I know this is a party pooper topic that no-one really wants to talk about, but it really is important. I know from experience how easy it is to get yourself swept away. It’s so easy to reach for your wallet to spend spend spend when you see rave reviews, first looks, unboxings and the like from bloggers or users just gushing about their new Holy Grails. This is mangified, especially in the case of Asian Beauty products when you’re ordering from abroad, and are factoring wait times. It starts small, you’re just buying sample sets you tell yourself, and who doesn’t need sheet masks? Then, before you know it, you’ve spent $60 and you only meant to buy $25 worth of products.
You need to be honest with yourself when asking the question, ‘what can I afford?‘ and then shop to that. For me, the reality is, I’m a freelancer, I don’t have a lot of steady income. I really can’t afford to just drop £20 every time a blogger I admire declares a product to be a a miracle. So, before you let yourself get whipped up into a frenzy bulk buying a product you’ve never tested here are some tips I have that I used to reign in my spending! These tips aren’t just about saving money, they are about being a responsible and sensible shopper.
Write down your skincare goals. What do you want to change or improve about your skin? Having these written down will help you be more discerning when you’re shopping. If your skincare goal is hydration then you should focus on products that will help to increase your hydration. It is really easy to get swept away by a new wonder product that promises all sorts of things. While it may actually do them, if your skin concerns aren’t in line with the promises, then why buy it?
Do your research. Now you know what your goals are, what are ingredients or products that are proven to be effective? Need to boost your hydration, then you’ll be interested in humectants like glycerine and hyaluronic acid and maybe an occlusive to seal it all in. Interested in getting rid of acne scars (PIH – Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation)? Well, chemical exfoliation, vitamin c and vitamin a are ingredients that you’ll be very interested in. Be wary of manufacture claims! They will stretch the truth as far as they can.
- Find reviews that are positive and negative. Be wary of blog posts that only talk about the good sides, no matter how amazing something is there will always be a downside somewhere. There is no perfect product. Even if it is something as minor as, “The packaging is glass and can get slippery”, is great because to me it shows they are looking at it critically.
- Find reviews that have similar skin types/concerns! If you have oily skin and you’re only reading reviews by people with dry skin and you’re wondering why the products don’t work for you, you might want to switch reviewers. It’s also important to know what climate the blogger is dealing with. If they live somewhere warm and you live somewhere mostly cold then their product demands may be different from yours.
Think of products in categories. You should also know the intended purpose of each product before you buy it. That way you won’t have a bunch of half empty products that all do the same thing expiring before you can finish them. That doesn’t mean you can’t repurpose things, it just means that when you buy something you have a rough idea of where it will fit in your routine, even if it doesn’t end up filling that role.
Comparison shop! Learn which retailers are key for each type of product. RRS is often the cheapest for Mizon, TesterKorea has the best range of samples, Wishtrend & Jolse have really good descriptions and product lists. Also check their eBay pages, if you don’t mind waiting then chose free shipping. Often it’s cheaper as it’s the suppppper basic shipping method. Also, do you need EMS? Really? If you’re in the UK, I’d strongly advise against it unless you’re willing to accept extra charges.
Keep track of your triggers. I talked about figuring out your triggers and my triggers here. This is important, a product may be really effective for your skincare goals but it may have an ingredient that causes a reaction. Read the ingredient lists! Why spend money when you won’t be able to use it?
Give yourself limits. This is the tough part, setting limits and then sticking to them. You alone know your budget and what works for you. I can’t tell you what to set them as, but here are mine!
- Samples & Testers First. Before committing to a full size product, I need to test out the samples or use a tester in store. This stops me from impulse buying a ton of products that I’m not sure will work for me especially as returning them is often not a possibility. I also don’t buy samples of products that I can’t afford to buy the full size of, this stops me from lusting after something out of my price range. The only time I break this rule is if the samples are more than the full product, or the full product costs as much as samples would ($3~). My limit is enough samples to last for two weeks to a month, any more than that is sample hoarding and sample hoarding is still hoarding.
- £10 Product Limit. I have a multistep routine, I can’t spend more than £10 on a single step. This actually helps me be more patient when it comes to buying things in sales. I know it is cheaper to buy samples in bulk instead of the full size product, but I tend to not do this because a lot of samples don’t have dates on them, this makes me a little anxious.
- $40 Order Limit. This is partly because of customs, but also because I don’t want to buy too many things in one go. I tend to buy one full size product and a few samples/masks in each order.
- Plan Every Purchase. That way every checkout online or in person has a reason to it. I’m not spending to make myself feel good, I’m spending for a purpose.
- No bulk buy. No rebuy till empty. I do this because my skin is finicky, what it loves in March is not always what it will love in June. So I don’t bulk buy products no matter how tempting because I might find I don’t need it!
- No Jars. I have nothing against jars, I don’t think they’re unsanitary, I just prefer products in a pump or a tube. I know I can decant, but I’d rather not! So no jars!
Take selfies. Every month, take a selfie of yourself fresh faced with no product on to assess how things are going. Sometimes it is really hard to gauge improvement when you look at the changes slowly every day.
Don’t be too critical! That means don’t look at yourself using the X4 magnification mirror and pick at all your ‘faults’. Take a step back, look at your skin using a regular mirror and smile! Sometimes we’re over critical of ourselves and see impurities where there are none. The people in magazines don’t actually look like that.
Talk to your doctor. If you’re lost, completely at the end of your rope, don’t just buy more things, talk to your doctor.
There was a period of my skincare journey where I would just buy things whenever I felt like it, I would spend money in small increments telling myself that I was getting ‘good deals’, most of the time I was just spending money just because. Most of those products ended up being thrown away or if I was lucky (not opening and keeping the receipt) returned. In the UK our returns policy is pretty strict, unless it isn’t working then you can’t return it.
Rather than being restrictive, I’ve found shopping with these limits to be stress-free compared to blind buying. Having a checklist to work against makes any skincare purchase I make a lot less guilt free. Knowing I’ve done my research, checked to my triggers, tested samples and stuck to my limits makes every purchase feel good instead of a panicked, ‘should I have bought that?’
So! Tell me! Do you have your own spending buffers and limits? Do you track how much you spend or put limits on yourself? I’d love to see your lists!
49 Comments Add yours
I used to buy a lot before I found a steady routine and I am 100% guilty of bulk/re-buying before I run out especially if it goes on sale! I have already been burned by this as a cleanser that I thought I loved last year was actually not so good to me so now I have two extra tubes of cleanser I will never use.
Now I’m on a definite no-buy as I have everything I need/want already but the temptation is always there!
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So I shouldn’t buy that 700th sheet mask? (I kid.) I agree with a lot of the things on this list – especially thinking of things in categories. I actually try to keep a list of the products I currently have in rotation, so I don’t end up buying an 800th serum when I really don’t need it. Setting a per-product price limit is a little tricky for me because some things are just naturally more expensive (like exfoliants, just as an example). Instead, I set a monthly budget and subtract my purchases from it on a spreadsheet. I use scary red letters. It helps. 😛
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Hehehe. 700 is the limit! No more!
I think a monthly budget is a great idea, if I had more of a stable income I think I’d use that instead. I’m a bit more flexible with the limit because of how low the £ is doing right now, so if an item is a little bit over I won’t totally discount it. I just know around £10/item is roughly my financial limit. That might be higher for someone else (like in your case), and that’s fine too! It’s all about finding what works for you 😀
I think my finances are leveling out, so today I bought some finance inserts for my filofax. Hopefully I can use big scary red letters too!
Great post! I’ve been trying from the get-go to do many of the things in this post, such as starting with small samples, identifying my priority concerns, and getting no more than one product per routine step (I also don’t have a 12-step routine for starters, so I am not going to buy a step I don’t have if I don’t feel that step is necessary!). But browsing others’ hauls makes it so.hard. So many sheet masks! Such a pretty jar of cream! This is when I close my browser, run into the kitchen and blend myself an apple-honey-tomato-green tea face mask, to forestall an impulse buy 😉
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Other people’s hauls is fun but you’re so right, they also make it really easy to want to spend!
Wait what.. blend what?! DETAILS PLEASE! That sounds amazing.
Haha thanks! I just threw whatever fresh stuff I had into a blender – half a peeled apple, half a tomato, some green tea powder, a spoonful of honey, no added water. My face needed only about two tbsp though, so I froze some of it and drank the rest! Summers I do yogurt+strawberry+honey, which is also good to drink 😉
It’s cooling and hydrating and distracts me from wanting that appletox cream, but I don’t know that it does any more than that. Also I don’t break out from these things, but someone else might, so use with caution!
I actually have really similar rules 🙂 I am on a budget and I actually prefer deluxe sizes and samples to full sizes since I like changing things up and have troubles finishing full sized items. Also I hate sticking my fingers into jars so I try to avoid jars too!
Jars are the worst right?! They are so inconvenient to me, I really don’t understand why anything is still in jars!
Some look so pretty, but I really just can’t be bothered with dealing with them at all!
I would be so happy if more things came in deluxe sizes, that would make testing so much easier!
I need to be better about this. The “no bulk buy/rebuy until empty”
is a great rule. Usually by the time I finish a product, the season has changed and my skin doesn’t even need that product, or I’ve learned about an even better product that I want to try and would rather use. –Angela
That rule is really one of my more important ones. I’m the same as you, by the time I’ve used up one product, I’ve found another I like better or seasons have changed and I don’t need it anymore! Then I’m stuck with two extra bottles I don’t know what to do with. My family members all have amazing skin now btw due to my hand me downs!
It’s so wasteful that I decided not to do it anymore. If I really like something then by the time I need to refill, I’ll get it again! This has yet to happen, so I’m really glad I’ve not bulk bought anything in the last few months. My patience is rewarded because now I have more funds to try new things!
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I’m such a sucker for “good deals” and end up buying backups. You are right though, if something were really that good, I would just buy it again. Even at full price!
I have bought a refill for an item I wasn’t through with. I had about 1/4 left in the bottle, happened to be in the store, and the price was cheaper than others I’d seen. Since it’s not a store I frequent and it’s probably going to be my shower cleanser for a long time even if I switch my face cleanser out, it seemed a good time.
This is an excellent post that a lot of people could benefit from. I hauled everything at once for my AB routine. It was expensive and a little nerve wracking. Thankfully everything worked out, and I had zero product reactions. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone despite my success.
It’s a risky thing to do, but I’m so glad it worked out for you! I’ve done similar things in brick and mortar stores, just buy a whole range without checking any ingredients or testing it first. We’re rebels you and I. Haha~
This is super well written! I keep drooling over everyone’s hauls but have to constantly remind myself that my routine is exactly the way my skin wants it and buying a bunch of new products to overhaul the routine “just because” is going to wreck my skin and wallet in the long run.
Similar to a few other ABers I started keeping a spreadsheet originally for sheet mask notes and what I would and wouldn’t purchase again, and it’s really helping me track how many sheet masks I have at any one time. I refuse to buy any more until I get to less than 10, and especially since there’s a few Asian stores nearby and if I get really desperate I can pick up a box of MBD to hold me over until my order comes in. Lately I’ve expanded my repurchase list to include AB products as a whole, and calculating the cost across different sites has really help me be picky about what I want to repurchase once something runs low.
But seriously sheet masks. I can’t wait til I get below my “need to restock” number so I can finally get all those cute sheet masks in pretty packaging @_@
I think I may be the odd one out here – I really don’t spend much in comparison because I simply don’t spend money where there is none, haha. The only time I went completely crazy was when I lived in Korea – man, I had so many products and in the end I sold like half of them because they were not working. I guess I was just overwhelmed by the sheer mass and needed EVERYTHING. At once. Now that I’m back home, I’m not tempted as much anymore (except for reading a super raving review… especially concerning acne. Triggers me all the time.)
I think it is great you made that post because I have seen a lot of people overspend and buying stuff 24/7 when they have 10+ similar things waiting in the bathroom. I enjoy shopping, but “responsibly” is the keyword here. Great post! 🙂
Great post and totally agree on the UK custom charges on EMS shipments. I hate that letter from Parcelforce! Urggghhh….
I need an intervention at this point. Seriously. BUY ALL THE THINGS!!
Awww! I know that feeling! Honestly, sitting down and creating some financial plan or at least knowing your limits goes to curbing that desire!
I still want to buy ALL THE THINGS! I just don’t act on it as much 🙂
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I should have read this post before I purchased that Innisfree Memebox. lol I need to apply this to all my purchases, especially since I am trying to save up for my trip. The only thing skincare related that I am looking to purchase is cleanser that is not foam and oil cleanser. However, I have enough cleanser products that I can hold off. The oil cleanser I might have just might need to be transfer to another pump container. The temptation is so real.
The temptation is super real. Hahaha! I have started applying it to a lot of my purchases too. I’m not as strict as skincare is my hot button area, but yeah getting your spending in line is a pretty awesome feeling in all areas!
Yeah. lol But I need that Shinee CD and DVD. I am the worst. At least I shopped around for lowest price.
I know this is unrelated but how’s the Eucerin toner? 😀
You know, just for you I’m going to post the Eucerin brand review that’s been sitting in my drafts for months when I get home.
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Awww Deb! Can I call you Deb? I hope we actually physically meet one day and have the time of our lives! 💖💖💖💖💖
Dee! Everyone calls me Dee 🙂
That convention needs to happen! ABCON! Lool~
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DEE! YES please can we actually make it happen? I’m thinking 2017, I’ll hopefully be going to college in the U.S. in 2017. Maybe we could have the event in like LA or something!
OOOOH, sounds pretty rad. ALSO! I’m sorry. I got home and it was too dark for pictures ¬_¬
The Eucerin toner, I liked! I don’t use it anymore because I found other things to replace it with, but my mom LOVES her toner. She uses it every night and her skin is flawless (jealous).
She has drier skin than mine and she likes that it hydrates and cleanses her skin. I find that it leaves a little film on my skin (dat lactic acid hydration) that makes my my oily skin unhappy in the summer. Winter when I first bought it, I loved it.
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No problem at all girl. I have oily skin too so now I know to steer clear of it! Do check out my latest blog post when you get the chance! 💖💖💖💖
aaaaa thanks a lot for this!!
Great tips! Thanks!
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You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed it 😊
I know I am late to the party but reading this is so timely! My skin concerns are a lot like yours, dehydrated/oily/acne prone(grrr)/ with PIH, not a competition, just pleased I have found a skincare twin in the UK. I went through phases of throwing everything at my skin, buying everything a beautyhall/blogger/online review suggested, expecting overnight results and when those results didn’t happen. Just left it. It has been very expensive. So after a year of various transitions and with a limited budget, I have decided to take my skin in hand. Not fight it, but learn what it is telling me. Easier said than done with an all or nothing personality type.
The best thing I have bought in recent months? pH strips! So many satisfying, but sky high pH, foaming cleansers have gone and effective double cleansing has entered my life.
I have taken your advice and written down my ‘skincare goals’, and looked at categories. I had an overseas order on hold for some reason and your post helped me take stock and I checked in with my skin goals. My final basket was £30+ cheaper!
So thank you again Dee. I will read the rest of your blog, with a steaming green tea!
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SKINTWINS! You experience sounds a lot like mine. I would try anything and everything for a week or two and get upset I wasn’t getting instant results. It was actually limiting my budget to made me take it seriously and be more diligent too! I know what you mean, so much easier said than done, but really so much more satisfying than half empty bottles of broken promises!
pH strips are the best! I’m so glad you’re getting some positive use out of this post. Really honestly feel like my heart has grown three sizes reading this! Enjoy your tea 🙂