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8 Everyday Essentials You Should Splurge On (and 3 Things to Buy on the Cheap)

Find out where it pays to spend a bit more and where you can save when it comes to your fashion and beauty routine.


Splurge on: Anti-aging products

If you’re serious about anti-aging, it’s worth it to spend the money, says Ashli Carnicelli, esthetician at Boston-based Bella Santé Spa. “There’s nothing on the market right now that will improve your skin more than stem cells or what’s known as epidermal growth factor,” she says. (Epidermal growth factor is a polypeptide, or molecular chain of amino acids, that stimulates wound healing and may even increase collagen production.) Products that contain one or both of these ingredients will set you back a pretty penny, but “accept no substitute here,” Carnicelli says. Try: Tensage Stem Cell Cream, $180


Splurge on: Serums

A great antioxidant serum is one of the best ways to look younger. It’ll protect you from harmful free radicals as well as environmental damage from UVA and UVB rays, according to Carnicelli. Look for one with Vitamin C, which will strengthen the capillary walls in your skin to give you a smoother, softer look. “The price point is worth every penny, and it is truly one of the best skincare investments you’ll ever make,” Carnicelli says.

Try: Beauty Rx Triple Vitamin C Serum, $95


Splurge on: Acne products

Adult acne is on the rise in women, but the majority of over-the-counter acne products are aimed at teenagers—and while that salicylic acid face scrub might have worked when you were 15, it’s going to be too harsh on your skin when you’re 30, 40, and beyond. Instead, Carnicelli recommends investing in a high-quality retinol product, which stimulates blood vessels, minimizes wrinkles, slows the breakdown of collagen, and encourages quick cell turnover, all of which packs a powerful punch in the fight against acne. One note of caution: Retinol can initially cause redness or irritation, so start by applying an OTC retinoid twice a week and see how your skin reacts before moving on to everyday use. You can also ask your doctor for a prescription retinol product if your acne is severe.

Try: SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0, $63


Save on: Face wash

“No need to splurge here, it just goes down the drain—literally,” Carnicelli says. “While a good cleanser should include mild detergents to dissolve dirt, oil, and debris on the skin, save the active, anti-aging ingredients for something that will actually stay on your skin longer.” Don’t make the mistake of washing your face in the shower either.

Try: Liquid Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Formula, $8


Splurge on: Sports bras

If there’s one thing you should splurge on when it comes to fitness apparel, it’s your sports bra, according to Jessica Matthews, MS, master trainer, and kinesiology professor for the American Council on Exercise. “Sports bras are designed not just to minimize the damage done to the ligaments and tissues around your breasts, but also discomfort while you’re working out.” Because inexpensive sports bras tend to lose their shape easily, Matthews says it’s worth it to shell out the extra money for a well-designed, high-quality pick that will last through repeated washing and wearing. If you’re on the smaller side, she recommends a compression-style sports bra; for bustier gals, she suggests looking for an encapsulation-style bra that provides molded cups for extra support.

Try: UnderArmour Bra 2.0 (C-DD), $60 or Brooks Running Women’s Juno Bra, $60


Splurge on: Sandbells

This training tool is like buying a dumbbell, medicine ball, and kettlebell all rolled into one piece of equipment. “This functional training tool can be used wherever you are—at home, at the gym, outside,” Matthews says. “You can lift them, swing them, and even safely slam them on the floor, thanks to the soft yet durable neoprene cover.” In other words, this total-body training tool is worth the investment.

Try: Hyperaware Sandbell Neoprene Sandbag Free Weight (unfilled), $70


Splurge on: T-shirts for working out

You may think you can get away without going for that jog in your old sorority T-shirt that’s a decade old, but you may find that it chaffes and doesn’t keep you as dry as you would like. Look for a shirt with moisture-wicking properties that will keep you dry during intense sweat sessions. You also might want to take note of how it fits around your armpits, as ill-fitting tops can cause chafing. UnderArmour, Reebok, New Balance, Champion, and more brands all offer high-quality, durable options at a reasonable price, Matthews says. Here are some of the most flattering options in fitness apparel.

Try: Champion Women’s Run Tee, $25


Splurge on: Foundation

“I tell all my clients to splurge on products that will last a long time and have multiple uses,” Blinkbrowbar brow expert Sabah Feroz says. Foundation definitely fits the bill, since you’re applying it to your face every day, it’s worth investing in a high-quality product. Same goes for lipstick and brow gel. (One exception to this rule: nail polish, which people tend to remove every few days. And nowadays, you can find high-quality, three-free nail polish picks for drugstore prices.)

Try: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, $64


Save on: Mascara

Since mascara dries up quickly, you have to replace it often, Feroz says. And in this case, price really doesn’t matter: Expensive, or cheap, even these top notch mascara formulas are formulated by the same labs, meaning there’s no guarantee your expensive pick will last longer. Plus, the tubes they come in are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Bottom line: There’s no point in dropping serious dough on something you’ll have to replace every two or three months (and if you care about your eyesight, you really should be replacing them that often).

Try: CoverGirl Lash Blast Plumpify Mascara, $12


Splurge on: Classic styles

“When it comes to my own personal style, I’m only willing to splurge on things I know will last longer than a season or two,” Amy Wicks, senior fashion editor at Polyvore, says. Think: a nice pair of ankle boots, a chic tote, or a streamlined coat you can wear over anything. But if you’re hesitant to drop serious cash on that bomber jacket you’ve been eyeing, think of it this way: A well-made piece will last you years, and the more you wear it, the less you’re spending on it per wear.

Try: McQ Alexander McQueen Leather Jacket, $1,500


Save on: Anything trendy

Trends come and go overnight, so why bother spending the money? “I have a personal rule that I don’t spend more than $100 on anything trendy,” Wicks says. This isn’t to say you should stay away from trends entirely, especially if there’s one you’ve been dying to try, but Wicks’ recommendation is to buy one or two trendy items that you like and then mix them with your classic pieces (see previous slide) to instantly elevate your entire look. Still trying to figure out your personal style? Try these tips.

Try: H&M Sleeveless Jumpsuit, $40

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