Saturday, November 24, 2018

What's your price ceiling?

Makeup artist and YouTube goddess Lisa Eldridge recently launched a line of three red lipsticks in a "true velvet" finish. Not surprisingly, some people saw "red" and "velvet finish" and rightly assumed I'd be interested in these lipsticks. I've been eyeing these since they were announced, and I'm even more intrigued now that a Reddit user has posted a macro shot of her bullet's unique texture.

But no, I won't be buying them any time soon.

Truth be told, part of my reasoning is that I own more red lipstick than any one person should. I've tried just about every red Besame has produced and own a solid 75% of them, I decided to buy my first Pat McGrath lipstick in a red shade on Black Friday...really, I need another red like I need a hole in the head. But more than that, the price is too far beyond my "okay I'm comfortable with that" ceiling.

The Lisa Eldridge True Velvet Lipsticks are £26 each. At the current exchange rate, that's roughly $33.34. Add to that the shipping costs (since my broke ass would likely purchase just one tube), and the total price comes to £34.50, or $44.24. And I just can't stomach anything over $25 for a single lipstick.

Which got me wondering: how did I come up with that number? What you consider "too expensive" obviously varies from person to person, after all--this isn't universal. To some people, $25 is cheap for a good lipstick, while others think anything over $10 a tube is ludicrously expensive.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my personal "price ceiling" is decided by my favorite products. Let's look at lipsticks as an example: Besame makes my favorites, and they're usually $22 per tube. Not surprisingly, most of the lipsticks I buy are in the $18-$25 range. Anything more expensive than that immediately makes me go, "Ehhhh, is it worth it? Probably not." Heck, I wouldn't buy that Pat McGrath lipstick until it went on sale for $26 because the usual $38 makes me "NOPE" right off the webpage. $38? Nyoooo. $26? Sure, no problem; that seems reasonable.

I went through my collection to confirm my theory, and yep, it's pretty much completely accurate. My favorite foundations are $30 and $39; I don't get squirrelly about foundation prices until we hit the $45-a-tube mark. The Shu Uemura Hard Formula pencil and Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz are $25 each, which is my max for most brow products. $38 for a Charlotte Tilbury highlighter almost killed me because I'm so used to spend $25 or less for my other favorites. So on and so forth, the formula holds pretty well through my entire collection.

My ceiling is also greatly impacted by my career. As somebody who has worked at least two part time jobs for years, always making less than she was worth, I'm very leery about tossing my money around and will wait for months for a sale. Now that one of my jobs has made some odd changes to my schedule, I'm even more cautious about spending my paycheck. I've actually gotten to this point where I think of products in terms of hours worked, e.g., "That Lisa Eldridge lipstick costs X hours of work. Is it worth that much of my time and effort?"

So I'm curious: what is your price ceiling, and what decides it for you? What impacts that ceiling--for instance, would you pay more for a Lisa Eldridge lipstick because it seems unique, or less for a mascara because it should be tossed after 6 months?


  1. I live in Australia, and even though the exchange rate (and the general cost of things here) affects how I perceive value, there's still a point at which the number itself seems ridiculously high. $50 is about my max for 30mL foundation (eg MAC Studio Fix) if it's that good and lasts. Lipsticks are different, just because I *know* you can get good formulas on the cheap (~$10 Colourpop, for instance). I really regret spending $36 each on a few MAC lippies as they are no superior to my $5 Rimmel bargain bin finds. I figure eyeshadow palettes a) vary wildly in quality and b) should last forever. My most expensive was UD Naked2 at $84, so maybe $100?

    It's an interesting topic as it's essentially about which items we value most in our makeup routine - I'm sure there are plenty who would have their $50 mascaras prized out of their cold, dead hands, they love it so much.

    1. Oof, I always forget how expensive makeup is in Australia. $36 for a MAC lipstick! Eek.

  2. I think my general upper limit is $50. I definitely have things that are more than $50, but were purchased with points/sales/a combination thereof that got them under $50 and often a lot cheaper than that. And I'd only consider $50 for foundation or finishing powder. Mascara should be less than $10 (though Glossier Lash Slick busted that one), lipsticks should be $30 or less, though I have a few that were around $40. Overall, colour cosmetics are less than $30 and hopefully closer to $20 or less.

    North of $50, though, and I'm less interested. Pat McGrath lipsticks are $52 in Canada. Get out of here, Pat (I did buy one of the mini trip sets to try, since it was a much less insane $32, though I was still side-eyeing myself).

    1. I've always used samples of high end mascaras and, when necessary, a $5 drugstore mascara like Maybelline Full n' Soft. But I'm on my second tube of Glossier Lash Slick, and damn, do I love that stuff. It's my go-to mascara for work, since I don't have to worry about it making a massive mess after 8+ hours.

  3. My price ceiling for a lipstick used to be about $25. Then I bought a Marc Jacobs lipstick for $30, and then a Pat McGrath lipstick for $38. So yeah, I guess my ceiling for lipsticks is now $40? The vast majority of my lipsticks cost less than $20, though, so maybe I have a hard ceiling and a soft ceiling. (That sounds dirty.)

    In general, I don't think I've ever paid more than $50 for any one makeup or skincare item, and I don't see that changing in the near future. It blows my mind that Modern Renaissance is considered an "affordable" palette these days. $42 is not nothing!

    1. Agreed about $50. That's when I start praying for a sale.

  4. I love getting travel sizes of things even if it's more expensive per ounce because I so rarely finish anything. I'm on my third tube of Mac Capricious, and that's the only lipstick I've ever finished. It used to be important to me to by as much as I could during the Ulta and Sephora sales, but that just leads me to overbuy using the justification of the lower price. I still buy on sale, but I also say that if it's worth it on sale, it's also worth it at full price. Full price slows me down and makes me more deliberate. $50 is when I think it's really a big splurge.

    1. I always remember that 20% off isn't that much money most of the time, and 20% off is still 80% spent.

  5. Lipstick: $20
    Eyeshadow eh...: $12? That never really comes up, honestly.
    Mascara: $12. I will wait for a sub box to drop one in my lap, they dry out before I can finish even a deluxe.
    Blush: $10
    Foundation: $38
    Highlighter: rarely use it. Eyeshadow can be repurposed.
    Bronzer: doesn’t exist to me
    Concealer: $20. Rarely used.
    Brow products: don’t exist to me.
    Primer: $20.

    That said, I really want to splurge on glossier one day, I just don’t know if it’s worth it.