10 Ways to Make Beauty Products Last


Ways to Stretch Your Beauty ProductsOur beauty regimen. It’s a girl’s best friend on days when we need that extra boost of confidence.

But it can also be our worst enemy when we find that our perfect lipgloss/moisturizer/perfume is costing us more than a pretty penny—and according to a 2009 report, the average American woman shells out more than $100 a month on cosmetics.

So, when we say we like our regimen to be as effective as possible, we mean cost-effective, too. Here are our favorite tips on making your beauty favorites last … and last.

Less Is More

Portion control applies to hair products, too: You only need a quarter-sized dollop of shampoo, and a nickel-sized dose of conditioner (concentrate on the ends, not your scalp). If you’re at the tail end of a bottle, add a little water to it and the rest will come out more easily, suggests Jamie Allison Sanders of The Beauty of Life. And, when it comes to soap, don’t lather up every square inch of your body—lather just those areas that get sweaty or trap odor—especially since soap can dry your skin out.

Read on for how getting dirty can save you even more money.

Air Is the Enemy

Food gets spoiled when exposed to air—the same goes for your beauty products. When possible, purchase pump bottles or squeeze tubes instead of lids or tops that open up. When something does comes in a pot or jar, put the lid back on right away to keep it from drying out or getting dirt in it.  

A Second Shift for Makeup

Let your lipstick work double-duty as cream blush, says Paige Herman-Axel of InsiderBeautyBuzz. Just about any color can be blended onto the apples of the cheeks for a long-lasting pop of color. And you’ll save money by letting a product do twice the work for the same price.

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

It’s sad—not to mention expensive—to run out of a product you love. A lipstick brush will help you dig the very last color out of that favorite tube. The bottom of the lotion bottle pump can be handy for scraping the sides to unearth that extra ounce of body cream. And, says Sanders, try cutting a near-empty tube of product in half and using a makeup brush to transfer what’s left into a small, clean, jar with a lid to buy you a few days’ more bang for your buck.

Don’t Neglect Your Brushes

Makeup brushes are expensive. They’ll last longer—and work better—if you keep them clean. One helpful makeup artist we worked with told us not to blow on our brushes to rid them of excess product, because that covers them with bacteria from our mouths. Instead, she said, tap the side of the handle against your wrist to shake off any excess. Also, once a month, gently wash the bristles in baby shampoo, reshape and lay flat on a clean towel to dry.

Give Cotton Balls the Boot

Surprise! You’ll shell out more using cotton balls. The fluffy orbs tend to absorb more product (and drip), meaning you wind up using more product in the process. We like cotton pads (80 for $2.29—less than three cents per pad), but Shannon Nelson of A Girl’s Gotta Spa swears that splurging on Renée Rouleau’s Toning Cloths (160 for $12.50, almost eight cents per cloth) will actually save you money. The thin, cotton pads absorb 50% less product and, because they’re easy to wield, do a better job of removing those last traces of nail polish or makeup residue.

Cut Your Facial Wipes in Half

We’ve been known to double the life of our pre-moistened wipes (like the ones for acne treatment or makeup remover) by cutting them in half. We even suggest letting any excess product drip off the wipes back into the jar first before using them, then using those above-mentioned toning cloths to soak up any product that remains once the wipes run out.

Maximize Your Manicure

Get a longer-lasting manicure by applying a layer of top coat the day or two after you get them done, says Herman-Axel. And you already know that wearing rubber gloves when cleaning or doing dishes makes a world of difference, right?

Keep Nail Polish Working

If you’re DIY-ing your manicure, store your nail polish in the fridge to extend its shelf life. If it gets too thick, use nail polish thinner. To make your manicure last longer, saving you polish in the process, dip your nails in white or apple cider vinegar and allow them to dry before you apply your base coat. The vinegar will remove the natural oils from your nails, allowing the polish to adhere better.

Luxury or Necessity?

Share your opinion on what’s worth it and what’s not with other LearnVesters!Share Away

Use Sense With Your Scents

The average shelf life of perfume is two years, but if you’re careful, it can last longer. Keep it in a cool, dry place (like a drawer or closet) since sunlight can cause the scent to sour, and never in the bathroom where heat from the shower can lead it to oxidize. Seal your bottle after each use since alcohols in the fragrance dissolve when exposed to air. Finally, buy a small bottle, instead of a big one: Besides being cheaper, it’s less likely to go bad.

More From LearnVest

Read our guide to the best non-toxic makeup.
Want green, safe skincare? So do we–which is why we tested tons of products to find the best for you.
Kick these bad habits … before you regret them later.

  • Anonymous

    Something I learned from a makeup counter sales person to extend the life of my toner is to put it in a clean spray bottle and spray it on your cotton pad – this greatly reduces how much you use. I use the cheap cotton pads and my toner lasts me almost 9 months, still using it twice a day.

  • Sandoz28

    Love the article, but there’s a few pointers that aren’t necessarily true. 1) Nail polish doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge (unless you live in a very hot climate and have no A/C). It won’t actually go bad. There might be a point where it won’t stay mixed together, but all the chemicals it contains keep any bacteria from growing in it (which is why salons can use communal bottles of polish with no problem). 2) Perfume is actually cheaper per oz in the larger sizes, so *if* you have a signature scent that you wear a lot, you’d be better off buying the larger bottle. As the article wisely mentioned, storing perfume properly (away from heat and light–in the fridge is great too) keeps it fresher a lot longer. If it smells fine, it’s good to use–no need to throw it out after 2 years. Plus there’s a huge market for vintage perfumes, some of which are 50 years old or more, so properly kept perfume really can last ages!

  • RN78

    Lipstick as blush?  Sounds like a big no-no for oily skin.  All that waxy stuff would clog your pores.  

    Also, Bragg’s Apple Cider vinegar makes a great toner for acne-prone skin. Definitely cheaper and less drying than the salicylic acid products I’ve been using for years.  It makes my skin so soft!

  • Barb1015

    I dont know anyone that spends 100 bucks a month on skincare stuff!

  • amhp46

    Thank you–I love this post!

  • Faith

     You must have some very highly-paid readers on this website as I don’t know anyone that spends $100.00 on make-up per month. Once again, go to the Dollar Tree! They have many different types of make-up, constantly changing, so if you find your favorite lipstick, etc, buy as many as you can, because they might not be there on your next trip. I have found some of my favorite brands, or colors that have been discontinued there as well. Since I always have to have something on my constantly chapped lips, I always find many different brands of “tube”-type lip balms-alot of which include beeswax in their ingredient list. I refuse to pay the price for Burt’s Bees lip balm, but if you look carefully at the ingredient lists, you will find beeswax, or shea butter in many of these items. Altho’ I stick to my CoverGirl compact powder, I find darker shades of cheaper powder for “facial-sculpting”. The only items I am faithful to are my Max Factor panstick foundation, which lasts FOREVER! and my CoverGirl facial powder. I have found every type of make-up at the Dollar Tree, as well as witch hazel and cotton pads (not cotton balls) to remove my make-up or to use as a toner. Witch hazel has been around forever, has many other  uses and is super-cheap. I also love NYC make-up and it’s also super-cheap! They just discontinued my favorite waterproof lipliner and “crayon-type” lipstick (by NYC) and I found it at the Dollar Tree and stocked up! And at drugstores, I always use a coupon or a 2-4-1 type of sale (or at Walgreen’s “register rewards”) for most of the items I get. I just bought 2 boxes of 184-count Kleenex at Walgreens on a 2-4-1 sale with a 75 cent-off coupon-each box cost 77 cents  (normal cost-$2.29 a box)! Another time, I found Organix Moroccan Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner for $6 each WITH a $5 “register-reward”. I love this stuff but will not pay $15 a bottle at a salon fo another brand as they are all similar-(I’m a hairdresser, so I oughta know). I love retractable lip-stick brushes and found them at Target for only a dollar a piece. Needless, to say, I bought 5 of them-one each in my make-up bag at home and purse for lipstick , and the same for using with my ”concealer”; you can reach the inner- most part of the under-eye area alot better with a brush and can also clean each “tube” out completely. And since it is retractable, you don’t have to worry about the cap popping off in your purse and making a mess. Revlon charges close to $10.00 for this type of brush! I think that it’s similar to grocery shopping-like the women who do Extreme-couponing-altho’ I’m not nearly that fanatical, they have alot of good ideas. Stock -up when on sale  (hopefully a 2-4-1 deal) and try to use a separate coupon with it if you can (unfortunately Walgreen’s usually has a coupon, so you can’t use another coupon with it), but just like with the Kleenex mentioned above, it didn’t require a Walgreen’s coupon so I was able to use my own coupon on top of the 2-4-1 deal. I always add a little of water to an “empty” bottle whether it be shampoo or laundry detergent and cut open “tubes” of toothpaste, etc. I also put one large or two small “bobbypins” on tubes of toothpaste, etc. to make it easier to dispense. I love the idea of using a “squirt” bottle for dispensing toners, etc.-hadn’t thought of that one! While you may have to have that one expensive make-up item, whether it be foundation or lipstick, you can still save alot of money by planning ahead, cutting coupons and use the other ideas I as well as the other posts have stated…

  • Liz

    Some helpful tips, thank you!

  • Jen H.

    My tip: When I stopped letting my lotions, foundations etc. come into even indirect contact with my skin, I noticed that I had many fewer breakouts! Makes sense, right? I apply the product to a clean Q-Tip or cotton swab, and use the swab to put the product onto my finger tips or face. I make sure not to touch that end of the swab and I don’t ever “double dip”. It’s possible that I lose a little product on the swabs, but the value of my improved skin is worth it to me. I also use the swabs to get product out of pump-nozzle bottles. I was surprised to realize that the priciest of those (e.g., those with just 1 oz. of product in a new bottle) fail to dispense about 15% of the total product! It’s totally worth it to remove the nozzle and use a swab for the remainder.

    Also, I agree that $100 a month seems way higher than average. Even when I was a high-end make-up freak of 22-years old, living in a fashionable metropolis, with disposable income and no responsibilities, I rarely spent that much! Maybe that’s what a woman spends on her entire family’s monthly personal care products, but even that would be pushing it (on average)!

  • Tara Aes

    “the average American woman shells out more than $100 a month on cosmetics”  
    Are you kidding me?  No wonder they’re looking for financial advice.  That is ridiculous.

  • Laura Lehmax

    I have read your blog post very thoroughly and i really love it. hanks
    for sharing such a nice tips about ways to make Beauty Products last.