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Do I really need to spend THAT much on beauty products? Setting a beauty budget

08-08-12  woman spending money

I remember when, after my first trip to the Clinique counter for a free makeover and my first “real” makeup purchases, a girlfriend in my eighth-grade class asked me how much all my new makeup had cost. I can’t remember the exact total (I’d guess it was around $50), but I remember that when I told her, she said, “Jeez, you don’t look THAT good.”

Ah. So clearly we all have different ideas on what makeup should cost.

I used to spend a lot of money on makeup. Now I spend considerably less. But some people would certainly look at how much I spend and say, “You don’t look THAT good.” And you know, that’s fair. Everyone has a different price when it comes to her makeup; here are my thoughts on setting your makeup budget.

Think about how you spend the rest of your money. For some people, makeup is a form of entertainment or recreation. Think about how much you spend on your hobbies or your social life. If you have a limited income (and most of us do), you can’t spend 80 percent of it on makeup and drinks and concert tickets just for funsies. But if you are frugal in other areas (because hey — maybe your makeup is your hobby!) then it makes sense to spend a bit more on your makeup.

Consider how long it’s going to last. Not how long the bottle of product is going to last, but how long the product is going to last on your body. If it’s going straight down the drain — I’m looking at you, face wash — I don’t bother. If the nail polish is going to chip in a day anyway…yep, skip it. If it’s a body oil that’s going to sink into my skin and is going to affect how I look, feel, and smell (as well as what ingredients are going into my bloodstream)…yeah, I’ll buy exactly what I want. I try to only splurge on things that will get me through an entire day.

Birchbox

Think about what products you actually “need.” (Well, no one needs makeup or product, but you know what I mean.) Some women are blessed when it comes to their hair, their skin, or their cuticles. Anything they do is going to seem like it works really well…because they make everything look good! If you have had awesome skin your whole life…and are still thinking that $100 facial lotion is worth it…try switching to a $5 lotion for a few months and see if it matters. If it doesn’t (and it probably won’t) stick with the $5 one.

Figure out if you’re just paying for good marketing. Are you spending more for a label? For high-tech or obscure ingredients? OK…is it worth it, really? I mean, it might be. You might really believe that the Chanel logo on your compact makes the 50 percent markup worth it, or that this “cutting edge” technology in that facial lotion is really making a difference, and that’s fine…but at least be honest with yourself. Figure out whether it’s really making a difference in how you look or if you’re just buying snake oil. 

Ask yourself how good you really look. Maybe my eighth-grade classmate was onto something with her snarky comment. Are you spending $50 on a leave-in conditioner that you know works because it has changed your hair (and therefore your life)? Or are you spending $50 a month trying new conditioners and realizing that they all work about the same (which isn’t very well)? Personally, I wouldn’t spend more than $10 on a product that didn’t get me compliments or second looks when I wore it.

How much money are you comfortable spending on makeup? How do you figure out a makeup budget?

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Rachel Wilkerson
By: Rachel Wilkerson

Rachel Wilkerson writes the blog The Life & Lessons of Rachel Wilkerson, where she covers those "getting it" moments when a light bulb goes off and suddenly everything makes sense. Whether it's a new way to get motivated to work out or the new gadget she never knew she always wanted, she loves sharing her lessons with other people in a straight-up, no-BS kinda way. Her work has been featured on Shape.com and she is a panelist for U by Kotex's Real Answers. When she's not writing, downward dogging, drinking tequila, or writing about downward dogging and drinking tequila, she works full-time as a community manager for a hip little online entertainment company in Houston. She and her boyfriend recently bought a juicer and are officially addicted.

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