How To Shop For Beauty In Times of High Inflation

There’s an elephant in the room, and we’re just looking at each other in deep confusion because we have no idea just how much an eyeshadow should cost.

November 22, 2022

We need to talk about money. Specifically, about just how expensive everything currently is; especially for those of us living in Turkey. Hey, I’m not here to give out any financial advice. But I have come to learn (the hard way) that personal finances have so much to do with mental health, and currently, beauty shopping is a part of that tricky equation. Just like everything else, cosmetics, which provide us with daily routines to make us feel good, keep getting more expensive by the day. Here’s a small example: An eyeshadow that I used to buy for 40 Turkish Liras merely a couple of years ago, is now 300. Mass brands now have mid-range prices, mid-range is now high-end, and high-end products are royal level. Beyond the high prices that shock me every time I skim through a press release, I have also lost any notion of what a reasonable price for a product should be. I know so many others feel this way, even our friends who work at these brands acknowledge it, and personally, this situation urges me to be more diligent when giving out product recommendations. Wonderflaw never takes these recommendations lightly: We try our very best to make sure everything you see on this platform is effective and is worth the asking price. My initial dream with Wonderflaw was to create a digital space where beauty felt good – but is it still “self-care” if you find yourself worrying about a product’s price tag? Is there a way to feel good about a purchase in the age of inflation? In time, I’ve come to realize that there is a possibility so I’m sharing my guide to smart beauty shopping hoping it will help us all navigate through the current economy, and also in hopes that it will encourage mindful consumption.

Expensive Doesn’t Mean Effective

The title is self-explanatory. There are so many factors that go into a price tag other than production expenses (think celebrity marketing campaigns or R&D) and while there are many brands that do justify their prices with their unique technologies and patents, sustainability efforts, high-quality ingredients, and/or luxury experiences, at the end of the day it all boils down to an effective formulation. And today, there are many reasonably priced brands out there that have neat ingredient lists, and though they might not provide the same opulent feeling, they get the job done without costing a fortune.

Read The Ingredients List

I’m not a chemist (although these days I do wish I had paid more attention to chem classes in high school), but I have taught myself how to assess the integrity of a formulation, and/or to understand whether a product will work with my skin. The higher the ingredient is on the list, the more of it the formula has. So if you are browsing a product for a specific ingredient, say Vitamin C, and it’s present as one of the last ones on the list, it has been used sparingly. Learn about potentially harmful ingredients like harsh alcohols, and check whether there’s perfume in the formula (this doesn’t always mean it’s bad for you, especially if it’s used negligibly) – especially if you have sensitive skin, or prefer “cleaner”, neutral skincare. Incidecoder is always a helpful source to learn more about a specific product. We created the ever-growing Wonderflaw Glossary to be a reliable guide for learning about commonly used ingredients in cosmetics.

Forums Always Help

You can find me browsing Reddit forums before making a beauty purchase. Of course, these comments are mostly biased, but so are most things in beauty. Everybody has different tastes, needs, and skin types, but there are always people who have similar concerns as you. I appreciate the passion of the Reddit beauty community, and almost always read about product commentaries. There are other options too, like American Sephora’s online forum, or Amazon reviews, I mostly prefer to avoid the comments on the brands’ websites. Whichever one you pick as your main source of forum information, always take it with a grain of salt, but know that there are people out there who are purely dedicated to giving trustworthy advice.

Less Is More Or More Is More?

It’s also important to understand the type of consumer you are. Are you a less is more, or more is more person? I used to be the latter because I wanted to experiment with beauty as much as I could, but nowadays, having a million products is a pure source of stress for me. I’d have to keep them organized and stored accordingly, I’d have to check whether they have expired, etc. I’ve also come to know what works for my body better. This approach is very personal and is shaped only by what makes me happy. If the idea of owning tons of products thrills you (trust me, I understand), you can opt for options that will get along with your budget. On the other hand, if a minimalistic approach is your thing, look for products that have effective formulas, and multipurpose functions.

Look At Yourself. In The Mirror. Up Close

Mindfulness applies to skincare too. Sometimes the daily hustle gets so chaotic and at times, repetitive that you can forget to pay attention to what your skin really needs. To give the spotlight back to daily beauty routines, my super simple tip is to focus on how your skin looks and feels. It may sound basic, but a little attention can go a long way. Do you really need that moisturizer when you wake up? Is the new serum you’ve purchased agree with your skin? Do you get seasonal dry patches? During the pandemic lockdown, my complexion became much healthier only because I had time to mindfully eliminate and/or add products.

Don’t Worry About The Trends

This is a tough one. It’s not easy for me to avoid a popular product or fad since it is literally my job to inform others about what is good and what is not. Does anyone remember the relatively simpler times when the mainstream beauty trends mostly stemmed from the streets, runways, movies, and/or tv shows? Well, now there’s also social media with innumerable microtrends and hacks that seem to multiply by mitosis. I spend an excessive amount of time on different social media platforms where I learn a lot, and I’m thankful to have been introduced to so many great beauty creatives, brands, destinations, and ideas. But I always check first to see if the product/trend/hack would work for my hair/skin and my lifestyle and style. I honestly am even more careful these days because I don’t want to waste money on products. Just because everyone’s doing it on TikTok, doesn’t mean it will be on-brand or helpful for you. Filter through and adjust the trends according to you. When in a pickle, get help from 1, 2, or 3.

Get The Basics Down First

Clean, hydrate, and protect. These are the universal skin and hair care basics. I have fallen in love with many products over the years, and I know I will keep meeting great ones in the future. But at the end of the day, I know that the most important steps in my routine are regularly cleansing, hydrating, and protecting my skin from the outside aggressors (mainly sun and pollution). Before going into specifics, try to get a basic routine down first. After all, our industry is mostly made up of nice-to-have, sensorial products that we do not need to have healthy skin.

Patch Test

Oh, I love this one. My skin can get reactive at certain times (especially during menstruation), so before buying a product I want to incorporate into my daily routine, I try to go to a physical store and apply it on my skin to see how it will react. This is also an easy way to see if a trending product will work for you.

How Are You Gonna Feel Once You Purchase/ Think Of The Post-Purchase Moment

Although there are beauty stores with friendly return policies, it can get frustrating not to be able to get a refund on a product. If I’m considering doing a relatively expensive purchase, I try to think of the moment I will be coming back home with it. Am I going to prefer that amount of money back on my card, or do I want this product in my life?

What Do You Care For?

Do you care for brands that truly care about the environment? Ones that donate to causes you care about? Is your thing beauty brands that spend most of their budget on stellar R&D? Choosing to give your attention to brands that appeal to you is a smart and meaningful way to achieve mindful beauty consumption. The same applies to media outlets, and influencers too.