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How-To: Keep Your Beauty Spending Under Control

Ever buy a beauty product, only to get home and ask yourself, "Why did I buy this?!" It happens to just about all of us. (I rue the purchase of a Chanel concealer, which sits as an unused symbol of $30 down the drain.) Even though it's fun to create a primping arsenal, it's not so much fun if your clutter—or credit card bill—is out of control. If you find yourself shopping and regretting it later, these ideas should help you stay within your budget. For seven money-saving tips,


Don't shop when you're depressed. This should go without saying. Sure, treating yourself to a new goodie can be a temporary pick-me-up, but avoid the makeup counter if you've just been dumped/fired/yelled at. When you're feeling down, you're more susceptible to sales pitches.

Pass up gifts with purchase. I know, I know: But you get so many free goodies! Sure you do. But chances are, you don't need another vinyl makeup bag and a random lipstick. Plus, most of these promotions encourage you to spend more than you might intend to. You think, "Well, if I spend just seven dollars more, I get the free lip gloss!" If you're spending more to get something you don't need in the first place, you're not making the most out of your money.

Pay only with cash. When you do decide to buy something, pay with cash. Not with your debit card. Not with a check. With cash. This way, you'll physically see how you're spending your money, and you won't be as quick to part with it.

Budget for your beauty. Allow yourself to spend a certain amount of money on beauty products each month — $20, $50, $100, whatever is a comfortable fit for your financial situation. Better to plan a little bit than to blow your budget entirely with unplanned expenses.

Shop only for what you need. Don't buy a new shampoo until the old one is nearly gone. Don't buy a pink lipstick if you already have one at home. Don't buy something just because it's on sale, either; make sure you'll really use it before you buy it.

Know your shopping habits. Certain friends can be well-meaning enablers. ("Oh, you should get it — it's your color!") If that's the case with your friend, consider taking a break from hitting the beauty counters — or simply explain that you're just window shopping this time around.

If you do need something, be clear about it. Sometimes you really do need a new product. In this case, go to the makeup counter and say, "I'm looking for an eye cream today." Politely make it clear that you're not in the market for other items.


Join The Conversation
Sherrilee Sherrilee 7 years
I may be late because it's 2010 but I sure do appreciate these tips especially about the gift purchases. Thank you.
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
I make a list before I go near a makeup counter - like, I want a green eyeshadow and an orange shadow and a good concealer. Then, I have a rough idea of what I'm looking for and if I don't find it (or an acceptable substitute), then I won't buy. I do refill on things in advance if they're on sale (hair stuff mostly, because I can kill a bottle of shampoo or conditioner in three weeks or less). I always pay with cash - although I find that it's best not to think about how the GBP (I'm living in the UK at the moment) translates into US dollars, otherwise I'd never buy anything, including food. Also, I use makeup-shopping (other than dire necessities, like my standard concealer/powder/moisturizer) as a "reward" for having done my work for the week, or for writing a really good essay or something like that.
axlsmom axlsmom 9 years
I used to be one of those girls who would just go to the makeup counter and buy stuff because I felt embarassed about trying stuff then walking away without buying anything at all. At the same time I was young and earning money, I was single (hah lethal combination)and a major cosmetic junkie. Before I knew it I had about 3 large boxes full of makeup! Now that I'm a mom and know better I only buy what I need, and am happy to report that I only own one lipstick, 2 lip glosses, one small pan of eyeshadow, 2 small pots of gel liner, 2 twist up liners, one bronzer and one blush, one bottle of foundation, a small pot of concealer and one powder compact. Talk about a major turn around on my spending habits!
pixelhaze pixelhaze 9 years
My worst beauty regret was when one of those kiosk salesmen at the mall grabbed me and wouldn't let me go. That stupid "black sea" cream is sitting in my drawer and it cost a helluva lot more that $30 . . . .
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I have had such a hard time with the makeup. I have a ton of stuff already and I'm trying not to buy anything else unless it's something extraordinary. I will not buy a new lipstick or eyeshadow and I have tons of foundation to use up. I've only bought mascara lately because I've been needing some new ones since mine are old and drying up.
Bee333 Bee333 9 years
How about make a list, check it twice and walk out! Online, I used to get my shopping fixes by filling my cart with stuff I was seriously considering, then closed the site. I find it's better to think about things and physically review what makeup/products I already have. Shopping is a terrible mistress! And samples....probably have a box of those along with--many years ago--gift-with-purchase items.
Bee333 Bee333 9 years
I'm soo bad. Having recently moved, I know while packing and now unpacking that I have an unworldly amount of stuff...I just can't get myself to throw it away! (mostly shadows and things that "look" good.) My advice for the no-no shopping times: Don't shop on a full moon or when it's "that" time of the month. I find I want to and make the effort to shop during "that" time. I only wish companies had embraced imprinting expiration dates on the actual products sooner.
halo0073 halo0073 9 years
sephora is like crack to me too. and lately they have great freebies lately that i actually use.
marcella marcella 9 years
This is great advice. Especially about the "free with purchase" ploy when it comes to beauty products. I can't tell you how many ugly cosmetic bags I have and I've probably only ended up using 1 or 2 of the freebies. I give everything I don't use away. I really want to print out these rules and refer to them when I go to MAC. It's really sad when every make-up artist knows me by name and I never leave without spending at least $100. I need to control those impulses better!
aaliyah aaliyah 9 years
This was really helpful because I always buy things and then stick to my usual routine anyway. I love Sephora but I will be sure to know what I need vs want before I go there in the future.
suzier suzier 9 years
This is really good advice and I SO need to follow it. Seriously, it needs to end.
SugarCat SugarCat 9 years
Sephora is like crack to me. I have a full shopping cart there right now, I'm just waiting til I get paid before I can check out! Which is bad since every day I keep adding more stuff, heh.
Daisie Daisie 9 years
Thank you for the tips, Bella! Although I have to admit the only one I will probably use is the gifts with purchase one. I won't do that anymore. =) In fact, I just did that at Victoria's Secret just for the purse of goodies and ended up with an ugly bag (looked better online) and only 1 gloss I like out of about 15 samples. Although, confession time....only my boyfriend knows this: I love Sephora, although I buy online because the closest one is 2 hours away. On vacation this summer (to San Fran!), I spent $800 in the Sephora!!!! Lots of that money was spent on sets of different lines I wanted to try and I found some great products! (Although, the Kinerase is too expensive to be my normal skincare line at the moment.) There are only a few glosses that I haven't yet used.
Brooklynbee Brooklynbee 9 years
These are great tips! I would also add that I think it's helpful to read reviews of products ahead of time so you don't waste your money on products you won't like (like the Bella reviews or Makeupalley!). Also, I like stores where they will advise you on the products that will work best specifically for YOUR hair, skin, etc (like Lush, Sephora - if you can find someone to help you). I find myself less likely to buy products that I won't use that way.
leanneluvsu leanneluvsu 9 years
I'm a ball-a-holic. I spend entirely too much at beauty stores. Its such a disease.
Bellatrix2 Bellatrix2 9 years
The thing is, this list applies to almost all aspects of one's life (food - yes, we all buy so many things that do not contribute to our health and that we really don't need -, clothing, decoration, etc.). My only problems are : - shopping is what I need when I'm really down. No joke. It's my way of taking care of myself (good thing is : I tend to buy great things that I'm very happy with for a long time when I'm "depressed" shopping) - the cash thing so many people seem to find handy is completely useless regarding me. My mind is immune to the cash technique... I keep spending as much. And I try this method every once in a while hoping that it might finally do the trick (I wish...). - I work in the fashion industry and love to shop by myself without friends who would say "That colour suits you" (I can't help it but I don't like being given advice regarding make-up, perfume and clothes : it's MY thing) I need a special list, I guess. Or maybe, there simply is no trick to make me spend less... Who knows? :-)
shugahxnxspice shugahxnxspice 9 years
oh my goodness!!i'm SO guilty of impulse buys. thanks for the tips!! you're definitely right about the cash thing...every time i pay with cash i hesitate forking the money over. i'm gonna try setting a monthly spending limit on makeup and see how that goes.
cherryice cherryice 9 years
I'm not in debt, but my beauty spending is crazy sometimes. I am caught up with the Japanese beauty websites and their products are 10 times more interesting/good quality than what we have in the US. It helps that I don't like buying clothes, shoes or purses - I just replace what is worn out and splurge if I really, really love something. So that frees up my extra spending for cosmetics and books, my only two vices.
the-makeup-blogette the-makeup-blogette 9 years
yea, great tips! :) esp the cash payment. I usually try to think of what i can really need to use and then i go check out the counters. after a certain point, i really do learn that i dun need another black eyeshadow, or the perfect blusher or nude lipstick, cos i have more than i can ever use in the near future. of cos, this is my sane self talking. When i travel, the craziness starts all over when i find brands which are not available in my country, such as, tarte, too faced, etc. :p then, all tips and sense go outta the door! and hello! spending spree!
jewel123 jewel123 9 years
I went to Sephora the other day and the makeup artist played barbie on me. I was so tempted to buy it all, but I could only afford to pay $30 on tinted moisturizer.I am going back this weekend to buy more. It's so addiciting! My makeup back is filled with things I spent so much money on and never wear.
i-am-elle i-am-elle 9 years
I tend to impulse shop when it comes to makeup. I must remember to have cash with me instead of using my check card! These are great tips, Bella. Thanks!
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
These are great tips. I used to go insane at MAC but I'm a lot better about it now, well that and I own just about everything.
longhorn_sugar longhorn_sugar 9 years
all excellent tips, nice work Bella!
emalove emalove 9 years
I don't think I've ever left Sephora without spending AT LEAST close to $100. I try to only go there when I have extra spending money and I need something specific. I'm MUCH better with my beauty product spending than I used to used to be out of control. Now, I try to only buy the products I LOVE from brands that always deliver with their products.
anastasia_ks anastasia_ks 9 years
Great suggestions. I'm always buying stuff that I don't need or use.
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