I Thought I Couldn’t Afford Expensive Beauty Treatments… Here’s How I Hacked It

These days, it feels like there’s ALWAYS some ~hot new beauty treatment~ that everyone’s buzzing about — and honestly, I can’t keep up. I had just gotten the hang of a classic no-chip manicure, and then I was told I just HAD to switch to powder dip. I was in a routine of facials (and by that I mean I got one once — who am I, Rockefeller?), and then suddenly the world wouldn’t shut up about the Kardashian-approved vampire facials instead.

Whether you keep up with beauty trends or not, it can feel REALLY overwhelming to hear about all the different beauty treatments available to us. There’s waxing, threading, lasering, filling, massaging, polishing, extending, scrubbing, cleansing, extracting, curling, tightening, dipping, coloring, bleaching, taming, trimming, tanning, spraying… how is anyone supposed to keep up with all that!?

Thankfully, it’s 2018, and there’s no right or wrong way to define beauty. You could go treatment-free for life, as long as you feel confident and true to yourself. As much as I admire that, though, that ain’t me — I loooove a good beauty treatment, and I love learning about new ways to look and feel my best.

But of course, once you’ve decided what treatments you want to commit to, the number one fun-sucker of our lives jumps in: money. How does one pay for the maintenance and upkeep? Honestly, expensive beauty treatments have never been in my budget — until I discovered the ultimate hack.

You already know about Groupon as a way to buy restaurant gift cards, book an escape room night out with your coworkers, or even find cheap fitness classes — but Groupon is also a one-stop destination for making expensive beauty treatments WAY more affordable.

I made a list of beauty treatments I’m interested in trying, then I scoured Groupon to see where I could try each treatment in my city — and the results were INSANE. You want to try microdermabrasion? There’s a Groupon for that. You’ve been hearing about salt caves and want to know what all the fuss is about? There’s a Groupon for that, too. You’ve been getting your eyebrows waxed for the last 10 years and want to finally try microblading instead? You guessed it — there’s a Groupon for that.

This month, I tried four beauty treatments at various salons and studios around my home city of Chicago — and I saved almost $1,500. Here, I break down what I picked, how my treatments went, if I’d pay for them again, and how you can save some serious hard-earned cash too.

 

Laser Hair Removal (Brazilian Bikini)

 

I should probably start by telling you that I tend to be a tad high-maintenance. I am a creature of habit and comfort, and the thought of removing hair from the most sensitive part of my body has never appealed to me. I’ve been a lifelong shaver, I’ve never had a bikini wax, and I had genuinely never considered laser removal — I thought it would be way too expensive and way too painful. WRONG.

The Groupon I found was for three laser hair removal sessions on a medium-sized area (there were also Groupon options for small and large areas as well — Groupon had a handy chart to tell you which body parts count as which size area). I made a lot of jokes about how I was excited to turn into a hairless naked mole rat — but on the inside, I was insanely nervous for the treatment.

I honestly had no idea what to expect, so I ended up doing a lotttt of research on laser Brazilians — how to prepare, what it would feel like, etc. I read a lot of conflicting reviews about what it feels like, but I was expecting a forceful zap of hot pain (along with some rubbing… not sure why I expected rubbing).

For more info on the safety and effectiveness of laser hair removal, I recommend this article from Medical News Today.

 

How I Prepared

 

The day before your laser appointment, you HAVE to closely shave the entire area. Laser hair removal only works on fresh shaved skin. The laser seeks out the contrast of the follicle (it’s looking for the pigment of each individual hair), so it’s imperative that you come in prepared (Some places will make you reschedule if your shave isn’t clean enough). Additionally, I read that you should calm yourself down so you won’t tense up physically. Therefore, I also prepared by taking a shot and a half of whiskey. Do I recommend this? Honestly, yes — it helped ease my nerves a lot.

 

 

How It Went

 

The spa I went to (SpaDerma in Lincoln Park, Chicago) was incredibly clean, professional, and comforting. I had to fill out some paperwork (this is a medical procedure, after all), then I was taken to a private room that looked a lot like a doctor’s examination room. The technician told me to remove everything from the waist down (“Can I keep my socks on?”) and cover myself back up on the table with a sheet. I did as I was told, then she returned and told me exactly what to expect. She gave me one of those stress ball things to squeeze, then I laid back so we could get started.

How’s the pain, you may ask. It’s interesting. It honestly DID hurt more than I was expecting — it kind of feels like a very hot suction cup is sucking on your skin (but not in like, a sexy way). The bursts of pain are VERY quick — it’s literally just a zap from a laser, repeatedly. I’m incredibly ticklish, so the whole experience made me very squirmy. Thankfully, though, it was super quick — I was in and out of the treatment room in under 10 minutes.

You can only get lasered about every 6 weeks (as the hair follicles need to go through their ~growth cycle~ again before you can zap them), so I still have two more appointments to go out of my three. Will the three treatments be enough to rid me of hair-down-there? Maybe — some people see complete results after just a few treatments, but some (with light hair, in particular) require up to about nine treatments. Your technician will be able to consult with you about how many sessions you’ll need based on your skin type, hair color, and hair texture.

That being said, I haven’t technically seen results yet, but the growing-back-in hair IS noticeably softer and much easier to shave.

 

Would I recommend?

 

HECK. YES. Like I said, I can’t technically speak to an end result — but the quick amount of pain was absolutely worth the results I’m sure I will see after a few more sessions. It does hurt, but it’s certainly not unmanageable — and since it’s so quick, you can ALMOST forget it happened (just in time to go back and be reminded again). Would I pay full price for this? Probably not. But $119 to forget about shaving for awhile? Count me in. What body part can I do next!?

 

 

Gel Manicure

 

I know you love getting your nails done — so do I. There’s just something about a fresh manicure that makes me feel about 10 times more put-together — but bimonthly trips to the nail salon can take a real toll on your wallet. Thankfully, it doesn’t HAVE to be like that. SO many salons offer Groupon deals on gel, powder dip, and acrylics — so there’s no need to pay full price.

 

How I Prepared

 

I am literally addicted to gel manicures, so I already had one on my nails when I went in. Gel is hard to remove on your own, but the professionals make it look easy. I honestly did nothing to prepare (except get myself excited for some discounted pampering!!).

 

How It Went

 

Like I said, gel manicures are nothing new for me. You go in, pick a color from the specific gel colors (they’re different from the bottles you have at home), and then sit down. The technician first files, removes cuticles, and buffs your nails, then he or she will start applying the color. Typically, a gel mani consists of one coat of clear gel, two to three coats of color, then another top coat of clear gel. After each coat, you place your whole hand under an LED light for 60 seconds — I don’t understand the science of how this works, but it dries your nails so quickly and effectively. Once all your coats are done, there’s ZERO drying time — you can go back to your normal life/routine the second you walk out of the salon.

 

 

Would I recommend?

 

YES. You already know you love manicures — there’s NO reason to pay full price for them. For me, a gel manicure usually lasts almost three weeks — and that time limit comes from nail growth, not from chipping.

 

 

Hydrafacial

 

I’ve only ever had one facial before in my life — after a lifelong battle with my skin, I’ve been afraid to mess with it too much (and afraid to allow someone that close to it without makeup). I used to feel like facials were designed for rich people who already had good skin, but upon further research, that assumption is obviously wrong. I have hormonal cystic acne and some severe subsequent scarring — problems I honestly didn’t believe could be solved by the holistic hands of a facialist. Thankfully, though, there are people who DO make it their mission to effectively treat all kinds of skin types — meaning there is truly a facial out there for everyone.

Hydrafacials are relatively new forms of your classic facial. Basically, a high-tech hydrafacial tool is simultaneously infusing your skin with various serums AND sucking gross stuff out of your pores. I had seen videos of people getting it done on Instagram, and I wondered if it would help my poor congested pores.

 

How I Prepared

 

I use a prescription Retin-A-Micro daily, but I had to stop using that for three days prior to my appointment. Additionally, I was advised against at-home exfoliation for the days leading up, and I was told to overall be gentle to my skin. The morning of my facial I was thankfully working from home, so I wore cozy sweats and zero makeup. ~pampering~

 

How It Went

 

First of all, the woman who performed my hydrafacial was one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable women I have ever met. She is so very passionate about skincare, and I would honestly trust her with my life after meeting her. She asked me in-depth questions about my skin, my routine, my past routine, my needs, my desires, my dreams and goals, and just about everything else relating to my skin that you can think of. I love meeting people who are so clearly doing what they were meant to do — Crystal at SkinSmartRX is one of those people. She explained to me that while a hydrafacial is an incredible procedure and would help my active pimples, the scarring on my face could benefit from microneedling instead. I appreciated her honesty — but was glad to hear that she thought my skin could benefit from the treatment.

I laid back in an examination chair (like at the dentist) while Crystal first steamed my pores, then began. She used the hydrafacial tool to perform various steps of the routine — double cleansing, exfoliating, toning, and treating. The tool gives a weird sensation — I had read that it felt similar to a cold paintbrush on your skin. That’s not necessarily wrong, but I do think it’s a little harsher than that. The tool is really digging in to your skin, so it’s not exactly a pleasant sensation. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not super comfortable either. Overall, however, it was a very relaxing experience.

The best part? When Crystal let me see the result of the treatment. Basically, the solution that is used to suck the crap out of your pores goes into a beaker, so there’s a beaker full of used solution and gunk leftover at the end. Looking at it was similar to looking at the results of a pore strip — super gross, but super satisfying.

 

That floating stuff was INSIDE MY SKIN.

 

Would I recommend?

 

Yes and no. First of all, I left the treatment VERY red. I was just going back home to work, so I’m glad I didn’t have to try to cover it. Thankfully, however, the redness was very short-lived. The treatment itself is incredible — but I would highly recommend chatting with an aesthetician and/or dermatologist beforehand to see if it’s good for your skin type. After having my pores sucked, I felt a bit like some excess oil was brought to the surface — I woke up the next morning with a smattering of new whiteheads.

This could be a PMS-induced coincidence, and my coworkers all assured me the next day that I looked GLOWING. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from the treatment, but I would encourage some careful consideration to decide if it’s worth the time and money (but if you’re interested in trying it out, at least Groupon offers the option of a much cheaper first try!!).

 

 

Eyelash Extensions

 

My natural eyelashes are COMICALLY short. I’ve never loved them — and I’ve also never loved having heavy mascara on them either. I have bad allergies (I am really airing all my bodily dirty laundry here, aren’t I?), so I rub my eyes A LOT. I also physically hate the act of taking off eye makeup — why is it so damn hard!?

All of that adds up to mean that I am a PERFECT candidate for eyelash extensions — longer, fuller lashes without any makeup!? I couldn’t hit “Purchase Groupon” fast enough.

 

How I Prepared

 

You’re not supposed to wear eye makeup or contacts to the appointment, so I strolled into Milita Advanced Skincare wearing sweats and my glasses (#hot).

 

How It Went

 

If I’m being honest, I was a real hot mess for this appointment. The night before had been filled with wine and tacos, so I was running a taddd bit late — only to discover that the spa had just moved locations, and I had gone to the wrong one. After I finally arrived at the correct location, my technician had me fill out some paperwork, then walked me through the process.

How did it feel? Huh, funny you should ask — I literally don’t know how it felt, because I fell SOUND asleep on the table. You lay on your back in a cozy warm room, and the technician has you close your eyes. She taped down my lower lashes, then with the soft touch of a unicorn kitten from heaven, she gently applied my extensions. It was so intensely relaxing, I fell asleep almost instantly. It was like the best nap I ever took — I fell asleep slightly hungover with short little lashes, and I woke up with gorgeous Gisele-worthy fringe and a newly reduced headache. Thank you, Milita.

My lashes should last about two to three weeks, at which point I’m supposed to go back in for a fill. I had told myself that this was a one-time thing, but I love the results so much that I just might have to make a habit of it.

 

 

Would I recommend?

 

You better freaking believe it!! I cannot overstate how big of a difference these lashes made. I had originally signed up for just a normal full set, but the technician recommended a volume partial set — she said it would give me a nice big difference while still appearing natural. I think she’s right, and I can’t wait to take these bad boys out on the town.

 

 

Moral of the story: there are WAY too many beauty treatments out there for one person to keep up with — but a tight budget shouldn’t be the reason you don’t try. I highly recommend scouting out the Groupon beauty section to find affordable EFFECTIVE treatments in your hometown — you’re going to find a new favorite, give yourself a fun upgrade, and save some cash in the process (score!).

Share your own favorite #GrouponMoments on Instagram by tagging @Groupon — I can’t wait to see!!

 

This post is sponsored by Groupon, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. 

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