Which Part of Your Beauty Routine Gets Scrapped First When You're Broke?

Girls just wanna have funds, am I right?
Publish date:
April 18, 2016
money, saving money

Between paying my taxes (shut up, all you refund-getters) and moving into a new apartment next month, I'm a little strapped for cash at the moment. Even though I make pretty good money, I'm not great at budgeting, and money emergencies always seem to sneak up on me. Every now and then, I'm just real broke and I have to live with it.

It happens to all of us though, right? Sometimes "broke" just means you're not as flush as you'd normally be. Or sometimes, living as if you were broke is the best budgeting strategy of them all. Regardless of your level of brokeness, we all have to occasionally adjust our spending habits. Maybe you stop going out as much for a few weeks. Or you opt for regular, plebeian fruits and veggies instead of the Gwyneth-approved organic produce of our clear-skinned, GMO-free dreams.

When I'm broke, my beauty/vanity expenses are some of the first to get slashed. As a beauty writer, I'm very lucky that I get to try a lot of products for free, but there are still a lot of things I buy each month.

Whenever I'm low on dough, the beauty habits and products I cut first seem be to a bit arbitrary. Like, I'll skimp on my skincare routine (much to my face's chagrin) but I always get my nails done every two weeks. I have acrylics, so I'm actually scared to go too long between fills because that's when they're more likely to break. I haven't broken one yet, and it's something I deeply fear.

And last weekend, I cancelled a haircut because I couldn't front the $90 but I spent $40 that same day on bath products and a new curling iron. Baths are very important to me and my mental health, so I can justify the spending, but there's always my mother's voice in the back of my head reminding me that I don't need it. (To which I tell her, I'm moving into an apartment WITHOUT my own bathtub next month, because it's less than a third of the rent I pay now, but that means I need to take all the baths I can this month. Right?)

Oh, and when I'm broke, you can FORGET spending money on new razors or going to get a wax. I bought an at-home waxing kit a few months ago to use when I'm very broke and desperate. I'm soooo terrible at it, but it's better (to me) than slapping down the $80 to have a stranger rip hairs from my no-no zones.

I was curious as to how other people adjust their beauty spending when money's tight, so I asked some of my fellow Vain babes how they handle life's broker moments.

Tamara: "My skincare routine is $$$$ so I stopped going to get my nails done every two weeks. I'll still go every now and again, but I usually just paint my own nails. A while back, a salon my friend manages approached me to write a blog for them, so I worked out a deal to get free hair and wax services in exchange for writing once a month. I still tip, of course, but it's saved me a lot of money."

Kara: "Roots. For some reason having roots doesn't bother me. I just canceled my Monday manicure because I'm super-broke right now, and it hurt me very badly. Also, my friends give me shit for a $40 brow wax but I legit go twice a year so..."

Cait: "I will ALWAYS make space in my budget for skincare and certain makeup items like my eyeliner (my skincare isn't celebrity-expensive, but I use a combo of high/low products, and I will splurge on Caudalie and Clinique until I die). I also stopped buying high-end hair products in favor of drugstore varieties ... and I've only been to the nail salon twice in the last six years."

Lisa: "I basically never get my nails done professionally unless it's a really special occasion. I can do them well enough on my own that I can save that money for my skincare. That's what I spend major $$$ on. I also splurge on getting my brows shaped and tinted, but since I have about three brow hairs, they don't grow that fast and I only have to go a few times a year. Oh, and re: skincare, I don't spend much money on face washes (I'll use straight up Dove bar soap before paying for an expensive face wash) and will splurge on serums."

Hannah L: "I really try to make space in my budget for a haircut every three months or so. But if I'm super-broke. I get my boyfriend to help me — he did an undercut for me three years ago, and cut my hair into a pixie with his clippers last year. I really pinch pennies with skincare and shampoo, but then I buy NARS lipsticks and Living Proof blowdry cream. No rhyme or reason to it!"

Allison: "I literally never get haircuts unless it is absolutely necessary, and as for everything else I prioritize skincare. I really only buy what is 100% necessary makeup-wise from the drugstore, like mascara, etc."

Samantha: "I found a balance between not having a whole lot of money and being determined to get my roots done every five weeks and it was going to students at legit salons. Otherwise, I'll spend money on eye creams, serums, mascara and eyeliner, but I've been testing out drugstore foundations, and they're passable. Cleansers I can skimp on, too."

Maura: "My routine is super-low-maintenance. My mom dyes my hair and trims it, too, so I don't get a mullet when I'm too broke/lazy to get a real haircut. I also live at home, so when I'm out of my good skincare products there's always random things I can use. I don't even buy much makeup (my makeup purchases have gone up by 284729% since I started writing for xoVain though, which I'm not complaining about at all). The only things I always buy are foundation and other base products that I can't replace with something I already own. I think that's the best thing about having a large makeup stash — there's always things I can use. When I do have money I don't mind spending it on quality products at all; I'd rather have one thing that I love instead of many items that are kinda sorta OK."

Maricar: "I always find a way to spend on skincare (especially stuff with SPF), a good, matte foundation and long-lasting eyeliner. I have a ton of eyeshadow and lipstick, so I can never justify buying those things when I'm broke. I end up saving a lot of cash since I always do my own nails, and I never do anything to my hair except cut it once a year."

Kristina: "It's been years since I've had my nails done professionally; I feel like I can't justify it because I can just do it myself for cheap. I would LOVE to get a gel manicure because Samantha told me they last forever. I've gone years without getting my hair dyed professionally or cut. I just do it all myself. If I HAD to go cheap I usually buy cheaper mascaras, or I'll get some NYX lipsticks or something. Usually my skin is pretty good just using bare-bones stuff like Cetaphil and a moisturizer, so I've actually never really bought expensive skincare."

Kelly: "I've given up going to hair salons entirely; now I just dye and trim my hair myself. It turns out fine and I save a lot of money. I purchase only very few beauty products these days (mostly stuff like my fave drugstore mascara or Simple micellar water and cotton pads when I run out), but I just ran out of my favorite expensive foundation and I'm annoyed that I have to replace it. Drugstore foundation just doesn't do it for me."

Kim: "The only things I find myself constantly buying are high-quality foundations and skincare. Because if your skin looks good, everything else will look a bit better as well."

Morgan: "I spend money on getting a good cut every eight or nine weeks, but then don't use any product really. With skincare, I think I've found my groove now, which unfortunately involves a $50 cleanser, but my skin is so much happier for it. I am actively trying to spend less money on beauty stuff because I have so much already, but at the moment that means I just spend more money on other things (just bought a new handbag, got a tattoo, etc)."

Brenna: "I'm in this boat 24/7. I normally buy decent shampoo and conditioner because my hair is colored blonde and very dry, but if I'm broke, I'll get cheap shampoo and conditioner. I NEVER get my nails done; I've just learned to get good doing my own, also because I find painting-nails time kind of my "me" time where I put on a movie and can see the spoils of my labor. It's very therapeutic."

Taylor: "I feel like the first thing I do is go foreeeeeeeeeeeeeever between switching razor blades, and then I start DIYing my scrubs and body oils. I try never to compromise on skincare or haircuts; if those two look OK, I can get away with less makeup (or older, more worn out clothes) because then it looks like I'm just disheveled purpose."

Colleen: "Once I was so broke I bought eyeliner and then couldn't afford tampons. That was not a good idea, I should have gone without the eyeliner."

I'm still LOL'ing at Colleen's response, by the way. It reminded me that when I was in college, I saved money on toilet paper by never buying it and instead stealing it from campus bathrooms. I also used to shoplift most of my makeup because I was a very bad, broke person. I'm NOT saying you should steal, but I am saying it saved me a lot of money.

Alright, broke bitches, now it's your turn.

  • Which part of your beauty routine gets the axe first when you're strapped for cash?
  • What do you splurge on, and what are you willing to skimp on? As you can see, xoVain is pretty firmly divided between #TeamSkincare and #TeamHaircare.
  • Did you guys ever steal makeup? I'm way too paranoid about it now!