How Much Should I Be Spending on Skincare? How to Stop Overspending


It can be extremely easy to overspend on skincare nowadays with single products being priced at $60-120 a pop! There is no magic number I can throw at you, but I can break down the numbers so you can be informed when deciding how much you want to spend on your skincare routine. I personally believe that you should only spend as much as you can comfortably afford while still getting the results you need.

There are countless factors that go into how much you should spend on a single product let alone an entire routine. Here are the main points to keep in mind when deciding whether or not a product is worth the money.

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How Much Should I Be Spending on Skincare? How to Stop Overspending

Are you spending too much on skincare?

Keep these three things in mind before clicking purchase:

  • Are you buying it because of the brand name or because your skin will truly benefit from it?
  • Does the pricetag make sense compared to the quality of ingredients in the formula?
  • Can you afford to keep re-purchasing that product long enough to see it’s full results?

Many skincare treatments take months of application to see full results! Retinol takes around 12 weeks, Vitamin C takes 3-8 weeks, and peptides take up to 3 months. If you’re probably only going to splurge on a single bottle of a product as an impulse buy you won’t be using it long enough to actually reap its benefits. Will you actually want to keep spending $50+ each month? It’s important to keep this in mind when skincare shopping.

Constantly bouncing between different products can actually damage your skin and undo any small progress you may have seen after using a new purchase!

It’s also insanely easy to get swept up by the latest trends or aesthetically pleasing packaging. This can quickly end up with you having spent way more than you meant to on products that aren’t necessarily what you even need to improve your skin.

How Much is Too Much? Where to Draw the Line

I became weirdly obsessed with the painfully priced Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream (as seen below with my feathery skincare helper). A full size tub of this moisturizer is an eye-watering $68 and I came *this* close to convincing myself it was a smart purchase.

This was partly because Drunk Elephant had been plastered on every skincare account on Instagram for months, secondly, I was tempted by the attractive minimalist packaging and lastly because of the sophisticated allure of using something formulated with polypeptides.

So how do you talk yourself out of frivolous skincare purchases?

  1. Don’t get swept up in trends: Who cares if everyone is buying it? Is it actually a good product?
  2. Will your skin type benefit from the featured ingredients? I have dry skin but I’m not currently worried about signs of aging so a polypeptide focused formula has zero business eating up a huge chunk of my budget.
  3. Is the formula worth the price? Is that expensive pricetag solely based on the brand name or is there something unique in the formula that you can’t find elsewhere?
  4. Does the brand fit your lifestyle choices? Do you only shop vegan, cruelty-free, ethically sourced, etc? It can be difficult to find brands that fit within certain lifestyles so I tend to be more lenient when keeping these factors in mind.

Finding Budget Friendly Skincare Options

If you can comfortably afford to spend $50-100+ on each product and feel satisfied with the results you see, don’t feel pressured to change. It can be incredibly difficult to find products that match your lifestyle whether it be cruelty-free, vegan, or even zero waste.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for ways to trim down your spending on skincare do not ever feel like you have to pay an arm and a leg for quality products! There are budget-friendly alternatives for practically every formula on the market and there is no reason to bust your bank account to get a great complexion.

Say No To Junky Formulas

When skincare prices get into the high double digits or even triple digits there is simply no excuse for harmful or irritating ingredients! If I’m zeroing in on a pricey product I take a long hard look at the formula.

The ingredient list on the back label of a skincare product might look like ancient Greek to the uneducated eye when you first try to decipher your product, but we’re going to change that! Go check out my article on How to Read a Skincare Label.

How to Find Cheaper Skincare Alternatives

SkinSkool is a giant skincare dupe database where you can search for dupes of your favorite (but pricy) skincare products. Its suggestions are not always on the ball, but it’s a great tool to get pointed in the right direction.

For example, I found a 91% match to the Drunk Elephant – Protini Polypeptide Cream with a $51 cheaper pricetag at 16.99!

How to Find Cheaper Skincare Alternatives

Another great dupe finding website is Skincare Dupes. I’ve searched the same product on both websites and gotten wildly different results so take these recommendations with a heavy grain of salt. These are helpful to find similar products but not terribly scientific in their result listings.

The Cheapest Dry Sensitive Skincare Routine

My bare-bones routine above works out to $13.51 a month (I usually wait for BOGO sales at Walgreens on CeraVe so it’s usually even cheaper).

How to Stop Overspending on Skincare

How to Calculate Skincare Costs Per Use

The easiest way to figure out if you’re overspending on skincare is to do some simple math and calculate your monthly skincare regime’s cost. If you want to go super in-depth you could calculate the cost per use but even I don’t go that far! But if you’re buying in bulk or using a concentrated cleanser vs a watery formula it might help your decision process to figure out the per use breakdown.

That giant tub of moisturizer might have a daunting price tag, but will it actually save you money in the long run?

It’s almost impossible to know how much your product pumps out per use because each bottle design is different. Serums, essences, and other products sold in glass vial with droppers are easier to figure out.

One pump will push out between .1 and .5 grams of product depending on the packaging, which means you’ll get somewhere between 58 and 283 pumps per ounce.

wellandgood.com

One drop is equal to 0.05 milliliters. I use about 3/4’s of an eye-dropper worth of product when using serums or anything else sold in a container with a dropper. Most serums come in 1 oz containers (that’s the standard size for all of The Ordinary’s and most of Drunk Elephant products).

For example, 3/4’s of an eye-dropper of The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is 17 drops or 0.85 milliliters. That is equal to 0.02874192 liquid ounces a.k.a 35 uses. A 1 oz container is $5.90 which works out to just $0.17 per use (yes I really did painstakingly count out drops of serum just to figure this out).

Long story short, if your serum is 1oz you can divide the price by 35 to figure out the price per use. It becomes simple math at this point!

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