How Much Should a Woman Spend on Makeup?

I owe all my bargain shopping know-how to my savvy mother.  She’s like my Jedi master, and I’ve used the force to be the best bottom feeder in Utah County.  That’s saying a lot.  I can sense an associate trying to upsell me from two stores away, and I never get fooled.


Gap Sales Associate: Wow!  You’re getting such a deal!  These pajamas are already 60% but if you sign up for our credit card, you will get an additional 20% off.  That’s a total of 80% off!

Me: Actually, no.  That would be a total of 68% off.

Gap Sales Associate:  Oh yeah.  Short laugh. I guess you’re right.


Gymboree SA:  Oh look how adorable these shoes are with that dress.

Me: Are the shoes on sale?

Gymboree SA:  No.

Me: Then they’re not adorable.

But when my mom and I got sucked into the Mac counter at Macy’s, we ran into Darth Sidius, disguised as a perky girl that could have come straight out of a United Colors of Benetton catalog.  She had about 28 different Mac products on her face, and her eye-liner was painted halfway up her eye-lid.

“Can I help you?” she asked sweetly.  She looked harmless enough.

“Yes, we were interested in your long lasting eye-shadows.”  She pulled out the brown I requested and then pulled out bronzer which would “really bring dimension to my eyes.”

I saw exactly what she was doing, but I could totally handle this.  As she put them both on, I said, “I think just the eye shadow is sufficient.”

“And let me just show you this brush,” she said.  “Isn’t it soft?”  Yes it was soft.  “It just helps the eye shadow go on so much more evenly.”

“And how much is it?”

“Twenty-seven dollars.”

“What?!”  Did this girl really expect me to spend a hundred dollars on my eyelids?

“I don’t need the brush,” I said.

“But they are really nice brushes,” my mom piped in.  What?  My mom was siding with the dark side here?

I was not swayed.  “The eye shadow will be perfect.”

The hand held mirror was obviously in some kind of conspiracy with our cute little sales girl.  I told myself that this mirror was lying to me—that the dark side of the force was making my skin look splotchy and magnifying wrinkles I was sure I did not have.  The mirror was screaming to me, “Buy every product you can before it is too late!”  But I was still totally in control.  Kind of.

I plowed through the lipsticks, insisting on a long staying matte, but somehow the girl sold me the satin gloss.

“The thing is,” I said remembering how I looked like the walking dead in that scheming mirror of hers, “I really just need my make-up to stay on my face.  I don’t know if this gloss lipstick will.”

“Then what you need is our primer.  You put it on right after your cream and before your foundation and it will keep all of your make-up on your face.”

I swallowed.  “And how much would that be?”

“Thirty dollars,” she said.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, so I thought about it.  If it lasted a whole year, that would be 8 cents a day, just 8 cents to keep my make-up on all day.  That would definitely be worth it.

My mom got one for herself too and then shewed me away so I could pay for it.  When she came to me with the bag, she said, “Are you sure you want to get the primer?”  I looked at her questioningly.  “The primer turned out to be $40.”

“What!???”  I asked.  “The girl said it was only $30!”

“I know, but when we got to the register, she said she forgot that it was actually $40.”

“Forget, my eye!”  Obviously, the dark force told her I was a major cheap-o, so she had to improvise with the prices a bit. “You should have held her to the price she quoted us,”  I said. “Most stores would have done that for us.”

My mom was still trying to get a grip.  “Should we return them?  I just thought with that kind of money, I could probably buy you a sweater.”  Probably two sweaters, actually.  It was after Christmas and lots of stuff was already on clearance.

I was already wiped out at the Mac counter, and I was not in the mood to shop anymore.   Besides, the kids were home now.

“Uh—well, let’s just try the primer.  If it doesn’t keep our make-up on our faces all day, then we’ll get our money back,” I said.

“Absolutely,”  she said. “I’ll keep the receipt.” We got into the car, still kind of in shell shock, ad my mom said, “It’s just hard for me to fathom spending so much money on cosmetics.

“I know,” I said quietly.  We both had been beaten and we knew it.

She pulled out a big tube of cream for a bag.  “Want one of these?” she asked.

“Yeah, thanks!”  I said.  “I totally need cream.”

“Can you believe they were only a dollar?  I got it at the dollar store and this other customer told me that she had seen the same product online, in a much smaller tube for eight dollars.”

“Score!”  I said.  This was the mom I knew and loved.

Today I put on my $1 cream and then my $40 primer.  I looked good, and an hour later all the make-up was off my face.

So tell me girls, is there really a big difference between high quality cosmetics and stuff you buy at the grocery store?

Where do you buy your products,



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