Want vs. Need: When It’s Okay to Splurge on Makeup


In my group of friends, it’s kind of a no-brainer that I’m the “beauty expert” of the bunch. Emails detailing a recent splurge, a product recommendation request, or an emergency text at 2 A.M. asking how to fix a broken lipstick—any beauty quandary found in my beauty circle eventually ends up at my doorstep. When it comes to product, the question I’m asked most is “Is this worth it?” or “Should I buy it?” Asking a beauty editor if makeup is “worth it" is like asking if a sample sale is "worth" checking out. The answer, most always, is inevitably yes. However, when products start stockpiling, and the thrill of the purchase overshadows application, my red flag goes up.

More often than not my friends are lured into an amazing marketing campaign, or so captivated by one color that they just can’t resist trying a new trend. Trust me, I’m all for experimentation (and have the stocked drawers of well-used product to prove it), but there’s a fine line between buying just to buy, and buying for true love.

Now, I can’t be around to help my friends find their perfect beauty items 24-7 (though I try). So to help them—and you—make slightly less irrational shopping decisions, I put together a mental checklist to run through before checkout. If you can breeze through these questions with pure confidence, then full steam ahead to the makeup of your dreams!

1. Do I have a color like this?

Ask yourself what makes this particular shade so special? Does it flatter your coloring like no other?

2. Am I buying it for the sale?

More often than not people will splurge with a Gift With Purchase, a special discount, or a can't-beat bargain price. Ask yourself, would you buy the product without all the thrills and frills, without a sale at all?

3. Is there anything like this already in my kit?

Fess up—you know you have more taupe eye shadow than you can count on your fingers. Evaluate the makeup you already own and see if the new item is a fresh new addition, or merely another copycat to dump in the mix.

4. What attracts me most to this item?

Is it the shiny packaging? The illustrious reputation of the brand? You guys—does the product even make your heart race? If the latter's answer is no, it’s probably a good idea to step away from the shelf.

5. Will you wear it?

Perhaps the most important question of all. We all own a couple of cosmetic collectibles that are too pretty to touch, (Paul & Joe lipstick, I’m looking at you) but if your vanity is becoming a museum instead of a makeup counter, it’s time to rethink your buying habits.