Buy £1 make-up, dye your hair for £6 & rent the runway – Money Saving Mum on how to look a million dollars on a budget

GEMMA Bird barely has a hair out of place, her make-up is immaculate and her wardrobe looks as though it’s come straight out of the pages of Vogue.

But she keeps up-to-date with the latest fashion and beauty trends on a very tight budget – and, in the third of her six-part exclusive money-saving series with Fabulous, reveals how YOU can, too. 

The 39-year-old, who has never earned more than £25,000 a year, says you do not need a Hollywood salary to look like a celebrity.

Gemma, who lives in Billericay, Essex, with husband Adam and their son Brody, eight, and two-year-old daughter Bronte, says: “Like many women It’s so important for me to take care of myself.

“But I refuse to fork out more than I have to on clothes and make-up, there’s so many ways to look your best while being kind to your wallet and I hope my tips will help all the Fabulous fashionista’s finances!”

Gemma, who counts Stacey Solomon as a fan and shares tips on her Instagram, reveals how to get more couture for your cash…

Rent the runway 

Most of us can’t afford to splash out on designer clothes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear them – just hire them instead.

Websites like My Wardrobe HQ, Girl Meets Dress and Hurr are perfect for picking up an extra special outfit if you’ve got a big event coming up.

For example, on My Wardrobe HQ you can borrow a £1,500 YSL suit for just £25 for the day.

A lot of the time, thanks to social media, once you’ve had a photograph in an outfit you won’t want to wear it again anyway so it also helps prevent waste.

And it works both ways – if you have a lot of designer clothes you can use the website to hire your pieces out too and make a bit of extra cash on the side.

Never pay full price for designer gear

If you do want to treat yourself, there’s nothing wrong with that but make sure you’re getting a good deal.

I always head to Bicester Village in Oxfordshire if I am on the hunt for a designer piece. A few years ago I picked up a Gucci bag for £500, rather than £1,500.

There’s loads of designer outlet villages all over the UK such as Braintree Village and Cheshire Oaks so make sure you check those out before you fork out full whack for a high-end piece.

If you do want to treat yourself, there’s nothing wrong with that but make sure you’re getting a good deal

While I might have a few designer pieces I always mix and match them with Primark jeans and a H&M top and a Boohoo jacket – that one expensive piece will elevate the look.

Hunt down designer dupes

I love fashion but I don’t have an endless amount of cash so I’m an expert at spotting designer dupes.

For example, at the moment Primark is stuffed full of Gucci and YSL lookalike shoulder bags, as well as Michael Kors carry-on luggage bags.

Equally I have found an exact match of the studded Valentino heels in bargain shoe shop Linzi Shoes in Lakeside shopping centre, they’re easy to find, you just need to do your research.

I will also search websites for designer matches.

Recently, I fell in love with this gorgeous satin shirt from YSL that cost £340, so I went on to Boohoo and searched ‘satin shirt’ until I found one similar enough for just £13.50.

It means I can look like these high-fashion girls without the extortionate price tag.

Spend money on your base – not on your make-up

I never spend more than £20 a month on my beauty upkeep – all in, whether that’s styling my hair or doing my nails I like to keep the cost down.

I will spend around £30 on my favourite foundation, Double Wear by Estee Lauder, twice a year but I only need to apply it once a day so in the long run it works out cheaper.

Because I’ve got an expensive base I will pick up cheaper bits for the rest of my make-up bag.

My favourite lipstick is Revolution’s Chauffeur, which is a dupe of Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk, and costs me a fiver rather than £25.

My blusher and bronzers comes from Poundland and because I have an expensive foundation as a base it holds the cheap powder and I will buy my mascara depending on where it’s on offer – they’re all the same to me.

Embrace DIY treatments

It’s really important for me to look after my skin and I do try and commit to one facial a week, but there’s no way I’m paying spa prices.

Instead I head to Boots or Superdrug and pick up a tube of a mud mask for around a tenner and I can get ten masks out of that, meaning they’ve cost me £1 each.

And I always make sure I use up every last drop before I buy myself a new one so that nothing goes to waste.

It’s really important for me to look after my skin and I do try and commit to one facial a week, but there’s no way I’m paying spa prices

I colour and style my own hair, I just buy a Nice‘n Easy dye and do it myself at home every few months which costs around £6, whereas having it professionally dyed would cost me hundreds.

While I can’t do my own acrylic nails myself, I will not pay salon prices for the colour, so when I visit the nail shop I ask them for the acrylic infills only and then paint them myself when I get home which saves me about £10 a time.

Stock up while offers are on

I have a few hero products that I can’t live without such as the Olay Lift and Firm serum, but it can be quite pricey.

Last week Boots were offering a buy one get one half price across Olay so I bought four of them, and they will last me about a year at a fraction of the cost.

The same goes with my lashes, I pick those up for a fiver on eBay and you get five sets which is a bargain when you consider one set from Eyelure will set you back £5.

Order from overseas for cheaper products

One of my favourite sites is All Beauty which is based in Guernsey which means that you save money on tax as it’s imported in making the products loads cheaper.

I always get all of my designer perfumes at All Beauty because that’s the cheapest that I’ve ever found them.

Repair don’t replace

If you have ghd straighteners and they break, do not throw them out and spend hundreds getting them replaced.

Instead visit where you can get your stylers fixed for £25 including delivery, which is a fraction of the cost you would pay for new ones.

Get yourself an at-home hairdresser

I hardly ever visit the hairdressers, and that’s because my haircuts only cost me a £12 a pop.

I have an at-home hairdresser, and on the whole they will charge you a great deal less than you would be charged in salons. 

My hairdresser is a friend of a friend, so ask around, you could find you’ve got a bargain beautician on your doorstep.

Previously, Gemma shared her tips for becoming the ultimate money-saving mum.

And Gemma revealed how she saved £10,000 on a £12,000 salary.

Plus Gemma shared how she paid off her £250,000 mortgage on a £25k wage.

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