Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Beauty Product Splurges


How much are you typically willing to spend on a particular beauty product? Personally, I draw the line at $50 for make-up and $75 for skin care (with the exception of my Clarisonic, which thanks to Belle I adore), I can spend that much on a few splurges without resorting to easy mac and being devastated if they aren’t the fountain of youth. I’m curious how other readers decide what to splurge on beauty wise and how to decide when to?


This is a great question, but let me preface my answer by saying that I spend more an beauty products than most.  And I always have.  Even in college when I was eating Taco Bell to save money and Friday night at home with pizza and a rented movie was a splurge, I still had Philosophy face soap and Shiseido Body Creator.  

That being said, let me answer your last question first.  How do you decide when to splurge on a beauty product?

Every woman has unique skin issues.  Maybe you have wrinkles, dryness, uneven skintone or acne.  Whatever your unique issue is that is where you should be spending your money.

Also, you should NEVER splurge on a skincare product until you’ve tried a sample (unless you purchased it at a store that will allow you to return it if it doesn’t work for you–Sephora, Nordstrom, etc.).  Nothing feels quite as wasteful as having a medicine chest filled with unused, unwanted products.

Lastly, with regard to how much you spend on a product, you need to do a bit of skincare math.  Ask yourself, how well does the product work?  Does using this product make me feel more beautiful/confident?  And then ask, is there are cheaper product that I might like as well?

If you need some suggestions on how to buy drugstore brands, LearnVest has a good article that will show you which ingredients treat which skincare concerns.

As for brands that I splurge on, I couldn’t be more in love with IS Clinical Active Serum ($78), Ole Henriksen’s African Red Tea Products and Clarisonic’s acne face wash ($27).

So what do you splurge on, and what are your favorite drugstore brands?



  1. GC says:

    I follow skincare advise from my mother, who at 60 has very few wrinkles and looks great (it could also be those good asian genes, but still…). She always told me to use SPF every day and a good night cream. She's always used drugstore brands because she says its more important to use enough of the product and not be stingy when applying. Also, this might go without saying but drinking enough water and a clean diet can also do wonders for your skin, which in turn means you don't have to fork over a ton of money for skincare products.

    October 16, 2012/Reply
  2. Amy says:

    About the Clarisonic: is the brand version worth the splurge? I know Belle and a lot of readers have said yes. I bought the Olay version a while back thinking it would be a good substitute, and don't think it worked very well.

    October 16, 2012/Reply
  3. Krista says:

    I generally adhere to her limits with a couple of exceptions: Clarks botanical marine cream and June Jacobs Papaya enzyme masque. While they are both in the $115 range, I only use the june jacobs masque about once a week, and so it lasts about a year so I don't feel too bad about it. I got a sample of Clarks in a birchbox a while ago and it was one of the few products that I tried the itty bitty sample and thought to myself “well damn, this worked a miracle overnight.” and then had to buy it- but it also lasts forever. I think my first jar has lasted about 9 months.

    October 16, 2012/Reply
  4. ann says:

    I splurge on Fresh Creme Ancienne. It's the only thing that keeps my very dry skin from becoming a total flake-fest in the middle of winter. One ounce is $140 but lasts me the whole winter.

    October 16, 2012/Reply
  5. Nora says:

    @Amy – the knockoff brands just have spinning brushes, while the Clarisonic brush vibrates extremely quickly. As such, the Olay brush (and others like it) will tear up your face – ouch! I have had my Clarisonic about 6 months, and it has done wonders to my face. It was a big purchase for me, but one that has proven worthwhile.

    w/r/t my skincare purchases, I'm willing to pay up for results, as with the Clarisonic. I have a strict routine with Ole Henriksen's products (Grease Relief tonic, Truth Serum, and Vitamin Plus cream in the morning; Invigorating Night Gel and Sheer Transformation cream at night – plus, Blemish Attack mask once a week).

    There are two drugstore products I'll buy time and again, thought: Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser (paired with the Clarisonic, it is unstoppable) and Dove Volume Boost shampoo and conditioner.

    October 16, 2012/Reply
  6. Jen says:

    I'll splurge on makeup because it lasts longer and is worn everyday.
    I'll save on soap and makeup remover because it goes down the drain, literally, after 30 seconds.
    I'll splurge on a Clarisonic because it will be used every day for many years.

    Belle or other readers: has anyone ever tried eyes lips face….they are dirt cheap and I've found that while I still prefer most of the department store brands of makeup they have a good selection of stuff I just want to try. Like liquid eyeliner in dark plum, or a trendy nail polish. Just wondering if anyone has found any good ELF products worth trying.

    October 16, 2012/Reply
  7. Molly says:

    I have the Dove clarisonic knockoff and it hasn't torn up my face. I'm not sure why spinning vs vibrating would do that, or what about the clarisonic makes it worth the extra cost — seems to me that the cost difference is the equivalent of brand vs generic pharmaceuticals.

    October 16, 2012/Reply
  8. LC says:

    I'm willing to pay in proportion to how well something works, and how much other comparable products cost.

    For example, I have yet to find a moisturizer that works as well on my rosacea as Pevonia – but I feel no need to purchase the whole line when there are cheaper cleansers and toners that I actually like better.

    As far as makeup, foundation is something I'm willing to splurge on because it's the most visible and can affect the condition of my skin. I love Make Up Forever's HD Foundation. For everything else, I get the cheapest option that works/is the color I like. (Although I should clarify that I mean cheapest Sephora option – I don't think I've bought any drugstore beauty products since middle school. I realize that in and of itself is a splurge for some people.)

    October 16, 2012/Reply
  9. Whitney says:

    My skin has always been tricky, so that's where my money goes when it comes to my beauty regimen. Even then, I don't spend much on makeup: anything over $30 is a splurge for me. My daily cleanser is cheap (my dermatologist recommended Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser when I was 14 and I've been using it ever since with great success), but I splurge on moisturizer (Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion) and foundation (Bare Minerals SPF 15). Everything else is Maybelline/Revlon/L'Oreal from the pharmacy. I have yet to purchase an expensive eyeshadow or lipstick that I felt was really worth the money when compared to a drugstore brand. I do think that mascara is the exception to all rules – Maybelline Great Lash is my fave, but go with whatever works fo you at whatever price point. It's right next to your eyeball, after all.

    October 16, 2012/Reply