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10 Ways to Look Hot Without Breaking the Bank

One of the biggest expenses in a women’s budget comes from beauty and cosmetic products. Here are ten ways you can keep looking great without spending a fortune:

Shop at drugstores like Walgreens or CVS. It may seem that it is necessary to shop at big box stores like Wal-Mart to get the best price on cosmetics, but this is not typically true for the following reasons:

  • Drugstores offer great sales. Each week, scour the advertisement flyers that come with the Sunday newspaper. Drugstores will often have “buy one get one free” or “buy one get one half off” deals. When a product you use regularly goes on sale, stock up and save big bucks.
  • Stores like Walgreens, CVS, or even ULTA, can save you money because of their return policies. These stores allow you to open a cosmetic product, try it, and then return the used product if you don’t like it. Cosmetic products can be hit or miss. It is a huge waste of money to buy something and then abandon it with 90% of the product left.
  • I am not sure about other drugstores, but at Walgreens the “beauty advisors” cut out the Sunday coupons themselves and have a stash behind the counter. Buy your cosmetics at the specific beauty counter and ask the cashier if there are any coupons for the products you are buying. Some of the cashiers are lazy and won’t offer them unless you ask.

If you find something you like, stick with it. The cosmetics aisle sings a siren song. There are a myriad of products found there, and each trumpets a different claim (Anti-aging! Anti-acne! Sunscreen! Moisturizing! Firmness!). The endless options can absolutely paralyze you. You will find yourself confused and vulnerable to an impulse buy. Just keep picking the old standards. You know they work. A new product will probably not change your life.

Use a concealer brush instead of your finger. The concealer will go on smoother and offer better coverage. Yet you will use 1/2 to 1/3 the amount you would with your finger.

Buy products that offer “2 in 1″ features. These products can save you both time and money. Here are some examples:

  • Moisturizers or foundations with sunscreen.
  • Facial cleansing wipes that remove your eye make-up and also clean your face.
  • Foundations and concealers that offer “shade matching” properties. These are foundations like Covergirl Trueblend that are able to change color to match your skin tone. This is useful because you may typcially have fair skin, but might occasionally be out in the sun and get browner. With a shade matching product, you don’t have to have different foundations and concealers for your changing skin tones.

In most cases, store brand products work just as well as the pricey department store brands. Cosmetic products are not required to prove their efficacy or undergo scientific testing or approval from the FDA. So much of the higher price comes from sleeker packaging, marketing, and ingredients that apparently come from deep water springs in the tropics.

  • For example: According to the NYT: “A study of wrinkle creams published last month by Consumer Reports concluded that there was no correlation between price and effectiveness. The study, which tested nine brands of wrinkle creams over 12 weeks, also concluded that none of the products reduced the depth of wrinkles by more than 10 percent, an amount “barely visible to the naked eye.”
  • The Consumer Reports study also found that “a three-step regimen of Olay Regenerist products costing $57 was slightly more effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles than a $135 tube of StriVectin-SD or a $335 combination of two La Prairie Cellular lotions.”

Put your face on a skin care “diet.” Many dermatologists say that putting too much gook on your face is counteractive. According the NYT, Dermatologists are “prescribing simplified skin-care routines requiring at most three steps: soap; sunscreen every day, no matter the weather or the season; and, if necessary, a product tailored to specific skin needs, whether a cream for pimples or pigmented spots, or a vitamin-enriched moisturizer for aging skin. Each product, they say, can be bought at drugstores for $30 or less.”

It is okay to have a couple of splurge items. There are some rare cases where pricier products do work better than the drugstore brands. For example I once tried a friend’s MAC eyeliner and was hooked. It is by far the best eyeliner I have tried. Yet it costs twice as much as the drugstore brands. My solution? I ask for it as a stocking stuffer each year at Christmas. And it is such a great product, it lasts all year.

What are your tricks for saving money on cosmetics and make-up? Drop a line in the comment box and join the conversation!

I’d like to thank my sister Suzanne, a Walgreens beauty advisor and all-around beauty product guru for several of these tips. Check out her blog for more tips about make-up!