How to Do Hair on a Budget

Updated on October 31, 2019
Alyssa Nichol profile image

Alyssa is a wife, mom, and coffee enthusiast who loves sharing her favorite lifestyle tips with the world.

Gorgeous hair for less!
Gorgeous hair for less!

Everyone wants to look their best, but the world of beauty can be both expensive and confusing. This is especially true when it comes to hair.

I spent a good amount of time and money in the salon during my early 20s. I was young, blonde, and full of attitude.

With age comes wisdom, and as I got older, I realized the ridiculous amount of money I was spending on my hair. There had to be a better, more budget-friendly way.

I had reached a level of adulthood where I needed to be more financially savvy, stick to a budget, and figure out how to look good for less. What I learned is that price is not always indicative of quality. I got creative, experimented with different products, and found a way to look good without spending a ton of money.

Where there's a will, there's a way.

I've been doing my own hair for seven years now, and I get more compliments now than I ever did before, and it's easy on the bank account. It is possible to look and feel amazing without breaking the bank.

I've compiled a list of my favorite budget-friendly hair products, whether you're a salon gal or more of a do-it-yourself free-spirit.

This article includes recommendations of the best:

  • shampoos,
  • conditioners,
  • coloring kits,
  • dry shampoo, and
  • hair sprays.

Best Shampoos

Shampoos are meant to clean the hair, and for the most part, it doesn't matter what brand you use. However, there are a few factors to keep in mind when shopping.

If you color your hair, it's important to choose a product that isn't going to strip your color and potentially waste a bunch of your money.

If you have dry hair, you will want to look for a product that has a humectant in it to lock in moisture.

If your hair is brittle, damaged, or broken, look for a shampoo with Keratin protein to help strengthen your strands. It can get pricey, but there is no reason to spend $20 or more. There are plenty of inexpensive brands that have salon quality without the hefty price-tag.

Save a little money by purchasing one of the brands below. Then put the extra money you saved toward a specialized treatment or mask.

My Picks

  • John Frieda has options for blondes, brunettes, and even redheads! These shampoos are formulated to keep your color fresh and beautiful.
  • TREsemmé is my favorite brand to keep my red hair vibrant and gorgeous. This brand was originally developed as an affordable salon brand that delivered amazing results. Their tag line is "used by professionals," and their price point is spot on!
  • Suave has a wide range of shampoos available for every haircare need. Their professional line is amazing. The Moroccan Infusion Shine is perfect for dry or damaged hair. The Keratin Infusion will help strengthen and transform brittle strands. I also love the Color Protection shampoo to help keep my red hair fiery.
  • Selsun Blue is my go-to for a dry, itchy scalp. I always have a bottle of the medicated max strength in my shower. My husband and I both use it to soothe our scalps and keep flakes at bay. It's a must during winter, spring, and fall.

Suave is a quality brand.
Suave is a quality brand.

Best Conditioners

Conditioner is the most important thing, especially if you have long hair or are looking to grow out your hair. This is the product that will keep your tresses hydrated, smooth, soft, and silky. Choosing a conditioner can be tricky, and the right product for you will depend on your hair type and your hair goals.

Most of the time, you can pair your conditioner with your shampoo. For example, if you purchase the Suave Moroccan Infusion shampoo, you can safely pair it with the conditioner for best results. If you are looking to keep your color vibrant and beautiful, you can easily pair the John Frieda or TREsemmé conditioner match to your shampoo selection.

However, sometimes you might want to switch it up depending on your needs. I have long, thick hair. My secret for keeping my strands soft and silky is using a deep conditioner in place of a regular conditioner. This makes maintaining my hair so much easier.

If you have short or medium length hair, you might only need to use a deep conditioner once a week or a few times a month. If you are looking to grow your hair out, this might be a good trick to use to dial back the need for hair cuts and trims.

My Picks

  • L'oréal Color Vibrancy Intensive Post-Color Repair Mask is my favorite. I use this product every time I wash my hair, in place of my regular conditioner. It keeps my long, thick hair soft and silky, and keeps tangles at a minimum. It also keeps my red looking vibrant. The only downfall is that it is hard to find in stores. I have had the most luck finding it at Kroger.
  • Garnier has many hair care products available. I love the Whole Blends Argan Oil and Cranberry Extracts because it helps keep strands silky and keeps your color looking amazing.
  • Aussie is another fantastic budget-friendly brand with many product options. Their 3-Minute Miracle Moist Conditioner is amazing! It will transform dry, damaged strands in one use, and the scent is heavenly.
  • OGX is also amazing. Again, they have a variety of products for every hair need. I love their Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco conditioner for extra hydration and moisture. My favorite is the quenching Sea Mineral Moisture conditioner. Not only does it infuse your tresses with moisture and hydration, but it smells like the beach.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
You can see from the bottle that I love TREsemmé.Deep conditioner is my secret for long, luscious locks.
You can see from the bottle that I love TREsemmé.
You can see from the bottle that I love TREsemmé.
Deep conditioner is my secret for long, luscious locks.
Deep conditioner is my secret for long, luscious locks.

Hair Dyes

Hair color is a hot topic, especially when you start diving into the DIY options. I've been on both sides: I was a salon snob who thought that doing your own hair color was completely ridiculous. I was also the girl who experimented with many different colors and hair dye brands. I've gone back and forth a few times, but ultimately I'm of the opinion that you have to do what is best for you.

If you have the money to spend and you want the whole luxury experience, go for it! But, if you don't have the extra funds to spend on coloring, you absolutely can achieve beautiful results at home, doing it yourself, for a fraction of the cost. I'm a testament to that.

With all of that said, here is my disclaimer. If you want to go blonde, I highly suggest going to the salon. I would not attempt blonde at home. There is so much that can go wrong when you attempt blonde on your own. In the end, you might spend more money having your hair fixed than if you had just gone to the salon at the start. Please also note that having blonde hair can get pricey, depending on your shade, how fast your hair grows, and your opinion on dark roots.

However, if you are looking to try a brunette shade or you want to go bold with a fiery red, there are plenty of options for you to consider.

Red can also be a difficult shade. Many hairstylists shy away from it because it fades quickly. When I was going to the salon, I had to convince my stylist to dye all of my hair red. To be fair, her brand of red dye was beautiful, but it did fade quickly. When I decided to branch out on my own, it took several months for me to find the red that I was after. I did find it, and now it's my signature color.


If you want to go blonde, I highly suggest going to the salon. I would not attempt blonde at home.

My Pick:

  • Garnier is the only brand I recommend. I've used it for seven years and I love it. I specifically use the Nutrisse Ultra Color - Red Hibiscus - R3 - Light Intense Auburn. It is a quality product and the only red I've tried that does not fade. I have used the Olia line: The red was just as vibrant, the solution made my hair super soft, but the red faded pretty quickly to a duller shade. I wasn't impressed so I simply went back to the original.
  • Garnier has many color options to choose from, and if you go to their website, you can take a survey that will help you choose your best shade.

My signature color.
My signature color.

Dry Shampoo

I have a confession: I do not wash my hair every day. But let's be honest, does any girl? When you have long hair, the last thing you want to do is wash it, even when it needs it. Dry shampoo is a girl's best friend. With the right one, you can easily go three to five days without washing your hair. This will save your color, save you time, and potentially increase your overall happiness.

My Picks

  • Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Texturizing dry shampoo is amazing. I was sold on the scent. It's toasted coconut and just reminds you of summer and the beach. It doesn't leave a white residue and will help you achieve a tousled, carefree look. I love it!
  • TREsemmé Fresh Start Basic dry shampoo is also one of my favorites. It's inexpensive, doesn't leave a white residue, and revives your hair.

This is a must for every girl who loves summer!
This is a must for every girl who loves summer!

Hair Sprays

Last, but not least on my list is hair spray. I love a good hair spray. I'm a huge fan of the seductive, tantalizing scents. However, I cannot justify spending $15-$20 on a product, when I could purchase a product equally as amazing for much less. My favorite is only a few dollars and holds my style no matter the weather.

My Picks

  • Rave 4X Mega unscented is my go-to. It's a few dollars at Wal-Mart and holds my style, even in the rain. It's amazing! Several years ago, it was my husband who actually convinced me to get this when I was standing in the hair aisle, debating on a hair spray. His grandmother was a professional hairstylist and he explained to me that this was her preferred choice for many years. After him-hawing for a few minutes, I finally decided to try it. Now it's my preferred choice.
  • Aussie is one of my favorites because of the scent. Every one of their hairsprays leaves your hair smelling like grapes. I love it! The Mega Hair Spray will hold your style in place all day. The Headstrong Volume gives your hair a little boost. This one is perfect to use in conjunction with the one above to achieve an 80's big hair look.

Quality hair spray doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Quality hair spray doesn't have to cost a fortune.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Alyssa


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Alyssa Nichol profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Ohio

      That's very kind. Thank you, Bill! :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      At the risk of sounding creepy, you have stunningly beautiful hair, but I think one factor that cannot be ignored is the fact that there is a beautiful person underneath that hair....that adds to the sheen.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)