Something Sappy, and Some Beauty Budget Tips

Happy New Year!

A few words about 2013:

I actually had the best year of my life so far.I spent the beginning of the year subbing and traveling on weekends in order to see Boyfriend. We moved in together in May. I got a good-paying job closer to him, and frankly, we were tired of distance keeping us apart.

We had a hot, cramped summer in a tiny, non-air conditioned one-bedroom apartment. We drank a lot of beer and ate a lot of homemade Thai food, typically after failed, swear-word peppered attempts at starting the barbecue. Netflix was the entertainment of choice, preferably watched while seated in our ugly, brown, but free, recliners. Thankfully, in July, we rented a two bedroom house (with ugly, brown, not-free carpet) and had some breathing room thanks to the extra space.

I started working at the school in the fall. The holidays whizzed by and the next thing we knew we were relocating again after only six months living together. We are now settled into our new city, again in a one bedroom apartment until we find something with more space.

It has truly been a whirlwind of a year, but I couldn’t be happier. I have moved three times; worked six jobs (some concurrently); engaged in more arguments than I care to number; cried myself to sleep; slept in; participated in Sunday morning, pajama-clad foodfights in the kitchen; snuggled; baked challah in Hartville, Wy; and much more. The defining factor of this year is that I have spent it with the one person I love most in this world, and I feel so, so lucky.

Now, looking ahead to 2014:

Do you make resolutions? I know some people think they are passé, or that they’re silly because you end up going back to your bad habits anyway. However, I believe there is great power in the concept of renewal; the concept of a fresh start, even just an abstract one, can do wonders for the psyche.

I had a great year, but one thing I wish I had taken better care of was my finances. I did not save enough, and I did not even have a budget until about a week ago. For anyone interested in managing their money better, I highly recommend the (free!) Mint app. The app tracks my spending and I can tag certain purchases for certain budgets, so I know exactly how much I spend on fuel, personal care products (my favorite kind of spending), food, rent, etc.

While I do think that my biggest financial issue is simply not making very much money, there are some areas I can cut back on. In addition to budgeting out my rent, phone, insurance, and utilities, I created a spending limit for personal care and beauty products.

Here’s two ways I have been saving money on my beauty purchases:

1. Cut your own hair. No, come back! Hear me out! Hairdressers are hard-working, highly trained experts whose incredible skill can make you look gorgeous. I would never, ever discredit the profession of cosmetology, and I think everyone should have their hair professionally cared for if they have anything complicated going on, such as color, layered cuts, or perms. If you read this blog, however, you will note that I cut my own bangs. I have been doing this since a botched haircut in college left me with oddly wide and bowl-cut-like bangs that took forever to grow back out. Every time I ask my (amazing!) hairdresser if my bangs look ok, she tells me I do a good job cutting them. She’s even given me a few tips on trimming them. Trimming your own bangs can save you the time and hassle of having to run to the salon every two weeks to maintain a fresh style.

I prefer a straight across bang that is slightly longer on the edges. My stylist told me that the best way to achieve this is actually to cut straight across, using a comb as a guide. The bang will naturally be curved because the outer pieces are pulled slightly further. I used to use a comb, but lately I have been using an absurd-looking clip that has a level on it, called a CreaClip. I found out about this product in a YouTube video and found one on Amazon for cheap. YouTube is filled with demonstration videos. After using the CreaClip for a few months, I have to say, it really is effective. It’s like having an extra set of hands, because it clips tight enough to keep my hair in place while I cut. I have the bangs-sized clip and the larger one.

Boyfriend actually trimmed my hair recently with the larger one, as my hairdresser is several hours away, and I am trying to grow out layers and 2-year-old highlight damage (I think it’s all gone but am not sure). If I were going for any other style than long and straight across, and I trusted anyone locally to cut my hair, I would not attempt to DIY it. In my mind, layers are best done by a professional, who can custom tailor them to your hair texture and facial features.

If you plan to go the DIY route with hair cutting, use very sharp scissors that are made for cutting hair, and do not use them for anything else.

Estimated money saved: between 20 and 100 dollars a month (in my area) for a monthly haircut.

2. Make your own facial cleanser!

Oil cleansing is very hot right now in the skin-care world. Oils are extremely gentle, but very effective for removing makeup, dead skin cells, and yes, even oil. Oil cleansing is based on the concept that like dissolves like, which is why oil cleansing is touted as one of the best methods to remove blackheads. For more information on the most popular and basic oil cleansing method, or OCM, visit Feel free to forego castor oil entirely if, like me, you have dry skin. Visit and do a search for oil cleansing to learn even more and see the various mixtures other people have tried.

One of the worst things about oil cleansing is how, well…oily it is. It takes forever to get all of the gunky oil off of your face after you massage it in. A great solution to this problem is to use an easy-rinse oil cleanser!

Easy-rinse oil cleansers are really nothing new. They have been used in Japan for decades, and have been around on the US market for probably 10 years or so, although only in high-end shops and brands. I have yet to stumble across a mass-market cleansing oil, which is unfortunate, because I believe more people would be happy with their skin if they knew about this. Kose Softymo is a great starting place if you are looking for a ready-made rinse-able cleansing oil to start out with. It’s a Japanese brad that has excellent reviews and is affordable. A popular brand that is widely available in high-end US stores is Dermalogica. They make Pre-Cleanse, which is essentially an easy-rinse cleansing oil. Dermalogica Pre-Cleanse costs 37 dollars for 5.1 ounces on their website.,default,pd.html

If you know anything about me, you know that I’m cheap and I like crafts, so I make my own. It’s very, very easy.

You need 80% oil of your choice, and 20% emulsifier. I use Polysorbate 80. Emulsifiers bind oil and water, which is what makes it possible to rinse the oil from your face. For oils, I favor sunflower or mineral oil. If you are concerned about mineral oil, check out my article here for some pros and cons Hopefully the information provided can help you reach your own conclusions about what you put on your face.

Mineral oil costs about 5 dollars (sometimes much less) for 16 ounces, which would make 5.1 ounces about 1.60 cents. Polysorbate 80 (I purchase mine from here is about 4.70. Even if  you factor in the steep shipping, you’re looking at 2.75 or so for an ounce, which is all you need to make 6 ounces of cleansing oil. 5 ounces of mineral oil and an ounce of emulsifer will yield a price of 4.35, not including the bottle.

You can also custom-pick your oils to suit your skin type, which is a value that goes beyond money.

Savings: 32.65 to DIY your cleansing oil vs. purchasing Dermalogica Pre-Cleanse. 

I hope this post finds you well. If you enjoyed it, please comment. I might make a recurring Beauty on a Budget series of posts if you like this kind of content.

Happy New Year; make the best of the future.


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