I’ve got nothing against a nice little beauty splurge. A tiny hit of luxury can put a real spring in your step and set you back a whole lot less than a new top or jacket or dress. However, it’s just as—if differently—pleasurable to know where to save, right? Experience and expert advice have taught me that these are categories you can always get away with inexpensive versions of.
Lip Balm I always prefer one that comes in a stick; those in tubes or pots can be so goopy I’ll inevitably end up just wiping them off within moments of application. I like Labello because it’s smoother and more emollient than other solids, and because—I can not lie—it’s got the insider appeal of formerly having only been available in Europe.
Makeup Remover: For years, I used a rather pricey one, having sampled a multitude of drugstore brands that either didn’t get the job done, or worked great but stung the hell out of my eyes. But on a recent trip, after it failed to make its way into my makeup bag, I tried the Neutrogena wipes that my hostess had on hand. Instant results, no ouch, and never going back.
Body Lotion Absolutely worth splurging on if you love the scent, but if it’s efficacy you’re after, I’d venture to say that—based on extensive but unscientific experience—drugstore brands are probably even superior to their department store counterparts. Curel’s Itch Defense, for instance, is nothing short of a miracle.
Eye Cream It’s criminal what some luxury brands get for this, especially given that the most effective active ingredients can be found in products up and down the price spectrum. Back when I got stuff for free, I tried half the fancy formulations on the market; nothing struck me as demonstrably better than Olay Total Effects.