Have you heard of Birchbox yet? If you haven’t, think of it as a wine-of-the-month club for skin care and beauty product samples. Every month, a small box arrives in your mailbox. Inside of that box are eight to ten sample-sized skin care, hair care and beauty products. Yes, right now you are thinking that this is everything that Postconsumers stands against. And I would probably agree with you. And then I would admit this: I am a member and I look forward to the arrival of my little brown box every month.

But it’s not just Birchbox. Like many women, I am a junkie when it comes to skin care and makeup products. I will grab samples any time that they are offered. I have several bottles of shampoo open at any one time. I currently have four mascara wands in my bathroom, and about fifteen lipsticks in my refrigerator. I could go almost an entire year without ever buying a skin care product, and I would be fine. Of course, I will buy skin care products this month. And possibly even a new lipstick.

When the conversation is about “girlie products” that cause consumer dependencies (or just bad behavior), the focus is usually on women and their shoes (though shoe addiction impacts men, too).  But makeup and skin care are HUGE consumer segments that make billions of dollars each year.  In some cases, the compelling reason to stock up your bathroom with skin care and beauty products is a legitimate desire to look better. In some cases, it’s trend-chasing. In some cases, it’s addiction. Over the years, I’ve created some tips for myself to help myself minimize how much I spend on skin care, hair care and makeup. They don’t always work, but I’m constantly improving. Here are some examples.

Always ask yourself how much you already have:  That newest scent may smell amazing. It may smell like what heaven smells like on days when God showers. But if you have enough perfume that you could douse yourself every day for the next eighteen months, then walk away.  Having something won’t make you happy if you can’t use it. And if you’re overstocked, you won’t be able to use your new purchase.

What else could I spend this money on? Beauty products aren’t cheap. While the rush of buying that stunning new shade may satisfy you in the moment, is there something that same $25 or $30 could buy that would make you happier? A meal? A fine wine? A Kiva loan? Arts and craft supplies? Because beauty products feel like a part of our everyday lives, we often don’t think too much about the cost. Several months ago, I started keeping a separate line item for “beauty” in my budget tracker. I didn’t like what I saw when the end of the month came. It’s been the most effective tool for cutting my habit back!

What’s the home remedy? Not only is it better for your budget but it’s also better for the planet if you explore home remedies or versions of popular beauty products. Making your own body scrubs, lotions and soaps can be fun and eco-friendly. You’d be surprised how many things baking soda and vinegar can be used for, and frankly my hair never looks better than when I do a week of washing it with only baking soda and a vinegar rinse.

The lure of beauty products can be enticing, and for many women a habit that gets formed before they’re even out of high school. Take some time to step back and have a look at your beauty buying budget. I bet there’s room for improvement!

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Need more assistance in learning to let go of the consumer media’s impact on your life, take control of your finances and find the satisfaction of enough for today? The Get Satisfied Interactive Handbook is a 30-minute web course that walks you through a series of specific questions and then presents a personalized how-to plan for becoming a postconsumer. Launch your evaluation for free right now. 


Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Jamiesrabbits