Back to Basics: Beauty Savings & Splurges


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It’s exciting to have a beauty bar at home full of Chanel products, but not when they prevent you from affording your mortgage.

Here’s a list of products you can save on without tarnishing your radiance…and others that are better worth the splurge (if it fits into your budget, of course). Don’t be putting that purple eye shadow on Amex (Stock Quote: AXP!

Cleansers? Save!
Cleansers are meant to do exactly that – cleanse. Contrary to that, though, some expensive cleansers have fragrances and medical ingredients that can irritate the skin. It’s better to look for something simpler. (Note: Simpler shouldn’t cost more than $15)

Foundation? Splurge!
It’s important to find the right shade of foundation to match your skin tone and cheaper brands usually only have a few generic hues. You don’t want to settle on the cheap foundation and end up looking orange or any other shade of unnatural. Department store foundations also apply more evenly and are less likely to rub off. Wear that white blouse with confidence!

Skin Moisturizer? Save!

Most drugstore-brand moisturizers provide good hydration and work for men and women of all skin types. Many now also include sun block to protect your skin from sun damage. The exception is if you have very sensitive skin or a skin condition: Make sure to consult with your dermatologist before trying new products.

Blush? Splurge!

Similar to foundations, it’s important to find a shade of blush that will compliment your skin tone. Cheaper powder blushes have been diluted with talcum power and are not as rich in color. Some may also leave streaks, if they have not been diluted smoothly.

Mascara? Save!
According to experts, drugstore brand mascaras actually outsell those found in department stores. The reason? You don’t need a lot of mascara to get the effect you want and most color formulas are the same. (It’s very difficult to mess up black.) The trick is to get a good mascara brush that will let you apply it evenly without clumping.

Eye Shadow? Splurge!
Department store eye shadows, like Clinique and Nars, usually have richer colors and stay on longer. Since they are more finely milled than drugstore brands, like Maybeline and Cover Girl, they are also less likely to clump or crumble. Some colors are more expensive to make than others, due to their pigmentation, and drugstores are usually limited to browns and blues. If you want a more exotic color, you’re better off going for the splurge.

Eyeliner? Depends: Save or Splurge!
If you’re going to be poking something so close to your eye, make sure it is well-made and easy to apply. Drugstore eyeliners tend to break and many of them are so hard that they irritate the eye. Spend your money on eyeliner with a soft tip that goes on smoothly. But then my editor swears by her $6 Cover Girl eyeliner, a savings of $12 compared to the Clinque brand she used to wear!

Shampoo? Save
Shampoos are meant to cleanse your hair and despite all the formulas with vitamins and proteins in it, the fact remains that your hair really doesn’t absorb much of it. Consider this: Most regular shampoos will give you the same effect as “volumizing” shampoos. What gives your hair volume and the “bouncy” feeling is not a secret formula, but rather cleansing it of dirty buildup and impurities. Any shampoo will do that.

Conditioner? Splurge!

The type of conditioner needed varies according to hair type so it’s not a good idea to buy a generic formula. Someone with thin hair needs different conditioning than someone with thick, wavy hair. While shampoos often rinse out when you wash your hair, many ingredients found in conditioners stay. (Things like oil and wax, which leave your hair with that great shine.)

Styling products? Depends: Save or Splurge!
Like conditioner, different hair textures require different products. Sometimes a generic gel won’t do for your 'do. So invest in a grooming aid that is right for your hair type. (A two-in-one tip for controlling frizzies in humid weather: Hand moisturizing lotion works as a great relaxer.)

An exception: Hairspray. It’s just meant to lock in a style and any cheap bottle will do the trick.

Catch more of Farnoosh’s advice on Real Simple. Real Life. on TLC, Friday nights at 8 p.m.

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