5 Ways to Upgrade Your Look for Less

Need a fast, inexpensive way to boost your confidence? Try upgrading your appearance.

When a woman feels confident that she looks her best, it bumps up her self-esteem in other areas of her life, too. But, you don't need to break the bank to finance your beauty boost.  We've got five ways to improve your look for under $20:

1. Whiten your teeth
Flash those pearly whites with confidence by stripping away yellow stains and dinginess with inexpensive over-the-counter whitening strips. There are many brands available at your market or drug store for under $20. It may take several days before you notice any significant difference, but expect a considerably brighter smile in less than two weeks. See your dentist about in-office whitening treatments if you want faster results.

2. Buy new makeup
If you've been using the same makeup colors for more than a few years, it's time for a makeover. Drug store cosmetics are as good (and in some cases better) as more expensive department store brands. To make the biggest impact for under $20, consider a new eye shadow palette and lipstick. While colors have changed, old rules still apply: Play up your best features and go bold for only one part of your total look. For example, go for smoky eyes or red lips (not both) and keep the rest of your makeup subtle.  How do you know which colors will work? Experiment, but start with neutral tones and make your purchases at a store with a generous return policy.

3. Experiment with new hair color
Freshening up your hairstyle with do-it-yourself, out-of-the-box color is a great way to make a big impact. If you've never colored your own hair before, ask an experienced friend to help you. If you're considering a dramatically different color, start with a product that washes out within 20 to 30 shampoos. Once you know you love your new shade, switch to semi-permanent products. Most at-home hair color kits cost between $8 and $15.

4. Get a manicure
Beautifully groomed nails that shine with subtle (or not-so-subtle) color say you're a detail-oriented person who cares about her appearance. Do your own manicure at home or treat yourself to a salon job. Go with classic neutrals, pinks, or reds for a business look, or have fun with pastels, primary colors and gem tones. For less than $20, you can purchase countless DIY manicures with a long-lasting top/base coat combination, a color coat (about $8 per bottle), and some nail polish remover. Expect to pay about $20 (not including tip) per manicure at a professional nail salon.

5. Go shopping in your closet
If you're really looking to save money, re-organize your closet and drawers. Throw away the over-washed t-shirts and stretched-out sweaters and start putting more gently worn clothing into regular rotation. Look for new outfit combinations and ways to give your special-occasion pieces new life in your everyday wardrobe. For instance, try pairing your "dressy" sweater with a pair of jeans to upgrade a casual look or pair a dress with a blazer for a business look. Mix and match and create a new wardrobe out of pieces you already own.