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Beauty on a Budget: I Was Told There Would Be No Math

By Amalah

I love your smackdown advice – but often times the products you recommend are too rich for my cheaper than 2 coats of paint blood. I value a short beauty routine & want to spend as little money as possible on it; I also want to look like I’ve been pampered by a professional in a fancy salon for hours. It’s a hard balance to achieve and I often settle for “good enough”.
So, here’s my challenge:
You’re out of town & your entire beauty regime has been stolen, even your shampoo. After crying on Jasons’ shoulder and issuing an APB on the internet you realize its time to do something productive; because first thing tomorrow morning you’re on your way to a very formal outdoor wedding where you will be meeting people who you need to make a good impression on.
You have $100 and one hour in Target to get what you need, what do you buy?

I cannot lie…this challenge terrified me to my very core. $100 for EVERYTHING? Hair, skin, makeup? I’m all for a bargain, but girlfriendomgplease.
As I mentioned in Friday’s column, a truly great beauty routine can take a long time to create, thus spreading the cost out over many months and diluting the sticker shock value. $30 here, $10 there, and after…oh, six months to a year later, you actually CAN go into your bathroom and come out 10 minutes later looking like you’ve been at the salon for hours, because everything you use is top quality and above all, the right product for you, instead of a shelf full of “just sort of good enough” stuff.
(Buying your beauty products over a long stretch of time also prevents everything running out at the same time, by the way.)
So basically, while this challenge is fun and I get your point, I still kind of want to plead with you a little bit: Please don’t feel guilty for pampering yourself once in awhile. Especially when it comes to the care of your skin, which you have to live with for the rest of your life. Some of the products I’m going to list here are totally…just okay. I would use them in the situation you’ve invented, but long-term? No. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.
/thus ends my petulant disclaimer
//totally going to get on with the column now
///am such a freaking brat
(Wait! Wait! One more disclaimer! Most links are to instead of Target, mostly because Target’s site doesn’t feature half of the products that are actually available at Target, and also Target does not really have the best prices on a lot of this stuff, and if you’re going to only give me $100 I am going to get things on goddamned sale if it kills me.)
bbshampoo.jpgBurt’s Bees Very Volumizing & – $7.99 each
– $3.49
– $4.99
cetaphil.jpg – $6.77
– $9.49
– $8.99
Sonia Kashuk Ultimate Brush Set – $14.99
cgblush.jpg – $10.99
– $3.39
Boots No7 Stay-Perfect Lip Lacquer – $8.99
– $4.49
Since it’s you know, a WEDDING, I’d probably pick up some ($3.49), ($3.49) and an inexpensive pair of ($1.00) instead of mascara and eyeliner – $7.98 total, and while higher on the fussy scale, it’s way more bang for your buck in the end.
GRAND TOTAL: $100.54
(I got myself the extra 54 cents by crying at the register. I am extremely resourceful like that.)
(Also, the wedding is in Delaware, the home of tax-free shopping.)
Obviously, I had to leave out some stuff that I would normally use, like an eye cream and primer and body/hand lotions, but I AM ONLY HUMAN HERE. I can only do so much in the face of capitalism. But still, it’s a pretty good list with some pretty good products. Use natural or organic products as much as possible, splurge on haircare and skincare, and cut corners on styling products and makeup. (Although in the makeup category, spend the most on your foundation and lipgloss, just because cheaping out on those will really just annoy you and you will regret it and compulsively try new ones until you’ve easily spent more than the cost of a Sephora-type brand.)
THE END. I have to go lie down now, since all that number-crunching hurt my brain.

Published June 3, 2007. Last updated June 3, 2007.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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