When we think of treating ourselves, we rarely think budget-friendly. We equate luxury with words like costly and out of reach. And in a wobbly economy, where we're focused on the bare necessities, beauty treatments typically take a backseat. But pampering yourself has a plethora of benefits, including soothing stress, lifting your mood and giving you great skin. Fortunately, you can spoil yourself without breaking the bank. Here are 10 budget-friendly, yet indulgent, ways to treat yourself.
- Do your pedicure at home. Heading to the salon occasionally for a pedicure won’t deplete your bank account. But going regularly can add up, especially if you live in a place where competition is scarce and big prices reign. At $50 a pedi, staying home can save you a bundle. Here’s a complete step-by-step guide for the perfect pedicure at home.
- Treat tired tootsies. Your feet are one of the hardest working areas of your body. Fortunately, you can repair and rejuvenate fatigued feet in a flash. Something you can do for yourself daily, or at least weekly, is a simple three-step process: soak, scrub and hydrate. All you need is a tub of warm water, some salts, an exfoliating scrub and a rich cream. It’s simple but delivers a world of difference for your exhausted feet. You’ll find the details here.
- Hydrate hands. Your hands also take a beating every day, whether you’re lifting groceries or weights, washing the dishes or typing all day at your desk. For a quick pick-me-up, apply a thick cream to your hands and give each finger and both palms a mini-massage. If hands are particularly parched, apply Vaseline and then seal the moisture with plastic wrap and a pair of gloves. Here’s more on getting supple hands and pampering them.
- Do nails at home. If you prefer polished nails but your budget doesn’t, create a professional-looking manicure at home. Here’s a comprehensive manicure manual for stunning nails. If you only have a few minutes to devote to getting pretty nails, Redbook suggests the following fast fix: spruce up your nail shape with an emery board, apply cuticle oil, push back cuticles, rinse your hands and finish off with clear polish.
- Enjoy a facial, without frittering away your funds. Facials can help rejuvenate your skin and address a variety of complexion concerns. Spas typically offer a wide array of facials, starting at many price points. Don’t know much about facials? Here’s a primer. To find the best deal, browse newspapers and Web sites. Look at sites for local salons or general Web sites like SpaFinder. Also, give beauty school a try, where students are well-trained, supervised and treatments are cheap. For more money-saving tips, see here.
- No funds to spare? Start a piggy bank. On SheKnows, Kori Ellis suggests putting a dollar a day into a jar to save up for your next spa treat. Whether you’d like a facial, manicure, pedicure or mini-massage, you can treat yourself after just a month of saving.
- Create an at-home retreat on the cheap. You can easily and cost-effectively create a sanctuary for yourself at home. You probably own most things at home already, but if not, you can pick them up at your local drugstore. Gather up a few of your favorite scented candles and bubble bath (lavender gives off a relaxing aroma) or a pack of Dead Sea Salts. For some, bubble bath products may be irritating, particularly if you have eczema or sensitive skin. Instead, pour whole milk into your bath to gently exfoliate the skin and provide hydration.
Also, slice up a cucumber for your eyes, brew some tea (or get a bottle of water or glass of wine) and select a soothing CD. For the finishing touch, before getting into the bath, make sure the lights are off or dimmed, leaving only candlelight. During your soak, you can also pamper and enhance your skin and hair. Elizabeth Scott, About’s stress management guide, suggests applying a nourishing hair treatment and a purifying facial mask, rubbing dry skin with a loofah and using a pumice stone to scrub away calluses.
- Take to the cupboard. Your kitchen is filled with fantastic ways to pamper yourself, from head to toe. Martha Stewart’s Web site has some great recipes, including:
- For a body scrub, mix ¼ cup of walnuts, ½ cup of honey and a tablespoon of honey in a food processor (on slow speed). Apply it in the shower and then simply rinse off.
- For a facial treatment, put some whole oats in a washcloth and secure it with a rubber band. Fill the sink with warm water. Then, plunge the washcloth into the sink, squeezing the cloth several times. Once you see that the water is cloudy, splash it on your face and let air-dry. According to the site, oatmeal creates a “thin, moisture-retaining film on the surface of the skin.”
- Invite your girlfriends for a spa day. There’s nothing more fun and relaxing than kicking back with your friends, and recreating a spa atmosphere together. Consider asking friends to bring their favorite candles, calming CDs, homemade spa recipes or a skincare product from their own collection they wouldn’t mind sharing. A big plus: Your spa session can last as long as you like and you get to gossip, without interruption or eavesdroppers! You can also make it a monthly treat and rotate houses.
- Skip the salon for your color. Unless you’d like to go from brunette to platinum blond — in which case seeing a stylist is best — dyeing your own hair is relatively simple, and can save hundreds of dollars in just six months! Here’s your complete guide on coloring your hair, from selecting the right formula to managing mane mishaps. Be sure to enlist a friend to help you get to those hard-to-reach spots.
Pampering product picks
If you’d like to enjoy ready-made formulas, here’s a list of our favorite budget-friendly treats:
Chemical-free nail polish: SpaRitual, a vegan family of polishes, is free of DBP, formaldehyde and toluene. It features a vast collection of colors, including reds and magentas; deep browns and maroons; beiges and pinks; and violets and cool neutrals.
Restorative hair mask: Klorane Fluid and Nourishing Coating Care with Mango Butter, a light leave-in conditioning formula with three fatty acids, protects, nourishes and hydrates the hair.
Facial masks: Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser Mask deep cleans the skin and controls excess oil. Avene Soothing Moisture Mask, a rich, creamy formula, replenishes moisture and calms stressed skin, boosting the look of dull, weary complexions.
Foot scrub: H20 Plus Pumice Foot Scrub exfoliates dead skin cells and removes calluses, softening and conditioning the skin.
Hand creams: H20 Plus Hand and Nail Cream, with vitamins, marine extracts and aloe vera, helps to heal cracking, dryness and redness. Bliss High Intensity Hand Cream, an ultra-rich, silky formula, softens and smoothes, even hydrating rough cuticles. L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream contains 20 percent shea butter, along with honey, almond and coconut oil, to nourish, hydrate and protect your hands.
Body washes: Philosophy features an extensive line of 3-in-1 products. That’s a shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath all in one, with a variety of delicious aromas, including Red Velvet Cake, Strawberry Milkshake, Raspberry Sorbet and Melon Daiquiri.
Learn everything you need to know about budget skincare in our Beauty on a Budget Handbook.