Being a woman is expensive. I was getting ready a few months ago and adding how much my morning routine — hair products, face cleansers and makeup — was costing. It made me a little nauseous.
I am a girl who likes nice things. I also have struggled with adult acne, so I have spent seemingly thousands of dollars on face washes, creams and treatments.
But it wasn’t until my husband and I had a long discussion about our finances and how I (allegedly) never stick to the cash budget we agreed to.
It’s so, so easy for me to pull out my debit card, but if I only had cash, I would skip a $4.66 Starbucks mocha or lunch with my friends four out of the five work days. (I agreed to this in the summer, which is fine for my Starbucks addiction, until it turned cold and dark).
The cash budget worked for several weeks, and I gave my husband the verbal middle finger by telling him how I was doing great.
Until my moisturizer, shampoo and face powder ran out at the same time — a $150 blow to my budget. I didn’t have the cash to restock.
That’s when I added up how much I was spending. There was no way this Sephora-loving girl could keep that up and buy winter clothes for my toddler.
My friend, who has amazing skin, washes her face with Dove bar soap. I found that the 97-cent soap works just the same as the expensive ones.
I started experimenting with other products and have found many that work just as well.
My favorite cheap brand is E.L.F. The eyeliner is $1, the powder $3. I have wasted some of their products trying and throwing them away when they didn’t work, but at least I’m only wasting $1.
Other cheap products I couldn’t live without: Herbal Essence hairspray and Burt’s Bees chapstick. I’m not a big lipstick fan, so a tinted chapstick is perfect.
But let’s not kid ourselves. All cheap products don’t work just as well.
And we all have that one product we won’t even consider living without. Mine is a Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer that costs $47 for a few ounces.
My other “splurge” items: Redken Color Extend shampoo and conditioner, Pureology thermal spray and gloss (not pictured), Lancome gloss if I’m feeling girly. And I am a sucker for OPI and Essie polishes.
It appears I mostly splurge on hair products, which is really pretty silly. I would love to find a drugstore version, but it becomes expensive to try products for $10-15 each if you don’t end up liking them.
And let’s be honest: I refuse to not color my hair, so that money – and those products – must stay!
Recently, my friend and I swapped products we weren’t using. I found a couple new things that I like, and best of all – they were free!
What about you? What products do you swear by, both drugstore brands and splurge items?
Melissa Cruickshank is married with one daughter. She works full-time.