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My Money, My Choices

Gail Vaz-Oxlade is a personal finance writer, television host and radio broadcaster. Every Wednesday, she arms Metro readers with tips to keep spending in check.

How to save money and still look good: Vaz-Oxlade

You don't have to spend a fortune on health and beauty products. Here's how to save money.

As a group women blow about $7 billion a year trying to look good, writes Gail Vaz-Oxlade.

Zacharie Scheurer / Getty Images

As a group women blow about $7 billion a year trying to look good, writes Gail Vaz-Oxlade.

Women spend a fortune to be beautiful: as a group we blow about $7 billion a year trying to look good ... or maybe just look better.

Individually, we’re spending about $600 a year on average. From hair colour and extensions, to makeup, to facials, to cosmetic surgery, staying gorgeous can kill your savings.

Can’t go without a weekly mani or pedi? Wouldn’t dream of heading to a date without stopping for a blowout?

Girls aren’t the only ones dropping big bucks on beauty. Guys have gotten into the swim in a big way. Hair styling, skin care and the pursuit of rock-solid abs are no longer strictly the domain of the double-X chromosome crowd. Ys are jumping in with both feet.

Want to make sure your savings aren’t suffering for your self-esteem? Consider these alternatives.

DIY-dye: Head to the salon for a touch up and you’ll drop $60. DIY with a box and not only won’t you have to pay for parking, you’ll spend just $10. Do that six times a year and you’ve got $300 to save.

Pedi-me: Depending where you go, you can spend between $10-50 touching up your toes. (Ditto your fingers.) DIY or have a mani-pedi party and swap services with your sisters by another mother, and you can save $50 a month.

Drugstore deals: Some of the most popular skin care and makeup products live at the drugstore. Did you know that most of all beauty and hair products are made by two giant cosmetics companies: Estee Lauder and L’Oreal? Even the fanciest dermatologists and skincare specialists recommend basic drugstore cleansers and moisturizers to their clients.

Skip the gimmicks: Vibrating mascara and spray-on foundation are two examples of the lengths to which manufacturers will go to grab your attention.

Make it last: Do you have four or five lipsticks that are almost done? Scrape similar colours into a clean container and mix. If you add a little Vaseline, you’ll have a gloss. Using a lip brush lets you get right down to the bottom on the lipstick. And if you use disposable mascara wands, you won’t have to throw away your mascara as often because you won’t have to worry about the six-month rule for mascara safety. (You do follow the six-month rule, right?)

Supermarket finds: Many of the healthiest ingredients for your skin can be found at the supermarket and will cost far less than if you buy a pre-made product. Mix oatmeal, olive oil and sugar together for an in-shower facial scrub. Hit the internet for recipes so you can make it yourself using the freshest ingredients.

Dollar store treasures: Why spend more for staples like cotton balls, makeup remover pads, hair clips and all the other basic stuff you blow through, when a trip to the dollar store means you’ll save you anywhere from 50-70 per cent?

You can save money and still look gorgeous if you use your imagination, shop smartly and put in some elbow grease.

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