Being a beauty journalist is a mad and wonderful job, but it also gets you very used to living a champagne lifestyle when you’ve got a Lambrini budget. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience incredible facials, stay at amazing hotels and try products I’d never have been able to afford otherwise.
There’s no doubt that this can start to creep into your ‘normal life’ (I find the best way to bring myself back down to earth is to see my mother where she comments “How much?!” about my beauty routine at least 50 times during a visit). The reality is, I’m a 24-year-old single person renting in London, and the cost of living crisis is squeezing me in every direction. So, I’ve made a resolution to cut back in every aspect of my life, from my clothes-buying habits to my beauty routine.
1: Commiting to the box-dye life
I’ve been dying my own hair since I was a teenager, but since living in London and working in the beauty industry, expensive haircuts and colours have been my vice. I’ll be honest, you get what you pay for and there’s no doubt that getting your hair professionally coloured delivers the best quality results. However, if I have to choose between cutting my own hair and dyeing my own hair, it’s going to be the latter, because god only knows what nightmare would unfold if I took a pair of scissors to my own ends.
Colouring your own hair can be daunting at first, but I wrote a guide to dying your hair at home here, and there are also a lot of great glosses and colour-depositing masks which can help refresh your hair in between dye sessions with less commitment.
2: Start doing my own gel extensions
Now this one hurts, I’m not going to lie. In the past year I’ve become addicted to getting acrylic nails; they make me feel at least 50% more confident and like my life is more together. There’s no chance that I’ll go back to gel or regular painted nails now (my natural nails always break), and going cold turkey is not an option, but thankfully I’ve come across an alternative that gives me that same look at home.
The answer is at-home gel nail extensions. You might have seen them on Tiktok or Instagram which is where I discovered them, and they’re exactly what I’ve been looking for. Gel extensions look similar to press-on nails, but instead of using standard nail glue, you use a special glue polish which you then cure under a UV lamp to get the nail to set.
You can get a whole set including the lamp, glue and 500 nail tips for around £25 on Amazon which, considering a normal infill appointment would cost £25, can save you hundreds of pounds a year.
3: Swap my lash extension appointments for DIY lashes
DIY lashes are something I’ve been doing for about a year now anyway, but I’d also sneak in a lash extension appointment from time to time. I used to use Lashify’s Gossamer Lashes but these are pretty expensive at £20 a pop, so I’ve now switched to Ardell’s Individual Eyelashes Knotted Flare Trios and the Kiss Falscara Eyelash Wisp’s.
I do recommend Lashify’s glue and sealant as I find it lasts longer, but you can definitely save a lot of money by opting for the high street lash dupes and you won’t be able to tell the difference once they’re on.
4. Cut down on my hair wash habits
I’ve always washed my hair every day, which I know sets some hairdresser’s teeth on edge, but it’s always worked for me. Unfortunately, my hair is so long now it not only takes a lot of shampoo and conditioner to wash it each time, but it also takes about a thousand years to blow-dry: both of which can rack up the ££s.
This year I’ve told myself I’m going to try and at least wash my hair every other day and get acquainted with my dry shampoo. Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, £22, Look Fantastic, is one of my favourites. It is a bit more expensive, but the bottle lasts ages and it’s impressive at absorbing oil throughout the day, as well as having a gorgeous smell which lasts until your next wash.
I’ve been putting it on the night before I go to bed to prevent any greasiness the next day and so far it seems to be working. Who knows, maybe by the end of the year I’ll be a 3-day wash girl.
I’ve also discovered Batiste’s Leave-In Dry Conditioner, £4.59, Boots, which is a godsend if you’re prone to knotty, tangled hair. You can apply this in between wash days and it’ll leave your hair feeling smooth and smelling fresh.
5: Prioritising multi-use products
I was brought up as a thrifty girl, and the thrill of finding a beauty hack or multi-purpose item still gives me a little spark. While I’m not an advocate of a 3-in-1 face, hair and body wash, there are some great multi-use products that will make you start looking at all your beauty products in a different way. These are some of my favourites…
Hairspray: Spritz your hair spray on a spoolie and brush through your eyebrows for a quick and effective way to set them. This Schwarzkopf one does not budge.
Glycolic toner: Tiktok has been obsessed with this product from The Ordinary, and not just because it’s a great toner. Packed with glycolic acid, this can also be used as a scalp exfoliator and an exfoliating foot treatment, so you can be smooth and dead-skin-free all over for under £12.
Lipstick: It’s time to stop looking at your lipstick as just lipstick, and instead start using it as a blush and eyeshadow. This is a technique that makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes uses and her makeup always looks flawless, so you can’t go wrong. Also, using your bronzer as an eyeshadow gives a sun-kissed, put-together look.
Clay masks: Not only are clay masks a great way to help with congestion and blocked pores on your face, but they can also be used to help treat stubborn body acne. This one from L’Abu uses a blend of AHAs to gently exfoliate the skin, coconut oil to help calm inflammation, and Pro-Vitamin B5 to hydrate the area and prevent post-mask tightness.
Weleda Skin Food: I wrote a whole piece about why this multi-tasking wonder balm is so great, but to summarise, you can use it as a moisturiser, mask, eyebrow tamer, highlighter and hand cream. Plus it’s a favourite of Hailey Bieber. Need I say more?