Many of us are focused on meeting essential costs as household bills continue to place a strain on our finances, and spending a lot on beauty products is a luxury few can afford.

However, if you are keen on maintaining a skincare and beauty routine, there are a plethora of ways to cut the costs of creams, serums and make-up products. 

A growing range of budget beauty brands and boxes, including supermarket skincare, has made it easier than ever to spend less, with a routine that usually does the job just as well as more expensive brands.  

Here’s our round up of some of the best ways to bring down the cost of your beauty routine.

1. Switch to budget beauty brands

Budget brands such as The Ordinary are among those that try to deliver targeted treatments for all types of skin concerns at affordable prices. The Inkey List is a relatively similar brand, and other ranges worth looking at include CeraVe, Simple, and B.Skin by Superdrug. 

Boots and Superdrug also have their own brand skincare ranges, enabling you to shop based on your skincare concerns. Superdrug usually has good offers on its ranges, such as buy one get one free, or half-price deals. It has its own range of serums that cost as little as £6.99 for 30ml (member price £4.65), such as its hyaluronic booster that aims to help with the appearance of dehydrated skin. 

Turning to make-up, you can find a host of budget brands in Superdrug and Boots in particular, such as E.L.F, Revolution, 17 and Milani. Many of these also have budget skincare ranges, with Revolution recently launching a skincare range with beauty guru Sali Hughes, which is relatively inexpensive but covers all the basics.

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2. Buy beauty boxes​

If you regularly spend on beauty products, you might want to consider signing up to a subscription service to receive a range of luxury products at a huge discount every month, or opt for one-off boxes from a number of providers. These can be fantastic value and a great way to shop for luxury products at bargain prices. 

Some popular beauty box providers include Mintd, Next, Cosmetips, Latest in Beauty, and JarmaboxFor example, at the time of writing, you’d pay £64 for £300 worth of products in Latest in Beauty’s What’s Hot in 2024 box. The service also allows you to personalise a beauty box if you want by picking your own six products. 

Agora is an app that enables you to monetise your love of beauty products by creating and sharing video content of your favourite products. You can earn ‘coins’ from users watching your content that can be put towards beauty products. 

However, for the majority of users, it’s a great way to shop for budget beauty with a wide range of ‘Agora Edits’. For example, at the time of writing (May 2024) you could buy the Agora Viral Essentials box containing £100 worth of products for £20. There are also regular specific edits aimed at particular skin concerns, such as the ‘hydration edit’ and ‘rest and rejuvenate’ edit.

3. Use a skincare app for low-cost recommendations

Skincare expert Caroline Hirons is well-known for her no-nonsense approach to skincare, and she recently launched a new app, Skin Rocks

Its aim is to arm shoppers with the knowledge to find the best skincare products to help address their particular concerns within their budget.

You can search for hundreds of products, including cleaners, masks, serums and SPFs, sorting them by price so you can find one that’s recommended and is within your budget.

Use a skincare app for low-cost recommendations

4. Swap luxury products for mid-range dupes​

You can find plenty of videos on Instagram and TikTok from beauty influences highlighting the latest dupes on the market for budget beauty and skincare. For example, budget make-up brand Elf recently launched Halo Glow, a dupe for Charlotte Tilbury’s Flawless Filter. 

Similarly, if you’re a fan of Bioderma’s micellar water, you might find that Garnier’s less expensive micellar water does the job just as well. Aldi is well known for launching dupes as part of its Lacura skincare and make-up line (see below).

5. Streamline your routine

Over the years the beauty industry has been keen for us to introduce a growing number of steps into our skincare and beauty routines. After all, the more products we use, the greater their profits. But you can still look after your skin and look your best without using a myriad of bottles and buckets of make-up. 

The new trend of ‘skinminimalism’ is about adopting a minimal approach to skincare and make-up, in a quest for a more natural, healthy look. So don’t be afraid to whittle down the number of beauty products you use and go back to basics – you might be surprised by how much it could save you, and how much you like a pared down make up look.

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6. Multi-task your products

You may also find some of your beauty products can be used for more than one purpose.

For example, you can avoid the need for a separate neck cream simply by taking your face moisturiser all the way down your neck and decolletage. You may also want to consider ditching your separate eye cream and using your face serum and moisturiser around your eyes. 

Also, consider switching to make-up that contains sunscreen, such as foundation, so at least during winter, you’re not buying two separate products. You could also use cream blush as a lip tint, bronzer as an eyeshadow and eyeshadow to fill in your eyebrows.

Multi-task your products

7. Look for refills

Beauty brands are becoming more environmentally friendly, and there’s a growing number of refillable products available. These can cut the cost of your beauty spending and you’ll have a more sustainable routine, by simply replacing your favourite products with cheaper recyclable refills. Some examples of popular brands offering refills include Neal’s Yard and Charlotte Tilbury.

8. Sign up to a beauty club

You could sign up to major retailer sampling programmes that enable you to try a range of luxury products as part of the deal. For example, if you sign up for a Liberty Beauty Drop subscription costing £25 a month, £20 of this is credited to your Beauty Drop account every month and you can spend it in-store or online whenever you want. You’ll receive four ‘Discovery boxes’ every year to try products that are worth a total of £300, as part of the package, as well as being notified of any specific sales and promotions, and limited edition kits that also provide a cost saving.

9. Stop slathering

It’s easy to get into the habit of applying a liberal amount of moisturiser, for example, every morning and evening. However, you can use less product than you think, saving you a substantial amount of money over time. Try using a smaller amount of product, and making it go further. Remember, too, to cut open any tubes or packaging you’re near to finishing, as you’ll often find quite a lot left that you can’t get out any other way.

stop slathering

10. Cosmetify

Price comparison site Cosmetify aims to identify the best deals for its users on a wide range of beauty products. For example, at the time of writing, you could get from 3-38% off the most popular Olaplex hair care products. You can also sign up for price alerts on your favourite beauty products, ensuring you’ll be notified via email whenever they drop in price.

11. Make your own

Another way to reduce your spending on beauty products is to get creative and make your own. This can not only save you money but it’s a more sustainable approach to your beauty routine. 

For example, you can make an effective hair mask out of avocado, egg, and olive oil. You could also try making a body exfoliator from coconut oil, honey and sugar to take off dead skin, detox and hydrate all at once. 

Try using coconut oil as a make-up remover and moisturiser, as it’s very gentle on the skin and can even take off waterproof make-up. Coffee grounds mixed with coconut oil also make a good body and lip scrub.

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12. Shop Aldi skincare and make-up

Aldi has a wide range of budget skincare and beauty products in its Lacura rangemany of which are dupes of high end luxury products. 

Lacura’s range might not always match up to luxury counterparts, but it’s generally received glowing reviews and if you’re trying to cut costs, it’s a great place to start. Be warned, though, that you may have to be patient, as Aldi’s most popular beauty products fly off the shelves when they’re in stock. 

Shop Aldi skincare and make-up

13. Use what you have

It’s tempting to splash out on new products, particularly if there are budget options that only cost a few pounds. However, if you’ve got a beauty drawer or cupboard, chances are you’ve got a few products that have yet to be used up, so make sure you go through these first before buying anything new. 

If there are products you know you won’t use, you could even host a beauty swapping party, asking your friends and family to raid their cupboards for products they don’t want, so you can swap them among yourselves. It’s a great way to get people together for a fun evening, too.

14. Shop secondhand luxury

If you’ve got a favourite beauty product or brand that’s a little on the pricey side, but you consider a skin saviour, try searching for it on sites such as eBay, and Vinted.

Plenty of people sell everything from clothes to skincare they don’t want or that doesn’t suit them on secondhand sites and apps. 

You can also find popular make-up brands such as Trinny London on eBay for a fraction of the price you’d pay from them normally.

15. Use cheap all-round classics

Think about the cheaper products that have stood the test of time, and remain favourites among beauty experts. 

Some examples include Johnson’s baby oil, vaseline, Palmer’s cocoa butter, and Pond’s cold cream.

Use cheap all-round classics

16. Get samples

You can often get free beauty samples from big department store beauty counters before you buy, and some are surprisingly generous. Besides, this is a great way to try products before you buy them. 

Big beauty brands also run product review panels, enabling you to sign up and test out a sample of a new product for free in return for an honest review. Try Boots Volunteer Panel, and ELEMIS Review Panel, for example. 

17. Space out hairdresser visits

If your hair is dyed or you have highlights to maintain regularly, costs can easily rack up to hundreds of pounds a year. Spacing out your visits to the hairdressers by a few more weeks can save you a lot of money over the years. Make sure you shop around for the best deal too. There are masses of hairdressers to choose from these days, and your local salon may offer the same cut and colour for far less than a hairdressing chain. You could even try cutting and colouring your hair yourself (but remember this could end up being expensive to put right if it doesn’t turn out how you were expecting), or ditch your hair dye altogether and embrace your silver locks if you’re going grey. Read our articles How to cut your hair at home and 9 tips for gorgeous grey hair.

18. Share your partner’s skincare

If you live with your partner, it makes sense to split the cost of your basic skincare rather than double up on products. 

After all, cleansing and hydrating your skin is a unisex concern, and many products are suitable for both men and women.

Share your partner’s skincare

19. Buy in bulk

When it comes to making big savings on household items, buying staple beauty products in bulk can save you hundreds of pounds over the years. You can buy a large tub of moisturiser, for example, that will last for months on end. You could even use this as a body cream, too, by adding essential oils. The majority will last around 12-24 months before reaching their use-by dates. 

20. Treat yourself to a beauty advent calendar

A number of beauty retailers launch Christmas advent calendars around this time of year, although you’ll need to be quick if you want to get hold of the most popular as they soon sell out. These usually include 25 days’ worth of products that are worth hundreds of pounds for a fraction of the price. For example, Look Fanstastic’s calendar usually costs around £95 and includes around £500 worth of luxury skincare and make-up products. Other beauty calendars you might want to keep an eye out for include Liz Earle’s calendar which last year cost £75 from Boots and contains 12 of the brand’s most popular products which would usually set you back more than £165.

21. Follow beauty Instagrammers

It’s easy to be tempted by paid for ads posted by beauty influencers on Instagram, so make sure the products are right for you before buying them. However, there are lots of influencers that are worth following to benefit from tips on cutting the cost of your beauty routine, such as @lauraloumakeup and @slashedbeauty

Some of the best beauty influencers are based in the States, but the products they recommend are generally available in UK stores. 

22. Buy designer dupe perfumes

The world of luxury perfume dupes has grown in recent years, offering affordable alternatives to high-end fragrances. M&S’s Discover intense perfume collection, for example, offers a range of luxury perfume dupes at a fraction of the cost of the real thing. Their Soft Iris scent for instance, is a sophisticated dupe for the iconic Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, boasting notes of amber and patchouli. The Gardenia & Vanilla is a dupe for Marc Jabobs Daisy. M&S Discover fragrances cost £7.50 for 30ml or £12.50 for 110ml. Other high street retailers known for luxury perfume dupes include Zara, Primark and Aldi.

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