The sales are in full swing, with half-price signs dominating the streets and tempting eagle-eyed shoppers. But these days it's not about snapping up as many bags of bargains as your beauty cupboard can contain, it’s about being a savvy beauty buyer instead.
Clever consumers are looking for short-cuts that will lower costs without compromising their beauty regimes. Almost nine out of 10 women would drop luxury make-up brands like Dior and Chanel for own-brand make-up that does the same job at a quarter of the price, a recent survey by Impulse revealed.
"Cheap and chic is where it's at," agrees former 10 Years Younger TV presenter, Nicky Hambleton-Jones. "When it comes to riding out a recession, women get back to basics and make the most of what they've got. In tougher times we need to look for affordable ways to make ourselves look and feel good."
So whether you're a day-spa junkie or beauty product addict, we show you how to indulge your vices - without breaking the bank.
Less is More
If your make-up bag is stuffed to the brim and you’re at risk of a product avalanche every time you open your bathroom cabinet it’s time to rein in your beauty buying.
Opt for products that are multi-functional to save space, mirror time, and most importantly, cash. "Look out for items that have more than one purpose, especially in skin-care as a comprehensive skin-care routine can involve multiple products which really adds up," recommends Jenna Rose, beautician and ambassador for Johnson's.
It's also possible to combine your existing products to increase their longevity."If you use foundation, let your skin breath in the summer months by diluting it with your favourite face cream to create a tinted moisturiser - your look will be lighter and your foundation will last longer," she suggests.
You can also make your fragrance go the extra mile by applying a little baby oil to the areas you're going to spray. "Perfume lasts longer on your skin if it's oily," says Jenna.
There's nothing like spending a leisurely hour (or three!) in the hands of a professional beauty therapist to leave you feeling serene and relaxed. Until you see the bill. Luckily, there are ways to satisfy your pampering habit without footing a hefty fee – it just takes a little bit of research to find salons offering luxury treatments at reduced prices.
"Nowadays, all forward-thinking skin centres are offering supercharged micro-treatments," explains Sally Penford, education manager at the International Dermal Institute. "They provide the same great skin results but without the fluff - just 20 minutes could give you exactly what your skin needs at half the price. Think 'flash exfoliation', 'intense moisture', or 'rapid spot relief' all achieved over your lunch hour."
Many organisations also offer free or reduced price add-ons to treatments. By just asking you could get a brow shape or hand exfoliation included in the cost of your facial. Sally also recommends looking out for loyalty schemes and promotions run by your skin centre that entitles you to a complimentary product or treatment after spending a given amount.
A savvy saver will have shunned the pricey spas and designer products long ago in favour of at-home beauty alternatives. Transform yourself into a DIY domestic goddess with indulgent bubble baths, make-do manicures and pedicures, or by donning an apron and whipping up your own luxurious-yet-low-cost treatments in the kitchen.
"Make your own nutritional face pack, full of omega oils, vitamin E that’s totally chemical-free,” suggests Nicky Hambleton-Jones. Simply mash the flesh of a ripe avocado, apply it to your face and let it work for 15 minutes before rinsing off.
You can also use your nights in to treat tired locks. Heat some olive oil and rosemary leaves (dried or fresh) on the stove, before straining and applying the warm oil to your roots and ends. Wrap your head in cling-film and allow the infusion to penetrate while you relax in a hot bath. Wash as normal and smooth, silky hair will be yours.
Become a crafty consumer with our top beauty buying tips:
1. Look for Gift With Purchase offers and bag yourself a free treat (from the likes of handbags, scarves and cosmetic cases to complimentary products and make-up brushes) when you spend a certain amount with a brand. Department stores such as David Jones and Myer, as well as some pharmacies regularly run GWPs.
2. Save your designer fragrance for special occasions or evenings out and switch to a perfumed body spray for everyday use.
3. Purchase the largest size available in a product range. They always work out cheaper and carrying them home will give your arms a toning workout!
4. Nervy about trying a new product? Don't be afraid to ask for samples to experiment with before you splash the cash.
5. Seek advice from a skin therapist and discuss what multi-functional products you can add into your current regime.