How two frugal beauty decisions will earn me $77000

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Want to know a secret tip about me? My hair is naturally curly. Like really curly.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it my whole life.

My mom did not have curly hair so she handled it the same way she handled her semi-wavy hair – with a brush. In fact, since my hair was so memorably curly I received brush sets as gifts just about every Christmas I was a teen! (Maybe they were trying to tell me something).

Y’all, I implore you, please do NOT brush super curly hair when it’s dry.

I spent junior high as a frizzy self-conscious mess who avoided every camera known to man. Thank goodness that was in the days before cell phone cameras.

Similar to my frizzy hair, I’ve struggled with acne-prone skin since I hit puberty. It took me a long time to embrace my freckles and curly hair, and learn how to handle my acne-prone skin and frizzy curly hair in the dry climate I live in.

One of the ways I tried to handle my insecurity was to throw money at it.

I’ve probably spent a small fortune on beauty products. I’ve never been really good at applying make-up, but I’ve tried multitudes of hair creams and face lotions.

It is estimated that the cosmetics industry will spend $13.1 Billion on advertising in 2017 in the United States alone. That money pays for advertising to infiltrate our lives from every direction telling us that if we just find that one perfect hair product, correct our skin tone to the perfect shade, remove every single hair, and hide any blemish, that our lives will be better! We will feel better about ourselves, get the perfect man, and win over our circle of friends.

It’s all rubbish.

I believe in the power of feeling beautiful, but it has taken me a long time to the realize that just buying and using beauty products is not what triggers that feeling. And if it does, it’s a time-limited, fleeting sense of beauty empowerment.

Throwing money in the pursuit of what cosmetics advertising promises is a path down a financial rabbit hole. Once I was introduced to concealer and foundation, I thought I HAD to use those products before I could be seen in public. I let myself live like that for nearly 15 years!

Over the last year though, I’ve shifted my beauty habits and had two money-saving beauty revelations.

1. I save money by not using shampoo

Yup. I don’t use it! And don’t worry, my hair isn’t gross because of it (I still have hygiene standards). Honestly, I didn’t make this switch in the pursuit of saving money, but rather in the pursuit of managing my curly mane. It was a decision I made after reading Lorraine Massey’s book Curly Girl: The Handbook*.

My beauty strategy - following The Curly Girl Handbook by Lorraine Massey

This book advocates a method known as conditioner washing.

In chemistry terms, the ingredients in shampoo that get your hair clean are called surfactants and they are often made from sulfates. For people with curly hair, sulfates make their hair extra dry.

Now, instead of using shampoo with sulfates, I only use sulfate-free conditioner. Conditioner contains surfactants as well (so my hair still gets clean), just not the same harsh, drying ones (That’s an overly simplistic explanation, if you want more information on the curly girl method, check out the book).

I never used the most expensive products, but when I was using both shampoo and conditioner I was constantly trying to supplement with hair creams, and anti-frizz gel, and mousse. Now, I use one super cheap conditioner and one gel and I have better results with my hair. The supplies are less than $10 together and last me at least 3 months each.

2. Less is more for acne-prone skin

In the last several months I’ve largely stopped wearing makeup. I didn’t do it because of a great philosophical shift or while going through a frugal experiment. More than anything, I’m just lazy when it comes to things like make-up and I have a 9-month-old baby.

I have also had a lingering suspicion that I was trying too hard to fix my skin’s issues. Maybe it would be better if I just let it be. So I did!

I switched to using more natural products and decided to mainly focus on skin care. I found a face wash* and moisturizer* that I LOVE and started using Rose Petal Witch Hazel* as a toner. That’s it! My routine takes less than five minutes and then I can be on my way with the rest of my day. I’ve also noticed that my skin is clearer since I stopped using as many cosmetics.

This decision was also made after considering the example I want to set for my daughter. I want to teach her that true beauty is found from within through the confidence you exude and compassion you share for others. I want to practice what I preach and spend my time emulating those qualities instead of undermining my message by spending half an hour each day applying make-up.

I’m not anti make-up. It’s still fun to use on special occasions and since I’m using make-up more sparingly, I can afford to purchase higher quality, natural products.

I made this switch while still working at a full-time professional job too. I wear business casual clothing, attend national conferences, lead work groups, and give presentations. Nobody has said a thing to me about my lack of makeup.

This switch could earn me $77000 over the course of my working life

The average American woman spends $8 a day on skincare and cosmetics. That’s $2920/year!

I don’t know if I’ve ever spent that much, but it’s not unreasonable for me to estimate that I’ve been spending $25/month on excess hair and beauty products. Inevitably, sometime throughout a month, I would splurge and try just one new hair cream, or one new set of eye shadow, or a new foundation that was going to be great for sensitive skin (It never was).

That equates to $300/year. If I invest $300 a year until I’m 65 years old and earn 8% returns, that will be $77000!

More than anything this demonstrates to me the compounding power of frugality. Giving up shampoo or make-up may not be the right decision in your life, but if you can make conscientious choices to save a little bit here and there, it can truly add up over time.

 

By the way, I’m pretty sure my baby has inherited my curly hair so instead of referring to her as baby FC, her new nickname here on the blog is going to be Curly 🙂

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7 Comments

  1. This is such a good point! I’ve also adjusted my beauty routine and it’s both made life easier and saved me money.

    I no longer dye my hair. I wear makeup a few days a week, and only when I feel like it. It’s a struggle to NOT use these products at first, but I finally saw that my natural self is good too.

    1. When you’re so used to wearing makeup, making the switch to not use them is definitely hard. I completely understand. It made me feel vulnerable for sure, but I’m glad you’re embracing your natural self. Beauty shines from within whether you’re wearing makeup or not, what matters is how you feel!

  2. Ridiculously thin, straight-haired person here to say I’m jealous of your curly hair! 😉 I’m about to finish a bottle of horrible-for-your-hair shampoo so let the experimentation to find something else that works for me begin!

    I’ve been struggling with skin issues for the last 8 or so months (thanks, birth control!) and came to the same conclusion a while ago that maybe I was trying too hard to fix things and making it worse. “Inevitably, sometime throughout a month, I would splurge and try just one new hair cream, or one new set of eye shadow, or a new foundation that was going to be great for sensitive skin (It never was).” I relate to this so much. I think I’ve mostly found a routine that works for me, but I’m still unsatisfied on the moisturizer front so it seems like every month I’m buying something new in the hopes that it’ll work out. It helps that I’ve never been someone who wears makeup (too fundamentally lazy, plus my mom never did as well so I never learned how to put it on), but even the quest for just basic skincare can get expensive!

  3. I don’t often wear makeup (tomboy by nature), but I do enjoy dressing up once in a while for dates, or putting on a full face if I’m going to be on camera somewhere (once or twice a year).

    I recently decided to stash the makeup away out of my daughter’s reach and stop using it around her. She’s almost 5 years old, and likes to play with blush brushes, lipstick, etc. That was cute up until she said “my friends won’t love me if I’m not pretty”. She must have picked that up from one of her girlier friends at preschool, and it’s sad.

    1. That is very sad! Hopefully your daughter will learn more from your example than from those other kids.

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