your hair.

After a week of treatment, you may find you need only a fraction of the product you were using before.

8. Shower less often

The advice to shower with soap daily and shampoo often was — and I’m not making this up — advertising flack from the early 20th century. It’s not only untrue, it’s actually bad for your skin and hair. Scale back to showering with soap two to three times each week, and shampooing just the once. If you exercise frequently, a rinse-off shower is fine after each workout.

This saves you money directly in two ways. First, you use less soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Second, you use less water, creating more savings on your utility bill. Indirectly, less drying and damage to your skin and hair means buying less moisturizer and other products you only use because the showers messed you up in the first place.

9. Turn old eyeshadow into new nail polish

When eyeshadow starts getting chalky, you end up throwing it away before you really want to…and then you buy more. That adds up to higher makeup expenses overall.

But if you take that chalky eyeshadow and smash it up into grains, you can mix it into clear nail polish. Once you stir it thoroughly enough to eliminate all lumps, voila! New topcoat! And generally, it’ll be a color you couldn’t buy off the shelf.

10. Eat right

A balanced diet including lots of fruit and veggies saves you money as compared to prepackaged junk foods, fast foods, and restaurant meals. It also keeps your skin healthier, your eyes less baggy, your tummy flatter, and your hair healthier. It’s a win-win.

11. Dry nails with Pam

To dry nail polish in a hurry, spray nails with PAM Oil Spray. It really does work!

12. Try olive oil in your bath

If you don’t have coconut oil on hand, try olive oil. Drop a few tablespoons in your bath as a skin softener.

13. Make your own toner

You can use witch hazel as a toner or astringent. Or, apple cider vinegar works too. You don’t need to dilute witch hazel, but dilute apple cider vinegar with filtered water.

14. Make your own body lotion


  • 100% pure petroleum jelly….
  • Gentle on your skin, hypoallergenic…
  • Reduces the appearance of fine, dry…
  • Helps protect minor cuts
  • Protects your skin from windburn…

You can mix your cheap body lotion with Vaseline for a luxurious moisturizer that will last longer.

15. Bleach your nails

Amazon Basics Hydrogen Peroxide Topical Solution USP, 32 fluid ounce, Pack of 1

  • One 32-fluid ounce bottle of first…
  • First aid to help prevent risk of…
  • Active ingredient: 3% hydrogen…
  • Not made with natural rubber latex
  • Paraben and Phthalate Free

Tired of the yellow tint nail polish leaves behind? Try using hydrogen peroxide as a DIY nail bleach.

16. Make your own facial

For an excellent facial, mix dry oatmeal and water into a paste and spread on face. Lie down and let it dry. Wash off with warm water.

Catherine | The Budget Fashionista
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2 of 14 comments
  • Fee Miriam Rosenfeltz Fee Miriam Rosenfeltz on Jan 11, 2024

    I use the oatmeal face wash hack and it really softens the skin and soothes breakouts. The oatmilk is the 'magic' ingredient, found in many fancy high end products, but available in its best form in the actual oatmeal. I also use bicarbonate of soda as a shampoo and as a deodorant....leaves my hair and skin lovely and soft.😊 With these and some lavender oil I've got my weekly bathroom budget down to pennies.

  • Aprile Aprile on Jan 11, 2024

    Elderly ladies should be careful adding olive oil to bath due to the chance it makes the tub slippery and can result in a fall.