Whenever my girlfriends and I catch up and the talk turns to beauty, a couple of things consistently amaze me; firstly, that at least one of my friends still isn’t wearing sunscreen (hi Belinda) and secondly, that another friend is prepared to spend more than $50 on a facial cleanser.
Cleanser stays on the face for about 30 seconds before it literally goes down the drain, and there is an abundance of good-quality, budget-friendly options at Priceline. Today, with skincare routines comprising so many steps, it makes zero sense to me to spend money on this first, wash-off product.
In the interest of helping you navigate when to go luxe and less, I polled a couple of my beauty editor friends for their thoughts.
Where we splurge: You wear your hair every day, as the saying goes, so a good haircut is obviously worth the money. Outside the salon, my fine, curly hair needs a lightweight leave-in treatment, and the best one I’ve found is Christophe Robin Hydrating Leave-In Mist with Aloe Vera, while marie claire beauty director Sally Hunwick will spend “on a quality blonde shampoo and mask to keep my blonde hair from going brassy, like the Kérastase Blond Absolu Bain Ultra-Violet range.”
For beauty editor Amy Starr, “a standard blow-dryer will get your hair dry, but I think anything you use every day is worth investing in, and the Dyson Supersonic has lower heat, so it’s less damaging in the long run, and the motor is in the handle, which makes it lighter and significantly easier to wield for those with thick hair and pathetic biceps, like me.”
Where we save: Styling products are where we like to penny pinch. For me, dry shampoo is pretty much the same across the board, and Batiste comes in a nice range of scents and sizes, while hairspray is Hunwick and Starr’s top pick. “The cheaper ones, the kind of formulas that have been tried and tested for decades, and don’t worry too much about added ingredients to give things like condition or shine, are the best,” explains Starr. “L’Oreal Paris Elnett holds, it brushes out if you want to re-set your hair and it doesn’t flake up, even if you go a little heavy-handed.” Hunwick also name-checks Elnett, which keeps her curls intact all day long.
Where we splurge: Foundation is hard to get right (it needs to do so many things, like cover redness, even out tone and cover blemishes, yet remain invisible), and my colleagues and I all agree that a sophisticated formula is worth the outlay.
Whenever I wear YSL Touche Eclat, I get compliments like, ‘Gee, your skin looks good’, and not: ‘Your foundation is so nice’.
Hunwick likes the oil-free gel formula of Chantecaille Future Skin, and the iconic Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation for evening, which is also Starr’s complexion perfector of choice, alongside It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream for daytime.
Where we save: For me, the cheaper the mascara, the better. I don’t like formulas that are too ‘wet’, and the inexpensive ones tend to be slightly drier. CoverGirl, Max Factor, Rimmel, L’Oreal, Maybelline – I’m not loyal to brand, only to price.
Hunwick likes to use cheap eyeshadow palettes from NYX, Revolution and Morphe, to experiment with trend-based colours (“you can try tangerine and fluoro pink, without blowing the budget”).
Meanwhile Starr, like most women, needs lip balms that can be purchased in bulk to stash in handbags and the car, and “nothing does the job like Lanolips 101 Ointment.”
Where we splurge: “I am a skincare junkie,” declares Hunwick, a woman after my own heart. We both view good skincare, particularly serums – and specifically SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic – as worthy long-term investments (you can read my love letter to CE Ferulic here).
Starr and I also agree that time and energy are their own kind of investment, so while I think you can go cheap on the cleanser, I also strongly believe that spending time on a double-cleanse at night (oil first, regular cleanser second) is absolutely essential – however Starr sees the value in spending on a good cleanser, like “Herbario’s Cleansing Powder and Oil, a power pair for skin that does require a little extra effort if you want to reap all the benefits,” she explains.
Where we save: Hunwick puts it more elegantly, and less bluntly than me: “I think you can get away with an inexpensive cleanser and exfoliator; it’s more important to spend time at the basin getting skin clean than spending a fortune on cleansing products.” Well said. She likes CeraVe, Natio, Simple Cleansing Oil, and Sephora’s home brand.
For Starr, natural oils are inherently nourishing and reparative, so they don’t need tricked-up formulas to prove effective, and the rosehip oils from Trilogy and The Ordinary are particular favourites.