Beauty & the budget

The slumping economy shows no signs of letting up. Even the most committed fashionistas are considering ways to trim spending. That's OK. You can keep your look, and your money. “Style goes beyond fashion and beauty products,” says personal style expert Bobbie Thomas, who often appears on the “Today” show. “You can be stylish without spending a dollar.” Here are five ways to pamper yourself while saving cash and maintaining your personal style. The projected per-service savings are estimated. Style Editor Rachel Sutherland

Shop for beauty products in your kitchen

Olive oil, essential oils, sugar and salt are just a few ingredients that do double duty. Fear of failure and unrealistic expectations keep most from attempting at-home color, said celebrity haircolorist Lorri Goddard-Clark, author of “Hair Color Mix Book: More Than 150 Recipes for Salon-Perfect Hair at Home.” If you use items you have on hand in conjunction with a box or two of hair color, salon-perfect hair at home is very do-able, Goddard-Clark says. SAVINGS: $40-$100

Do your own manis and pedis

It is surprisingly easy to create a relaxing, spa-like setting at home. Light some candles, grab a trashy magazine and a beverage of your choice. Fill a bathtub with enough warm water to cover your ankles (add a bit of bubble bath or essential oil if you like). Let your polish-free tootsies soak while you catch up on the latest celebrity gossip. Give your feet a good massage with an exfoliating scrub (St. Ives Invigorating Apricot Scrub, $4.29 at drugstores, or mix sugar or salt with a bit of olive oil). After drying your refreshed feet, trim and file the nails (straight across, please, to avoid ingrowns). Now you're ready for polish. SAVINGS: $15-$60

Get your hair cut at a beauty/barber college

All stylists have to start somewhere, and for many, that is beauty school. Places such as Dudley Beauty College (704-392-2565; and the Aveda Institute (704-333-9940; are full service salons with great deals. For example, a cut and style at Aveda is $15. If you're concerned about the skill level of a novice, test the school waters with a lower-profile service first, like a manicure. SAVINGS: $5-$75

Shop smarter

You needn't deny yourself designer goods, just refocus your search, says expert Thomas. Stores such as Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx and Marshall's can be packed with designer gear from previous seasons at discounted prices. The Blakeney Marshall's this week had racks of Calvin Klein knit dresses for $59 and Michael by Michael Kors handbags for just over $100. Take advantage of the plentiful consignment shops across the area, and if you're feeling really lucky, try Goodwill, Value Village or the Salvation Army. On the flip side, sell or consign your unwanted gear. Making money tends to take the sting out of spending it. SAVINGS: Varies, depending on your bargain karma.

Pamper less often

The quickest way to cut back on your grooming services budget is to increase time between appointments. Instead of going for a brow wax every four weeks, see if you can make it six or even eight weeks (give those tweezers a workout). Don't think it makes a difference? Check this math: Let's say a bikini wax costs $35. You should have one every four weeks. You'll spend $420 annually (not including tip) on that schedule. Reduce your visits to every six weeks, and your annual wax expenditure drops to $280. SAVINGS: $140