38 Expensive Beauty Mistakes You Don't Realize You're Making

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by BDG Commerce
Originally Published: 

You can fancy yourself the savviest shopper around, but guarantee it — there are plenty of expensive beauty mistakes you probably don’t realize you’re making. We’re not talking about the obvious stuff here, like constantly buying new shampoos and only ever using one, or forgetting to put the cap on your mascara until it becomes unusable; these are mistakes with both long and short-term consequences, that, if avoided, can wind up saving you a lot of money.

For example: Not taking good care of your hair will likely have you in the salon more often, so in a minute, you’ll find tons of clever tips for preventing damage and prolonging your color. Paying for expensive treatments that you can learn to do at home — from eyebrow tints to blowouts — is another all-too-common folly. There are also plenty of ways to help you waste less product, as well as countless alternatives to unnecessarily expensive skin care products. (Repeat after me: Moisturizer should not cost $80.)

Intrigued? Then keep reading to discover the money-saving beauty secrets our editors swear by. Some of these products might require a bit of an investment up front, but promise: they’ll save you so much money in the long run.


Constantly Buying Cotton Pads Instead Of Investing In Reusable Ones

How much money do you think you’ve spent on cotton pads in your lifetime? Hundreds? Thousands? Not only is re-upping on cotton pads an expensive habit, but it’s not very eco-friendly, either. The solution? Invest in this $10 pack of reusable cotton rounds — good for both the environment and your wallet. They’re sold in a pack of 18, all made of super-soft bamboo cotton, and they can be washed in the machine (just stow them in the included laundry bag so they don’t get lost) and reused hundreds of times.


Not Using Every Last Drop Of Your Lotions & Creams

Instead of letting precious product go to waste, use these beauty spatulas to scrape out every last drop from your tubes and jars. You get two spatulas in each box, one small, one super small, both designed with extra-long handles (which makes it easy to get into long, narrow bottles and tubes).


Using Multiple Serums Instead Of Investing In One That Does It All

Serums are some of the most expensive skin care products out there, and let’s face it: most beauty lovers probably own more than one. Not only does Naturium’s Vitamin C Super Serum Plus cost way less than most serums of its caliber, but the formula itself is extremely elegant and does pretty much everything at once. It contains all the skin-care superstars that belong in a well-rounded routine: vitamin C for brightening, retinol for resurfacing, hyaluronic acid for hydrating, salicylic acid for exfoliating, and niacinamide to promote a more even complexion. For $25, truly — what more could you want?


Letting Cosmetics Go To Waste Because You Forget You Have Them

When you can’t view all of your products easily, you wind up forgetting about them — and in turn, letting them expire before you realize they’re there. That’s why this storage display is so genius. Not only is it clear and adjustable, so you can configure it how you’d like, but it rotates 360 degrees, allowing you to view your collection from every angle. It doesn’t hurt that it looks chic, too.


Paying For Expensive French Manicures Instead Of Doing Your Own

French manicures tend to be the most expensive manicures you can get. But they’re also really easy to do at home if you have the right tools. All you need is a white nail polish, a clear or neutral nail polish, and these tip guides — couldn’t be simpler. Use them to create pro-quality white tips, then glide your top coat over the top.


Getting Your Eyebrows Done By A Pro — When The Tinkle Razor Exists

Instead of paying to get your brows waxed and shaped, try the Tinkle razor. The cult-favorite tool (it has over 20,000 five-star ratings on Amazon) allows you to groom and shape your brows with ease — without any painful plucking or waxing involved. The best part? You get 12 razors for less than $10, and each one will last you several uses (just be sure to disinfect them with alcohol between uses).


Buying New Makeup Sponges Instead Of Giving Yours A Deep Clean

If you buy makeup sponges in bulk, it can be tempting to use a new one every time you do your makeup. But stop wasting! All you need is this sponge cleanser from beautyblender. It’ll rid your sponge of all the makeup and grime so you always have a fresh one on hand. You can use this to clean your makeup brushes, too.


Using Expensive Makeup Brushes When Painter’s Brushes Work Just As Well

Fun fact: For detailed eyeliner work, a lot of pros use painters’ brushes instead of makeup brushes. Not only are they ideal for drawing on tiny lines and wings, but they also tend to be a lot cheaper than makeup brushes, especially when you buy them in bulk. This set of 20 comes with every type of brush you could ever need to get artsy with your makeup.


Going To The Salon Too Frequently For Color Touchups

If you dye your hair, a trip to the salon for a touchup is inevitable — but you can prolong the length between salon visits by using a color-depositing conditioner instead. This one, from oVertone, is an especially popular choice, as it deposits intense pigment onto your hair in less than 15 minutes while also helping to leave it feeling nourished. Or, if you have bleach blonde hair, you can use this to temporarily dye your hair a bold color without wasting money by going to the salon (especially if you’re unsure about the color!).


Wasting Money On Expensive Face Masks That Don’t Work

Unpopular opinion: Most face masks don’t actually do that much — and most of them tend to be expensive. Funnily enough, one of the most effective face masks on the market is also the simplest and cheapest. We’re talking about Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, of course. It helps deeply purify your skin so your complexion looks visibly clearer and more refreshed, and it’s great for cleaning out blackheads and clogged pores as well. And this 1-pound jar of clay will last you literally years — just a tiny amount of powder (mixed with water or ACV) will coat your entire face. So in short: Stop wasting your money on gimmicky face masks when the best one out there costs less than $10.


Paying For In-Salon Clarifying Treatments — When This ACV Wash Works SO Well

When your color is looking dull, you may be inclined to go into the salon for a clarifying treatment. But this R+Co Acid Wash Apple Cider Vinegar Cleansing Rinse works just as well when it comes to deep-cleaning your hair, promoting commercial-worthy shine, and reviving your color. It costs less than the cost of one in-salon rinse, and you’ll get several uses out of each bottle.


Spending $200 On Brand-Name Hair Brushes

Associate Commerce Editor Caroline Goldstein suggests avoiding making the same beauty mistake she nearly did by buying this under-$30 hair brush. “I was about to spring for a classic Mason Pearson brush, but my longtime stylist saved me with this recommendation,” she says. “Each stroke with this brush leaves my hair looking 10 times shinier and smoother, and it’s gentle on my fine, oft-dyed hair (but not *so* gentle that it can’t unravel knots). I wash my hair infrequently, so this is also a great tool for redistributing the oils through the hair shaft, plus breaking up any dry shampoo residue.”


Not Applying A Top Coat Every Day To Extend Your Manicure

Pro tip: Apply a clear top coat over your manicure every other day, and it’ll last so much longer without chipping. Even better if you buy a gel-effect top coat, like this one from Mineral Fusion — your manicure should last a week easily without a single scratch or chip. If you get manicures at the salon, it’ll help prolong your next visit, and if you do your own nails at home, it’ll cut down on the amount of nail polish you use. A win win.


Paying For Blowouts When This Tool Makes It Easy To Do Your Own At Home

Revlon’s iconic One Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer costs $45 — about the same price as a single blowout. It makes it truly possible to give yourself a bouncy, salon-quality blowout at home, saving you not only tons of money (think about how all those blowouts add up!), but time as well. Join the army of over 250,000 Amazon reviewers who swear by this game-changing styling tool.


Using Fancy Moisturizers — When All You Need Is This

Some beauty products just aren’t worth splurging on. Moisturizer is one of them. All you need is a solid, skin-strengthening cream like this one — it’s basic in the best way (unscented, no frilly packaging), but it’s rich in the nourishing ingredients your skin actually needs, like ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Safe for all skin types, including the most sensitive, it contains a whopping 19 ounces of product and can be used on both your face and body.


Letting Product Go To Waste Instead Of Squeezing Out Every Last Drop

You probably already try to squeeze out every last drop of product from your toothpaste and other tubes to avoid wasting money — but this tool makes it so much easier (and more satisfying). In each order, you get four tube squeezers, which can also be used for moisturizers, ointments, and other types of creams. They can come in handy in the kitchen (for things like pre-chopped garlic and tomato paste), too.


Skipping Out On Daily SPF Application — Which’ll Cost You Money In The Long Run

Not wearing sunscreen everyday will cost you a lot of money down the line, whether it’s because you wind up shelling out on fancy laser treatments to reduce unwanted hyperpigmentation or because you need to pay to see a derm for a melasma treatment. In other words: Financially and otherwise, not wearing sunscreen is one of the worst beauty mistakes you can make, so it’s important to find one you really love. ISNTREE Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel is one of the best on the entire market. It’s a lightweight, hydrating gel that feels amazing on your skin, not at all greasy or heavy, and it blends in beautifully on every skin tone. What’s not to love?


Using Makeup Sponges That Absorb Too Much Product

While makeup sponges are amazing for applying foundation and concealer flawlessly, they also tend to soak up (and therefore, waste) a lot of product. Enter: these MonétBeauty silicone-infused makeup sponges, which — due to the built-in layer of silicone — wind up absorbing way less foundation. This also makes them easier to clean, so each sponge will last you longer. Genius, right?


Not Setting Your Makeup — So It Winds Up Slipping Off

Instead of having to reapply (and thus waste) more makeup throughout the day because your morning face already slid off, set your makeup with this cult-favorite spray. Not only will it lock your makeup in place all day long, but it’ll also mattify your skin so it looks less shiny. Over 45,000 Amazon shoppers gave NYX’s spray a perfect five-star rating.


Paying For Expensive Face Scrubs When Much Cheaper Ones Exist

When used occasionally (remember: over-exfoliating is never a good idea), chemical peels can make your skin look amazing. But they also happen to be really expensive. Spa brand QRxLabs, however, makes these incredibly affordable peel pads that resurface and refresh your skin in one swipe for a clearer, glowier complexion. Made with glycolic acid and antioxidants, they truly work just as well as their much-pricier competitors.


Letting Your Color Fade Quickly Because You Don’t Protect Your Hair

If you color your hair and don’t take proper care of it, your color’s likely to fade quickly. So whenever you’re about to step outside, apply a few spritzes of Moroccanoil Protect & Prevent Spray. It works to protect your hair from UV rays and other environmental aggressors that can dull your color over time, but it’s also a leave-in conditioner, so it’ll leave your hair soft and ready for painless detangling. And like all Moroccanoil products, it smells amazing.


Not Using Daily SPF Moisturizer

Arguably the most important part of your skincare routine is wearing daily SPF to protect your skin from the sun. This SPF moisturizer is made from hydrating oils like jojoba and avocado oil. It also includes Vitamin E, which helps smooth wrinkles, improve under eye circles, and repair acne scars.


Using Regular Nail Polish That Chips Easily

Stop wasting money on nail polish that chips after a day or two. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish is a gel-effect polish, so while you won’t need to cure it under a lamp, it will last you much longer than regular polish, and it’ll look shinier, too. You could even bring this to the salon if you get your nails done to ensure your mani stays in tact for longer than it normally would.


Allowing Your Hair Color To Fade By Using The Wrong Shampoo

If you dye or highlight your hair, it’s so important to make sure you’re using the right shampoo — otherwise, you’ll find yourself back in the salon way more often than necessary. Pureology Hydrate Sheer shampoo is one of the absolute best shampoos for color-treated hair, period. Like all Pureology products, it uses the brand’s Antifade Complex to keep your color looking fresh over time, and it restores hydration without being heavy. If you have thick or coarse hair and require even more hydration, go for the brand’s equally-great Hydrate shampoo.


Paying For Root Touchups Instead Of Using This Genius Spray

No need to spend money on an extra trip to the salon to touch up your roots before your next color appointment. This Style Edit root spray makes it easy to conceal unwanted grays (or maybe your naturally blonde hair is starting to peak through your brown) with just a few spritzes. It’s sold in eight colors including auburn and light blonde, and it’s been awarded over 10,000 glowing reviews from Amazon shoppers thus far.


Getting Expensive Facials When You Can Do Your Own With The Right Tools

Learning to do your own facials at home will not only save you money, but it can also be a lot of fun. So, invest in a facial steamer like this one to bring the spa to you. (This also comes with some bonus extraction tools, but you’ll want to use those with caution.) Use the steamer to prep your skin like the pros do before slathering on your serums, masks, and creams. It’ll also help your products absorb more effectively, so you get more of your money’s worth out of your products.


Throwing Out Nail Polish Instead Of Giving It A Second Life

If you hate wasting product — any sort of product — you need this nail polish thinner. Just like its name says, it helps thin out your polish so a nearly empty, dried out bottle can still be put to good use. It also helps your polish apply more smoothly without clumping, as an added bonus.


Paying For Prescription-Strength Acne Treatments Instead Of Trying Differin Gel

Considering that the main ingredient in Differin gel once required a prescription, you can trust that this is as close to a prescription-strength acne treatment you’ll get without involving a pricey derm visit. Said ingredient is called Adapalene, which is a retinoid that helps clear out your pores to prevent breakouts while also soothing the inflammation that usually accompanies pimples. It really works, too — not only does it have a devoted following among experts IRL, but over 20,000 Amazon shoppers left it a five-star rating.


Spending Way Too Much On Makeup Brushes When This Set Exists

Good quality makeup brushes do make a difference, but that doesn’t mean you have to shell out a lot of money to get them. Instead, pick up this best-selling set, which comes with 16 pro-quality brushes with synthetic, shed-free bristles that are easy to care for and clean — for less than $10 (!!!). Over 45,000 Amazon shoppers left the set a rave, five-star rating or review, and the brushes come in five different colors to suit any aesthetic, from green and gold to silver and blue.


Not Treating Your Hair (& Skin) As Gently As You Should

Treating your hair gently will save you money in the long run since you won’t have to go to the salon for trims as often, or shell out on expensive deep-conditioning treatments. So make sure you’re sleeping on a soft silk pillowcase, which are known for being extremely delicate on both your hair and skin. In the hair department, that means less breakage, tangles, and knots, and that also means no more pillow creases on your face when you wake up in the morning. Plus, they look and feel amazing — so why not pick one up?


Wasting Money On Expensive Products That Get Rinsed Right Off Your Face

Right up there with moisturizer in terms of “beauty products you should never spend more than $20 on” is cleanser — especially considering that it gets immediately rinsed off of your face. The derm-favorite Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser does everything a good cleanser should, and it costs just $9 and works for every skin type. It removes makeup well, it’s gentle on the eyes, and it contains hydrating ingredients that leave your skin soft, not stripped. A little goes a long way, so this one bottle will last you a good several months.


Spending $50+ On Marula Oil When You Can Get It For Under $20

Marula oil is a skin (and hair) care hero, but a lot of the most popular bottles from prestige brands cost upwards of $50. There’s absolutely no need to spend that, though — not when you can get an ounce of 100% pure, virgin marula oil for less than $20 from Naturium. The antioxidant-rich oil is like a one-way ticket to glowing skin, and since all you need is a drop or two, this small bottle will last you way longer than you think.


Forgetting To Protect Your Cosmetics When You Travel

Prevent your products from going to waste when you travel by housing them in these spill-proof, leak-proof, TSA-approved containers. Aside from ensuring that you don’t lose any precious serums or creams while in transit, bringing your own products from home will also save you money on picking up travel-sized cosmetics that you only use on occasion.


Paying For A Pro To Tint Your Brows When It’s Easy To Do At Home

Getting your brows tinted may seem like something you need to see a pro for, but trust us: it’s actually really easy to do at home. All you need is a kit like this: It contains dye, developer, a mixing bowl, and an applicator brush — aka everything the pros would use anyway. The color featured is medium brown, but it also comes in dark brown, light brown, and black.


Not Using Purple Shampoo To Protect Your Blonde Hair Dye

If you dye your hair blonde, then you know the importance of keeping the color intact. This purple shampoo helps counteract yellow and brassy tones in your hair. It’s formulated specifically for color-treated hair with hydrating ingredients like Vitamin B5, coconut oil, and marula oil.


Splurging On Eyelash Extensions That Don’t Wind Up Lasting

There’s no need for pricey eyelash extensions which — let’s face it — are way more high maintenance than they’re worth. Not when magnetic false eyelashes exist. If you’ve never tried magnetic lashes before, they couldn’t be any easier to apply. You just use the included magnetic eyeliner and applicator tool, et voila. With this best-selling set, you get five pairs of lashes for just $20. Over 25,000 shoppers left them a five-star rating or review after buying them.


Not Exfoliating Before You Get A Spray Tan

If you’re not prepping your skin for a spray tan properly, you’re going to wind up wasting your money. So be sure to exfoliate with a body scrub, like this one, to ensure an even, streak-free tan that you won’t be tempted to wash off. Even if you don’t often (or ever) get spray tans, this is an amazing product to have on hand, as it smells amazing and leaves your skin impossibly soft. And you know, it costs just $6, so what’s not to like?


Getting Waxed Professionally Instead Of Investing In An Epilator

If you choose to remove the hair from your face or body, know that there’s a much less expensive alternative to pricey (and painful) waxing sessions. Enter: The cult-favorite Finishing Touch Flawless Hair Remover, an epilator that removes small patches of hair with ease — and without any pain at all. Skeptical? Just check out its 60,000+ five-star Amazon reviews.

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