I am a gal who tends to pride myself on my simple and cheap beauty routine. I actually wrote a post here this summer about how I really only spend around $400 a year on all things hair, body, skin, and makeup related. $400 sounds like a pretty big number for these things, but I’ve found that in comparison with what most women spend on beauty, it is really hardly anything. However, this isn’t a story of me being a budget-beauty queen. This is a story of me spending more on a single moisturizer than I’ve ever spent on anything related to my physical appearance. This is also a story about how I don’t regret it for a damn second.
I live every day with a struggle similar to one Chelsea has written about many times on TFD: #ProblemSkin. Growing up, my skin was never an issue. In fact, I never really had a lot of confidence issues related to my appearance in my teenage years. I felt a little insecure about my body sometimes, but eventually settled into my skin and found myself completely comfortable there. (My insecurities tend to be a bit more intellectually-based – I hate when people are smarter than me, which is a huge issue that I’m trying to work through. But that’s a conversation for another day.)
However, about two years ago, my skin became a total nightmare. Almost overnight, it turned from perfect to absolute insanity. I had never worn foundation or any type of face makeup before this time, and was completely stressed out by the idea of putting a layer of fake skin on top of my own each day – but I did begin wearing it every day because I was horrified by the blotchy, oily disaster that was my real skin. I also ended up on a temporary (but very intense) hunt for miracle products to heal my face. I tried probably every face cleanser and moisturizer on the market before settling on a combination of Lush products that I didn’t seem to have any allergic reactions to (because is #ProblemSkin wasn’t bad enough, it is also hella sensitive and prone to allergic reactions), and actually made my skin calm down quite nicely.
It wasn’t until recently that my tried-and-true (and very easily budgeted-for) Lush products got a run for their money. I went to the store to re-purchase my moisturizer, which I’ve been using religiously for a bit over a year now. I consider this product a savior because it tackled one big skin issue I was having last year: oiliness. It somehow found a way to keep skin matte without drying it out, which no other product had been able to accomplish. However, it didn’t do much in terms of actual moisturizing. So I decided to grab a few samples of other Lush formulas while I was there to see if anything else would be a good match for my skin now that the oil issue seemed to be tamed.
I’m not sure if I’m necessarily a super-vulnerable person at this point in time, because my skin (although not as clear and even as it once was, and definitely far from perfect) has truly improved so much over the past year, so my search for miracle products is a little less frantic. However, I think the salesperson sensed that I’ve dealt with much face-related desperation in the past, and truly would pay any amount of money for the confidence good skin gives me. With all of that in mind, she gave me a four-day sample of another Lush moisturizer called Gorgeous, and promised me without any doubt that it would change my life. She handed me the sample, pointed at me, and yelled across the store to another employee, “This girl is going to be a Gorgeous girl – I can feel it!”
I liked the sound of that instantly. I’d love to be a Gorgeous girl! The catch? That one tiny tub of moisturizer costs a cool $87.95 for 1.5oz. I didn’t want to love it, but somehow, I knew I would.
I brought the sample with me on a family vacation this past weekend, and emerged bare-faced from the hotel bathroom each morning asking my mom to tell me if she was seeing what I was seeing. In just two days, the results were actually noticeable – and amazing. My skin still wasn’t perfect, but after only two days of being a Gorgeous girl, the oily spots were perfectly matte, the dry spots were plump and dewy, and the old scars had evened out into a nearly perfectly toned and bright complexion.
I’m not sure if the product is just that amazing, or if I’ve fallen victim to some sort of skincare placebo effect, but four days after being handed that sample, I was back in the store handing a hundred-dollar bill over to the salesperson who had made me so many promises just a few days earlier.
Which brings us to today. I walked out of the store feeling guilty, and have sat home feeling guilty since I returned. I think about what I could do with $87.95 – I could save it, invest it, buy someone a gift. Instead, I’m buying moisturizer. It does make me feel kind of like a spoiled brat, because I cry “broke” sometimes, but apparently have an extra hundred to toss at skincare. I’ve mentioned before how I am an avid monthly budgeter – I use an Excel spreadsheet every month to make a budget that is specific to my needs (and funds) at that time. I break it down into many categories: bills, food/grocery, health/beauty, savings, etc. — you get the idea. I recently have cut the “miscellaneous/fun-time spending” category off of my budget in an attempt to reach a savings goal I have set for the end of this year (post on that coming soon!), so with that in mind, I did feel kind of silly spending a hundred dollars on a beauty product and justifying it by considering it a “health/beauty” expense rather than acknowledging that it is truly unnecessary and purely to make myself look good. It felt like a luxury purchase; it felt fun – and I’m trying so hard not to spend on fun right now.
However, I’m beginning to consider good and effective skincare to be a necessity, not only in terms of beauty and aesthetics, but for my actual emotional sanity. Bringing my yearly budget for moisturizer up from about $90 for the year to about $175 (I only need to replace the tub every six months, because it takes a while to go through it all even when used every day) was a small price to pay for the freedom I feel having a product that truly makes me feel beautiful and comfortable in my skin. I’ve gone makeup-free for the past four days. In public. I don’t think I’ve gone makeup-free anywhere in front of anyone for more than a few minutes in the past two years. I am not sure if the money I’ll save on foundation and concealer is going to make a huge financial difference in my life, because I use pretty inexpensive makeup products. But even without any financial justification, I will not let myself feel guilty about this purchase. I earn my own money and reserve the right to spend it to make myself feel beautiful. There comes a point in your adult life where you get to begin deciding what you value enough to put big chunks of your money into. As it turns out, I’m beginning to value myself.
Mary is the summer Media Fellow at The Financial Diet. Send her your summer intern stories (your lessons, failures, triumphs and good advice) at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image via Pixabay