Save Money on Toiletries and Personal Care Products

The subject of food poverty is regularly highlighted in the media and, during the cost-of-living crisis, many of us, sadly, understand the reality behind the headlines. We’ve all felt the pinch, particularly when paying for the weekly shop.

The UK is currently facing another type of poverty that - while scarily real and devastating - is rarely talked about.
Hygiene poverty affects 3.1 million people in the UK.
The reported effects of hygiene poverty are nothing short of sobering.

Data gathered from Hygiene Bank’s 2022 report revealed that:

  • 48% of those experiencing hygiene poverty felt too embarrassed to ask for help.
  • 61% said it has had a negative impact on their mental health.
  • 32% stated that their child’s performance at school had suffered as a result.
  • 1 in 8 people avoided going for a job interview because of hygiene poverty.
  • A third admitted to feeling lonely and isolated.
  • 9% had gone without baby wipes or nappies.
  • 31% of women surveyed stated that their household had gone without sanitary products.

Think about the effect this could have on someone.

We all have those days where we just feel a bit low and under the weather. As cliched as it sounds, sometimes it really does help to have a nice shower, spray on our favourite perfume or aftershave, style our freshly-washed hair, and maybe dab on a bit of make-up.
Feeling confident and good about ourselves can make the world of difference to our mood.

Like food poverty, hygiene poverty could affect any of us at any time.

More needs to be done to raise awareness of hygiene poverty. We need to acknowledge that there is a problem and break down the stigma surrounding it.

From toilet roll and shampoo to toothpaste and deodorant, toiletries are essential items nobody should be going without. Showering, brushing teeth, and leaving your house with confidence are not luxuries, they are a right.

Thankfully, an array of charities and schemes have been set up to tackle the rising issue of hygiene poverty. There are a growing number of ways for people to access free toiletries, as well as tips on how to make your existing supplies last that bit longer.

Hygiene Banks

Organisations and charities such as The Hygiene Bank, Beauty Banks, and the Bare Necessities accept donations of unused toiletries and dispense them at various approved drop-off points (food banks, family centres, and NHS Trusts, to name a few examples), where they are distributed to those who need them the most.

Donated items may include:

  • Toothbrushes/toothpaste.
  • Nappies.
  • Sanitary products.
  • Razors and shaving cream.
  • Make-up.
  • Laundry powder and conditioner.

If you are issued a food bank voucher, you should be able to request hygiene products, if they are available.

If you are not already using a food bank but need help, you can get a referral from your GP, housing association, or social worker. It may be possible for Citizens Advice to offer you a referral – further information can be found on their website.

Free sanitary products

It is utterly non-negotiable that women and girls should have access to sanitary products.

Local councils and sexual health and contraception clinics will often be able to direct women in the right direction to obtain free sanitary products. This may include food banks, women’s refuges, hostels, and refugee and asylum centres.

The Period Products Scheme was launched in 2020, and offers free sanitary products to every state-funded high school and college in England. 97% of secondary schools have made use of the scheme since it was introduced.
How schools distribute products varies. Some keep items in a welfare room, while others may place them in the toilets. Speak to your school’s welfare officer, nurse, or a trusted teacher to find out more.
If your local school does not appear to offer this service, it may be an idea to draw their attention to the scheme.

If you’re in Scotland, you can download the PickUpMyPeriod app. The app will search your local area for pick-up points where you can access free sanitary supplies.

Wash your hair less

Shampoo and conditioner can be expensive to buy, especially when replacing regularly.
One way to make your bottles last longer is by washing your hair less.

It is generally recommended that hair is washed every two to three days, although this does of course vary, depending on your hair type. Those with a thicker mane may be able to leave it longer.

If you’re an everyday washer and are wanting to cut back on this without your hair looking greasy, you can actually train your tresses to go longer between washes!
Start by leaving out the shampoo and conditioner and simply rinsing with water instead, and then progress onto not washing it at all. Your hair will quickly adapt to its new routine, helping you to keep hold of that shampoo supply for as long as possible.

As regular shampooing can strip your hair of its natural oils, you may even find that your locks feel better, too.

Get store cupboard stunning!

We all deserve to pamper ourselves, regardless of our monetary situation. The great news is that we can feel fabulous… for free!

Did you know that you can actually discover some of the beauty industry’s best-kept secrets in the depths of your kitchen cupboard? Seriously, it’s true!

Pricey eyelash serum? Forget it! Simply use your fingertip to dab a small amount of olive oil onto your lashes every night, and rinse thoroughly in the morning.
Olive oil contains fatty acids that may help to promote healthy growth.

Extortionate hair mask, promising to give your tresses ‘salon-worthy’ shine? Give it a miss! You can create a natural, effective hair mask from kitchen essentials, such as rice and eggs.

The next time you’re baking and require egg yolk, be sure to save the whites. Lather the whites into your scalp, wrap in a towel, and leave for 15-20 minutes before shampooing and conditioning as usual.
Egg whites are teaming with protein, which – when applied directly - may contribute to hair growth, tame frizz, and even help ease the symptoms of dry scalp.

Alternatively, soak a cup of rice in three cups of water for an hour. Drain the rice and retain the water. Shampoo, then massage the rice water through the length of your hair. Leave for up to 20 minutes, and wash off. Follow with a slick of conditioner.
Rice water is made up of starch and various vitamins, all of which may strengthen hair and promote growth and shine.

For a low-cost homemade facial, try applying turmeric.
Turmeric includes antioxidants which may give your skin a natural glow. Never leave turmeric on your skin for longer than 15 minutes, as it does have a tendency to stain!

Alternatively, you could use those leftover egg yolks from your homemade hair mask to create a calming face pack. Mixed with honey, olive oil, and oatmeal, this recipe claims to hydrate your skin while reducing the signs of aging.

Although it might not suit all skin types, baking powder can be used as a natural alternative to deodorant. This method should be approached with caution, as the alkaline nature of baking powder may cause skin irritation.

A penny-sized amount of baking powder – applied to your toothbrush with water to form a paste - may also be used to whiten teeth by removing stains.

Remember to apply a small amount of whatever you intend to use to your skin before you go ahead and use the whole thing. This is called ‘patch testing,’ and will give you an indication of how well your skin will accept the mixture.
Leave the test on your skin for a few minutes, and rinse immediately if you experience any discomfort. You should wait for around 24-48 hours to see if you react to the mixture.

Discounts you can depend on

Cutting back on toiletry spends doesn’t mean that we have to compromise the quality of the products we use.
Our favourite, trusted items can be bought at discount shops and even online for a fraction of the prices being charged at your standard stores.

Item Boots Savers
Lynx Epic Fresh Grapefruit & Tropical Pineapple Roll-on Deodorant for men (50ml) £2.40 £1.49
Dove Pomegranate Roll-on Deodorant (50ml) £1.80 £1.45
Pampers Newborn Size 1 Nappies (22 pack) Currently on offer at £4.00, but usually priced at £5.00 £3.99
Johnson’s Baby Cotton Buds (200 pack) £1.50 £1.19
Maybelline Great Lash Mascara in Blackest Black £6.99 £4.65
Paracetamol (16 pack) £0.49 £0.39

Prices correct as of 17th August 2023.

eBay is also a good place to bag a beauty bargain. Long gone are the days when eBay was simply a second-hand site! There are many genuine sellers offering legitimate, brand-new health and beauty buys at cut prices. Be sure to filter the ‘new’ option into the ‘condition’ menu when browsing.
For example, we found L’Oreal’s Magic Root Retouch spray in Dark Brown for £5.99 (free delivery) on eBay. Boots stock the exact same product for £9.99.

Listings and prices regularly change on eBay, so don’t feel disheartened if you can’t spot your desired items straight away. It might be an idea to use eBay’s ‘saved searches’ tool, which will trigger email alerts when new items matching your previous searches are listed.

Membership magic

If you live in a rural area, don’t drive, or are not confident in online ordering, it might not always be possible for you to take advantage of stores such as Savers, or reap the rewards of eBay. Fortunately, there are still ways you can save money by shopping at mainstream high street shops.

A Boots Advantage Card allows you to collect 3 points for every £1 you spend either instore or online. Build up points and check your balance either at the till or via your online account. You can then use your points to pay for items, just as long as the overall amount of points covers the price of the purchase.
Becoming an Advantage Card member will also allow you access to select discounts, and a free magazine, which can be picked up in store or found digitally online. The Boots Health & Beauty Magazine often contains handy coupons for an array of products, which you may find useful.
You can sign up for your free Advantage Card here.

You can also register for a Superdrug Health & Beauty card for free. Simply pick up a card in-store and register it online. As well as earning 1 point for every £1 spent, members also get a surprise treat on their birthday, exclusive lower prices on select products, and special offers every Thursday.

The Body Shop’s Love Your Body club grants 15% off your first purchase after joining and rewards you with a £5 voucher once you hit 500 points. You earn 10 points for every £1 you spend.
Celebrating your birthday? The Body Shop also send their members a £5 voucher on their special day!
You can sign up for free online here.

Savvy stock-ups

Your go-to laundry detergent half-price? Grab two!

Buy one item, get another half-price on your most-loved make-up brand? Pick up that second item, even if you don’t need it just yet.

Stocking up on your favourite products when you can and taking advantage of offers could really help keep you stocked up for longer, as well as ease the burden of forking out further down the line.

Waste not, want not

Make use of every last drop of your toiletries to really prolong their lifespan.

Store bottles upside-down, fill almost-empty handwash with water and shake to release the remaining residue at the bottom, and add a few drops of warm water to that nearly-empty mascara tube to loosen the last of the product.

Sample stars

Look out for free samples.

There is absolutely no shame in asking in-store beauty counter staff for free samples of products you are interested in - after all, the worst they can say is no. Some counters and brands don’t offer samples, but some create minis for this very reason.
A sample-sized foundation tub might be just enough to tide you over until payday.

Have you heard of Click Research?
Click Research is a free-to-join global site, offering samples in exchange for an honest questionnaire about the product.

Anybody over the age of 18 can sign up with Click Research (those between the ages of 16 and 18 can also join, but only with permission from their parent or guardian).

Once you join, you will be matched with appropriate trials and, if successful, free samples will be sent directly to your door.
Samples may include items from big-name brands such as Liz Earl and The Body Shop! You get to keep every product you are sent, and will never be charged to take part.

In addition to this, you can also take part in online surveys, which equate to 25-200 ‘clicks.’ When you collect 2,500 ‘clicks,’ you can claim £25!

It’s also worth mentioning that all Click Research products are against the testing of animals.

(Body) mist-ifying savings!

Perfume is hard to live without, but boy, does it come at a cost!

Are you a once-a-day spritzer, or do you carry your perfume around in your bag and top-up your scent throughout the day?

If the latter is you, have you considered using body sprays and mists instead?

You could apply your perfume in the morning as usual, and then use a cheaper alternative to keep you feeling fresh. This way, you are preserving your favourite perfume for longer, and as a result, extending the time between having to fork out for a new bottle.

Body mists can be purchased for as little as £1 from shops like Savers.

You are not alone

Finding yourself in a position where you are unable to cover the cost of essential items can be really frightening, but please remember that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to feel ashamed. As we said earlier, poverty of any kind can happen to anybody. Lives can change overnight, and people have become more understanding of this sombre fact as the cost-of-living crisis has taken a hold in the UK.

Please know that help is always available, and you do not need to suffer in silence. Reaching out is the first step towards gaining back your confidence and taking steps towards living the life you deserve.

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