skincare • selfcare • lifestyle


Skin Care on a Budget: A new blog series

One question that I get asked a lot is how to have an effective skin care routine without breaking the bank. I totally understand the struggle. There are just too many products out there and you want to try it all. I know a lot of you understand this predicament! But let's face it, most of us out there do not have an unlimited amount of money to spend on skin care or beauty related items. One of the reasons why I have decided to write this post is because I am hearing/reading more and more stories of people out there who over spend and find themselves in major debt. Worse, a very good friend of mine even had to file bankruptcy because she maxed out credit cards and then couldn't afford the payments. While I have no simple answers, this post is a collection of tips I use to help curb my spending yet still have a great skin care routine. To help me keep track of my own spending and to help others out there, I have designed a financial plan that will not only keep track of my own purchases, this plan will help me stick to a budget that works within my finances. I have decided to create this blog series to show you how you can stick to a budget and still achieve great skin care results.

First things first, I know you all want to have healthy and beautiful skin. If that wasn't true, you would not be spending the time, energy and money. The trick is learning how to balance the desire for achieving the skin care results you want while resisting the urge to buy everything your heart desires. Sometimes you just need to ask yourself..."Do I really need this?"

Step One: Create a monthly budget
Your monthly budget will vary from my own budget but here is the breakdown of how I keep track of my spending. First I separate the years into quarters for a total of 4 quarters per year. In each quarter there are 3 months and for each month, there is a spending amount limit. I have come up with a figure of $210 per quarter. This total is what I can responsibility spend on beauty related items per month, which is $70 per month. Here is the math breakdown:

Beauty Budget
Quarterly Spending Budget - $210
Monthly Spending Limit - $70

For many of you out there $70 is not a realistic number as not all of us can spend that money each month. Some of you can spend more or less on beauty products so this spending limit should reflect your personal financial situation. The important thing to remember is to find a quarterly budget total that aligns with your finances! When you begin to spend money you don't have, you can get into financial debt, which causes stress and stress is not good for your skin...thus defeating the whole purpose.

Here is an example of my February spending:

February Monthly Spending Budget - $70
Glow Receipt - $54
Facetory - $14.95
Total: $68.85
Budget Total: $70
+ $1.05

I hope this breakdown makes sense. For the month of February I was able to stick to a budget of $70. In fact, I had $1.05 left over which I plan to roll into my March budget:

March Budget - $70
February Savings - $1.05
Total March Spending - $71.05

** Another tip that the lovely hanson76 on the Reddit Asian Beauty sub mentioned is she is paid twice per month so her budget will reflect how much she can spend out of each paycheck.

Step Two: Make a List
The next step I suggest is to make a list of all the products you own! I would suggest a spreadsheet to keep track of the products by category (i.e. Oil Cleansers, FTE's, Eye Cream). I would also add expiration dates to this list so you not only know what you have in your stash, you know when to use it by. If you are like me, I hate wasting products and have had to toss expired sheet masks and full size products :( Not a good feeling. Also, making a physical list of the products you already own will help you answer the question posed early of "Do I really need this?" Just ask yourself, "if I already have four cleansers, should I really be buying another cleanser?"

Step Three: Make a Wish List
For the past year or so I have done a monthly wishlist I post on my Instagram channel. I will also be incorporating this wish list into these Budget Series posts. I create a wish list because it gives me a visual of all the products that I want to try.

Here is an example:
Here was my wish list for February. I did not purchase any of these items except one, the Glossier Balm DotCom. I found someone who was willing to do a trade for a tube she wasn't using! Yay! In exchange, I sent her some decants of products she has wanted to try. Win win!

Products on Feburary's Wish List:
Dr. Wu Mandelic Acid Serum
The Face Shop Moisture Touch Lipstick
Glossier Dot Balm
Biologique Recherche P50
Blithe Velvet Yam Pressed Serum
Aritaum Ginger Overnight Lip Mask
Pestle & Mortar Retinol Night Oil

So again, I did not purchase anything on my wish list but this helps me keep track of products that I want to try/buy. Because I am always on my phone, I keep this wish list on my phone and add to it when I find something I want to try. If I see something I like on Instagram or on the web, I either type the item name into the notes portion of my phone seen below or take screen shot. Once I make a monthly wish list of those items seen above, I delete those products from my wish list. If I ever want to go back and look at wish list items, I just simply look through my Instagram feed. This has helped me curb that instant gratification purchases or as I like to call them, splurges. Sometimes you see something you really want but a few weeks later you have lost that desire.

This is how I keep track of items that I want to try and this may or may not work for you. Other suggestions would be to keep a Google Doc of items that you want to buy by category (i.e. 2nd Cleansers, Emulsions, Actives). I started using a Google Sheet for my wish list items by category and how much they cost at various online retailers (i.e. Glow Receipt versus Tester Korea). While helpful, I found this took way too much time and have changed to this system of a wish list. Some people might consider this tracking option because for those bargain hunters out there, finding the best deal on products is a real "high".

Step Four: Wait For Sales
One thing that pisses me off more than anything is when I purchase something and then it goes on sale. I think knowing when most of the major sales happen would help eliminate these times of frustration. It would also help those out there wait until a certain product at a particular retailer goes on sale. Besides Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Christmas and New Years, most online retailers have a sale on Easter and 4th of July (for the States). Some even have more times when they offer sale/discount codes so sometimes you just need to tell yourself "wait until that goes on sale"!

Step Five: Resist buying things in stores
I love supporting local businesses, I really do so please don't get offended here but sometimes, buying products online is so much cheaper. At some stores, they mark up products sometimes double or even triple the price. I don't mind paying a few dollars more for a product but not double.

Step Six: Help One Another

**Announcement: I started a AB Beauty Exchange Facebook Group**
I love supporting others along their journal to healthy skin and because I feel so strongly about this, I have decided to start a Facebook group dedicated to supporting each other. You can find the Facebook group here. I would love for this to be a place where we can help each other by posting budgeting tips and tricks, posting sales to help others save money, post decant requests or post products you would be willing to decant for others. Also, for those of you who bought products that just don't work for your skin, this is a place to sell those items too.

As far as exchanging decants, I feel that you should never have to pay for a decant. We all can spread a little goodwill and kindness toward each other. I am aware that there are some folks out there who have a business selling decants, a practice I do not agree with. I hope that this FB group will be one of support and generosity. Having a place to exchange decants will especially help those like me who have sensitive skin and hate investing in full size products that might not work for my skin. Face it, we have all been there, buying products that just don't work. I am hopeful that this new group will help those on a budget stay on a budget by exchanging decants. This will also help those in the long run not having to spend a ton of money purchasing products.

Step Seven: Forgive yourself when you mess up
Even implementing the most full proof of budgeting tips, you will screw up sometimes and over spend but cheer up, we all make mistakes. We are all human. The most important thing to remember is to learn from those mistakes and move forward. Begin to recognize your triggers and learn how to avoid temptation. Reach out for support, journal about your feelings, pray...whatever it is that will help you remain focused on your finances. For me, practicing self-control is something learned and perfected over time, so don't except to master it on day one.

So I realize this was a very long post but I wanted to give you all the tips I have used or still use to curb my own spending and stay on budget. I know it's difficult, especially when there are so many cute collections popping up every season (I am looking right at you Laneige and those owls). My best advice is to have a plan and start slow. Think of it as training for a marathon, it takes time to build up that endurance. I hope this post has given you some helpful tips. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to comment here or reach out through email. And as always, thank you so much for reading and supporting my blog.

Stay Beautiful ❤️



  1. Great blog post Julie!
    enjoyed reading all your tips.
    just requested to join the facebook group.

    and thank you for speaking up on this issue.

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  2. Um, the spreadsheet is next level. I love that integrated with the wish list. I have been keeping a rough list for the biannual sephora sales but don't have anything concrete besides that. It would eliminate a lot of impulse purchases for sure.

    1. LOL! I used to keep my skincare and my wardrobe in spreadsheets. *nerd*

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