Let's face it—we're pre-programmed to think that, if cosmetics and skin care products are expensive, they've got to work. Over the course of a year, however, those $25 mascaras and $40 shampoos can really add up. When you're armed with the right information, you can end up saving hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars, while sporting glowing skin and a beautiful mane of hair.
The queen of all cosmetic/skincare product review sites is Makeupalley.com. With free registration, you'll have access to millions of opinions on hundreds of brands, from Ahava to Zirh. The reviews section is easily searchable by product category or brand. It's a wonderfully helpful resource to check out the staying power of that $45 limited-edition lipstick ... before laying out the cash at Sephora.
We've also used the site to find some surprisingly useful and super-cheap beauty cures. We just learned that castor oil helps to grow back over-plucked brows!
Another resource is self-appointed "cosmetics cop" Paula Begoun. While she sells her own (reasonably-priced) skincare line on her website, she also offers no-nonsense advice on the latest buzz-worthy beauty products and treatments. Sign up for her free Beauty Bulletin to receive product reviews. She also provides a wallet reality check: one of her recent bulletins provides a useful explanation why a $140 shampoo is a useless investment; she recommends a $5.99 drugstore brand that does a better job.
If you're eyeing that budget-busting jar of Creme de la Mer, you should know that there are several online retailers who sell skincare products containing the same ingredients at significantly lower prices. One reliable source is Skinactives. It carries a dizzying array of ingredients for the DIY facial chemist. For ladies who can't live without their ceramides and antioxidant serums but have less time to spare, their ready-made product line is a bargain.
Before you succumb to a spur-of-the-moment beauty splurge, just remember that you're paying mostly for packaging and marketing. There's a reason why some drugstore products have been around for decades (think Maybelline Great Lash). Don't always fall for a pretty label, and you'll be flush for the future.