The cost-of-living crisis is affecting us all. While it might be a sky high energy bill or eye-watering supermarket shop that stung you first, as the economic crisis sees no signs of improving, rising prices are now impacting every area of our lives.
Feel like your beauty products are more expensive than they used to be? You’re not imagining things. Research by the British Retail Consortium and NielsenIQ reported in The Times highlights how beauty prices are increasing at their fastest rate in a decade. According to The British Beauty Council, over the last year, the price of shampoo has risen by 8% and the cost of shower gel by 11%. Three months ago, the average consumer price of an everyday face moisturiser was £7.22, now it’s £8.02 and the price of deodorant has risen by 17p.
These higher prices are due to inflation across the board caused by the current polycrisis we find ourselves in – essentially a whole host of bad events conflating at once. The war in Ukraine, the aftermath of Covid, Brexit and a government with less than desirable economic policies are all playing a part.
Beyond being bigger beauty spenders, women in general bear the brunt of economic crises more than men thanks to a myriad of reasons that can be neatly summarised as the fallout of the patriarchy. The gender pay gap and structural sexism put women in a worse position to weather financial storms and with women often taking on greater caring responsibilities (both with children and the elderly) they also face added consequences as a result of cutbacks to social services. While the true impact of this current recession is yet to be seen, this bad economic period comes on the heels of a pandemic which disproportionately impacted women. For example, women’s job losses due to Covid-19 were 1.8 times greater than men’s.
Chances are, you may have heard about these rising beauty costs via some of your favourite brands. Many have chosen to be open about their price changes via social media, email or their website. For example, The INKEY List has shared that rising costs of materials, the pandemic and inflation have driven up final product prices. ‘We will always be transparent with our customers – times are tough for all, and we are continually fighting rising costs on our mission to keep our brand accessible,’ Colette Laxton, The INKEY List co-founder, told us. The Ordinary also announced their first price hike in eight years. ‘As the world continues to face rising costs, it’s important that we review all areas of our business, to ensure we are able to operate sustainably and responsibly long into the future,’ the brand said in an Instagram post.
In tough economic times, beauty products are naturally one of the first things to be cut. ‘With the cost of living going up drastically, I have eliminated the ‘nice to have’ products and focused on the essentials,’ Candice Quinn, founder of Manisafe from London, told us. “With my mortgage, bills and groceries going up in price, I have reduced my skincare routine down from 5-7 steps to 3-4 steps depending on morning or night. I have cut out toner, a second cleanse and things like essence’ she added.
Paulomi Debnath, founder of Handmade by Tinni from Essex, has similarly tightened her purse strings and adjusted where she is shopping. ‘I have become more conscious and where possible replaced luxury items with eye-watering prices with well regarded, lesser known beauty brands. For example, I used to buy Jo Malone or Chanel perfume but now shop brands like Lancôme or DKNY. Similarly, I have swapped face serums from Estee Lauder for Clinique or Origins. I have also started to buy from beauty outlets like TK Maxx or waited for the January sales,’ she detailed. Making these changes has actually been a pleasant surprise for Paulomi: ‘I now feel that the luxury beauty market is a bit overrated and with a bit of research you can find better and cheaper brands.
While beauty might be tarnished by some as simply frivolous, our need to take care of appearance is a deep rooted psychological one. ‘Humans compare themselves with others by the nature of who we are. We have an inbuilt need to evaluate ourselves. Social comparisons can even perform the role of keeping us safe and help us to know if we are ‘doing ok” in the world,’ Psychologist Tara Quinn-Cirillo explained. Subsequently, it is very normal to put pressure on ourselves when it comes to our physical appearance – even when the financial costs are high. “We may have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. There can be pressure to keep up with certain cosmetic trends, ‘looks’ and this can also come with financial pressures to attain this,’ Quinn-Cirillo confirmed.
Increasing prices might be bad news for your bank balance in an already tough time but it does provide the perfect moment to really streamline your routine. You don’t need to give up on beauty entirely but instead focus on quality over quantity instead. Luckily there’s been a boom in hardworking hybrid products that save your time and money.
‘Amidst the cost of living crisis, we’re seeing a move towards more thoughtful buys – what is going to last me a long time, what is worth the money, and how can I buy smarter,’ Lisa Payne, Head of Beauty at trends intelligence agency Stylus, explained. ‘The latter is served perfectly by this growing hybridisation we see in beauty, with souped-up formulas across skincare, body, make-up and hair promising to tackle multiple concerns and offer many benefits in one bottle – a modern take on the 2-in-1,’ she added.
The best budget beauty buys
Looking to shop savvy? These are the do-it-all products worth investing your cash in…
With an army of celeb fans (notably Victoria Beckham and Rosie Huntington-Whitely) and found in the kit of any good makeup artist, this rich moisturiser can be used in a multitude of ways. It’s a recovery balm for dry lips, cracked skin or rough patches, a makeup primer and highlighter as well as an intense overnight face mask.
Forget carting round a cumbersome makeup bag, this handy stick streamlines three steps into one. A lipstick, blush and an eyeshadow, it takes multi-tasking makeup to a new level. Packed with skin loving hyaluronic filling spheres, these help to hydrate and soften the skin at the same time.
You could layer up your skincare like a wedding cake or you could use just one wonder oil and be done with it. Hardworking rosehip oil really goes the extra mile to balance, hydrate and brighten the skin and we love this cold-pressed 100% organic option.
Whatever hair day you’re having, this product can come to the rescue. Serving eight purposes, it can be used as – deep breath – a primer, shine booster, frizz fighter, texturiser, tamer, curl definer, conditioner and a mask. It really does what it says on the tin.
Taking the prize for the most multi-tasking uses, Dr Bronner’s soap claims to serve 18 purposes. While it’s primarily a shower gel and shampoo, the all natural soap available in nine scents can also be used for dishes, laundry and even pets. Buy in bulk to really save those pennies.