Each week our no-holds-barred contributor Grace Gold picks apart a hot beauty topic. It’s our version of an op-ed—with lipstick, laser treatments and eyeliner.
Here in New York, the tents are already going up for fashion week. It has us reminiscing at the Makeup.com office about that moment when we get ready for a new season by putting a chunk of our paycheck (okay, perhaps even a whole paycheck) into that designer handbag or pair of shoes we've so deeply coveted. And for real beauty junkies, that same flutter of nervous excitement is felt when splurging on luxury grooming products that promise radiant complexions and that sultry je-ne-sais-quoi.
My personal nemesis is Creed fragrance—specifically Virgin Island Water—which retails for $155 for one tiny ounce. The liquid gold has been my signature fragrance going on five years now. Every time I’m about to kick the habit for a more frugal alternative, a boy tells me I smell incredible. And there goes that.
Getting gorgeous can get expensive, but we certainly don’t want to go broke doing so. Fortunately, there’s such a thing as responsible splurging, says Gary Belsky, Time columnist and author of Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes and How to Correct Them.
If you set up your primary bank account to transfer even just a few dollars on, say, a weekly basis to another account, that little bit will quickly add up to a luxury mascara, moisturizer or palette in no time—all without touching your "real" savings. Think of it as your very own little beauty fund.
“Most people don’t miss that small amount from each paycheck,” Belsky says. “It’s especially helpful if you set it up with a financial institution for which you don’t have an ATM card.”
And here at Makeup.com, some of our leading contributors have other savvy strategies to splurge intelligently.
Jane Marie of The Hairpin warns against spending money on trends. If the product is cool enough to become a hit, you can bet it'll soon be available for dollars. “Remember back in the day when Chanel made that black nail polish for like $25, and it sold out immediately? It was on the shelf for $5 at CVS within a month,” she remembers.
Meanwhile, Julia Coney of All About the Pretty makes splurge amends by cutting corners elsewhere. She buys decadent Chanel Sublimage face cream (worth $390) to keep her skin plush with hydration during the winter season, but says, “I make my own coffee at home and bring lunch to work. At least I know I’m saving somewhere.”
And Makeup.com editor Christiana Molina has a staunch philosophy on never purchasing anything she couldn’t afford to replace in the event it’s lost, but even she thinks there are those moments to ignore reason. After failing to nab a limited-edition highlighter she wanted, she scoured eBay for two years until she found it at four times the original price and still went in for the kill. "My boyfriend nags me for paying so much on something I'll never be able to restock once it's finished, but nothing can replace the perfect glow the product gave me and the rush it still gives me," she says.
Like Christiana, I agree there's a time for succumbing to your desires—within moderation. I enforce a one-week wait before splurging on anything under $100 and a two-week wait for heftier price tags. I find in that time frame, the obsession will either wane with realism or amp up with anticipation. Then I know if my eternal quest for beauty is all the more worth it and it makes the splurge feel all the more gratifying—that is, until the next big thing comes along.
What's the most you've spent on a beauty product?