If, like me, you're about to pour a substantial chunk of change into the government's coffers, take heart! I know you're miserable now, but you don't have to spend the next six months eating ramen, forgoing shampoo, and living in total darkness. This is especially true when it comes to beauty, because there's free stuff and bargains wherever you look. So once you've finished freaking out, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and read more.
- Giveaways are a lifesaver. We, ahem, have a giveaway on a daily or weekly basis, and it's totally worth entering. And yes, people do win. Might as well be you.
- If you have a little cash (and you're not a compulsive buyer), look for online discounts. Check out sites like Groupon, which frequently has amazing deals on salon and spa services, and The Fairest, which has flash sales on high-end cosmetics and skin care.
- Samples, samples, samples. I spent several years of college living off of makeup and hair care minis I got on the Internet. Proctor & Gamble's BrandSampler program is always giving away some beauty goody or other from the lines it owns, like Pantene and Olay. Dove and L'Oreal have free samples, too, as do many other brands if you hunt around their sites.
- Got a bunch of makeup you don't want, and itching for new stuff? Try a product swapping group. The liner you bought but never used or that expensive perfume that's just not for you can help you rake in plenty of awesome new products to play with. Just make sure the person you're trading with is legit, ask for real pictures of what you're being sent, and wipe everything down once you get it (just in case).
- If you've got a big night out planned, head down to a department store makeup counter for a makeover. You'll probably get the hard sell, but you don't need to buy everything (or, technically, anything). Think of it as a way to practice being polite but assertive, and when you have more cash on hand, you can thank her for her kindness with a purchase.