After spending three years at university with a loan that barely covered my accommodation costs, I know first-hand what it’s like to have to stretch what little money you have to cover so many things. If you’re a beauty junkie like me, you won’t want to sacrifice your beauty routine entirely. But the good news is, you don’t have to! You just need to be savvy about your purchases, and learn how to make your pounds stretch.


As much as we all love going to the high end counters and admiring the amazing packaging and products, when you don’t have a lot of money, this isn’t a realistic option. Regardless of this, I’m a firm believer that there are some amazing drugstore products, and I personally never shop high end. You can probably get 5 or 6 products from the drugstore for 1 at a high end counter – so the choice is obvious if you’re strapped for cash.

Some of my staples come from the cheapest side of the drugstore. Collection’s lasting perfection concealer is a hit amongst beauty bloggers, makeup artists and beauty enthusiasts alike. The coverage is unbeatable, it lasts all day and at £4.19, is student budget friendly. MUA and Makeup Revolution have tons of great eye-shadows, face palettes (see below - £8!) and highlighters, which are all super pigmented and affordable. If you haven’t shopped these brands yet, then trust me, they are amazing, and no more than £10 a product.

ThINK ABOUT where you shop.

During my time at University, I bought a lot of makeup and skincare from Superdrug. I always find products are slightly cheaper there than Boots, and they tend to have loads more deals and special offers, which is probably due to their younger target audience. They have an amazing clearance section in bigger stores. Keep an eye out for this and on a good day you could find skincare and toiletries for literally pennies. Once, I found a discontinued John Frieda hair serum for 10p (yep, 10p!).

However, before you buy hair products from Superdrug, make sure you check out discount stores such as Poundland or Poundworld. (No shame here girls, we’re on a budget!) They have so many branded shampoos discounted from £3 or £4 down to £1 (duh). Their stock changes regularly, so you might have to switch it up each month, but you can get some really good products there. I stock up on Aussie and Herbal Essences deep conditioners from these shops, which are literally selling next door in Superdrug for £4/£5. Obvious choice, right?

As well as hair products, Poundland in particular have loads of branded makeup. Yes, it’s mostly discontinued stuff, and I would perhaps avoid foundations due to the risk of them being out of date and breaking you out. But otherwise, you’re good to go. I got tons of Maybelline eye-shadows and NYC mascaras from here, and they worked fine. You have to go in regularly to find good stuff, because the best stock goes quick – so make sure you have a quick look whenever you’re in town. You’ll be surprised at what bargains you’ll find and how much money you could save.

There’s some really good online stores for discount makeup, too. I regularly do a big order when I’m running low on makeup, and don’t want to part with much cash. I’ve used both Fragrance Direct and Cosmetics Fairy, which have tons of branded products and a huge 99p and under section. I recommend these sites for finding foundations. They have most current products, but at a huge discount - you’ll never want to pay full price again!

Make the most of offers.

Perhaps the biggest rule is to only shop at Superdrug or Boots when they have a 3 for 2 offer on. It’s something that’s massively overlooked, but you literally get a free product, so why wouldn’t you wait a day or two? Both shops run this offer regularly. A good way to make the most of this offer, is to buy three lots of your more expensive products (foundations, or skincare) at once. If the foundation is a tenner, you’ll get 3 for £20, saving you some valuable cash. Although you’ll be spending more money at first, they’ll last you ages, and you’ll save in the long run.

That £5 off No7 voucher that you chuck in your bag and forget about might come in handy too. Although you might consider No7 a bit of a ‘mumsy’ brand, the stuff is actually really good quality. So grab your voucher and head to the counter. They have some amazing mascaras, and glittery, stand out nail varnishes for nights out, which you’ll literally get for £3 if you use your free voucher - amazing!

 Last but not least, if you haven’t already, get a Superdrug and Boots card and earn points. If you’re a beauty junkie like me, you really can save up some points quite quickly and end up with awesome discounts. I was one of the people who thought ‘nah, I can’t be bothered’ for a few years, but when I finally did, I realised it was well worth filling in the forms. I end up doing a pretty decent make-up shop every year on my points - it’s basically free stuff!

You don’t need to cut out your beauty routine when you go to university or are strapped for cash - you just need to be thrifty. There’s loads of budget friendly products around, which are increasingly good quality and value for money. Plus, making the most of deals and offers, and considering where you shop, will all save you valuable money in the long run. You’ll still look as glamorous as ever, trust me.

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Alice Lang Alice Lang, 10 months ago
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