Every now and then, I want to treat myself to a nice beauty treatment. Whether it’s a pedicure or eyelash extensions, occasionally I want to spice up my look.
But this stuff costs money. One trip to the hairdresser easily sets me back $75! If you’re trying to pay off debt or bulk up your savings, it seems like regular beauty treatments are out of your price range.
Fortunately, after years of trial and error, I’ve figured out what treatments are DIY-friendly and which are better left to the professionals. Try these 5 beauty DIYs at home to spend less money, relax, and treat yourself—you’ve earned it.
5 money-saving beauty DIYs
1 – Facials
DIY cost: $10
I once shelled out a whopping $60 for a fancy pre-wedding facial. And you know what?
I could have done the whole thing myself for $10. Now, there are benefits to hiring a professional here, but if you want a weekly facial without spending $200+ a month, here’s what I do:
- Put on some relaxing music. Amazon Music has a “Meditation” station that’s my jam, but you can find free music on YouTube, too.
- Cleanse my skin with a face brush. I use Olay’s soft face brush and it does a great job.
- Apply a face masque. You can buy these in bulk on the beauty aisle of the grocery store, usually on the bottom shelf. Lately, I’m obsessed with stick masques (they don’t get all over your fingers).
- Rinse and apply a hot towel. I get the water super hot, rinse the towel in it, and quickly apply it to my face. Mmm, steamy.
- Apply serums or moisturizer. Want to add a skin treatment? Do it now. I choose from hyaluronic acid for moisturizing or retinol for nighttime repair.
Will you spend some money on supplies? Sure. But it’s still cheaper over the long haul to DIY facials yourself.
2 – Pedicures
DIY cost: $15 – $30
Here’s the caveat: a professional pedicure is going to look awesome. But yes, you can still DIY a perfectly passable pedicure at home.
Here’s what I do:
- Soak: Soak your feet in the bathtub for at least 20 minutes. I like to add a few drops of lavender oil to zhuzh things up.
- Exfoliate: You can do this with a pumice stone or foot scrub from the grocery store. Occasionally, I like to use a foot peel. If you can get over the skin peeling, it does give you crazy-soft feet.
- Treat your cuticles: I push back my cuticles and trim them carefully if needed. I like applying cuticle oil before and after to keep my cuticles nice and hydrated.
- Paint your nails: If you want a full pedicure experience, paint your nails with a quality polish like Essie.
3 – Eyelash extensions and lifts
DIY cost: $15 – $30
I know this sounds like something you should do in a salon, but I’ve been able to do eyelash treatments as a DIY.
If you want luscious lashes for 2-3 weeks, you can totally DIY lash extensions. Keep in mind that there’s a big learning curve here, so give yourself plenty of time to practice. I use this lash kit. Also, some people are allergic to the lash adhesive, so always test it on your arm before applying it to your eyes!
If you aren’t into gluing extensions onto your eyelids, you can also DIY an eyelash lift. This is basically like perming your eyelashes so they look fuller. You can buy a kit online, but remember to follow the directions and always test products before you apply them to your eyes.
4 – Face waxing
DIY cost: $20 – $40
I don’t recommend DIYing full-body waxing (more on that in a sec), but I do DIY my face waxing as maintenance.
I use a wax warmer and epilating wax to clean up my:
- Upper lip
The key is to cleanse well before and after waxing to prevent bumps. I just use alcohol before and after, but if you have sensitive skin, you can always use a pre- and post-wax spray.
5 – Blowouts
DIY cost: $40
I love the way hair blowouts make my hair shiny and full. But you know what I don’t love? The $50+ price tag that comes with a visit to my local Blo Bar.
I tried DIYing blowouts with a comb and my hairdryer, but I confess that I wasn’t much good at it. Fortunately, the folks at Revlon must have read my mind, because they made an all-in-one tool just for DIY blowouts. I’ve used this bad boy for several months and I love it.
I can’t attest to how it works on curly or wavy hair, but it makes my straight hair voluminous and sexy without the huge price tag.
6 – Haircuts
DIY cost: $15
I once did a terrible DIY haircut on myself that I had to fix with a salon visit. However, after a few years of trial and error, I finally learned how to cut my own hair.
That said, some people are okay with cutting their own hair, while others are better off going to the salon. If you have layered hair and hate going to the salon, I follow this tutorial to refresh my ‘do every few months.
If you’re going to DIY your own haircuts, it’s worth investing in a proper pair of scissors. Stop by Walmart or Sally’s Beauty Supply to get sharp scissors designed for cutting hair; it’s the best $15 I’ve ever spent!
5 beauty treatments better left to a pro
I love frugal beauty DIYs, but I’ve learned from firsthand experience that there are some treatments you should leave to a trained professional. In these instances, it’s worth spending more money to get something done right.
1 – Body waxing
Professional cost: $45 – $100
I’ve tried waxing my own legs. It didn’t go well.
As it turns out, I’m a decent waxer when it comes to small areas, like my chin, but it’s much more difficult to effectively wax large areas, like my legs. I’ll easily spend 40 minutes and a whole pot of wax just trying to get smooth legs.
If you want any kind of body waxing, the professionals will get it done faster and better than you.
2 – Hair color
Professional cost: $60 – $100
Box dye is cheap, but you’ll pay for it big time. It took my hair years to recover from my teenage obsession with store bought hair dye.
If you want to change your hair color, it’s worth doing right. Count your salon trip as a monthly splurge if hair color is important to you.
3 – Pimples or acne treatment
Professional cost: $50 – $150
How many of us have “treated” acne by squeezing pimples? As it turns out, that’s a bad idea.
If you have a one-off zit, I use Peace Out’s acne dots to tackle them. But if you’re battling an ongoing case of acne, it’s best to visit your dermatologist.
4 – Teeth whitening
Professional cost: $400
My tooth enamel has never recovered from years of DIY Crest whitening strips. I’m sure there are ways to whiten your teeth cheaply and fast from home, but it can wreak havoc on your dental health. Dentists know their stuff, guys. If you want whiter teeth, ask your dentist to do it right.
5 – Spray tans
Professional cost: $30 – $60
Yes, spray tan comes in a bottle for $10 at Target. No, that doesn’t mean you should do it yourself.
In college, I tried spray tanning my lily-white legs. They came out blotchy and orange. Spray tanning places will set you back $50 or so, but if you want an occasional artificial tan, it’s probably worth spending the money.
The bottom line
I’m all for treating yourself, especially when you’re trying to save money. You don’t have to shell out $200+ to live well, though. Try some of these beauty DIYs to live the good life without spending a ton of money. But remember that some things are worth paying a professional—know your limits to do what’s best for your body and your pocketbook.
Contributor’s opinions are their own. Always do your own due diligence before investing.