I’m actually a sucker for high-end skincare and beauty products. And I used my extensive product knowledge to talk my way into freelance writing jobs covering the skin care, cosmetic procedure, and beauty beat at outlets like Real Self and The Huffington Post.
I would call it more of a hobby level interest, but I have tried a lot of products and a lot of non-surgical procedures in my 20s and 30s. In 2020, even with the pandemic and the birth of our baby boy, I spent close to $3,000 on “personal care.”
How my obsession with skincare started
I am someone who got horrible, cystic acne in my early 20s. I spent a lot of my free time when I lived in New York City going to Skin Spa to have laser treatments (which was pretty novel back in 2010) to lighten up my acne scars and smooth out the skin on my chin.
After thousands (thousands!!!) of dollars spent on one tiny patch of my face, it’s pretty even, but you can notice some light dimpling on the right side of my chin when I stand in direct sunlight.
But after that first laser procedure, I was hooked. I’ve since lasered everything you can think of off of my skin and tried every product known to man in search of that elusive Instagram-filter like skin.
And I’m not the only one
But, before you throw shade … my spending is actually below average. In fact, my own annual beauty spend falls squarely inside the register of “normal” according to a 2020 survey by Groupon. The women in the study spent an average of over $300 per month on beauty products, skincare, and cosmetic treatments. That’s close to $3,500 per year.
Instead of shame, here are the ways I try to keep costs low and cover the costs of beauty and skincare in cash.
You can create a new budget with a line item for self care/routine maintenance.
It is a loose budget for me, but I try to keep my “beauty” spending to $500 per quarter (or around $150 per month.) It isn’t a month to month thing as I usually go get my hair colored and purchase refills on my products once every 10-12 weeks or so. Here are some related articles if you want help setting a budget for this kind of thing:
- How to Create a Workable Budget in 6 Steps
- The 50-30-20 Budgeting Method
- How to pay off debt from beauty treatments [Real Self by yours truly]
- 4 Real-Life Budgeting Examples from Bloggers We Love
- Four steps I took to create a $400/year beauty routine [The Financial Diet]
You can create a sinking fund where you allocate a set amount each month for quarterly expenses like hair color, etc.
I really dislike sinking funds. (You can read about that here), but they can be effective for covering non-monthly costs like beauty treatments in cash.
Snag discounts where you can.
I also wrote this bang-up piece for Real Self on how to negotiate/lower the cost of your cosmetic procedures (including some good tips for asking for what you want!) I’ve also bought new, in the box jars of La Mer for half off on Ebay. No, this doesn’t sketch me out and it’s a good way to get a very expensive product for much, much less.
- I’m a money blogger. Here’s how I pay for beauty treatments in cash [Real Self]
- The Cost of Beauty at 25 vs 45: Why We Spend More as We Age [Real Self]
You know what your personal beauty kryptonite is, which is why it is important to set rules. Just like with my shopping triggers, I set rules in place so my spending doesn’t get out of control.
- I only buy trial size versions of products I want to test out first (when I can) or I trade with friends. Nope, trading doesn’t sketch me out, either.
- I only buy a new product of something once I run out (I also just hate stacks of bottles and clutter everywhere.) I literally have a drawer full of Sephora samples and I use those to get me through the few days between online purchase and when the package arrives on my doorstep.
- I ask for gift cards on holidays and birthdays. You can always just ask for gift cards to your favorite place to buy these items or to your local salon. It’s better than something that will go out of style, and you know it will get used!
I’ve also been toying around with swapping to drugstore brands instead of high-end for what little make-up I use post-COVID. After all, kiddo has to go to college!