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Five easy beauty budget tips that will help you save money and travel more. Get your beauty tips on a budget to feel gorgeous for less.

Thanks to clever marketing, we’ve all been convinced that expensive beauty products and treatments are essential to keep looking great. But these costs can quickly add up, take a chunk of money away from our travel fund, and adversely affect the environment.

It might be hard to believe but I was once the kind of person who had monthly massages, bi-weekly mani-pedis, and regular facials. After leaving full-time employment and switching to a more nomadic lifestyle, I could no longer afford this kind of luxury. Luckily I found ways to spend less on beauty, without looking like a total trainwreck.

If you are saving money for your next adventure, cutting back on beauty products could really help you, your budget, and the environment. It doesn’t mean that you have to miss out completely. There are ways that you can still enjoy a little bit of luxury for a fraction of the price.

Here are my five beauty budget tips that will help you save money, be eco-friendly, and travel more:

  1. Eliminate the unessential
  2. Say no to makeup (or reduce use)
  3. Wash your hair less frequently
  4. Plan cheap spa breaks
  5. DIY beauty products, grooming, and hair.

1. Eliminate the unessential

How much do you spend on beauty treatments and products per month? You might be surprised by the amount. First, make a list and calculate the total cost (you can use the budget template in the free, online Budget Travel Bootcamp for this). Now imagine, what else you could do with that money – I know you’ve got travel dreams you want to make a reality.

Second, go through the list and start crossing out anything that isn’t essential. Do you really need that monthly facial? Is the leg waxing really necessary? For me, it meant giving up my massages, eyebrow threading, and spa mani-pedis. But it was a small sacrifice to make to help afford my current lifestyle.

Consider simplifying your beauty routine and products. These days my skincare involves gentle cleaning with water, applying moisturizer daily, and 50+ sunscreen whenever I go out into the sun. Recently I have also started doing face masks from a pot I bought in Vietnam. The products you choose, don’t need to be expensive as research has shown that cheap moisturizers work just as well as those pricey little jars.

To keep your skin firm and glowing, check out face yoga. There are many videos on Youtube and these are totally DIY and free!

Praia dos Olhos de Agua, Albufeira, Portugal

2. Say no to makeup (or reduce use)

The other thing I gave up? Makeup. Not only can makeup be terrible for your skin but it also doesn’t travel really well. After finding eyeshadow smashed at the bottom of my suitcase on my first few trips, I stopped packing it. Now I don’t even wear it from day-to-day.

Due to the power of advertising, many women have been convinced that makeup is essential to enhancing our looks. But I believe that we are all beautiful in our own natural state. Honestly, when I first stopped wearing makeup, I felt unattractive and self-conscious but I didn’t give up. It may have taken a few weeks but this journey helped me to better accept and love myself.

Like everyone, I have days when I feel ugly. It would all be too easy to slather on some makeup but I resist and focus on loving the real me. It also helps that it saves me a ton of money that I can spend on travel instead.

Chantell Collins with horses in Ireland

3. Wash your hair less frequently

If you want to go super low maintenance, consider reducing the number of times that you wash your hair. The savings to your shampoo and conditioner bill might not be astronomical, however, it will save you time. Also, washing your hair too frequently can actually make it more oily, which has led some women to even stop using conditioner altogether.

I used to wash every second night and now only wash once a week. The first week that I switched was the hardest because I felt like my hair was a big greasy mess but I just tied it up in a bun and persevered. After that, my scalp balanced itself out and I haven’t looked back since.

Some days it might look a little oily before it is due for a wash, so I will rinse with water and that usually does the trick. Recently, I also recently switched to a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner bar that I bought in Ubud, Bali. I was skeptical about using a two-in-one bar and in the first week my hair felt a little weird but it’s since adjusted and been great.

Sally of Passport and Plates and Chantell of Adoration 4 Adventure in Riga Latvia

4. Plan cheap spa breaks

For those who really adore spa treatments, why not plan your next trip to a destination that has low-cost spas. Many destinations in Eastern Europe, Central America, and Southeast Asia offer cheap treatments in comparison to western prices. Every time I am in Bangkok, I treat myself to Thai massages for less than USD $10 per hour.

Did you know that some countries actually may have cheaper cosmetic procedures than your own? Check out my beginner’s guide to medical tourism.

If you are looking for a cheap spa break, check out where to find affordable luxury in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

If you can’t get away, then look for cheap spa packages close to home. Even though I don’t go to the spa as often as I used to, it doesn’t mean that I don’t still love it. Instead of going monthly for massages and mani-pedis, I look for deals. Most salons and spas will have deals and packages available, usually displayed at the front of the shop window or on their website. A friend and I visited a spa in Asturias, Spain for a 2-for-1 package including sauna, hot tub, and massage.

Websites like Group-on can be great for finding discounts. If you find a deal online, try calling the company or dropping in before booking through the third party website. The company might offer you an even better deal or complimentary upgrade if you book directly.

Jacuzzi Villa at Panviman Chiang Mai Spa Resort - cheap spa breaks

5. DIY beauty

DIY beauty products

Once you have a list of your must-have products, why not consider making them yourself? The Mademoiselle Organic website has a number of recipes and tips for making organic, DIY beauty products and cosmetics in your own home.

They also offer online courses on DIY Skincare including the basic principles, ingredients required, and where you can find them. I took the free introduction to DIY skincare course and found it to be really easy to follow. If you are based in Melbourne, Australia, you can sign up for one of their hands-on DIY Beauty Workshops.

Mademoiselle Organic DIY Beauty Workshops. Image via Mademoiselle Organic by Lily Shena

Mademoiselle Organic DIY Beauty Workshops. Image via Mademoiselle Organic by Lily Shena

Low-maintenance and DIY hair

I have a lot of friends who cut their own hair, both long and short. For the shorter styles (and for those with beards) it can be fairly easy to manage with an electric razor. For those with longer hair, a pair of scissors and a steady hand is needed to trim the ends.

I am also a disaster at cutting hair, so these days I stick to a low maintenance haircut and style. This reduces the number of visits and money that I need to spend at the hairdresser. In fact, now I only go once a year for a trim. I also get some highlights (we all need a little fancy in our lives) but ask for a quarter head of foils, with half-light blonde and half dark blonde, so that when it grows it blends in with my natural sandy blonde color.

DIY grooming and nails

While you are saving up for your spa vacation, you can invest in a few tools to keep up your maintenance, for a smaller cost.

I always travel with a manicure set (nail clippers, nail file, and tweezers) to handle any nail breakages on the go. Personally, I have stopped bothering with nail polish (unless it’s a treat day and I go for a mani-pedi) but it is pretty inexpensive to buy a few colors, a bag of cotton wool balls, and nail polish remover. I also have a foot scrubber to keep them nice and smooth.

Tweezers can also come in handy for your eyebrows, so you can save money on waxing or threading. I actually stopped plucking my eyebrows altogether a few years ago – it was a very freeing experience! For all my other hair removal needs, I use a razor.

Showing off my legs in Seville, Spain - DIY beauty

There is nothing wrong with indulging in beauty products and treatments, but by following these 5 methods, you can still feel beautiful while saving money and reducing waste.


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About Chantell Collins

Avatar for Chantell CollinsChantell is a perpetual bargain hunter, veggie lover, and minimalist. She created Budget Travel Babes for women, like YOU, who want more affordable, responsible, and sustainable travel.