The Lipstick Index was a phrase coined by Estee Lauder’s Leonard Lauder in the early 2000s.
The phrase was based on a perhaps surprising economic indicator – surprising to men and economists maybe. In a nutshell, when times were and are tough, cosmetic sales were said to increase.
The theory was that when budgets are tights, women swap out more expensive purchases like shoes, bags and clothes for a quick style fix in the form of a new lipstick.
That theory was quashed in subsequent periods of economic downturn – and also in upturns when women still bought and loved a lippy – but it’s one that I kind of still subscribe to without any statistical backing whatsoever.
A fun makeup purchase such as a lipstick or gloss is something we can carry and use every day. It does have the ability to make us feel good in a flash.
There’s always a but, isn’t there?
Lots of smaller feel-good makeup purchases do add up, don’t they?
Most people work to a budget for this type of discretionary spending so I thought it might be helpful to share some ways to save money on makeup purchases.
So you can have your lippy and pay the bills too.
1. Create purchasing priorities. This is all about deciding where the lion-share of your makeup budget should be spent. It’s quite an individual thing. For me I would spend most on a foundation that matched my skin colour and enhanced my complexion. I also have a thing for illuminators, products that give me a glow when I don’t have one. And I also like to have some high-end lipsticks that shamelessly look good in a clutch bag for going out. Shallow, I am. You may be a mascara girl and won’t compromise on paying top dollar for your favourite. The key here is to recognise your makeup priorities and work them to your advantage in an overall budget.
2. Buy eye colours individually. This might seem a more expensive way to do things but it won’t be long term. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of an eye colour palette. It helps to create an eye look that tones in beautifully together – and I absolutely go the palette when travelling to cut down on what’s in my travel makeup bag – but I always run out of the lightest shade first because that’s the one I use most of. Another way around this is to just buy the base shade as a separate and then still work with a palette.
3. Use makeup brushes. I remember the first time my face was introduced to a foundation makeup brush. It was almost 10 years ago and I’d booked in a session at a MAC makeup counter in Brisbane to get colour matched for a foundation ahead of my wedding to Mr SY. They used a makeup brush then and sold me on the spot. I may be the world’s easiest marketing target but it made so much sense and continues to do so today. Using brushes – for not just foundation – does save you money in the long run as you use less product. This applies most to foundation, so if you’re prioritising your makeup budget towards foundation then then your makeup dollar is stretched even further. The end result on your face is also superior as a brush helps distribute product evenly to create a more flawless finish.
4. Sign up to your favourite stores. Last week Priceline had two of its semi-regular 40% off days. If you’re a card holder you’d have known about it and probably shopped up a storm. Don’t want to sign up to an email notification? Why not use Facebook or Instagram as a way of keeping on top of what offers are happening at your favourite stores, salons or brand counters? Follow your favourites and you’ll never miss out on a bargain.
5. Check supermarkets for weekly specials. I do most of my grocery shopping online – an order every three weeks or so suffices as I just buy my fresh stuff as I need it in between. There are supermarket beauty and makeup products that I buy semi-regularly so when I check through past purchases it shows up if they’re on sale. If they are I stock up. I also get emails alerting me to any specials in between online shops so I can act on those and buy in store if I need to.
6. Ask for samples. If you’re considering a makeup purchase in a salon or at a beauty counter or store then don’t be afraid to ask for a sample to take home. I think this is a really good idea with foundation as the lighting in store is not always ideal for checking if the shade is right for you. Natural light is always key. A small sample can mean the difference between wasting dollars on a product or not. Take it home, try it and then come back to buy the next day in confidence.
7. Try in store first. This is tied in with the above tip but, where you can, extend this is to book in for a makeup application at your favourite counter. The cost of this is usually redeemable with a purchase. So if you’re ready to buy a new foundation or give your current makeup look a shake-up, this is a great way to do it. Time the professional makeup so that your fresh face can be taken out to lunch or dinner afterwards. That’s a double makeup win in my books.
8. Embrace a gift with purchase. If you’re receiving notifications from your favourite makeup brands and they’re ones that regularly do a gift with purchase then use these times to stock up on your makeup supplies. Book in for a makeup application at the same time and you’ve just got yourself an extra makeup purchase bonus.
9. Check out special gift packs at Christmas or around Mother’s Day. These two times of year are typically when you’ll see gift packs on sale at makeup stores and counters as well as in salons. They are usually better value for money than buying the items included separately.
If you’re wondering why one of my tips is to just buy online from the US or UK, I have purposely left it out.
Yes, it makes me cranky that we generally pay a whole lot more here for makeup than we do overseas – for the same product. And yes, when I am overseas I do shop up a storm. Sephora just has to whisper my name.
And there’s always a but around here.
By buying locally I do hope that I’m supporting jobs for Australian people – from counter and salon staff to staff working in the Australian corporate offices of these brands.
I do congratulate those brands that have moved to make prices more on a par with overseas – I’m looking at you Molton Brown, Shu Uemura, La Prairie, Weleda, Dermalogica, Illamasqua and Mecca Cosmetica which has been working to reduce prices across all its brands. I would sincerely love for others to follow suit.
So tell me, how do you save money on makeup purchases? What’s your makeup purchasing priority?