How Not to Waste Money on Makeup

Could You Save $500 a Year on Makeup?

Industry experts predict that American women will spend $16 billion on cosmetics and it’s no wonder why. The promise of something that will make us look and feel better is so hard to resist, and marketers know that. “GMA” teaming up withJeanie Ahn of Yahoo! Finance to determine the biggest wastes of money in your makeup stash and how to spend less but still look and feel your best.

According to a 2013 study by the financial service Mint, in the average American woman’s lifetime, she spends $1,780 on lipstick, $2,750 on eye shadow and $3,770 on mascara! When we look at the total amount spent the figures are staggering, but Jeanie points out that we make impulse purchases one lipstick, blush, and eye-shadow at a time. She says, “nail polish can cost anywhere from 3 to 25 dollars a bottle.”

Beauty or a Benjamin?

So we conduct a savings experiment. In Walnut Creek, California I hit the street with 20 bottles of nail polish that cost $100 and a bunch of $100 bills. I stop the first woman I see, a college student named Amirah. “I’m offering you 20 new bottles of nail polish, cute colors OR $100 in cash?” I said. Guess what? She took the cash, as did the other two women I stop with the same offer.

I ask one of the women why. “You said you love nail polish, why not take the 20 bottles?” I said.

Her answer proves my point completely. “Because I can see the $100 and I want that more,” she replied.

Studies have shown our brains experience tiny hits of pleasure-inducing hormones when we make purchases. Saving money is discipline, taming those hormones for the delayed gratification of having, in this case, $100 in the bank.

Next question. I ask women on the street how many beauty products they own “25,” “45,” “50,” with one woman confessing to makeup hoarding with 75 products in her bathroom cabinet.

I ask: “But how many have you used in the last 2 to 3 weeks?” Her answer? “Maybe 10.”

And that ratio jibes with a 2015 study that showed women owning 40 beauty products at a time but using only 5 regularly.

Stop with the Samples

Another way we waste money is purchasing sample sized items that can be marked up considerably. As you wait in line for a cashier at most beauty stores, rows and rows of cute little lipsticks, brushes, hair products and creams promise a quick trial of a new product. But not only are they impulse buys – they can be seriously marked up. Not all products were inflated, but I found quite a few that were. In one case a conditioner was three times the price of the regular bottle.

Monthly Samples: Think Twice or 12 Times a Year

$10-a-month sample boxes are all the rage, but think twice before dropping $100 a year or more on products that may not be suited to your skin or taste. A Facebook group of thousands of members exists only to swap or sell the products subscribers don’t want or can’t use. Over 10 years of membership you’ll have hundreds of tiny plastic tubes in your bathroom and be $1,000 poorer.

BB & CC creams: 3-in-one products

Another unnecessary makeup habit, applying concealer, foundation, and sunscreen. Instead buy them all in one with a BB (blemish balm) or CC (color correcting) cream. They have all three products combined and can cost less and save time and money. Sure you might own the other three, but you will use them less and stretch the more expensive products like concealer over time.

Buy Online Only When You Are Sure

With the rise of online shopping for cosmetics there’s a warning here too: don’t buy it online unless you are 100 percent sure of the shade. This is especially true with “oh-so-tricky-to-match” foundation. Yahoo’s Jeannie Ahn says: “Yes, opened products can be returned to many online beauty retailers.” But returns are a hassle. So do you really want to play pin the tail on the donkey with foundation when it would be so much easier to go to a department store and try them out?

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