Last week I went to Target for nail polish remover. I left with hand cream, whitening toothpaste, clear mascara, foot scrub, some hair volumizer, and almost $60 less in my wallet. Sadly, I feel like this occurrence happens to me more often then I’d like to admit. I go to the store for one necessary item and end up leaving with nearly one dozen unnecessary ones. Between marketing campaigns for products that claim to help me look like Penélope Cruz and our obsession with physical appearance, I’m a sucker for anything that claims to make me beautiful.
According to an article in Siren magazine entitled “Why Vanity Keeps Us Poor,” American women spend around $12,000 annually on beauty. Worldwide, we spend $45 to $66 billion on cosmetics, and that figure is growing. We are hooked on breaking out our wallets habitually (and sometimes brainlessly) for beauty products we don’t even need. I spoke to a San Francisco–based cosmetologist to get the scoop on what products aren’t going to make us more beautiful.
Toners (allegedly) cleanse skin and shrink pores. They’re used after washing your face and before moisturizing. According to Dr. Jeffrey Dover, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine, you do not need to use toner unless you have abnormally oily skin. Toner just takes more time and eats more money.
Shaving cream is used to prevent razor burn and provide lubrication when shaving. However, there are other methods that get you the same result. To get the perfect shave, use hot water to open your pores and exfoliate your legs with a loofah. Shower gel or hair conditioner is more than adequate to prime the area you’re about to shave. You don’t need to spend cash on a separate shaving cream to get a perfectly smooth shave.
I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of spending $12 on a brand-name razor and an equally atrocious amount to refill the blades every few weeks solely because my favorite celebrity said she used that brand. (Humiliating, I’m aware.) However, a fancy razor isn’t required for a great shave. The disposable cheapie ones are just as good as long as you ensure the blade is sharp and that you dispose of them often.
Designer Nail Polish
Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent each make branded nail polish costing $20 a pop. Designer nail polish is definitely something you don’t need to splurge on; nobody will ever know if you’re wearing YSL or Wet ‘n’ Wild, so opt for the cheaper one—it’s all made of the same stuff.
Foot masks are used to “re-charge” and “rejuvenate” tired, cramped feet. While the thought sounds lovely, they do the same thing that some hot water and a good moisturizer will do. Running at almost $20 a pop at beauty stores, these are definitely an item worth saving on.
Theoretically, the skin around your eyes is thinner and more sensitive then the skin on the rest of your face. Consequently, many estheticians recommend a separate (and usually extremely expensive) cream just for your eyes. According to Allure’s “Confessions of a Beauty Editor,” it’s not necessary to get a special cream just for your eyes; regular face moisturizers do the trick.
Facial mists are sprays to douse your face in whenever you feel parched. They’re basically just “enhanced” water, which means water with the scent of lavender or some other luxurious odor. Unless you are Mariah Carey, you probably don’t need to spend $10 on a five-ounce can of Evian to hydrate your face.
Similar to priming a wall before you paint it, primers prime your face. You’re supposed to apply them after you moisturize (or possibly before? I’m not really sure …) and before you apply foundation. They’re used to make your makeup stay in one place and to refresh your skin. According to “Confessions of a Beauty Editor,” a good moisturizer gets the job done just as well.
A separate brush to apply lipstick is an extravagance that even the most high-maintenance celebrities tend to forego. Your pinky finger or the applicator wand provided are all you need for a perfect pout.
Skin is skin. Truth be told, the skin on your hands isn’t radically different from the skin on your feet, back, or neck. One good lotion is all you need to keep all your parts well-moisturized and scale-free.
Spending money on a separate eye-makeup remover isn’t necessary. Baby oil, Vaseline, and even olive oil are the main ingredients in most removers, and they work just as well on their own.
Considering you could purchase a car for the average price spent on staying beautiful, cosmetics is definitely an area to cut back on. Next time I head to Target, I’m leaving my wallet in the car, taking $5 cash, and exiting immediately.