Archive for Monday, January 17, 2011


The price of beauty: Women cutting costs on cosmetics

Erin Brown talks about buying some of her cosmetics at Hy-Vee, 3504 Clinton Parkway in Lawrence.

January 17, 2011


Saving money, cutting clutter

Linda Wells, editor in chief of Allure magazine, is in the forefront of women who need to clean up cosmetics clutter.

“When I open my medicine cabinet, an avalanche comes out,” she says. “ It’s nice to have a clean cabinet and not have to wear a hard hat.”

Many people keep their beauty products in the bathroom, one of the worst places for them because heat and humidity decrease shelf life, she noted. And you need to pay attention to when something is opened — even if it’s used only once and then tucked back into the drawer for months.

“Oxygen is what starts the clock ticking,” Wells said.

Wells’ other tips:

• Dried mascara can’t be revived. Adding a drop of water will almost surely result in raccoon eyes.

• Blush tends to last longer than other color cosmetics, especially powder formulas. Liquids are more prone to separation — and a streaky effect.

• Eyeliner pencils stay fresh because each time they’re sharpened, you’re peeling back a fresh layer.

• Makeup sponges are supposed to be disposable so buy cheap ones and change often so you don’t introduce bacteria from the face into the makeup.

— The Associated Press

As a former makeup artist, Erin Brown developed a love of expensive cosmetics early on. But with the sinking of the economy and the birth of her first child, she’s found herself turning to cheaper brands while trying for similar results.

Among the changes — shifting from expensive shampoo to dollar-store bottles, making her own face scrub from household ingredients and switching out some of her more expensive makeup items for similarly performing low-cost brands.

“I used to be a high-end makeup junkie,” says Brown, a personal trainer and life coach living in Lawrence. “And for some things I still don’t skimp, but my favorite drug store makeup is Maybelline Great Lash mascara, Cover Girl concealer, ELF translucent powder and lip glosses. ELF products are all $1 to 3 apiece and the product is really good for the price.”

Brown isn’t alone. A study by Prevention magazine found that in 2010, 16 percent of women have changed beauty brands and 14 percent stopped using a product altogether because of its price. Of the few things women will pay more for, the study found that most women could find a discernible difference between eye cream brands (65 percent), day cream (64 percent) and body cream (54 percent).

Lawrence’s Christy Craig says when she switched to cheaper brands to save money, she actually felt like she ended up spending more money on some things, especially moisturizer, because the cheaper product didn’t work as well as its more expensive predecessor. The Kansas University graduate student says that sent her right back to her original faves.

“I had to buy the lotion or the face wash or the face moisturizer more often because I had to use more, it seemed,” says Craig, who says she was concerned about the waste associated with so many bottles. “I mean, I didn’t do a quantitative analysis of it, so I don’t know for sure, but it seemed like I was buying it a lot more often and I only buy the fancy or more expensive products like once a year.”

Instead, to save money while not cutting quality, Craig says she started buying more of her favorite items in bulk, online with free shipping, or only when she had a gift card or coupon. For example, she buys huge bottles of nice shampoo that will last her more than a year.

That said, when she does save money by buying cheaper products, she says she still applies the same standards despite the cost.

“Even if I switch to the cheaper products,” she says, “I still want them to be animal-friendly and as earth-friendly as possible.”

Brown says it’s important to her not to skimp on stuff that she knows works, especially when it comes to her skin.

“I’ve always had problem skin and the only thing I’ve found that really works for me is LUSH,” she says of the skin care line, which has a store in Overland Park. “I use their Coalface soap, vanishing cream moisturizer and their foundation as well.”

Brown also says she can’t part with her favorite M.A.C. eyeliner and eye makeup, but otherwise she says she believes her money has better places to go than to a $22 lip gloss.

“I love makeup and hair and getting dolled up, but it can’t be where my money goes all the time,” Brown says. “My primary financial priority after keeping the lights on and the roof over our head is making sure my family consistently has good healthy foods. I used to eat Totino’s party pizzas and get my hair done all the time. Now, I spend my money on what goes in my body rather than what I put on it.”


canyon_wren 7 years, 5 months ago

I have used certain very basic Merle Norman products for about 40+ years--the Fresh 'n Fair (an astringent), makeup base and face powder--but I use a less expensive face cream and blush. I have found that what Christy says is true of many products--not just cosmetics--often the cheaper brands wind up costing as much in the long run and aren't as satisfactory. For example, my mother-in-law used to buy the very cheapest dish soap and it took more of it to do the job than the better brands, so she didn't really wind up saving any money.

Jennifer Dropkin 7 years, 5 months ago

Storebought cosmetics in the United States are not held to strict standards for safety, so you might want to check out your favorite brands at the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database from the Environmental Working Group:

I've never liked painting my face, so I don't, and I learned a long time ago that nearly all storebought soaps are harsh on my skin. I keep my "cosmetic" regimen as simple as possible: as much sleep as possible, filtered water for drinking, a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses to limit sun exposure, a good basic soap from the Merc or a local soapmaker, apricot kernal oil, coconut oil, sometimes a local goat-milk hand and body cream, sometimes a body lotion from the Merc (but I'm not too happy about any commercial body lotion, so I limit them), local lip balm, and that's it.

tomatogrower 7 years, 5 months ago

I used to buy cosmetics that would make me look like I didn't have any makeup on, then I figured, why wear it at all. Of course, I'm blessed with a decent complexion. I just don't like the feel of make up on my face.

AnnaUndercover 7 years, 5 months ago

"Now, I spend my money on what goes in my body rather than what I put on it.”


...I admit I am still spending money on the former. Mostly on sulfate-free everything, sunblock, and fake eyelashes. :)

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