The Shampoo Experiment


Women collect a lot of…dare I say, crap to groom themselves. We use multiple hair products, a variety of makeup, paint our nails, spray on perfume, have a face wash regimen, lotion for our extremities, tweezers, nail files, and the list goes on. I just counted fourteen different types of lipstick in my drawer. Do you know how often I wear lipstick? Like twice a year. Compare that to a man like my husband, who just has…shampoo, and well, that’s a lot of stuff! I’m sure you could add or subtract to this list depending on your style, but you get the idea.

A few months back, a friend suggested a blog post idea where I test out different makeups and see which are more cost-effective: the cheap brands that a girl could run through quickly or the more expensive names that are made with lasting ingredients. I am not a huge makeup wearer–I avoid it when I can, dread it when I do and stick with the basics: mascara, cover up under the eyes, blush and an eyebrow pencil. I don’t know, but that’s basic to me anyway. Very rarely do I apply eyeshadow, eyeliner or powder and I never use foundation. So my need to replenish those things is sometimes only once a year. Mascara and eyebrow pencil are every few months. I guess what I’m trying to say is I am not the best candidate for said experiment, even though it sounded like a really fun thing to explore. Earlier this week when I was lying in bed and not falling asleep, I saw a Reddit thread where a girl asked for financial advice and gave a breakdown of her budget. She said she spends $400 a year on make up. I was surprised by that figure, but don’t really have a concept of what the norm is. If I had to take a stab at it, I’d say I spend around $30 on make up annually, but who knows. I know I haven’t purchased blush or lip gloss since my wedding two years ago. And I know that the only reason I bought under eye cover up last year was because I left it at my father-in-law’s house by mistake. So maybe it’s even less than that. I should also mention I use brands like Lancome and Mac because they give me the results I want and I have found them to last a super long time. In this case, paying more gets you more.

My friend also suggested testing out salon level shampoos and their drug store counterparts with the same concept in mind: which saves you more money in the long run?. Now this is more my speed, as shampoo and conditioner are things I actually use every other day. I have not taken the time to track how often I purchase a new bottle, but my estimate is every two months. I buy big ones from target for $3.99 each. So that’s $8.00 total for both, or $4.00 a month–which is very, very cheap. But you know what? I always hate my hair! It doesn’t have the natural wave I know it can. It often feels weighed down, and I am so sick of the smell of the product. My friend explained to me that the drug store brands list water as their primary ingredient and you therefore use huge handfuls of it in one shower to moisturize your hair. But with the more expensive brands that use special ingredients (that’s my code phrase for “I don’t know what is in them”) you can put a nickel sized dollop on your hand that will cover your whole head. What an exciting opportunity for quality and frugality in one package!


I got my haircut last week and decided it an opportune occasion to change things up. I excitedly went to my local Lush store… for those who don’t know, they are a salon quality handmade cosmetic company. Being the careful buyer I am– I read all the reviews on their website to try to figure out which shampoo would be best for my hair before going in. The one I settled on was about $26 for a fairly small container compared to the ones I buy at Target. But remember: you are using way less of this product and according to reviewers, it lasts about three months. Longer than what I’m currently using, but certainly more expensive no matter what. It would be about $8 a month for shampoo, which is double what I’m averaging now for both shampoo and conditioner.

Before going into the store, I decided I wasn’t going to make a splurge purchase without even more information because there was still the possibility that I would not like this fairly pricey product! That’s how the frugal roll, am I right? I asked the lady at the counter if I could take home a sample before purchasing rather than committing to it right then and she happily obliged–another perk of shopping at “higher end” places; they are often very accommodating because they can afford to be. She gave me this itsy bitsy little tub and claimed it would be multiple washes. After using it twice, I would say I have about one more wash in there and that’s pretty darn good considering how small the container is. And I love it! My hair is soft and  squeaky clean, feels light and voluminous, styles easily. I plan to purchase the full container next time I am in the neighborhood. Following my husband’s model, I am going to try to go sans conditioner for possibly the first time in my adult life to see if that is really a need anymore and to help with cutting the high cost that buying two would produce. I happen to hate taking showers, so one less step in the process sounds great to me.


What I’ve discovered is a lower maintenance, higher functioning and longer lasting product can be the more frugal choice if you do your research. In my case, I am paying a little more than I have been previously, but I am also gaining more and saving time in the shower and in frequency of shopping. I am happy with the trade off and excited for the change. This may be the start of my simplifying my cosmetic routines even more and finding ways to go with quality over quantity in the future. What examples of this do you have in your life? Are there higher quality products you use around the house that may cost a little more but save you in the long run?


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