Let’s be fully 100% honest here- I have an awful habit of spending like I have a trust fund and billion dollar yacht in my possession. You know how some people are like “I hate spending money on clothes”? Well the opposite is true for me. I hate spending money on rent and gas and food and bills. I absolutely adore spending money on clothes but as an adult who strives to live like she isn’t on a manic shopping spree I have to make sacrifices. I like to splurge on designer clothes, fancy vacations, high end hair care and luxurious makeup. I do my best to manage my spending (and I’ve become much better since graduating college three years ago) but the last word anyone would use to describe me is “frugal”. I can totally tell the difference between cheap shampoo and the high end stuff. My pores feel clogged and skin isn’t nearly as soft when I downgrade my products. It’s a fact.
Let it be known that it is also a fact that I quit my full-time job to head to law school. I won’t be working at all my first year of law school meaning I really can’t justify splurging in every arena of my life (not until the royal family claims me as their lost princess at least). As a full time student I need to make a few sacrifices. In an attempt to prepare for the next few years without an income I decided to look at my favorite beauty products (primarily hair care/makeup and skincare) and decide where I can save so that I can continue to splurge on the products that are most important to me.
Skin care is by far my favorite place to splurge. I look forward to my skin care routine every morning and evening. If I could I would splurge on every item for my skin!
Save: Sunscreen| Wearing sunscreen daily is SO important. While there are lots of expensive options on the market I’ve found they don’t work any better than the Neutrogena or Clinique options I’ve tried. For sunscreen I like to keep it straight forward with at least SPF 30 everyday and a higher SPF in the summer.
Splurge: Serum| Kate Somerville serums are my absolute favorite. I use the Quench serum at night before applying moisturizer. It has retinol in it so I avoid using it in the day even though it can be used in the morning as well as retinol increases sun sensitivity. The serum leaves my skin feeling plump, hydrated and soft. When my skin is dry in the winter this serum is my favorite solution but it works well all year long. I also want to add the Kate Somerville anti wrinkle serum to my arsenal.
Save: Serum| While I do love the expensive serums I’ve tried I found a few great serums under $20 on Amazon. I reviewed the Body Merry Retinol Pro-A Serumin full here. I currently use the Hyaluronic Dew Serum (currently sold out, I hope it will be back in stock soon) in the morning for a quick burst of hydration before I add moisturizer and SPF. I definitely recommend looking into the other serums by Body Merry for affordable options.
Splurge: Moisturizer| I love the feel and smell of the Kate Somerville Goat Milk and Nourish moisturizers. For daily use I go with the Goat Milk moisturizer because it is a little bit more hydrating and I tend to have dry/combination skin. The Nourish moisturizer is a bit lighter so would probably be great for daily use for anyone with naturally oily skin.
Save: Cleanser| Don’t get me wrong I love Kate Somerville cleanser but recently switched to BioClarity for a high quality, affordable option. At $29.95 for a three piece set (cleanser/acne treatment gel/restorative gel) BioClarity is an affordable daily option. I personally don’t use the acne treatment gel/restorative gel daily so I wish there was a way to just buy the cleanser but I still recommend the products!
Splurge: Eye Cream| Since the skin around your eyes ages the first and the fastest I am all about pampering my eyes like divas. I use Kate Somerville Age Arrest Eye Cream morning and night. I received the eye cream as a gift but after using it (and reading about the Telo-5 technology) I’m a convert. It is SO moisturizing and definitely helps with the bags under my eyes too. I can only hope it’s helping prevent premature aging but can’t be sure of course. To save a little I have used Benefit’s It’s Potent eye cream and have found it really helps brighten around my eyes too.
Save: Cleansing Wipes| At the end of the day I use Burt’s Bees cleansing wipes to wash off stubborn eye and face makeup. I don’t notice a difference between the $6 option at Whole Foods (or whatever grocery store) and the designer options at Nordstrom. I choose to save on this beauty purchase.
Your Choice: Masks| You can find masks at all price ranges. I love the Fresh Rose Face Mask for a luxurious hydrating mask and Kate Somerville’s EradiKate for spot treating or an acne mask. The Goop exfoliating instant facial is on my current wish list because I’ve heard it gives you the softest, smoothest skin. To save money on masks I like to make my own at home with greek yoghurt (literally just greek yoghurt & turmeric slapped on my face for thirty minutes) or honey (recipe here). Browse Pinterest for recipe inspiration, DIY face masks make a fun night in bonus points for a bottle of wine and a girl friend!
I worked as a receptionist at a hair salon through high school. I experimented with my hair like crazy (red hair, dreadlocks and even a perm) and learned how to repair super damaged hair. Now I stick to blonde balayage, maybe it’s boring but I got all of my experimenting out early!
Save: Dry Shampoo| While I don’t use dry shampoo every day I do like to spray a bit in my hair when I skip a wash or feel like my hair looks a little greasy or whatever. I have fine hair so I never go more than a day or two without showering but when I do I’ve found Batiste works pretty much as well as my favorite Living Proof formula.
Splurge: Hair Tools| After leaving my Chi curling iron in a hotel room (ugh) I tried to save a bit by ordering an inexpensive curling wand on Amazon. While the iron works fine I can definitely tell it is not the Chi iron I adored. I want to splurge on this curling wand in the future. I don’t straighten my hair anymore but when I used to I loved the ceramic Paul Mitchell flat iron. I recommend splurging on hot tools especially if you use them every day.
Save: Shampoo & Conditioner| Speaking 100% transparently I LOVE Pureology Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner but a girl has to save where she can and I decided shampoo would be a good place to start. For a drugstore shampoo and conditioner I have started using OGX Thick & Full Shampoo and Conditioner. I can get both the shampoo and conditioner for less than the price of just the Pureology shampoo and it really does leave my hair feeling healthy and soft.
Splurge: Color| If you’ve ever botched and at home dye job you know the value of a great hairstylist. Growing up I experimented with boxed hair dye at home all the time and more often than not my hair looked pretty wretched. There are definitely the girls out there who can do their hair like professionals but I am not one of them. I book an appointment for balayage every 6-8 weeks and though I may have to sell an organ to fund the habit one of these days, for now I say it is money well spent. Extra points if you’re rocking 100% natural hair and can save money on this beauty regime.
Save: Hair Spray, Sea Salt Spray & Leave in Conditioner| Some of my favorite “save”products work just as well as their high end counterparts. My hair isn’t particularly difficult so I can use just about any drugstore hair spray (though I only use it on special occasions when I really want my curls to hold through a long night of dancing). The OGX Sea Salt spray works well and I love It’s a 10 for a leave in conditioner to control frizz, repair damage and add a bit of shine.
Splurge: Repair Treatments| For hair damaged from heat, chemicals or color I love the Pureology Hair Beautifier spray , Moroccan Oil Restorative Mask and Kerastase Repair & Heat Protectant Serum. I’ve had seriously damaged hair from everything from bleaching my hair to dread locking it in high school and I can promise these three products make a difference in turning your hair from hay to soft and sultry human hair once again.
I have a fairly simple approach to makeup, most days I swipe on mascara and possibly a little under eye concealer and call it a day. However I like to have a good eyeliner, bb creme and eyeshadow palette for a dressier look, special occasion or just an everyday confidence boost.
Splurge: Foundation or BB Creme|Disclaimer: I am not much of a foundation girl, most days I don’t wear any makeup on my skin so when I do I am very picky. For special occasions or days I want to look extra put together I like to use BB Creme or sometimes even mix BB Creme with moisturizer for light coverage. I love that Dior Dream Skin is more skin care than cakey makeup. It has SPF 50 and gives your complexion a natural glow while evening out your skin tone and reducing redness (without hiding your freckles which is a BIG deal for me). To save a little I also like the Lancome Bienfait BB Creme, once again I love that it evens out my skin tone without hiding the parts of my skin that make me look like me and I love that it has SPF. I cut the Lance BB creme with a little moisturizer so it goes on really light the way I like it but if you like a moderate coverage you can put it on however you like (:
Save: Blush| While it’s true my Lancome blush lasts a tiny bit longer than the drugstore alternatives I haven’t noticed much of a difference. I plan on purchasing CoverGirl True Glow or the Sephora Brand blush when I run out of my current Lancome blush.
Splurge: Mascara| EVERYONE seems to say you can get away with drugstore mascara but this has NOT been my experience at all. Personally I have blonde eyelashes and need a little extra something to make them pop. I would happily switch to a drugstore mascara if I could find one that worked well but all the cult favorites don’t do it for me. I like Dior Show, Better than Sex, Lancome Hypnose and They’re Real. I switch it up based on random chance honestly!
Splurge: Eyeliner| The Stila Liquid Eyeliner pen has been my go-to for years! I have tried cheaper alternatives but find they smear, smudge and fade after a few hours.
Splurge: Eyeshadow Palette| A good eyeshadow palette lasts forever and is worth it’s weight in gold. I love natural looking eyeshadow and have used the Stila Matte N’ Metal set as well as the coveted Naked 2.
Your Choice: Lipstick & Highlighters| Lipstick definitely lasts longer and looks more pigmented when you opt for the designer option (no doubt) however for day to day use I don’ t think it really matters. While I love MAC and Bite I have found CoverGirl has a variety of colors at affordable prices. I don’t really mind reapplying because I eat and drink so much I have to reapply anyways! For highlighters to give your skin that super model glow the Glossier Haloscope stick is fairly affordable while the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea highlighter will set you back a few dollars more but is oh so pretty.
I am a big believer that you “get what you pay for”, the $5 lipstick just isn’t usually as good as the $35 option. That being said you can still look beautiful and feel great on a budget. The key is making the right sacrifices and splurges by choosing the best products in a certain price range and determining which products really matter. If you’re a big highlighter/contour gal maybe that splurge makes sense for you while you’d rather save on lipstick. It all comes down to what makes the biggest difference in your routine. Skincare is ALWAYS the most important to me so I am more likely to make sacrifices in the hair and makeup department to keep my favorite moisturizers and serums on the shelf.
I’m still experimenting and learning. If you have tips about how you save and where you splurge I’m all about expanding my horizons. Where do you save and where do you splurge in your beauty routine?