Clever Ways To Stop Wasting Money on Personal Care Products

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On average, American consumers spend hundreds on personal care products each year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent Consumer Expenditures Survey released in September 2021, people spent $768 on personal care products and services in 2018, $786 in 2019 and $646 in 2020, which is an understandable decline due to the pandemic.

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Whether you spend hundreds or thousands on personal care products each year, it’s likely you could spend less. To help, consumer and personal finance experts offered up their most inventive suggestions for saving money on personal care products. Your part? Putting these suggestions into play the next time you shop and adding up the savings. 

Consider All-in-Ones or Two-in-Ones

“One of the easiest ways to save on personal care products is to look for those that can pull double duty,” suggested consumer analyst Julie Ramhold of DealNews. “Shampoo/conditioner combos for instance, or even shampoo and body wash in one. If that doesn’t appeal to you, be sure to look for makeup items like cheek and lip tint, as well as items that can be used on both eyes and cheeks.”

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Shop Korean Beauty Stores

“This doesn’t mean shopping only K-beauty brands, either,” Ramhold clarified. “You’ll often find brands that you’re familiar with for much less than if you were to shop at stores like Ulta or Sephora. For example, at Olive Young, you can find the Laneige lip sleeping mask for around $17 in the berry flavor; at Sephora, you’ll pay $22. And if you shop Masksheets, you’ll be able to snag it for around $14. I myself managed to grab it when it was on sale for $12, which is far better than the $22 at Sephora. Additionally, if you love Winky Lux, you can grab their Matcha Lip Balm for $10 at Masksheets, compared to $16 at Ulta or Target.

Use FSA Funds When You Can

“If you have a flexible spending account through your employer, it’s a good idea to check and see what kinds of items will qualify for those funds and then use them when you can,” Ramhold advised. “These should cover things like sunscreen, eye care like eye drops, glasses and contacts in some cases, and even lens wipes. You may also be able to purchase things like roll-on pain relievers and first-aid items like ointments and alcohol wipes with FSA funds. One thing to keep an eye out for is whether or not your moisturizer may be FSA-eligible; for instance, some brands like Aveeno may have select items that are covered.”

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Purchase Items by Looking at the Active Ingredient

“If you’ve ever inspected OTC drugs and purchased a cheaper one because it had the same active ingredient as the more expensive name-brand option, you should know you can do the same thing with other personal care items as well,” Ramhold advised. “If you’re looking at skin care items, for instance, check to see what the active ingredients are, and look for alternatives. A good place to start may be just by looking at generics compared to the name-brands, as that can save a pretty penny. For instance, a liquid bandage like New Skin may be $7 or more for a 1 fluid oz package, but if you opt for Target’s Up & Up brand, you’ll pay around $4 for the same amount. Both have the same active ingredient and in the same amount, so unless you’re allergic to other ingredients in them, you should have no problem opting for the cheaper generic over the name brand.”

Make Your Own Products

“There are a plethora of online recipes for product alternatives — toothpaste, soap, moisturizers, face balm, sensitive creams, essential oils, shaving cream, etc.,” said Mark Jimenez, CEO of SensibleDollar. “That feeling of accomplishment of having created your own product along with the satisfaction of saving your money would be worth it in itself. On top of all this, you have control over what ingredients are used, particularly if you’re ethically and/or naturally inclined.”

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Cut Open Bottles and Tubes

“Do not immediately throw away what you believe to be empty tubes/bottles of lotion, moisturizers, toothpaste, sunscreen, etc.,” Jimenez said. “It’s amazing the amount of product that can be salvaged from seemingly empty containers. In the long run, it accumulates to a fairly decent amount, and prolongs the life of the product.”

Populate Online Shopping Carts

“More often than not, online shopping carts tend to fill up quite quickly and then are abandoned before any purchase is made,” Jimenez said. “What I would suggest instead is to register an account with the ecommerce store, and leave the items in the cart overnight. More likely than not, the store will email you with a reminder of your abandoned cart, together with a discount coupon to entice you to complete your purchase.”

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About the Author

Cynthia Measom is a personal finance writer and editor with over 12 years of collective experience. Her articles have been featured in MSN, AOL, Yahoo Finance, INSIDER, Houston Chronicle, The Seattle Times and The Network Journal. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
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