By Betsy Vereckey -- AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — If you're like many other Americans watching their spending, the recession might have affected your grooming routine.
Tighter credit, rising unemployment and higher interest rates all have shoppers scaling back on discretionary spending, but you don't have to spend a lot to look your best.
Celebrity hairdresser Ted Gibson, who has styled starlets Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger and Anne Hathaway, says all it takes is a willingness to look around and get creative.
"I think that's what it's really about in this economy," says Gibson, who just launched a hair care line in Target that costs between $14.99 and $26.
There are ways to spend less and look perfectly groomed that don't entail a trip to the salon for expensive highlights or dropping by the department store for pricey designer fragrances. Here are a few ideas:
1. GET CREATIVE: You'd be amazed what a little epsom salt or baking soda can accomplish.
For a gentle facial, mix a half-teaspoon of epsom salt with your facial cleanser to exfoliate your skin. You can even add 2 cups of epsom salt for a relaxing soak in your bathtub.
Need fresh breath, but don't want to spend a lot on mouthwash? Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to half a glass of water: swish, spit and rinse.
Gibson says you can even sprinkle a little bit of baby powder on your scalp to soak up oil, and you won't need to shampoo as often.
2. NEGOTIATE AND DO YOUR RESEARCH: Get a group of friends together and ask your stylist to come to your home to cut and color hair. Your stylist won't have to pay overhead at the salon and may cut you a break on price.
Many stylists are also offering specials to lure cash-strapped consumers to their salons. Gibson's New York City salon is sponsoring "recessionista" specials on Tuesday and Wednesday; haircuts that normally cost at least $125 are $75.
3. AT-HOME TREATMENTS: The return of summer means it's time for sandals. Skip the professional pedicure and save money with an at-home kit. For $9.99 on drugstore.com, Revlon's Pedi-Expert kit comes with a nail file and nail clip to make feet smooth and presentable. The kit is tiny enough to hold in the palm of your hand, so you can travel with it.
Can't afford expensive highlights? Try box hair color or go back to your natural hair color. Ask your stylist for advice on what might look best.
4. OFF-PRICE RETAILERS: Discount retailers such as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls often sell beauty products between 20 percent and 60 percent less than beauty stores and cosmetic counters.
You can find moisturizer, color cosmetics, tweezers, hair dryers and other beauty products at these stores.
Also, dollar stores sometimes sell discounted beauty merchandise, sometimes even from higher-priced brands. Shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, and body spray are just some of the items available.
5. DRINK UP: Dermatologists say you don't have to spend a fortune on skin care products. Just eat right, get enough sleep and wash your face to remove dirt and makeup. Also, by drinking plenty of water, you remain hydrated and flush the toxins out of your body.
"Water is part of the best moisturizing routine that you can do for your skin, coupled with any cheap products to seal the moisture in," says Dr. Vincent Deleo, chairman of dermatology at Beth Israel Medical Center and St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital.
The best thing about water? It's free.
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