On average, Americans spend over $1,700 annually on beauty products. For some of us, that number may be a little low. If you’re anything like me, you spend money on skincare products, trips to the hair salon, and makeup that may only be used once or twice.
What’s interesting is a LendingTree study that found 26% of Americans have opened a credit card to take advantage of specific beauty product rewards. But why do we overspend when we don’t have to? As we readjust our household budgets for 2024, we’re taking a look at some of the more affordable beauty trends available.
1. Skincare dupes
It’s clear that advertising works. Otherwise, none of us would overpay for products that only look and smell nice. According to experts, just because a product is expensive does not mean that it’s more effective than a drugstore brand. And just because a product contains rare ingredients does not mean those ingredients are superior to those found in cheaper beauty products.
Here are some of the dupes currently making waves. Dupes are products that perform the same job as the fancy brands but at a much lower price. For example:
- You can pay a small fortune for a product that clears skin, but with Acure Brightening Facial Scrub, you get it all for $8. Skin is the largest organ of the human body, and when it looks good, you look good. Compare that to the $58 you would spend on a nearly identical facial scrub from MEG 21.
- If you’re dealing with dry skin, few companies provide relief quite as well as CeraVe. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is meant to be used on your face and body, so there’s no need to pick up two different items. Loaded with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, it easily competes with the expensive department store brands. It will cost you a little less than $17. Or, you can go for a high-end luxury brand like Ogee. Ogee’s hyaluronic acid and ceramide-infused cream sells for $138 — for a jar containing 1/13th of the CeraVe cream.
2. Multi-purpose products
I’ve never allowed myself to calculate how much I’ve spent on different products, each with a “very important” job. But there are so many options now for one product that does the job of several, including:
- Futuredew from Glossier: This one small bottle of serum replaces moisturizer by leaving skin hydrated. It can also be mixed with sunscreen or foundation for an extra glow. Or, Futuredew can be used as a highlighter to accentuate those areas of your face where the sun naturally hits. And just like the more expensive brands, it contains plant-based extracts and other deeply hydrating ingredients. Futuredew sells for $26 for a 1-ounce bottle. Two quick pumps of the serum last 12 hours.
- NYX Plump Right Back Plumping Serum & Primer, With Hyaluronic Acid: This single $16 serum replaces primer, moisturizer, hyaluronic acid, and any of the serums you may buy containing Vitamin E, Pro-Vitamin B5, Magnesium, or Potassium. That means you can knock several other products off your shopping list and leave more money in your checking account.
Here’s a quick list of what to look for when shopping for a multi-purpose skincare product:
- If you have dry skin: You want a product with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
- If you have oily skin: Look for products with ingredients like salicylic acid and witch hazel, both of which help control oil.
- If your skin is looking a little dull and you want to brighten it up: Shop for a product with Vitamin C, arbutin, and niacinamide.
- If you long for firmer skin: DMAE, collagen, and elastin are the three ingredients you want to see in a product.
- If you simply want younger-looking skin: Companies prey on our insecurities and fear of aging to sell us all kinds of products we do not need. The ingredients you need for younger-looking skin, according to science, are retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide.
3. Thrift store fashion
The best-dressed person I have ever known picks up much of her wardrobe at thrift stores. Granted, she knows what to look for, but she tells me that her expertise came with practice. And even though her household earns plenty of money, she sees paying full price as foolish. Instead, she finds interesting pieces of clothing, creatively pairs them, and stashes the savings away in an emergency fund for a rainy day.
Another (important) advantage of thrift-store shopping is purely environmental. Buying secondhand reduces the need for new products, which cuts down on the resources that are used in manufacturing those products. It also prevents pre-owned items from ending up in a landfill or being burned.
So many of the things that help a person look their best are related to self-care. Better yet, some are free. Here are two examples:
- Staying hydrated: Every part of the human body needs water, and that includes our skin. If we’re not properly hydrated, it will eventually show. According to the Cleveland Clinic, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
- Healthy sleep habits: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) tells us that we should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. If that feels impossible for you, consider speaking with your doctor about things you can do to catch more z’s.
Finally, there’s making healthy food choices. Like most societies, we Americans love our food. And eating healthy doesn’t mean never treating ourselves to something decadent. It just means reaching for the healthier option more often than not. There’s no doubt that eating healthy costs more than filling the cupboards with fun junk food, but it eventually pays off in a multitude of ways.
It’s tough to live in a commercialized world and not give in to spending more than we should. However, we’re ultimately in charge of our personal finances, from how much we put in a savings account each month to how much we’re willing to pay for pretty packaging and fancy advertisements.
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