Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A 10-Day Supply of Moisturizer

I'm in mind of tiny tips these days, during the season of cold weather. All sorts of small economies that I didn't employ over the summer are coming back to me. But today's tiny tip can be used year round. It will seem like old hat to the veteran frugal folk. I offer it as a hint for those new to this path.

Use up every drop of your toiletries and cosmetics. These products are, almost without exception, wildly expensive. The high end cosmetics lines frequently tempt customers with tiny samples of their products sized to last for ten days or less. And yet, how often does a similar amount simply get tossed away because it's not easy to get it out of the package? If it's enough to bribe you into making an expensive purchase, surely it's enough to use up.

I use a mid-priced moisturizer that comes with a pump dispenser. When I get near the end of the bottle, the pump no longer works so well. Yet there's still quite a lot of moisturizer in the bottle. I counted this time, and I got enough moisturizer out of the bottle after the pump no longer worked to last me ten more days.

Consider the price of any cosmetic or toiletry you use. Go ahead and actually crunch the numbers, using the unit price of the product. I spend about $10 for a bottle of my moisturizer, which contains only 70 ml. You know what that works out to? Almost $34 per cup! Now granted, a little of this particular stuff goes a long way. One bottle lasts me about three months. So let's estimate that I use only 11 cents' worth of this stuff every day($10 bottle/90 days). (The application cost of your cosmetics is another number worth crunching.) If I throw the bottle out when it will no longer easily dispense the product to me, I'm throwing away $1.10.

Visualize this
: would you throw a dollar and a dime into your garbage can? Didn't think so.

So what to do? Well, in this case it's pretty easy. I take a knife to the plastic bottle and scoop out the rest of the product, as needed, with my fingers. I coax the little bit of moisturizer stuck in the pump tube out by smacking the bottom end into my palm. The cut open bottle stays in a ziploc bag for the few days it takes for me to use it up. I know women can be very particular about what skin care and cosmetic products they'll use. I settled on this moisturizer mostly for how it performed on my skin, but also partly based on its plastic bottle. I knew that I could cut it open and use up every last bit of it.

In the past I've tried and liked moisturizers from department store cosmetic lines. It always infuriated me that I couldn't get every bit of the product out of glass bottles. So I gave up on those. If you're still shopping around for your preferred toiletry items, consider the packaging as one factor in your decision. I hope it will go without saying that a $10 bottle of moisturizer is not necessarily inferior to a $35 bottle that will last you the same amount of time. Put aside the marketing, the hype, and the image, and select something that will work for your skin without breaking the bank.

If you are stuck on a product sold in a glass bottle, at least you can recycle the glass. Use a cotton swab to retrieve the last bits of product before you do so. It's not perfect, but it's better than not making any attempt to use up the product completely. If you're really stuck on using high-end skin care products that come in glass bottles, you might try being a squeaky wheel about it the next time you visit the cosmetics counter. Given the state of the economy, companies selling luxury goods just might be in the mood to listen.


Anonymous said...

Duh. I never thought of cutting the plastic bottle in half! I prop it upside down leaning one way and then the other, and then take off the lid or pump and stick my little finger up inside along the lip. Your way is a lot easier.

Anonymous said...

Great idea! I usually tilt my almost empty bottle upside down and begin using a new bottle. When the new bottle has used approx the amount in the old bottle, I shake out what is left into the new bottle.

I might be much easier to just cut the bottle in half.

Either way, we're not wasteful!!

Anonymous said...

I learned this tip from a friend. She saves the bottles and tubes of moisturizers and then when she has enough, she pokes holes or cuts open the product and adds it all together in a plastic jar, adds some essential oils if she has some and then uses that.
Personally, I don't buy at a cosmetic counter at all. If I want an expensive item, I go to a spa and get environmentally responsible, not tested on animals products that really work. They cost the same as top name brands but do no harm and enough good that it is worth the expense.

Anonymous said...

I recently emptied out 3 bottles of hand lotion within about a week of each other (bedroom, kitchen, work). I cut them open and scooped it out and was rather chagrined to discover that I nearly filled a one cup plastic food container with the "extra".

I don't think I'll be buying hand lotion for the bedroom for quite a while.

Thanks for passing this on. I think I saved nearly a whole bottle worth of hand lotion. I should have known better too!

P.S. Cutting it open was a lot easier than trying to shake it out. I used a spoon to wipe it all out.

Michelle said...

I just found this & appreciate your cost figuring. I just ordered $80 worth of ingredients to make moisturizing cream with & have wanted to do a price comparison. going with your figure of $35 /cup for the commercial made cream, I am already assuming, though haven't yet calculated, that homemade is probably going to be well worth cost & effort. I base this assumption on knowing that one batch makes 2 cups moisturizer & that the ingredients will make multiple batches.
Thanks for this post! I'd like to link to it when I get ready to write about making & using the 'perfect cream'.