Lesson #2: How to Make Vanity Less Expensive

by Rachel on May 19, 2010

When I think of all the money I’ve given to beauty companies over the years, it makes me a little sick. But then I look at how white my teeth are and I’m kind of OK with it. However, as I’ve gotten older and realized that I need to spend wisely, I’ve had to readjust my beauty budget.

I got an e-mail last night from a reader who reminded me of this. She said,

Help! I’m a beauty junkie on a budget. One day I will be able to brush with a diamond-encrusted toothbrush and fill up my gas tank with liquid gold, but for now I must resort to scrounging coupons out of my purse in the aisles of CVS (and Wal-Mart when I’m desperate). Anyway…my question is about razors. I can’t keep buying Venus Embrace replacement cartridges anymore ($30??) but I don’t want to litter the earth with disposables (I’m also a semi-hippie, you could say). Should I buy those $9 three packs of disposables? Or the cheap0 ones? I want something that will do the job and not break the bank. Any suggestions, O Wise One?

OK, this obviously made my day on a few levels, but what I told her was that I agree that $30 razors are ridic. I ask for them for Christmas and my mom usually gives me enough in my stocking to keep me set for a while. And then…

“Maybe you only use the pricey Venus embrace on days when it REALLY matters. For example, you’re going to the beach, have a big date, etc. Then you use the disposables to do your underarms (can’t really mess that up) or just when you want a quick shave before you wear shorts but you know it doesn’t REALLY matter but you just feel sort of gross and hairy.”

And this goes back to a lesson that I learned a few months ago: I could buy pricey make-up, but I had to use it less often.

Sometimes we put on make-up for a big night out or even for a day at work and we want to look immaculate. We want our eyes to sparkle and our complexions to look rosy and glowy. I call this the “Point Me Toward the Red Carpet Face.”

Other times we put on make-up because we just don’t want to look dead. We are just running errands or maybe hitting the gym and we just want to put on a face that doesn’t leave people asking, “Hey…are you OK?” I call this the “I Won’t Recoil in Horror if I Catch Sight of my Reflection Face.”

(I mean, I’m all for inner beauty and loving yourself as you are but I’ve done the recoil too many times to count.)

Anyway, one day I was brushing on $30 mascara and I realized I was only doing it so that the UPS man wouldn’t recoil. And then I realized that that made no sense. I decided I needed a separate, “Won’t Recoil in Horror” make-up kit and a “Walking the Red Carpet” make-up kit.

(And in regards to the e-mail, there are “I Could Shoot a Sex Tape With This Bikini Line” razors and “Will Keep Me From Worrying I’ll Die in an Accident and Everyone Will See My Hairy Legs” razors. And we both agreed that in the latter case, the Schick Quattro disposables are boss.)

Because even if you swear that there’s nothing better than an expensive mascara or foundation or razor, there are probably days when you just don’t need it…but you still want something. So you can really extend the life of the expensive products by using cheap-but-good products when it doesn’t matter so much. If I’m running errands and know I’m going to take a full-shower/put on the Red Carpet Face later, then I’m not going to use my expensive mascara in the morning. Does the pharmacist at Rite Aid really need to think my eyes sparkle? And there’s nothing worse than wiping my face during spinning and realizing I’ve left Make-Up Forever all over the towel. That’s some seriously expensive sweat.

The moral of the story: It’s OK to be a beauty junkie; it’s not OK to miss a student loan payment because you insist on wearing Mac eyeshadow to the gym.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Keri May 19, 2010 at 8:51 am

For razor blades, you can also get a really great deal shopping on Amazon – the Gillette blades are about half price online. Sure, you have to spend $25 to get free shipping, but even if you get something exciting to supplement your razor blades instead of something practical, you’re still saving money overall!
.-= Keri´s last blog ..Pre-run: Broad Street =-.


2 Rachel May 19, 2010 at 8:52 am

Oh Keri that’s a great tip!! I mean if you’re already buying something, you could add some razor blades to get it up to $25!


3 Rachel Marlena May 19, 2010 at 9:36 am

On that note you can also save mega-cash buying some products at stores like TJMAXX. They don’t sell make-up, obvs, but they do sell great skin care, shampoo, conditioners, products, etc. I bought my hair dryer there for one-third it’s price at the Bed, Bath, and Beyond next door.


4 MelissaNibbles May 19, 2010 at 10:32 am

Eyes Lips Face is a great brand for cheap. Also, Cover Girl Lash Blast is amazing.


5 march May 19, 2010 at 10:38 am

Haha i didnt even realize i had a two separate makeup bags, one for going out and one for work/grocery trips/mundane stuff. And as far as razors go ahh i love the mens ones, they seem so much sharper so i can get away with not constantly changing the blade cartridge. And ps you remind me of lena horne:)


6 Rachel May 19, 2010 at 10:46 am

March — thank you!! :) That’s a lovely compliment!


7 Angie May 19, 2010 at 10:48 am

Please, do tell which mascara brand it is that make your eyes sparkle and ready for red carpet interviewing.
.-= Angie´s last blog ..Decide. =-.


8 Rachel May 19, 2010 at 10:56 am

Oh Angie, I could go on and on and on…but here are my faves!!

1. Lancome Oscillation. When this came out, everyone scoffed. (Everyone always scoffs at my new beauty adventures!!) But let me tell you, it’s the real deal! You hold down a little button, and it whirs away, giving you the loveliest, fullest lashes. There is an Estee Lauder one but don’t get it. Lancome wins this round!

2. Maybelline Lash Stylist. Maybelline just knows mascara. The only reason this is not my number one is because it’s too dramatic for everyday wear. This is an “Are those things real?” mascara (but in a good way!!)–the trick is to apply it right. It comes with a tiny comb. Instead of brushing it through your lashes like some, it’s better if you sort of set the comb against the base of your lashes, and then set again a little futher up, and then set again. It’s hard to explain, but that’s the best I can do. Do not let it dry between coats. Once it’s set, it’ll clump if you try to apply it again. It takes a few tries to get the hang of it, but once you do–bam!

3. Benefit Bad Gal. I like this for its fat brush; I definitely think it gives good volume and color. I used to wear it every day to work.

The icons: DiorShow and Lancome Defencils. These are superstar best-sellers for a reason. I love them and go back to them frequently!!

The letdowns: FiberWig. Didn’t do it for me!! Oh and Maybelline Lash Stiletto…amazing ad campaign, huge disappointment.

And my current cheap “Don’t Recoil” fave is Maybelline Define-a-Lash. A newcomer, and a goodie! I like this if I’m just rolling out of bed and running around town. I also accidentally bought the waterproof version and I have to say it’s pretty good! It survives Spinning! I think this gives really nice fluttery eyelashes and adds length. And of course you just can’t ever go wrong with Maybelline Great Lash!!


9 Megan May 22, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Lash Stylist was the best…so upset they discontinued in favor of lash stiletto


10 Amanda May 19, 2010 at 5:50 pm

My best tip for saving on razors – about a year ago when I was getting a bikini wax I threw caution to the wind and had my underarms waxed as well. I am officially obsessed! An underarm wax lasts me about twice as long as a bikini wax (I guess the hair grows in slower?) and saves tons of time in the shower. It doesn’t hurt nearly as much as you might expect – definitely less than the bikini area. And get this – my aesthetician only charges $10!

After having a few professionally done, I recently tried doing it myself with a microwaveable wax from the drug store and it was a piece of cake. I highly recommend trying it out! Cuts way down on razor mileage.


11 Rachel May 19, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Oooh Amanda that’s awesome!! Which drug store wax did you use??


12 Amanda May 19, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Nair Cire Divine – awesome because you don’t have to coordinate the wax and strips. Just let it cool and whip it off!



13 Carla Aldaco May 19, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Love this post! I might just be able to give you a run for your money with how much money I have spent on the contents of my make-up bag! One time i thought i lost that damn little bag and I litterally cried!
Looks like Lash Stylist is discontinued :( I use L’oreal extra volume collagen mascara, and so far so good! I’ve tried SO many but at $7-ish bucks, I’ll keep buying this one!


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