Fact (probably): we tend to underestimate how much we spend on beauty. Is it because we don’t want to admit to ourselves and others how much we truly spend on something that’s considered frivolous, unnecessary and superficial? Or is it because, compared to what the majority of the world population has access to, it seems like an ostentatious luxury we want to hide like a shameful secret? Or maybe we just don’t realise how quickly it all adds up. After all, beauty isn’t just skincare and makeup, but if you consider all personal care products that actually includes much more basic items such as body wash, toothpaste and deodorant. You may be perfectly content with how much you’re spending on beauty, but if you’re looking to free up some cash for different pursuits (or necessities) then check out these 5 tips to help you spend less on beauty.

1. Do an audit: do you actually need to buy more?

Insider (not so) secret: brands do promotions and offers to make you buy more, regardless of whether you need more stuff. So before you plunge head first into Look Fantastic’s latest 25% off sitewide offer and resurface with a ‘beauty haul’, do an audit of what you already have in your bathroom cabinet, on your dressing table, in your box of spares and in your toiletry bag – yes, every nook and cranny. Don’t buy more unless you’re truly running out of a product, because everything has an expiry date, so stocking up is likely to result in waste if you don’t use it up as quickly as you thought. Don’t worry, there’ll be more discounts the following month.   

2. Streamline your beauty routine

There is something to say for the success of K-beauty and the infamous 10-step skincare routine. You only have to stare in awe at BTS’ airbrushed complexions to want to reach for the closest essence and commit to the 7 skin method (which I love by the way and contrary to what the name might indicate, only requires one product: a toner). But healthy-looking skin doesn’t necessarily require layer upon layer of complex beauty products. What it needs is a tailored approach and consistency: chucking every active under the sun at your skin will only sensitise it and/or negate the benefits of certain actives. Back to basics: Clinique was the first brand to introduce us to a 3-step routine of cleanse, tone, moisturise. Toner has taken a backseat in favour of hard working serums, transforming the 3 steps to cleanse, treat, moisturise. So take a hard look at your products and consider:

  1. How often you use them?
  2. Are they actually appropriate for your skin’s needs?
  3. Are there some products that do the same thing? 

Be ruthless, store your unnecessary items away and take your new streamlined routine for a one-month test run. If you don’t miss any of your stored products, dispose of them – responsibly

Scattered beauty products

3. Buy better buy less

Do you find you get through some beauty products really quickly? Maybe a moisturiser that requires a couple of layers to quench your dehydrated skin? Or a shampoo that only gets your hair feeling clean after two generous washes? The days of Primark-style buy-once-use-once beauty are – should be – over. A cheap product is often cheap for a reason: it might be full of silicones or fillers and provide very little goodness to your skin. or be watered down with – well, water. Spending a little more on a product that uses good quality ingredients should mean it lasts longer, or it combines several skin benefits, therefore reducing the number of products you use. Some organic ingredients are higher in antioxidants compared to their non-organic equivalent, which your skin will benefit from. I notice the difference with rosehip oil: Fushi, Neal’s Yard Remedies and Pai all do certified organic ones which are great quality, and you only need 3 drops to achieve instant radiance. 

4. Go supersize (and refills)

This is where you can really see the savings roll in. Same as with your supermarket shop, the bigger the pack, the best price per ml you’ll get. Watch out though: this is not an excuse to use more product. Customers who buy multipacks and larger sizes are found to get through it quicker than purchasers of smaller sizes. So absolutely do go for larger sizes and refills of your everyday essentials such as Neal’s Yard Remedies Citrus hand wash 950ml bottle to refill the glass bottle in the bathroom or of waterless products that will last longer, such as Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant pouch.

Natural beauty essentials

5. Look for multipurpose products

Multipurpose products should not only save you money but also time and space: a handful of hardworking products taking up space on just one bathroom shelf, a beauty routine halved in time and complexity, and a beauty spend that doesn’t get mistaken for your monthly rent. In my post Can you cover all your beauty needs in just 5 products I stripped my beauty routine right back to the bare minimum to cover all my basic needs for face, body and hair (excluding oral health), and the key to success for this insanely low number is the use of multi-purpose products. A great one-pot-wonder that’ll do the job of a makeup remover, nourishing mask, lipbalm and eyebrow tamer is Neal’s Yard Remedies’ Wild Rose Beauty Balm. Keep the full-size jar in your bathroom and take the refillable mini jar with you when travelling (also, extra travel-friendly for not counting as a liquid).

Features gifted products

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