How to Save Money on Your Manicures

You can still look "polished" without spending a lot

Some months, we just have more beauty dollars to work with than others, ya know? When my bills get too high, fun things like blowouts, expensive lip glosses, and other girly extras get immediately cut from my budget -- though of course they always return as soon as I have the extra cash.

One thing I'll never live without, no matter what state my finances are in, are my manicures. Nicely painted nails make me feel put together and help complete a "polished" look, which is important in my career. Not only that, there are plenty of ways to lessen how much you spend on your nails. Read on for some of my best money-saving manicure tips, so that you never have to give up this tiny luxury, either.

At the salon:
Try a new shop. Lots of just-opened nails salons will offer great deals for new customers: a percentage off, 2-for-1 specials, and more. And existing nail salons might offer a discount for your first visit as a new client. Just be sure to leave a decent tip no matter what.

Keep an eye out for coupons. In slower seasons, there are bound to be discount offers available. One nail salon near my home even offers early-bird specials, so try visiting during off-peak hours (like weekday mornings and Sunday nights). Ask and see what they can do to accommodate you.

Remember that polish changes are available. If your nail polish gets chipped but you don't need the full soak, trim, cuticle cutting, and so on, ask for a polish change instead of a manicure and you'll shave at least 50 percent off the cost. I like to get a manicure every third week, a polish change (sometimes filing my nails before I go) every first or second week, and an at-home cleanup on the in-between weeks.

Visit a local cosmetology school. Call before you go, and you can sometimes get a manicure (or pedicure, haircut, blowout, or even facial) for cheap or even free from a beauty school student.

At home:
A do-it-yourself manicure is the easiest way to save cash. Make a one-time purchase of a complete manicure kit (I like the Yes to Carrots Tender Touch Manciure Set, $19.99 at Target) and buy a bottle of your polish. My best tips for making this work: don't rush -- put aside at least 45 minutes to finish the task -- and stick to lighter colors, like OPI Nail Polish in It's a Girl ($5.95 at NailPolishDiva.com) which will mask your mistakes better.

Use a fan or wait several minutes to dry nails completely in between coats, which will help the results to look professional.

Finish with a top coat, and follow up with daily top coats to make color last. Our favorite is the Nail Experts UV Gloss Guard Top Coat ($6 at Avon) which has UV filters to prevent nail enamel from fading.

What's one beauty luxury you'd never give up? Chime in!

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