Greening My Beauty Routine: How Much Has it Saved Me?

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Over the past year I've been greening my beauty routine. See where it has (and hasn't) saved me money.

A little over a year ago, I decided to make a concerted effort to go green.  It’s something I had wanted to do for a while, but the switch seemed overwhelming.

While we’re not living in an earth-sheltered hobbit home like I’d like to be, we have made a lot of smaller changes that added up to dramatic progress.  We’ve been cleaning largely with vinegar and baking soda for a while, eliminating the harmful chemicals (and pricetag) of many mainstream cleaning products.  We’ve made recycling part of our regular routine.

I’ve also started greening my beauty routine.  Not only has it been arguably better for the world and saved me money, but I’ve also found it to be better for my skin and hair.  I was curious to see just how much cash it had actually saved me, though.  I ran some numbers and got an answer.  Glorious details below.

Greening My Hair Routine: -$6.73

Shampoo- Starting last summer, I tried replacing my shampoo with baking soda.  When I use shampoo, I regularly have to go back and forth between two bottles of two different brands.  Otherwise I get build up.  It turns out baking soda works the same for me.  When I used it in isolation, I still got build up.  So I started rotating between baking soda and regular old shampoo.  In other words, I went 50%.

I’m spending half as much on shampoo, but I have to spend 79 cents on a box of baking soda every once in a while.  I use about 1 tablespoon for each wash, and there’s 16 tablespoons in my little eight ounce boxes.  So a box lasts me a month.  Before I was spending $6/each on two bottles every two months, or $6/month total.  Now I spend $3/month on conventional shampoo, plus 79 cents for baking soda.  My new total is $3.79, for a whopping savings of $2.21.  (One thing I didn’t factor in is that while shampoo is taxed, baking soda is not in our state.  The same will hold true for all of the beauty items I replaced with items sold as food.)

Conditioner-  I still have a bottle of conditioner, but it’s over a year old.  I used to use it a couple times a week.  Now one week out of the month I use coconut oil as a hair mask.  I brush it into the bottom part only, pull it up into a low bun, and sleep in it.  I wash it out well, and it leaves my hair super soft.  I’ve cut down my conditioner use to one time the other three weeks of the month.

It’s nice, $20 conditioner, and used to last me four months.  (I don’t always buy conditioner this nice; it just happens to be the bottle I had at the time I started.)  With my new routine, it’s lasted over twelve, and still has about a month left in it.  Let’s just say I did always purchase $20 conditioner.  I would have saved $60 by now.  I’ve also bought coconut oil, though.  I use somewhere between one and two tablespoons an application.  I get about 33 tablespoons out of a 16 oz jar.  That 16oz jar costs me $8, making each tablespoon cost approximately $0.24.  Let’s be liberal and say I use two.  That’s $0.48/month, or $5.76/year

$60 saved-$5.76 spent= $54.24 saved (or $4.52/month)

Greening My Face Routine: +$0.28

Cleanser- I’ve been using coconut oil in place of bar soap.  The bar soap used to last me a month, and cost about $0.80/bar.  A pinch of coconut oil cost maybe two cents.  Two cents times 30 days in a month is $0.60. I’ve saved $0.20, and my skin looks better to boot.

Exfoliant– I never used exfoliant regularly before, but right before I was making the switch I was having changes in my skin that made me feel like I needed to add it to my routine.  Instead of going out and buying something fancy, I made my own out of brown sugar and coconut oil .  Both ingredients are pennies for each application.  Let’s be liberal and say all together each application is $0.06.  I use it twice a week, and added $0.48 to my monthly budget.

Shaving: +$0.92

Many years ago, I used an exfoliant to shave.  It was super expensive, but made my legs looks awesome.  At least compared to what shaving cream usually does to them.  I couldn’t afford the expensive exfoliant, so this time around I made my own.  In fact, at this point, I just use the same stuff that I use for my face.  I use quite a bit more to apply for shaving purposes, though.  Probably four times more.  So I spend $1.92/month.  On average.  In summer I shave more, and in winter I shave less.  One can of the cheapy shaving cream that I used to use cost $1.  I’m up $0.92.

Where to Get the Most Bang for Your Green Beauty Buck

The only area I’m saving money in is hair.  This kind of surprised me.  I thought for sure I’d save in all of these areas when going green, but by adding new “products” to my routine, coupled with the fact that I used such cheap products before, I’m actually spending more rather than less now on my skin care and shaving.

The pluses?  It’s healthier for me. And the improvement in my skin (though it’s still not perfect,) has been worth the marginal spend.

If you’re looking to save money with your beauty routine by greening it up, look at the area you already spend the most in.  You can make low-cost, high-quality products at home for less, and you’ll know exactly what ingredients go into them.  If you’re looking to improve your skin’s health, it may be worth the extra few bucks to upgrade from bar soap and cheap shaving cream.


Greening My Beauty Routine_ How Much Has it Saved Me_

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19 thoughts on “Greening My Beauty Routine: How Much Has it Saved Me?

  1. ModerateMuse

    Great list! I decided to go green about 5 years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter. I use store bought green shampoo though, so it’s not saving me money. I no longer buy lotion, face masks, or cleaning supplies though.

    I love coconut oil. Mixed with salt or sugar, a drop of essential oil, and baking soda it makes a heavenly body scrub for the shower.

  2. Prudence Debtfree

    OK, this just makes me feel inadequate! I wouldn’t be able to tell you what I spend on hair or skin products. Interesting that you find you spend a bit more now, but that you don’t plan to change back to your old ways of doing things. Value-based spending is definitely part of wise frugality.

    1. Femme @ femmefrugality

      Haha I have a pretty good pulse on my budget line items. Couldn’t tell you the numbers with tax anymore, though.

      It’s funny because overall I actually an surrendering less. It’s just the areas where I used to go super cheap with bar soap and $1 shaving cream where I’m over, now. And those amounts are so marginal that it’s not worth changing back, especially since I like the results.

  3. Generation YRA

    Great tips on going green with your beauty routine! I absolutely love coconut oil, there are incredible amount of ways you can use it. I have never thought to use it as a facial cleanser though, I will need to try this! Thanks for passing this all on!

  4. Kay ~ Prosperously Speaking

    I have GOT to try coconut oil! Everyone raves about it. I think I haven’t yet because I don’t like the taste of coconut. Hmmm, no one said I had to EAT it! 😛 Nice work, Femme! Love that you are sharing your experiments with us. I’m not sure how much more I can cut down. I use Dove unscented soap for my face, body, hair, and teeth now. It ain’t green, exactly, but it sure is cheap and minimalistic! 🙂

  5. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies

    I love this list because all of your choices are so well-intentioned. My beauty routine could be a bit more green, I suppose, but cruelty-free products are essential. Even in my couponing madness, I always kept a shopping guide in my wallet. I will definitely look into some of these DIY options. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Amanda @ My Life, I Guess

    I’ve always had bad skin, so I used to have to follow a skin-care routine that involved several products. I sort of accidentally started skipping my morning routine, and then the occasional nights, and eventually got to the point where I don’t really wash my face anymore. And ya know what? My skin is SO much clearer and healthier! I can’t believe how much time, money, and effort it used to take me. Not to mention the impact all these products and chemicals had on the environment!

  7. Mel

    It’s interesting that the financial impact is largely negligible, but I’m all for going green. I’m interested in seeing what coconut oil would do to my hair, but I feel like I would toss and turn so much it would get all over the pillow and then all over my face.

  8. vmorgan456

    You always get me thinking….I’m going to have to try the baking soda routine on my hair and see how that goes. I just use plain water on my face and a moisturizer…a tip for my Mother. i was green before I knew what it was! Seems as though I have to slowly work this green thing in to my way of thinking. Your way ahead of me!

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