I am not going to talk about the economic crisis which has motivated me to write this article right now because it’s just too depressing. However, whatever is going on in the world and whatever new pressures we’re facing, saving money and reducing waste is always a good idea. I’m a bit of an oddity, in more ways than one, but in this context, because I’m a beauty product maker who is consistently preaching about how to save money on cosmetics and buy less. Why? Well, because I’m a fellow target for the beauty industry, because I’m tired of my insecurities being preyed upon largely by the industry that created or at least added fuel to them, because buying stuff we don’t need is destroying the planet and because supporting the huge conglomerate beauty brands contributes to the disproportionate distribution of wealth. Cosmetics may not be the obvious area to look at when tightening our belts. However, if we're cutting back then surely it shouldn't be on heating, healthy foods, activities and hobbies. Instead, let's see if we can make cuts on how much money we spend on our quest for beauty perfection when we're frankly, already pretty damn fabulous.
So, let’s look at how we might be able to save money on cosmetics whilst also reducing our waste, buying ethically sourced products and giving the middle finger to those in the beauty industry who seek to take advantage of us.
Do You Really Need To Buy It?
We are constantly bombarded with advertising. The UK beauty industry spent over 600 million on advertising in 2021 and they don’t do so because it has no effect. It’s difficult to resist promises of a simple solution to a complex skin problem packaged up in a pretty bottle. It’s not hard to convince someone who is starting to see the signs of ageing in their skin that they need to buy more expensive products to combat that. Truthfully though, what our skin needs is simple and minimal, as discussed in my Formula For Glowing Skin blog.
In terms of make-up, most people use a handful of products but have a drawer full and buy more every month. A lot goes unused and make-up doesn’t last forever. So, it’s a good idea to plan your make-up. Decide what you’re going to use daily (if you use make-up at all) and for evenings out too. Then try not to buy anything but replacements, and only then when you need to.
There are so many things we buy that we don’t need. So many myths in need of busting and I’m here to help. If you’re unsure if a product is actually doing you any good then feel free to ask me on Instagram. Don’t let the beauty industry pressure you into parting with your hard-earned money for things that, at best will do nothing and at worst could intervene with your skin’s natural ability to rejuvenate and rehydrate itself.
In the meantime, check out my blog on 5 Totally Unnecessary Beauty Products In Your Cosmetics Bag.
Do You Really Need To Keep It?
Following on from being more mindful in our purchasing decisions, we can also save money on cosmetics by culling the products we already own. This doesn’t save money directly and, to be honest, it’s a bit depressing when you sort through all those eye creams, neon eyeshadows, lip glosses, serums and hair products and realise how few you use. In fact, it can feel a little like an intervention - difficult to go through but ultimately liberating.
When it comes to make-up, few of us over the age of 21 have more than three go-to make-up looks. Throw away any make-up that does not get used for either your regular day look or your evening look. Lament that that green sparkly lipstick probably was only appropriate for that Disney Villians fancy dress party and part with such things with graceful acceptance.
If you’re anything like me you’ll struggle to do this. It feels wasteful and so often it’s only when you finally get rid of something that you’ll suddenly need it. Yet, having an organised and minimal cosmetics drawer or cabinet is so important and will save you money, because:
- Less clutter helps us to see what we have (which is often everything we need)
- It is easier to notice when we’re running low on a product
- It keeps our skincare routine simple which is what our skin needs
- When we’re aware of what we have we’re far less likely to buy products we don’t need
What should you do with your cast-off cosmetics? Beauty product packaging is not always catered for in your regular recycling. However, by signing up to Terracycle you can send your cosmetics off to be sorted, cleaned and turned back into raw materials to be used again.
Bulk buying has become an ugly term. Perhaps because we all remember the supermarket isles being cleared out by a handful of people during the pandemic. It’s also a privilege to be able to buy in bulk. You have to have the space to store it and you have to have the money to pay upfront. So, unfortunately, bulk buying is not a solution available to everyone. That being, if you can, there are ethical ways of doing this. Online bulk buying, for instance, does not clear out the supermarket shelves for others.
In terms of cosmetics, you might look at toothpaste, facial wipes and cloths and hair products in particular. A lot of single-use products lend themselves to being bought in bulk so take the opportunity to shop with an eco-conscious brand that offers more environmentally friendly options. Cheeky Panda stock sustainable face wipes, nappies, tissues and more and at Miniml you can buy vegan refills for hair shampoo, conditioner, soap and more, as well as cleaning products too.
There are a lot of people out there claiming that if we all cancel our subscriptions then we can all sail through the cost of living crisis. Cancel Netflix and you will be able to afford to buy a new home, get rid of your online newspaper subscription to take control of rising energy costs, and all sorts of silly illogical and frankly intelligence-insulting claims. Now, there are arguably subscriptions that could save us money if cut but some subscriptions save us money. Especially if they are things we would be buying anyway, like cosmetics.
Olive & Joyce offer a significant discount for subscriptions, as do other cosmetics brands. This means you get sent your face cream and oil, or other cosmetics, automatically on set dates to stop you from running out or having to remember to reorder. The Olive and Joyce subscription boxes contain your chosen face cream, face oil, handmade cotton facial pads, and a surprise gift, and can be set up to come 3, 4 or 5 times per year, depending on how much product you go through.
Not only is there usually a discount applied to subscribing to your preferred cosmetics brands, but it also saves you money when you run out. I hear rumours that some highly organised people reorder as soon as the pot starts to get low. However, if you’re anything like me, you leave it until you’ve run out. Being that we’re not going to go without our daily product for the days it will take for your new supply to arrive, we inevitably end up buying a substitute product to serve us in between. Apart from being an unnecessary extra cost, this also confuses our routine-reliant skin.
Consider Spending More
Eeeek! Now, this is a tricky one and difficult for me to explain since I spend so much time preaching about the beauty industry’s mission to get us to overspend on cosmetics. So, what I mean is let's not fall for cheap products with poor ingredients - your skin deserves better.
Sometimes beauty products are expensive because of the brand name. Sometimes it’s because the makers commissioned an expensive study to ‘prove’ that testers of the product noticed results after use. Neither reason justifies an increased consumer cost in my opinion. What is worth more is the quality of the ingredients used in the product. Generally, natural ingredients will cost more and the higher the consistency the more expensive the product will be. Unfortunately, the more ethically ingredients are sourced, the more it drives up the cost to the manufacturer so as much as I hate to share this, the reality is we can usually expect to pay more for ethical products. The silver lining is that the more of us who invest in doing so, the more mainstream it will become which should drive down the cost for everyone in the future.
Being able to tell whether a product is worth its price tag can be considered a sign of witchcraft. After all, so much of the beauty market is draped in mystery. However, the product ingredients list should be your first port of call. The amount of ingredients is not necessarily a sign of quality, but the concentration can be. Under flexible advertising regulations, a product can advertise a key benefit as, for example, the use of turmeric, when in fact there is only the tiniest trace added. We can also attempt to gauge how environmentally-friendly and ethical a product is through the information available on the company website and possibly its online reputation. Looking for palm-oil-free brands, such as Olive & Joyce, is a good idea since it is challenging to produce products without palm oil and thus doing so can demonstrate a true commitment to sustainability.
How does spending more save money on cosmetics?
Buying quality products usually means you need less and so they last longer. The most common way to make cosmetics cheaper? Water down the ingredients! This means you unconsciously start using products more regularly and applying them in larger quantities which means you run out faster. So, ultimately, you have spent the same amount of money on a product that didn’t work as well. This applies especially to face creams, cleansers and foundation.
You may also find with make-up that using cheap brushes results in more product being wasted. Generally, with face creams, you should only need a pea-sized amount of product if the density of the quality ingredients is good enough.
What Are Your Ways To Save Money On Cosmetics?
There's no better time to be sharing cost-saving tips, so if you have any other ways to save money on cosmetics then let us know on Instagram. Tag us @oliveandjoyce and we'll share all unique tips and make sure you get the credit too.