How to make and save money on health and beauty #21DayMoneyChallenge

Health and beauty can be two large expenses for any budget. As a whole, billions each year is spent on health and beauty. This includes doctors visits, medication, treatments, specialists, surgery and complementary medicine for health, along with salon visits, skin care, makeup, products and services in beauty.

As someone who has had severe health issues (paralysis, a cancer scare, mental health issues to name a few), along with being an ex-hairdresser and beautician, I know a lot of ways to save money in these 2 areas.

How to save money with health

If you are on a pension or have any health care/pension/seniors/DVA type card from Centrelink, check out this post to see what discounts you can get (not just with health). I also have a post here outlining how to afford medical expenses, some of which I’ll cover briefly below.

Know your expenses

While some health issues you can’t budget or plan for, others can be. If you know you have certain health expenses such as doctors visits, psychology, glasses, dental work, prescriptions or other treatment you or family members need, write it all down.

Once you know everything you need to pay for, you can look at how to reduce the cost. A few examples include:
Doctor visits – look for a bulk billing clinic and the health line on 1800 022 222 before going to your GP or the hospital, they can often advise what you should do.
Glasses – get your eyes tested then ask for the prescription and order online. I have purchased my glasses from Zenni Optical (get $5 off with this link) for nearly a decade and always get compliments on them. They have lasted well and I am positive the ‘buy two for $199’ type glasses come from here. More recently I have also used Eye Buy Direct (get $10 off with this link) and really like my glasses from there too.
Specialists – if you need psychology, physiotherapy or other treatments you may be eligible for a plan on Medicare which reduces the cost and in some cases makes it free.

Take care of yourself

You hear it all the time, good food and exercise are important for your health. Limiting or eliminating alcohol, not smoking and doing what you can to live a clean, healthy life will have a significant impact on your overall health and medical expenses.

I didn’t take care of myself which meant in 2015, my body stopped. I became paralysed on and off for 7 months. I had level 10 pain which is where you black out from the pain it is so excruciating (child birth is a level 8). I had a cancer scare and because of my health issues my medical bills skyrocketed with surgeons, physiotherapy, a chiropractor, naturopathy, MRI and other tests. My income and life were severely impacted because I had not taken care of myself.

Prevention is better than a cure.

Now, I am careful. I have had the paralysis and pain recur earlier this year for 2 months, being told at the time it was permanent (I have since bounced back through alternative means). I eat mainly low or slow carb, rarely drink, walk everywhere and try to exercise to take care of myself. I make sleep and self care a priority.

Look after yourself. For more information on how to afford medical care I highly recommend you read this post on my other site.

Today, make a plan for a healthier lifestyle, check your benefits and discounts then implement them.

Gym membership and exercise

You don’t need a membership but if you want one, compare prices and get a membership close to home or work. Research shows you are more likely to use a gym if it’s close because it’s easy to get to. If you have a membership, make sure you use it.
If you don’t want to go to a gym you can walk as much as possible, run around your local area, do free classes in the park (check Meetup in your area for options), look for exercise parks which have free equipment you can use, join a team sport or do a class for exercise you enjoy.

Exercise doesn’t need to be expensive and it can be something you enjoy.

Health insurance

This is covered in insurance on another day, but I’ll mention it again here. If you choose to have health insurance, compare to make sure you get the right option for your situation. You can do that on the government website here. Don’t use the commercial health insurance comparison sites. I don’t know anyone who actually got a better rate with them and they only compare for a limited number of funds.

If you don’t want complete health insurance, get ambulance cover. It is cheap and unless you are eligible for free ambulance (such as with a pension) then if you ever need an ambulance, the health cover will be more than worth it. I have been in an ambulance 3 times in the last 2 years, totalling over $3,000 if I had to pay it for myself. Ambulance cover is cheap!

Do you need all the extras? Most are not worth the extra premium. Work out what you want from your health insurance, what your needs are and what you want included in a policy so you can compare accurately and get the right option for you.

Many people do not have health insurance as we have a great public health system in Australia. Be aware though, the wait list for some conditions can be extremely long. In my case, it would have been years for the back issues, the cancer issue would have been months to a year as well instead of days and treatment for my daughters would have been over 3 years going public. It varies depending on where you live, be aware of it though.

How to save money with beauty

I am a qualified hairdresser and beautician so can do everything myself. I don’t recommend you do all your own treatments, but here are some tips for all aspects of beauty I can think of. Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll go from head to toe.

I’m blonde now (top right pic is my current look), but have been so many colours! I cut, colour, tone, bleach and style my hair myself. Learning to do it all yourself isn’t always easy. Many styles and colours don’t need to be done in a salon, but if you are going for a big colour change such as blonde to brown or lightening your hair from black for example, that should be done in a salon.

Dye: for supermarket colours they all seem similar. My preference was L’oreal and Schwarzkopf when on sale. Clairol I found wasn’t as true to colour nor did it hold as long. Personally, I get my supplies from a wholesaler but you need to be a qualified hairdresser to do that.
Basic colours can be done yourself with a box or two for $10 (buy them on sale) or get a tube of colour from Priceline/Hairhouse Warehouse or similar with the peroxide.

Make sure you use gloves. Put vaseline or barrier cream around your hairline to prevent staining. Use old towels, a cape, a proper bowl and brush plus if you spill any hair colour anywhere, clean it quickly and where possible bleach the area. Work in sections instead of dumping the all the hair dye in one spot. Comb the colour through properly and rinse it thoroughly when the time is up.

Dandruff: if you have issues with dandruff, rubbing coconut or other oil into the scalp overnight then washing your hair the next day can help. Rubbing salt into the scalp, rinsing with apple cider vinegar and anti dandruff shampoos are all options.

Treatments: if you have dry hair you can use coconut oil wrapped up overnight and washed out in the morning. This is a heavy treatment if you have fine hair and can weigh down your hair if not rinsed properly.

Styling and other needs: I use a hairdryer (my last one lasted 5 years), have a GHD hair straightener (which is also 5 years old), a quality brush (currently using a macadamia brush and it is my favourite ever!), some clips, bobby pins and hairspray. I use coconut oil on the ends if they feel a little dry and sometimes use Redken Anti Snap. I don’t use many styling products and if I do, I compare prices online, buying them on sale.

Most of the products you will be sold in a salon you don’t really need. I do recommend finding the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair though. It doesn’t have to be expensive but the cheap shampoos aren’t good for coloured hair.

For ‘dry’ shampoo, I usually use cornflour. It’s cheap, does the same job and isn’t damaging to your scalp.

Cuts: basic hair cuts can be done with a decent pair of clippers (my preferred brand is Wahl) and scissors (not the scissors that come in a pack, get a decent pair of hairdressing scissors. You can get some good ones on eBay). Use section clips, a proper comb and take your time learning. Long hair is generally easy, as are basic straight trims and many mens cuts. Check YouTube for tutorials. I may do a tutorial on how I do my hair later.


You might have a simple routine or you may be right into contouring and spending an hour on makeup. I fall somewhere in between usually.

Skincare: I have a basic routine using a microfibre cloth and warm water to wash my face thoroughly, cold water to ‘tone’ and coconut oil if needed for moisturising. I found most products were expensive, dried my skin out or didn’t work at all.

Facial: I haven’t had one in a salon for years and don’t miss it. I didn’t find it comfortable. I used to do a full routine of cleanse, scrub, mask, tone, moisturise, eye cream, the lots at home. Now I do none of it. If you want to do it, most of it can be done with products in your pantry! Check out recipes for scrubs such as sugar and oil (mix 3 parts sugar to 1 part oil) or oats and milk plus masks such as egg or avocado, depending on your skin type. You can do a face peel with gelatin and milk too.

Gelatin peel
1 Tablespoon gelatin
2 Tablespoons milk

– Clean your face.
– Mix gelatin and milk together in a bowl then heat in microwave for 10 – 15 seconds depending on the strength of your microwave. Mix the milk and gelatin to make a smooth paste. Test the temperature before applying it to your face. You don’t want to burn your skin.
– As with all masks, avoid the skin close to your eyes as it is more delicate and this mask is strong, it can remove some facial hair, so be careful.
– Leave it on your face for 15 minutes then peel off. Go gently as your skin might be sensitive in areas. You don’t need to rip it off fast like a band aid.
– Clean your face again, then tone and moisturise.

Eyelashes, eyebrows and waxing

I am blessed with naturally long lashes which curl up and eyebrows I don’t colour or wax. However, I do have PCOS which results in needing my face waxed every 2 weeks. I am extremely self-conscious about it.
Eyelashes: you can get extensions, tint them, perm them or use an eyelash curler if you want. With extensions, you can use false lashes bought on sale or get them done in a salon to last longer. With tinting, you can get lash tint kits at Priceline or similar stores to do it yourself. Most people go for black or blue black.
Eyebrows: I think a professional is a good idea. Even if it’s just to get them shaped every now and then, with you touching up the look by tweezing as needed. Be careful not to over tweeze and buy good quality tweezers to do it.
Waxing: I use hard wax, not strip wax. It is better for sensitive skin and I found it to be more effective. You can get a wax pot by Veet at many supermarkets or Priceline and buy discs to melt and use. This prevents you being able to overheat the wax and burn yourself. Waxing your chin, lip or sides of your face isn’t too tricky. Place a thin layer of wax (not so thin it is see through though) and peel it off while it is still pliable.

Make up

Have a session to find the products that suit you. Don’t use the one at the Clinique counter or the one that has a vested interest in one particular brand. Use an independent makeup artist, get some lessons if you want on contouring and application, then get a good set of brushes and buy makeup that suits you and you will use.

Day look: my day look is usually BB cream and mascara because I am lazy. I used to hate my skin and thought it was too red and blotchy. I am happy with how I look now.

Events and evening: I use a concealor, foundation, powder, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, brow pencil, mascara and a lip stick or lip gloss. I cannot be bothered with contouring and wearing loads of makeup. I also dislike sitting to have my makeup done as I want it done quickly. Most events I aim for 30mins or less for hair and makeup.

Find out what works for you then create a minimalist kit for your needs. Buy the items online (as you usually get them for much cheaper and sometimes get bonus gifts) and learn to use them all properly.


I love a good body scrub, but now make my own with oil and sugar, sometimes I use coffee too but I don’t like the mess that leaves in the shower. You can find a body scrub recipe here.

Hair removal: how and what you choose to remove is up to you. My preference is waxing, but I shave my legs and use cheap conditioner plus a mens razor as this has been better for my skin, cheaper and more effective than shaving cream and a womens razor. If you want to use shaving cream, buy the mens. It is cheaper than womens for the same thing! If you go to a salon like I do, ask if they have a loyalty program or any discounts. I have a VIP card giving me 10% off all treatments, every time I go in.

Tanning, moisturising and other body products: I use deoderant which I buy on sale. I have a perfume I love which was a gift. I use coconut oil to moisturise as it is cheaper and more effective, plus a little goes a long way. (Can you sense a theme here with my favourite product?)
I don’t tan but if you want to do fake tanning you can get creams to do it yourself at home, try spray tanning at a salon or with a mobile tanner and see if they offer discounts for multiple sessions or learn to do it yourself.

Buy items on sale, ask for discounts, look for items reduced to clear, check Groupon and other coupon sites (but also check reviews for the places selling their services cheap!) and ask for beauty items or gift cards as presents for your birthday/Christmas/Mothers Day etc.


I do my own manicures and pedicures, although I don’t do them as often as I used to. I use a file, buffer, foot file, an orange stick, cuticle oil and have a couple of nail polishes. In general, nails are pretty simple. File, buff, soak, push back cuticles, polish, leave to dry and use hand cream.

False nails cost more, however, most places will offer a loyalty discount.

Final tip

Today, go through your products, throw out anything that is old, crusty or expired. Work out what you really need for your beauty routine and look at natural options instead of a cupboard full of products.

You might also like how to make beauty items from products in your pantry.

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