By Molly Heath
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the older you get, the more you must suddenly start spending money on. It begins with the normal certainties that come from aging and slowly moving towards financial independence; buying my own clothes, deodorant, bedsheets. It goes through a phase of rebellion, which for me consisted of hair dye and some black eyeshadow that mercifully I think someone hid. Then, just when you think you’ve got the essentials cracked, society springs on you something it turns out you should have been spending money on all along. I remember with flashbacks of shock and fear the day someone told me I needed to invest in my eyebrows.
This has all led to a shopping list of items, mostly cosmetic, that I now have to buy and replace on a regular basis to be an adult woman in the world. I mean, I probably don’t have to, but for now under the patriarchal thumb I want to. As I’ve grown older, typically when a new item gets added to the list I buy it at the cheapest price possible. As your normal middle-class-but-not-that-rich-right-now girl next door, I’ve not got vast amounts of disposable income that I can suddenly transfer into a toner budget (side note: still don’t buy toner, still don’t know what is, at this point am deliberately not finding out).
Heartbreakingly another lesson I’ve learned is that you generally get what you pay for. Don’t get me wrong, there are cheap products that do a really good job for the money. But the truth still stands that 9/10 times, Charlotte Tilbury is going to do better for you than the cheapest thing in Boots.
I can’t afford to fill a make-up bag with these items. Neither can most women my age that I know. It’s very hard to justify spending £40 on a product when you could spend £5. Especially when it’s hard to know just how much of a difference it’s going to make. However, the older I have gotten, I have had ever-so-slightly more money, especially now after nearly two years in full time work. Definitely not enough to sustain a prciey make-up habit, but enough to occasionally switch out a regular purchase and treat myself to something more expensive ‘just to test it.’ I’m therefore slowly gaining an idea of what is worth considering splashing out on. In this new regular series, I’m going to share my new found wisdom, and give you a few of the items that I’ve learned really do make a difference to spend money on, and others that perhaps I wouldn’t bother with.
Product: Curly Wurly Shampoo from Lush
Price: £13.50 for 220g
Worth it? Eh, probably not
Cruelty free? Yes
If you know me personally, you will know I have massive, frizzy, curly hair. If you don’t
know me, you now know I have massive, frizzy, curly hair. This product is a shampoo specifically designed for curly hair requiring moisture, and is rich in oils with desiccated coconut pieces included in it. This genuinely was a good product, and did make my hair feel softer and more moisturised. It also smells glorious.
However, it definitely wasn’t a miracle change and had two major issues. Firstly, as my hair is very dense, it retained those coconut pieces in it LIKE CRAZY. The coconut thought my hair was its home. When I got out the shower and did my hair, the pieces fell everywhere and some even survived the brushing. Other people I’ve spoken to with finer hair did not have this problem, but for thick hair I would say be prepared. Additionally, I used it up about twice as quickly as any other shampoo. Because I have so much hair, spreading something with such a thick consistency meant using a lot of it in order to lather up properly. Having to spend on such an expensive item twice as much puts it out of my price range. If I felt it were a miracle, I would maybe stretch. But the difference wasn’t noticeable enough to justify it, so I’m back to whatever’s on offer in the supermarket for now.
Product: Glossier Boy Brow
Price: £14 (plus p & p as currently only available online in the UK)
Worth it? Yes
Cruelty free? Yes
This is a product that comes with a rep, and I tried it off the back of said rep. It deserves the rep. I will rep it for you now. This is probably the best thing I have ever tried on my eyebrows. If you don’t know it’s a brow gel that claims to ‘thicken, fill in and groom brows’ and holds them in place without being stiff, and I have to say it does meet those claims.
The look it produces is a very natural, thick brow with individual hairs well-defined, so if that’s the look you’re going for it’s going to be a winner for you. I prefer to use it aided with a cheap eyebrow pencil to work out a few kinks in the shape of my brows, but if you had better brows than me you likely wouldn’t need to. There are a few downsides; the colour range is limited and it comes in a very small tube for your money. But on to my second tube of the brown colour, I can verify that this is definitely one to try if you’re into your eyebrows.
Product: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer
Worth it? Begrudging yes
Cruelty free? No (and that’s why)
As someone who naturally has very dark circles under their eyes and feels insecure about it, I’ve become a concealer connoisseur over the years. I have tried a lot. This is probably my favourite. The coverage is very very good, and therefore is great at hiding dark circles and blotchiness, and does a lot for a scar I have on my face as well. In addition, I’m quite lucky to have relatively good skin on the rest of my face, so in periods when my skin is clear, I’d rather only wear concealer and not foundation if possible. Other high-coverage concealers often leave a noticeable change in skin tone from where the concealer stops and your foundation doesn’t start. However, this blends out really nicely, and this, coupled with the advantage of MAC matching you in-store rather than online or unmanned, means that I can get away with less make-up and save time in the morning.
Of course, it’s a lot of money for a single make-up item. And it’s not cruelty free, which for many people will make it completely beyond worth it. But if you like a high coverage concealer, I’ll be honest, I’m yet to find anything better. If you want to invest and you’re not going cruelty free yet (or if MAC have the change of heart we’re all praying for) this one is definitely the best. Eugh. Sorry.
If you’ve managed to cut a few pounds off your make-up bill, please consider donating to this month’s fundraiser to The British Heart Foundation