Beauty on a Budget: How to Get the Look for Less in 2023 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately (hey — we’re not judging — you’ll save a fortune on rent!), you’re no doubt aware that we’re living firmly in the clutches of a recession. For many of us, this means that rethinking our spending habits has become the “new normal”. Although it can be argued that in all this doom and gloom self-care has never been more important, most hair and beauty services cost a pretty penny. However, if you know where to search, you can achieve beauty on a budget. We’ve rounded up some of the best ways to get the look without breaking the bank.

1. Off-peak skin saviours

Unless you’re lucky enough to be blessed with great skin, many of us battle with breakouts, acne, rosacea, and other undeserved skin care woes, all of which often call for the healing hands of professionals.

Facials are often the best way of treating skin issues and getting that gorgeous glow, but they are also one of the most expensive — prices for basic treatments start about £50.00, but vary according to location and service. The HydraFacial is the current darling of the beauty industry, yet a single treatment can cost you anything from £140.00.

Fortunately, there are significant savings to be had by using a beauty booking service like Treatwell — the leading online booking platform for hair and beauty in Europe. If you go to their website and look for “facials” under the “treatment” tab, then sort by “location” and “date” you’ll find a huge number of salons that provide cut-price pampering in your region. 

Most of the time, these deals need to be scheduled a few days in advance so are labelled (in blue) as “off peak” and “last minute”, however you’ll notice general discounts available too (marked in grey). You can also get off-peak massages, manicures, waxing, and brow treatments, and everything in between. Note that some salons require full payment at the time of booking in order to secure the appointment, and others state that new clients only qualify for a particular discount.

2. Cut-cost hair care

The cost of hair care has risen dramatically alongside the rest of the beauty industry. However, did you know that you can get some hair services for free? As Save the Student explains, many hairdressers wanting to practise adventurous styles will offer free haircuts to anyone willing to be a guinea pig. Newbie stylists or college students will always be supervised by someone more experienced, so the chances of something going wrong are low.

What’s more, some salons will offer new-customer discounts. These are often advertised via their website, or, our favourite method — simply call up and ask. With this approach, new customers can often receive between 10-25% off their first treatment.

Alternatively, some specialist credit providers allow you to split the cost of hair products and services. Zilch, for example, “offers no interest 0% APR buy now, pay later for a range of UK retailers both online and in-store, so that you can pay a little of the total cost of your hair goods and spread the remaining balance over three instalments.” However, if you use this approach, make sure to spend responsibly.*

3. Dupes, glorious dupes

Not all heroes wear capes. Dupes (or duplicates) of big brand makeup products used to have a reputation for being low-quality knock offs, but that has changed considerably. Nowadays, dupes are firmly established as cheaper alternatives to high-end cosmetics that perform comparably.

Let’s dive in with one of the most prestigious names in the industry: Charlotte Tilbury. The go-to brand to some of the biggest celebrities in stardom, Charlotte Tilbury is characterised by its “Instagram filter” effects, opulent rose gold packaging, and, of course, eye-watering prices.

The No7 Airbrush Away Finishing Powder, £13.00, is a near-identical match to the brand’s iconic Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder at £35.00.

If you can’t afford Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution Pillow Talk lipstick, there are plenty of affordable alternatives. The real thing costs £26.00, but the team at have discovered not one, but four foolproof substitutes.

Last on our list is Yves Saint Laurent. If you’re searching for a less expensive alternative to the brand’s famed Fusion Ink foundation, you’re in luck. Wet n Wild’s Photo Focus base is an inexpensive dupe for the £36.00 OG, with an RRP of £6.99.

YSL is also renowned for its fragrance. At £19.99 for 50ml, Noted Aromas does almost indistinguishable match to the legendary Black Opium (£83.00 for 50ml), plus a myriad of other scents “inspired by” big name brands.

*Spend responsibly, spending more than you can afford could seriously affect your financial status. Credit subject to status, 18+, UK residents only. Representative APR 18.1% (fixed) based on total spend: £240 (+£2.50 fees). Total repayable: £242.50 paid over 6 weeks, 1st payment £62.50, then 3 payments of £60.00 every 2 weeks. T&Cs apply.

Anabel Cooper

Anabel is a graduate of King’s College London and upon graduating, she set out on a journey to inspire and empower women through her words. Besides working as a digital marketing expert, Anabel is a freelance copywriter.