Tag: budget

My favorite budget hair styling products

February 14
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I’ve been sharing less style/beauty stuff here on the blog, but I wanted to jump in and share some budget beauty faves for #ThriftyThursday. Please note all links are affiliate links. I receive a small commission from sales from these links.
First up is my Holy Grail straight hair product. This L’Oreal Sleek It Iron Straight Spray is amazing. I use this before blow drying whenever I plan to wear straight hair. My hair turns out silky smooth and I only have to touch it up with a flat iron.
Next up, also by L’Oreal is their Blow Dry it Quick Dry Primer Spray. When I had long hair this was a godsend to cut dry time and add heat protectant. I still use it with short hair, but my dry time has cut down significantly.
As any good woman does, I love me some dry shampoo. I have tried tons of brands and my favorite budget option is Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo. I love the one with the Warm Sugar scent. It does the job without leaving residue or the heavy “I’m wearing dry shampoo” feeling other brands tend to leave in your hair.
Last on the list is the Not Your Mother’s Double Take Dry Finish Texture Spray. I love this spray for clean hair days before I curl or braid to give my hair a little extra grab. It is also a great light hairspray when regular hairspray would be too heavy a hold. So those are my current budget favorites. I am looking for a budget option dupe for Kenra Volume 25 hairspray and Aquage Uplifting Foam. Have a suggestion? Let me know!

How to save on high end beauty supplies

March 4
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High end beauty products seem to be the kinds of items that don’t really go on sale.  You might get a free mini product with purchase or something, but you just don’t see the same sales as you do with clothing, food, and other items. Regardless, I do have a few tips on how to save money on high end make products.  Try these out and see how much you save!

Six secrets to saving money on department store makeup (1)

1. Although most of us generally purchase items through Ulta or Sephora, brands also have their own websites which actually go on sale sometimes. Urban Decay has sales quite a bit and they put items on clearance.  I was able to grab their Naked Flushed palette in Native for only $11 during a sale. (regular $29.)  Its still on sale for $15 here.

Add yourself to the email list for Urban Decay, Tarte, Too Faced, and whatever other brands you like. Look out for emails about special deals.


2. Every December Sephora sends out an email/and or regular mail to their members with a coupon for $15 off a $50 purchase (More for VIB Rouge members)  This is great time to grab a new foundation or other expensive item right be before the holidays.


HSN, thats right, the Home Shopping Network carries a few nice beauty brands.  Join (for free) and receive emails with nice coupons.  I have used $10 of a $20 purchase coupons to get mascara half off.  Check it out, they always have a discount or sale going on.


3. Still want to buy your items at Sephora? Download the app Ibotta and get $10 back on a $50 purchase at Sephora (excludes JCP locations.)  BONUS:  Join through the link above and get an extra $10 back when you redeem your first rebate.  That’s $50 worth of products for $30.  (even less if you combine with another tactic mentioned here.)


4. Ok, so you still want to buy your products at your regular store or site.  That’s ok, you can still save a little buy purchasing with a gift card.  Ok, not any gift card, but one from a gift card resell site.  I have used this technique many times to save on expensive items including my dishwasher! Read the fine print, but generally these can be used in store or online.  I find the best deals with an app called Raise.  Currently, when you join Raise for free using this link you will receive $5 off your first gift card order.  Most cards are electronic so you will receive it within a day.  Some cards are physical so they may have to arrive in the mail.  Just check before you buy.  I found cards for Sephora inside JCP for up to 23% off and regular Sephora cards for 10% off.  An Ulta fan? I found cards up to 10% off.



5. Lastly, if you are shopping online at all you NEED to be using Ebates.  Ebates is a free cash back program that gives you cash back for almost every purchase.  Generally you can get between 2% and 10% back on beauty sites.  This trick works in combination with the online options mentioned in this post so double up!


Have you used any of these tricks before?  Did they work well?  Do you have other suggestions?  Share in the comments!


Note: This post contains referral links.  When you sign up for a free service via these links I receive a small commission.  Often, you will receive a discount, bonus, or extra promotion as well. Its a win-win!


Favorite drug store beauty products of 2015

February 24
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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item from a link on this page I may receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay. 

My 6 favorite drugstore products of 2015- Why I love these frugal/ budget friendly beauty, hair, and skin products that you can purchase anywhere. AmberDowns.net


I wanted to take a few minutes to share a few of my favorite drugstore products of 2015.  I love to use drug store products, but hate buying them and finding that are not as good as advertised.  Below are a few products that i feel are as good as high end items at a fraction of the cost.

CoverGirl Outlast All Day Lipcolor (On sale at Amazon for only $6.99 with $2 off coupon!)
I have a huge problem with lipstick wearing off.  I have tried practically every brand and within an hour its gone.  I ran across this in CVS one day and grabbed it on a whim.  Well turns out its amazing.  Yes, it is a liquid product which is a little more drying, but it comes with a super cool clear coat that locks in moisture and provides shine.  I have tried other high end brands of liquid lipstick since this product and although they work, this one is just as good and half the cost.


Maybelline Baby Skin Instand Pore Eraser  $4.49 on amazon
I started using primers about a year and a half ago and let me tell you, they are amazing.  Now, you will notice this produce is not advertised as an primer, but it is.  I had been pretty loyal to Smashbox, but $36  was starting to get a little pricy so I tried this.  It’s basically the same thing and makes my makeup application dreamy.  (Yes, dreamy.)  Even if you’ve never used a primer before, for $5 this is worth a shot.  (Trust me!)

L’oreal SLEEK IT Iron Straight Heatspray

Ok, this product is awesome, but it might just over do it on claims. I discovered this on sale at Target last year and have been in love ever since.  I use it on wet hair before blow drying to reduce frizz and leave a silky smooth texture.  I also use it before using a flat iron and it really helps reduce the crazy bulky feeling of my hair.  I love that it doubles as a heat protectant spray, so that is on less item to buy.  As a resident of Florida I deal with gross frizzy hair all the time and this really helps combat the issue.  I also use it before curling for a little protection.  Does it last three days?  Maybe in the winter, but lets not get too crazy.  Besides, for $5 what more could you ask for?

Herbal Essences NAKED Dry Shampoo

This product is from the naked line that Herbal Essences came out with.  It claims 0% paraben and colorant; It also comes in a pretty matte can. I am a dry shampoo lover; as an owner of colored red hair I avoid shampooing whenever possible.  I have trained my hair to go at least 2 days between washing, but sometimes it gets a little oily by the 3rd day.  This is where the dry shampoo comes in.  I have tried every drugstore dry shampoo and it wasn’t until this product that I found my favorite.  This dry shampoo, unlike other brands, goes on clear and does not leave an icky white residue.  Perfect for those of us with darker hair and roots, and those who don’t want any more gray then necessary.  I spray this onto  my roots area, let it sit for a few minutes then brush out and style as usual.  Viola! Another day without washing my hair.

Sally Hensen Complete Salon Manicure

This nail polish has been around for a few years now but I continue to enjoy it.  At $7.99 a bottle it is one of the more expensive drug store polishes but its worth it.  I have the biggest problem with nail polish chipping and wearing off too fast.  This polish, along with a good bottom and top coat really do last and make painting your nails worth the time.  This polish goes on sale all the time so keep an eye out.

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with SPF 30 for Normal to Dry Skin

This is my current go to morning moisturizer.  This product delivers the moisture my normal to dry skin needs as well as provides a great layer of sun protection.  (Super important!)  I love that it is in a bottle with a pump instead of a a tub as this keeps the bacteria and germs from my fingers out of the rest of the product..

Have you used these products?  What do you think?  Do you have some favorite drugstore beauty products? Share them in the comments!



9 deals at Ikea you need to know about

February 20
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The 9 deals at Ikea you need to know about. Hacks, products, and the best deals for your budget. AmberDowns.net
KOPPLA – 2 pack extension cord $5.99

I am always looking for another one of these.  2 for six bucks?  Great to grab just in case.

NACKTEN Bathmat $2.99

This simple mat is great to have as a spare. Grab two at that price

NACKTEN Shower Curtain $1.99

I know they sell shower curtains at the dollar tree, but have you used them?  They are too thin.  For two bucks you can get something decent that is totally disposable.  Perfect for a drop cloth, craft, or something you can toss if it gets dirty.


 ALKALISK Alkaline Batteries 10 pack  $1.99

Ten batteries for two dollars.  Do I need to say anything more?  Perfect for flashlights and toys.


 RAJTAN Spice Jar four pack $3.49

Although one of the more expensive items on my list, these jars are super cute and great for crafting, storage, gifting, and other uses.  Less than a buck each.


 PROPPMATT Chopping board $6.99

Again not the cheapest item on the list, but this is a great deal for a cutting board if you need one.  I doubt you’ll find a wooden board for less.


 TOKIG Salad Spinner $3.99

I love this supper simple, super cheap spinner.  When not spinning, this is great for popcorn bowl.


TRYGG Serving Bowl  $2.49

An Ikea staple, this large bowl is a must have item for entertaining.  A trifle would look great in this.

SMACKER Flatware Tray $.99

This lovely tray is a steal at a dollar.  An easy update for your kitchen that could also be used in a bathroom or office.


Want more Ikea info?  Check out my Ikea tips post here.


10 Tips for visiting Chicago on a budget

October 23
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Earlier this month, my husband and I had the chance to spend a few days together in Chicago. I was excited to see a city I’d never been to and he was excited to enjoy their style of improv.  As an improvisor here in Florida, he has a few friends that way who had shows while we were there. We wanted to enjoy this trip, but at the same time we wanted to keep within our budget as we are planning a trip to Europe in the spring and didn’t want to go overspend in Chicago. Although I am by no means an expert on the city, I was able to pick up a few tips I’d like to share.



Due to the high cost of lodging in Chicago we chose to try out an Airbnb for this trip.  We ended up renting a bedroom and bathroom about a 20 minute train ride out of the city for less than the cost of a sketchy motel an hour outside.  The host and room were great, and even though we hit a snag before the trip the host was great and getting it figured out.  Interested in trying out Airbnb? Here’s $20 off your first trip.



2. City Pass

If you’re looking to do the big attractions in Chicago (Art Institute, Willis Tower, Sci and Tech Museum, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium) then go ahead and get yourself a city pass.  this $100 ticket gets you into all 5 attractions and has a fast pass feature at several of them.  They claim to have a 50% or so savings, which is a little high because you don’t necessarily need the most expensive ticket to each attraction, but in the end if you’re going to do them it really is the easy way to go.  We arrived in Chicago early on a Friday morning and I wanted to go to the Willis (Sears) tower that evening.  Being that it was a Friday evening the place was PACKED and had a 2+ hour wait just to get to the elevator.  We were able to skip both the ticket and elevator line and get up within a few minutes which  is usually $40 ticket itself.  Find out more about CityPass here.



We found someone to take a photo of us with our custom message

3. Willis Tower

Speaking of Willis Tower- I wanted to share a tip I picked up.  If you contact Willis Tower at least  2 days before your trip the will put up a custom welcome message up to 60 characters for free.  I gave them a two hour window of when I planned to arrive and then didn’t tell my husband about it.  He was so surprised to see that they knew we were coming!  To set this up simply send an email to sales@theskydeck.com.  For more information go to: here.


IO Chicago

4. Improv

Interested  in taking in a show while you’re in town? We enjoyed a few improv shows at iO Chicago. You can check out their schedule here.    While you’re in that part of town be sure to grab a bite and a craft beer at Burger Bar which is right outside the Clybourn subway station. Shows at iO vary in cost from $8 and up.



Chicago CTA station

5. Mass Transit

Speaking of subway stations, we used mass transit for every single trip except one.  It was so simple getting on the train from the airport.  Both the airport and our Airbnb were situated off the same train so we had no problems getting into town.  The trains come very frequently and many lines run 24 hours a day so even on the late nights we had a ride home.  We chose an airbnb that was less than 5 minutes from a station because we knew we’d be using it alot.  This was a great decision.  We purchased the 7 Day Pass which was good on all CTA trains and busses for only $28 each.  Find more information on transit here.


6. Uber

The one car we rode in was an Uber.  This was our first time using Uber so we had a ride credit which made it free!  Using the app was super simple and our driver was friendly and professional.  Due to the mass transit available Uber isn’t a necessity in Chicago, but It was nice to have the app and credit ready in my phone if we needed it.  In case you’re wondering, we used used it to bar hop.  Classy, I know.  Want a free ride?  Click here for a free $20 credit for your first ride.  Also, Uber is so much cheaper than cabs so $20 actually goes a long way.



The view from Cindy’s

7. Chicago Athletic Association

While on our trip we met up with a friend who introduced us to the recently reopened Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.   This 125 year old building once was a popular athletic association full of famous faces but closed its doors in 2007.  It reopened this year as a hotel with several locally owned bars and restaurants inside.  Although we didn’t get to check out the rooms, the public spaces were lovely and we thoroughly enjoyed the view from Cindys, the rooftop bar and restaurant. The building faces Lake Michigan and Millennium Park and is a great place to grab a cocktail and enjoy the view. Although the drinks are pricy, it’s worth it for view, and is much cheaper than staying the night at the hotel.  We visited on a Sunday night and the place was busy, but not crazy and totally not a tourist trap. Eat dinner elsewhere and enjoy a drink and a view without breaking the bank.



The view from the door of our “chamber.”

8. Virgin Hotel

On the last night of our trip we stayed at new Virgin Hotel in Chicago.  This trendy new hotel is located on the loop right in the middle of everything.  The hotel is in a renovated bank building with 250 guest rooms or “Chambers.”  They tried to keep as many parts of the old architecture as possible while also adding tons of swanky new updates.  One of the awesome perks of staying at this hotel was the complimentary happy hour from 6-7pm.  We were offered free drinks during this time in their 2nd floor bar/restaurant. This was a great opportunity to try out some fun specialty cocktails which we usually pass on.  There was also a cute rooftop bar, but we didn’t get a chance to really try it out.  Overall, if your interested in a fun hotel in the city I would definitely  recommend this one.  Because they are new, their rates are fairly low for the area. Read more about them here.

Enjoying a free happy hour drink

Enjoying a free happy hour drink




9. Inside Chicago Walking Tours

Whenever we visit a new city we love to do a walking tour to get to know a little about the history of the city and really get a feel for where we our.  The small group settings and knowledgeable guides are great for learning more about a city. Often times they can be a little pricy for an hour or two, but we stumbled upon Inside Chicago Walking Tours via Livingsocial and tried it out.  We loved our tour with Hillary and it was totally worth her rates!  Although this is a new company the guide has done her research and only gives information she has verified as well as awesome notes she has come across during her research.  She is also an entertaining speaker so even if history isn’t your thing you will enjoy what she has to say.  Check her out,  you won’t be disappointed.  There is currently a deal on Livingsocial where new accounts get $10 off their first purchase of $20 or more.  Click here to get that deal and then here to get 2 tickets for $20!


10.  Lincoln Park Zoo

Although we didn’t get a chance to visit, the Lincoln Park zoo is worth mentioning in any post about cheap things in Chicago.  This FREE zoo is located north of the city, but is easily accessible via CTA busses.  Parking is expensive, so really consider taking the bus and not having to deal with the cost or traffic.  It’s a great place to spend the day.  Find out more here.


I hope you find these tips helpful.  Please let me know if you used any of them or, if you have suggestions of your own please add them in the comments.  We plan to return to the city at some point and will need new ideas!