Everyone is feeling the Great Recession, hardcore. When I’m in a tight spot and on a budget, it’s necessary to cut costs when it comes to beauty products - and really, when am I NOT on a budget? Yep, that’s right. Never. Below is a list of pricey stuff I sub out; I’ll add a list of Recessionista Irreplaceables (things I refuse to scrimp on until, well, I absolutely have to) as a complement, soon.
Lotion. For a period of time, I fell into this silly routine of buying $20 body lotion. TWENTY DOLLARS. Just writing it makes me feel financially duped. Do you know how many Spam musubis that is from L&L? How many Netflix monthly subscriptions that used to be? I don’t even want to think about it.
Granted, it was lotion by one of my favorite brands and smelled so deliciously of soy milk and honey, but for that same skrilla, I’ve since substituted the pricey goop for cheaper but equally effective stuff. Among my favorites are Burt’s Bees Richly Replenishing Cocoa Cupuacu, around $7.99 (goes on thick, smells amazing, super-hydrating), the Trader Joe’s store brand that runs for around $5-$6 (gets the job done), and Avalon Organics Lavender lotion for around $6.99 (a good consistency, smells subtle).
Face Exfoliators. Clinique’s Exfoliating Scrub is the best scrub I’ve ever used for my face. It’s not for the faint-of-face because it’s pretty, uh, thorough: scrub too hard, you’ll probably be red. That’s how effective and coarse this stuff is. No wimpy grains allowed. A little goes a long way, too: a dab between a dime and quarter-size is all you need. And while normally that would warrant the $18 price tag, I picked up Burt’s Bees Deep Pore Scrub with Peach & Willowbark at my local Nordstrom Rack for about $6 to test out once my bottle of Clinique runs out. Stay tuned for a review and whether this becomes a steady sub or if Clinique is non-compromisable.
Body Exfoliators. I’m sure that tub of Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish makes you feel like a glowy dead skin-free million bucks. I’m sure it also set you back about $65 which to a budgetista, might as well be a million bucks. I’m a huge fan of Trader Joe’s Purify Grapefruit Chamomile Sea Salt Scrub, $5.99. It leaves the skin with a bit of an oily finish but I’ve found most of the most effective body scrubs do, including another favorite, yet again, by Burt’s Bees - the Cranberry Pomegranate Sugar Scrub, for around $13. Bonus: generally you can find a $1 off coupon for this if you buy other Burt’s Bees products. Why do you think I keep getting it?
Eye cream. I’ve never been one to spend a fortune on eye cream but now this stuff can run for a good chunk of cash. In true scrimp-and-pinch fashion, I hit up my favorite discount beauty store: the local TJ Maxx. Stop snickering.
I can usually find a decent one for under $10. Right now I’m using Dead Sea Spa Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream that I found for $6; it usually retails for $19.
Fake Eyelashes. So this is one I kind of substitute and kind of don’t. I must have a dozen or so pairs of fake eyelashes to wear for work. While cheap drugstore ones can cost as little as 5 bucks a pop, that 5 bucks can add up fast when you double up (read: wear 2 pairs at once) like I do. I’ve tried brands on both sides of the price spectrum and the only one that really has made a difference is Kreat (pronounced “create”). I can only find it in one store in all of Los Angeles (Naimie’s in the valley), they cost about $16 a pair but because the line is created by an Asian-American makeup artist, they fit my eyes so much better than most other brands. One drawback? The band is pretty delicate so when take extra care when peeling off glue/cleaning.
On the other, non double-digit price end of the spectrum, I usually grab Ardell Fashion strip lashes, which run for about $3-$5 a pair. Glue one pair on top of the other, after trimming, for a truly eye-popping look. For glue, I use Duo which runs from $4-$6 a tube.
Eyeliner. The makeup pouch filled to the brim with eyeliners of every possible shade is mostly made up of MAC but since I’ve been adhering to a budget lately, I’ve been building up a collection of Maybelline Liner Express pencils, as I detailed in a previous entry. The pigment isn’t as potent as a MAC liner’s, but Maybelline’s glides on smoothly and smudges easily - it helps that each pencil does double-duty automatically and comes with its own smudger. My favorite colors are Charcoal Gray and Bronze. They go for about $5 each at Target, as opposed to MAC which goes for around $13/pop.
Lipgloss. One of the things I hate seeing is lipstick that costs over $20. Sure, that one shade of bright red that only that that one high-end brand makes automatically brightens your smile, whitens your teeth and solves the debt crisis, but said brand doesn’t have a monopoly on the color red so chances are, there’s a drugstore shade comparable to it. The trouble is actually narrowing down a lipstick shade that fits your complexion so you’re not buying-trying-hating-returning-repeating 5 times at your local CVS. When it comes to drugstore colors with foundation, concealer or lipstick, I somehow become color-blind and am unable to find anything that fits my skin color and not make me look like a little kid who broke into her mother’s makeup case and started drawing on her face. I’ve never bought drugstore foundation for this very reason - the reason being my own personal terror. In this case then, pricier lipsticks are actually kind of a Recessionista Irreplaceable, if you have the extra scratch.
Thankfully, lipglosses are more forgiving and have a narrower margin of error. I’ve given up on fancier branded lipglosses like Too Faced, MAC Lipglass, and NARS the past couple of years because I’ve since discovered L’Oreal Infallible Plumping Gloss and Palladio glosses. Both brands cost less ($4-$10), yield amazing color especially when layered over neutral lipsticks and, the best part of all, finish much better than the pricier stuff! The pricier brands have left my mouth looking like I dipped it in a pile of benito flakes, which is hot if you’re going for that cold sore look; not so much if you actually want glossy hydrated lips.