Sneaky Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Makeup Budget

Looking this good doesn’t come cheap—or does it? You might be blowing your beauty budget without even realizing it.

We wear makeup for different reasons. For some people, it’s all about confidence. For others, it’s a form of expression. Some people even elevate makeup to an art form. Whether your routine consists of eyeshadow and lip balm or a full face of perfectly contoured makeup, you might be spending too much on beauty products.

You’re Not Taking Care of Your Skin

Let’s start with the basics. If you’re not taking care of your skin, then all the makeup and beauty products in the world won’t fix your problems. You’ll have to buy color correctors, heavy-duty moisturizers, and fancy face masks just to undo the damage you caused through a lack of self-care. While there’s no one-size-fits-all skincare routine, you can take some basics steps to ensure that you have the perfect blank canvas for your makeup:

woman applying sunscreen on a snowy day

Wear sunscreen! We all know that protecting ourselves from the harsh UV rays of the sun is important, but how many of us still think it’s okay to skip sunscreen on a cloudy day? The truth is that you should always have a little SPF on your face and neck. You can find plenty of double-duty products, including daytime moisturizers or even UV-blocking foundations.

Stay hydrated! When you aren’t drinking enough water, your skin can get as dry and cracked as a desert. But there are other, more subtle signs of chronic dehydration. Dark circles, dullness, tightness, itchiness, and—bummer—exaggerated wrinkles are all typical of skin that’s gone past dry to dehydrated. While applying a moisturizer is great and all, hydration starts from within. Drink more water and consume less salt and caffeine.

Get enough sleep! You’ve heard the phrase “getting your beauty sleep” before, but scientists believe the expression has some truth. Dermatologists found that sleep actually protects your skin and gives it time to heal.  “All day, your skin is a barrier that protects you from light, pollution, germs, dryness, wetness, and more. When you sleep, your skin has a chance to regenerate and get ready for tomorrow,” Karin Olszewski explained.

Read More: Chemical vs. Mineral Sunscreen: Which Is Better?

You’re Too Easily Influenced

The job of an influencer is to convince their followers to buy things. Whether they’re getting paid to promote a product or creating their own beauty line, the result is the same: less money in your bank account. If buying makeup and beauty products make you happy, go for it! But if you’re trying to manage your money or cut back on clutter, then pressing pause on your favorite social media influencers could give your budget a breather.

If you’ve signed up for email or text alerts from your favorite brands, consider unsubscribing—at least for a little while. Although you can get valuable updates on sales and receive coupons for things you already wanted to buy, you’re more likely to spend money on things you don’t need. Those marketing messages are designed to get you to shop, after all.

Woman sitting on floor with laptop and watching online training for professional makeup artist

One more incredibly sneaky trick online retailers use is creating the illusion of scarcity. When you browse a website, it can “spy” on your activity by logging cookies that record what you’ve been looking at. This happens with airplane tickets all the time, but it can also impact shopping for beauty products. If you’ve ever gone back to a product you viewed before only to see that it’s now about to sell out—according to the online retailer, anyway—it might not be totally true.

Instead, you can game the system by not only clearing your cache or browsing in Incognito mode but also by trying this little trick. Add a full-price item to your cart (while you’re signed in to your account at that retailer), and then… leave it. That’s right, just walk away. The next day, you have a good chance of receiving an email with a discount code from the store. Savings: unlocked!

You’re Tossing Out Makeup Without Using It Up

It’s not fair, but a lot of makeup packaging is designed to make it harder to get all of the product out. If you’ve ever struggled to get the foundation out of a nearly—but not quite—empty package, smacking against your hand like it’s a ketchup bottle, then you know this pain. The solution to this age-old problem costs five bucks. Buy a tiny spatula made for makeup to get every product particle out of the bottle and onto your beautiful face.

woman with different shades of foundation on her face
Adobe Stock

Another issue is the dreaded broken pan of pressed powder makeup. Whether it’s eyeshadow, blush, or powder, that stuff is expensive. And fragile.

When you end up with a broken pan—or worse, an entire palette—don’t despair. You can save the makeup with a bit of rubbing alcohol. Get a mini spray bottle and fill it with rubbing alcohol. Spritz the broken powder and then carefully press it back into shape. That handy little makeup spatula can help, but you can also use a piece of parchment or wax paper and press with your fingers.

If the palette or pan itself is too far gone, you still have an option. Scrape the broken makeup onto a paper plate and then crush it into a fine powder. Then fold the plate and tip the powder into a small jar. You can still use the makeup just like you would with any other loose powder. That’s a thrifty bit of DIY!

It’s also a good idea to keep track of the date you started using each makeup product. Makeup doesn’t last forever—and using it past its prime can be harmful to your health! Check out this guide to how long you can safely use different types of makeup.

Professional makeup brushes and tools

Finally, make sure that you’re storing your makeup properly. Having a dedicated place—ideally one that’s relatively cool, dry, and dark—to keep your makeup is a must. Don’t put away brushes when they’re dirty, and make sure that the bristles aren’t crushed or bent. And if you’ve got pets or little kids, ensure that they can’t get to your precious makeup stash!

Read More: A History of Makeup From Around the World

You Don’t Have a Signature Look

Developing a capsule wardrobe can help focus your personal style, cut down on clutter, and spend less money. Similarly, having a signature look—or a series of seasonal looks—can benefit your budget and your sense of style.

Minimalist makeup—think Duchess Meghan—has been popular for a few years. The no-makeup look isn’t for everyone, and it still requires a suite of beauty products to achieve. If that doesn’t appeal to you, you may be drawn to the classic red lip and cat-eye. A vintage-inspired makeup look never goes out of style and can enhance your wardrobe.

One half face of a beautiful white woman with bright makeup and the other is natural. Woman portrait with a deep blue eye makeup of one eye. Natural and vivid make-up on a female face. Fashion style

Consider experimenting with your makeup to find a signature daytime look as well as an evening look. If that feels too limiting for you, then you might feel more drawn to seasonal looks. Again, this draws from the concept of the capsule wardrobe. You might have a summer look with a darker foundation and more shimmery makeup, while fall might embrace richer colors and a matte finish. Just keep in mind that makeup doesn’t have an unlimited shelf-life, and most of your seasonal products will need to be replaced year after year even if you haven’t used them up.

You Don’t Know When to Splurge and When to Save

It’s no secret that we love drugstore dupes around here. If both products work equally well, why would you pay two, five, or even ten times more for a designer brand? While there are lots of wonderful drugstore and discount brands on the market, not all of them are created equal. So how do you know when to splurge and when to save?

Most high-end shadow, blush, and lipstick contain a higher ratio of pigment to binder. Ditto for foundation and concealer. That means you’ll have to use a lot less to get the effect that you’re craving. They’ll also last a lot longer and be less prone to fading and smearing throughout your day. Unless you’re just experimenting with a one-time look, you’ll be better off investing in quality products.

Decorative cosmetics and makeup brushes on a white background, top view

Cleanser, on the other hand? Yeah, stick to the drugstore brands. Cetaphil is universally beloved, and for good reason. It does the job without drying your skin or clogging your pores. Cleansers stay on your face for such a short amount of time that it’s not really worth spending top dollar on soaps and face washes.

When it comes to moisturizers, read the label. I was floored when I found out that the cream moisturizers from Ponds and Nivea contain most of the same ingredients as La Mer. All of them are based on mineral oil, and although the luxury moisturizer does contain some fancy ingredients like fermented seaweed, the drugstore brands are nearly as good for a tiny fraction of the price. As much as we love the idea of being pampered by the most expensive, exclusive products, we love saving money even more!

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