story | Zula Badral, Managing Editor

photo | Zula Badral, Managing Editor

After moving to Singapore, I realized that the things I normally liked to do to indulge my vanity were way more expensive on this little island. This, compounded with the lack of a regulatory body for maintaining standard practices for people like aestheticians, nail technicians, beauticians, etc., made me extremely wary of risking my money, time, and body. The choice I faced was either to be less vain or to figure out how to do a few things myself. Obviously the former didn’t happen, so here are some budget beauty tips. Of course these all apply wherever you are in the world; maybe you’ll use some of these tips yourself!

Invest now, save later

For things that are offered as services (mani-pedis, brow shaping) invest in the proper equipment now and do them yourself! There is definitely a learning curve for these things, but as always, practice makes perfect. There are extremely thorough tutorials online for almost anything you could desire to do.

I never used to lack a manicure when I was in high school, but after a few poorly done and overpriced mani-pedis in Singapore, I bought a nipper, nail files, cuticle pusher, and a few polishes including a base and top coat. I have since upped my game by investing in a Gel LED lamp, to sidestep the issue of waiting for my nails to dry (which never worked because there’s always so much going on around campus). Below are a few examples of my finest creations!

The simplest gel manicure (nail cutting, shaping, buffing only) retails at around $21 at the nearest nail salon. If you want a cuticle trim, nail extensions and art, a single manicure can cost over $80. Assuming you actually continue using the products you invested in, many of which will last longer than five years, the upfront cost will be offset in less than five manicures!

Put in a few minutes every day

If you can’t get the hang of doing your nails or your eyebrows on your own every time, there are definitely things you can do to prolong the services you do pay for. If you regularly get your brows shaped, spending 30 seconds a day to pluck out pesky baby hairs will extend the time between visits to Browhaus. If you went for a manicure, using gloves when washing dishes or applying a fresh layer of top coat every 5-6 days will also extend it.

There’s always a cheaper dupe out there

If you find a product or color you like that is way out of your price range, simply googling “X PRODUCT Dupe” will help you find equivalent products at a much more manageable price.

Further, if you’ve noticed the influx of 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 products cropping up at the drugstore or in Sephora, then you’ll understand that the designation of “eyeshadow” or “lipstick” or “blush” is just an arbitrary one. These products are often made of the same ingredients, and just because something is called “eyeshadow” doesn’t mean it can’t make your highlight as on fleek as the four times more expensive product.

Case in point: I use the Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Euphoric ($59), but I also use the Sephora Colorful Eyeshadow in 74 Walking in the Sand ($17) as a highlight as well. I actually use the Sephora one more, and I like the color way better.

It all comes down to be willing to put attention and care into things. There’s definitely an opportunity cost—some people aren’t interested in being hyper-aware or critical of their appearance; others don’t have the time to thoroughly research a product’s reviews or learn how to draw a French tip. But if you’re interested and willing, these few tips may help you look your best while keeping track of your bottom line.

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