It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, cis or trans, male or female or non-binary — sometimes you just want to look fabulous. However, in our society, looking great often goes hand in hand with shelling out big bucks. Salons charge a lot for cuts and dyes, waxing, manicures, etc., and nice clothes, shoes, and jewelry can often be out of our price range. But don’t let that get you down — next time you get the urge to feel fabulous, here are a few tips to help you get beautiful on the cheap.
Dye your own hair — and if chemicals scare you, use henna
One thing that can get expensive is hair. We humans can be incredibly vain when it comes to the fuzzy stuff on top of our heads. We like to cut it, style it, dye it, put weaves in it — just generally do anything but what comes naturally, which can cost big bucks. Next time you get the urge to dye your hair, try using a box kit instead of paying a lot of money. Just get a friend to help you with application. Worst case scenario, if the dye looks too cheap, you can always go to the salon and fix it. If using chemicals on your own head freaks you out, or if going too permanent is not for you, try henna. This natural color aid will simply bring out the natural red, black, brown, or blond undertones of your hair, usually with a little extra hint of red. It’s also really good for your hair — it’s like a face mask, but on top of your head.
Make sugar paste for waxing
Waxing is expensive and painful. Next time you want to remove some hair from a problem area, mix up some sugar paste instead. All you need to make the stuff is sugar (of course), lemons, water, and a little bit of salt. Find a recipe online, cook it up, chill it, and use it. There’s a lot of conflicting info online about how to make it, but the best kind is not too burned, not too underdone, and should be fun to play with, like silly putty, before you use it to remove hair. If it’s sticky to the touch and getting all over your hands when you try to play with it, it needs to chill more.
Find a friend who knows cosmetics and trade
If you are one of those who really, really can’t do any type of beauty routine yourself, try finding a close friend of family member who knows how to do hair or makeup and offering to trade them something for doing yours. If they give you a manicure or pedicure, you’ll edit their resume, DJ their wedding party, or do whatever you do best free of charge.
Check out consignment stores and thrift stores
Some people think thrifting is just for finding crazy costumes or for if you’re so down on your luck that you don’t have the clothing you need to survive. Not true! Thrift stores hide all kinds of hidden gems. Look for vintage stuff, the so-bad-it’s-good, (those hipsters who bought their ironic dragon or kitten shirts new are suckers), awesome stuff that ended up there by some miracle, or slightly outdated stuff you can make minor tweaks and cuts to. If you have a little more spending money but still don’t want to spring for the super high-end, check out consignment stores like Buffalo Exchange. Their prices are a little higher than thrift stores, but they only take things that are fashionable and desirable, so you won’t be slogging your way through a bunch of junk.
Do a clothing swap
One person’s trash truly is another person’s treasure, and this is the beauty of a clothing swap. That pair of pants that never fit right will become your best friend’s new trusty jeans, and the necklace they don’t like because it reminds them of an ex will become your new staple. Either hang out and trade with just one friend, or organize a party where everyone can bring things to make it even more fun.