Skip to content

The Price of Looking Good

December 18, 2009

A discussion came up on MUA recently regarding how much we spend on the products that are part of our daily routine. Before you divide the total by the number of uses you get out of each product, it’s kind of shocking, but I think it’s interesting. And I thought you might find it interesting to know what my default products are, along with my basic, going-to-the-store kind of prep is. So here you are.

First, the shower.

Really, I doubt you need or especially want particular details about my showering habits. I will mention that it’s one of the few things in life I prefer to do top-down. I use my bar soap on my face right now but really need to switch over to something more gentle for the winter; I’m not including what I think I’ll use, yet, since I’m not using it and therefore don’t know what it is. I’m also not really going to include the cost of depilatory stuff, because the scheduling on that is highly irregular, and it seems kind of gross to talk about right now.

  • Shampoo: L’Oreal Everpure; $5 (on sale; I bought a couple of bottles). With shorter hair I think I probably get at least 60 uses out of each bottle. I think. Per use: $0.08

  • Conditioner: See above — L’Oreal Everpure, $5 on sale, 60 uses (let’s pretend I’m about right on this. Per use: $0.08.
  • Soap: Arcana of some sort. I’m pretty entirely devoted to their soaps now; they’re moisturizing and they smell awesome. $6 at the Soap Box Company and I’ll say about 30 uses, since they last me around a month. Per use: $0.20.
  • Scrub: I use the moisturizing scrubs from Arcana as well, and sometimes Villainess, or Super Bad. I get these at SBC as well, and they average around $10 for… well, probably 10 uses. I really don’t use them every day, though; sometimes I use lotion instead when I get out of the shower, mostly Palmer’s Cocoa Butter, $4 on sale for 30 uses or so. So the average per use is about $0.35.

Post-Shower Fun and Games

Not that kind, sillies. Basically it goes like this: Deodorant, Q-tips, toner, treatment, moisturizer. I’m not including toothpaste or toothbrushes because I think that’s basic health care right there, right? Although arguably some of the rest of this would fall into that area as well. Anyway. I’m also being really stupid at the moment because you’ll notice a lack of sunscreen here. I ran out of the one I was using (UV naturals) and hated it, so I’m looking for something different. But I really should be wearing it. I also need an AHA eye cream because of milia, but I don’t have one yet.

  • Q-tips. Do I need to explain these? I generally end up using four; one for each ear, one for the Benzaclin, and one to touch up eye makeup. At $1 for 375 (on sale! duh!), they’re about $0.003 each, so call it $0.01 per day.
  • Toner: I use Grace from Angel Face Botanicals, which I absolutely love. I think it smells good and it makes it a lot easier to apply Benzaclin and lotion. It’s $9/bottle, and a bottle lasts me 6 weeks or so, which works out to $0.21 per day.

  • Acne Treatment: Sadly, I still get zits. FTMFL, really. I have a prescription for Benzaclin gel. It works magical magic wonders and is totally worth it, but I always get sticker shock when I have to refill. It’s $90 for a 90 day supply, so $1 a day. It smells like swamp ass, too. But it works.
  • Moisturizer: Also from Angel Face Botanicals; I use the Chamomile Exquisite Creme. I’ve been using it for a little over a year now and I can’t say enough good things about it; it makes my skin look more glowy and just generally soothes my poor allergy-torn skin. It smells like tea, to me. A jar is $20 and even with generous use it lasts me 2 months. Per use: $0.33.

  • Deodorant: Dove Clinical, $10 a pop, lasts a month. Per use: $0.33.


Usually, with the new haircut (and in the past when I’ve had shorter hair), I throw some mousse in and blow dry. Sometimes I don’t bother. I’m trying to learn to round brush while I blow dry but it’s sort of beyond my capabilities right now. Once it’s dry I use a flat iron or curling iron to heat up segments of hair, wrap them around a Velcro roller, spray at the bottom with some hair spray, then let them sit that way for a while. Take the rollers out, brush, style, etc. I’ll be adding a heat protectant and probably a shine spray here soon. Also, some days, I just let it air dry and then futz around with it; I need to get some styling putty type stuff for days like that. I love Bed Head’s something-or-other in the orange tube, and the Aveda stuff that looks like deodorant.

  • Blow dryer, flat iron, curling iron, rollers, bobby pins, brush, etc. Honestly, how often do you have to replace these items? Hardly ever, I think, and also I don’t feel like looking up prices and trying to break it all down, plus I’d then have to include the electricity used, and that’s bordering on too OCD even for me. So I’m going to call it $0.20 as the amortized cost of all the durable items I use.
  • Mousse: So Gorgeous Volumizing Root Mousse, $6 at Sally Beauty Supply. Honestly, this lasts me about three months. I don’t need very much. $0.07 per use.
  • Hair spray: I use either Aquanet or So Gorgeous Volumizing Hair Spray, depending on the day. Sometimes both. Aquanet is $3 for a GIANT can at CVS, and the So Gorgeous is $6 at Sally, so let’s call it $0.05. Work for you? It works for me.

Ze Face

Ah, yes, my favorite part. This is my default, don’t feel like being fancy, basic face.

  • Brushes, sharpeners, eyelash curlers, etc. Like hair “hardware,” I’m not really counting in the cost of these.
  • Foundation: Revlon ColorStay in Buff (I’m MAC NC20 or MUFE HD 118). I love it, honestly, and though I really want to try the MUFE, I probably won’t be doing so anytime soon. CVS does BOGO on Revlon really often, so it costs me about $6.50 for a bottle, and a bottle lasts… eh, let’s call it a month, which is overestimating how much I use, but whatever. Per use: $0.21.
  • Concealer: Mostly I just use the Revlon CS; it actually works really well for this. But I have horrible dark undereye circles, and for those I occasionally break out some Benefit Boi-ing. I’m finding I don’t love it as much in the winter — it’s stiffer and harder to apply because my skin is drier overall. I buy this set from Sephora which is a freaking steal at $8. Seriously. I’m really fair, but the Medium concealer works on me since I need peach to hide the circles. So let’s call it $4 for the Boi-ing half, and it lasts… um… a really long time. Shall we say 120 days? Per use: $0.03.
  • Highlighter: Mostly I just use the EyeBright half of the Benefit set I linked above. I’ve tried Wet n’ Wild Acapulco Glow but it photographs so very badly (hello, metallic face!) that I’ve decided I don’t really love it. Either way, the cost works out to about the same $0.03 per day. I’ll try to do a tutorial sometime on how I use these products.
  • Bronzer: Smashbox SoftLights in Tint. I’ve had this for over a year and it really doesn’t even look dented, and no, I don’t really feel like I need to throw it out and replace it, because I clean my makeup brushes regularly and occasionally sanitize the surface of the makeup with alcohol. But we’ll say it lasts a year, just for the sake of. Per use: $0.08.
  • Blush: Wet n’ Wild Heather Silk. It’s pretty much a dead-on dupe for NARS Mata Hari, and it costs $3, or $1.50 if you hit a WnW BOGO at the drugstore. It’s really highly pigmented so you only need the tiniest little bit, and if they discontinue this my heart will break. I’m going to say this lasts one year as well, which means it’s $0.004 per use. Yeah.
  • Eye Primer: UDPP, duh! I actually have NOT tried Too Faced Shadow Insurance or the ELF primer. Urban Decay Primer Potion is $17 and a tube lasts about six months for me. Per use: $0.09.
  • Eyeshadow: My go-to is the Smashbox Eye Shadow Trio in Headshot. (HA HA HEADSHOT!) It’s a good, natural palette for my coloring, and it wears really well. $28, and I’ve had this for a year as well, so we’ll call it $0.08 too.
  • Eyeliner: Smashbox Cream Eyeliner in Midnight Brown. I wish WnW would come out with their cream eyeliner in brown; alas, black and purple aren’t my everyday go-to color. So I use this, which is $22 and lasts a year (again, I wash my brushes every night; I’m probably still going to when to throw away makeup hell); per use: $0.06.
  • Mascara: Right now I am sort of in love with this Fresh mascara duo. I really prefer to use sample-sized mascaras, because they dry up and/or I feel like I have to throw them out before I get anywhere near done with a full-sized tube. $10 for three months’ use, more or less. Per use: $0.11.

And then…

There’s the perfume. I honestly couldn’t tell you how long an average 5ml bottle of BPAL or Arcana lasts me, and I do have a few more expensive scents. Right now my everyday go-to is Balmain Ambre Gris. I’ll guess that it’s about $0.20 per day for scent. Probably. Maybe.

And so the grand total for an average, basic kind of day is (roughly rounded) $3.75. I can’t decide if I feel like that’s pretty good or rather too much. I didn’t include nail polish in that, either, but still. I think it’s pretty good. How about you?

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 3, 2010 1:06 pm

    This is fascinating. I’ve never really thought of it this way. Since I only wash my hair 1-2X/week, and only wear makeup if I’m going out somewhere, my daily costs would likely be in even lower. Makes me feel better about how much this stuff seems to cost.

    Of course, if I start adding in the stuff I buy and end up having to throw out because it sits in my bathroom for years, it’s not quite so cheery…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: