In an ideal world you could walk into your local Sephora with your black AMEX and purchase everything under the sun. In a more ideal world Chris Hemsworth would be holding your little black basket helping you decide between taupe and tan – since we all know they’re completely different. In the real world, beauty products are expensive.
Throughout my beauty journey I’ve relished any place to save a buck here-and-there. More-so, I feel like some beauty items or routines don’t necessarily need to take your full paycheck – they’re actually better at a lower price level. However there are still the things that I’m willing to pay for each and every time. They’re my beauty staples that I know I can’t replace with a drugstore counterpart; and trust me I’ve tried them all.
Today I’m sharing the things that I tend to save on and the things I tend to splurge on, along with my top picks for each category. Read on to maybe get a little inspired (or even a little spendy)…
Hair cut | Top pick: Lydia from Casals in Clarendon (Arlington, VA)
Okay so this one is deceiving as it is definitely a higher price point, but let me start off by saying that I pay this once a year. I tend to dread cutting my hair and get enough chopped off each time so that I only need to re-visit every 8 to 10 months. If you can find a salon that doesn’t accept tips – as Casal’s does – it also saves you a few bucks down the line! I also recommend investing in a hair serum or heat protectant (see below) to keep your hair healthy between cuts. It seriously helps in the long run and keeps away split ends until you next session in the chair.
Mascara | Top pick: Maybelline Lash Sensational
Mascara is one of the things that drugstores excel at. I’ve tried many high end brands over the years but always seem to come back to my Maybelline, Revlon, and Covergirl. The Lash Sensational is an all-over blogger love and I’ve been steadily using it for months now. The only downside is that the waterproof versions do take a bit longer to get off than designer brands do; but with some heavy duty remover (or a steady rotation from waterproof to regular) you’re set!
Lip products | Top pick: Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm
If you’re like me you stash a lip balm in every possible purse, drawer, and pocket you can find. A first-hand experience of finding myself without a balm at work today made me panic (in a very thoughtful and beauty-related way) of what I should pick up from the drugstore that I can use more than once. The first thing that popped into my cart is one of these matte balms. I also find that the drugstore carries so many great lipsticks, glosses, and stains: 2/5 of my top lip picks of 2015 were straight from CVS.
Shampoo/Conditioner | Top pick: John Frieda’s Sheer Blonde line
If there’s a John Frieda fan club then sign me up. I’ve used the Sheer Blonde line for over 10 years at this point and can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. The formula is just so good. It cleans my hair without over-drying it, leaves it silky smooth, rids me of any knots, and helps my blonde strands shine. I had a moment when I tried out some other products late last year and my hair FELT IT. Cue the immediate pick-up to add these bad boys back into my shower. *i’m so sorry, John*
Hair tools | Top pick: Jilbere
I have about three high-end curling wands that currently collect dust under my skin, and yet I always seem to pull out my jankiest/oldest wands when I do my hair. The first is a Jilbere curler thats currently on it’s 7th year of life. It was a curler before the wand phase existed, and so I took the clip off about three years ago and now it’s just a mutated wonder of a thing. How glam, right? The second go-to of mine is this Remington wand I got for $25 off of Amazon. It creates the perfect waves and is so quick to heat up.
Face masks | Top pick: Sephora sheet masks
I only started using these $6 masks in this past year but they have slowly made a home in my heart. I feel like my skin is always having a different concern so I like that you can pick up what works best for you at the moment; instead of investing $50+ into one general concern. A second favorite of mine are the Lush Fresh Face Masks. At $8-$11 a tub they are a great investment – as you usually get 5-6 masks per go.
Brush cleaner | Top pick: Dial antibacterial foaming hand soap
Is it kosher to wash your pricey brushes in $3 hand soap? Mm, probs not. Do I still do it? Duh. A pump of this soap gets deep down into my brushes and really gets all of the grime off of them. I find that the formula is lightweight around to clean residue off but without taking ages to get the suds out. Bonus is that I use this as my hand soap so your investment goes two-fold.
Nails | Top pick: Mimosa Salon (Dupont Circle, Washington DC)
There’s just something so luxe and relaxing about getting your nails done. I also love the fact that gels tend to last 3-4 weeks (at least on me) so it is a nice monthly treat. Myself and Faith started a tradition before we went to LA of heading to the salon after work for a glass of champagne and a nice pamper session. Mimosa Salon also offers $25 gel specials all-day Mondays to Wednesdays,so you don’t have to give a kidney to get great service. A good manicure always makes me feel so much more put together – as someone who types all day long, at least when I stare at my hands pounding the keyboard I can admire the quality. This just reminds me that I need to book my next appointment…
Eyebrow waxing | Top pick: European Wax Center (Courthouse, Arlington VA)
As with fresh nails, fresh brows can make a girl WERK. I pay a visit to my local EWC every four weeks to tame my face-framers and always walk out feeling revived. So much so that I always end up popping into Starbucks on the walk home and forgetting that the upper half of my face is flaming from recently being waxed. Classic. Helloooooo boys!
Moisturizer | Top pick: Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation
A good moisturizer has only become super important to me this year and I feel it’s long overdue. Each year that we age (begrudgingly) our skin is faced with elements and stressors that tire it out. If you have one step in your entire makeup routine it should be to moisturize! Find something that works for your face – whether it’s $10 or $100 – and stick to it. In my case, what worked for me is this rich cream.
Hair oil/treatment | Top pick: Moroccan Oil
In reference to my haircut note above: want to save money on haircuts? Invest in a good hair treatment. I’ve been using Moroccan Oil for years now and it’s saved my locks from lots of breakage. The large $44 bottle is a bit pricey but has lasted me for at least 5 years as you only need a small small amount.
Do you tend to save more or splurge more? Is there something you always invest in, no matter what? Share your secret finds in the comments!