Think your skincare routine is too expensive? This financial expert explains why it’s an important investment

April 29, 2024

Welcome back to Well Connected’s Skincare Seven, where we pull back the curtain on some of our favorite creators to learn their deepest, darkest skincare secrets in just seven questions. This month we’re focusing on financial stress, so who better to chat with than Bola Sokunbi, founder of Clever Girl Finance, a personal finance education platform dedicated to empowering women to ditch debt, save money and build real wealth. Read on for Bola’s best financial and skincare-related tips, including how to change your relationship with money, lower your stress levels (which can result in better skin!) and why you should never feel guilty for buying skincare.

Dr. Murad believes that skin health is tied to whole body health. What are your top 3 non-product related tips for healthy skin?

Drink plenty of water: Drinking water makes a huge difference when it comes to how hydrated your skin feels. When I was younger I tried out so many products to help with dry skin but once I started drinking more water, I saw a difference quickly. To make sure I’m drinking enough water every day, I have a reusable water bottle I fill up each morning that goes with me pretty much everywhere! 

Minimize everyday stress: Stress can wreak havoc on your skin and I’ve certainly experienced this first hand with stress-related breakouts.  

Don’t touch your face: I’m guilty of this one sometimes! Touching your face all the time can cause skin irritations and breakouts because it’s so easy to transfer oils, dirt and even bacteria from our hands to our faces. This is something my mom would always tell me when I was younger! Sometimes I touch my face without even thinking about it, so I’m also very particular about washing my hands often throughout the day.

Skincare can be seen as a frivolous purchase by some, but it’s considered important selfcare for a lot of people. As a financial expert, what’s your take on this?

I don’t consider skincare to be a frivolous purchase, but I can see how it may be seen that way by others, especially from a money savvy angle. It’s absolutely important that you take care of your basic needs first, like paying your bills on time and buying groceries, but it’s also important to make a little room in your budget for selfcare—and taking care of your skin is a great form of selfcare.

Buying skincare doesn’t need to break the bank, and you don’t need a cabinet full of products to have healthy skin. You work really hard for money, so it’s really important that you take care of yourself without feeling guilty about it. It’s all about incorporating what you need into your budget and planning for your selfcare accordingly— guilt free! 

You’ve explored how beauty “haul” videos on social can cause people to make compulsive financial decisions. What are some ways to deal with a desire to keep up with everyone else on social media?

Social media can create a lot of pressure, especially with haul videos that can tempt you to spend impulsively, so it’s important to have your personal intentions set to keep you grounded. 

Start by determining what your budget is for skincare and beauty products that won’t impact your key financial goals. You can have a dedicated line item for your beauty and skincare needs in your monthly budget, so it’s always accounted for.

Next, if you are constantly feeling the urge to spend, it’s ok to unfollow or mute the accounts that create that trigger. It’s also a good idea to establish the practice of asking yourself if you really need the items you’re buying, or if you’ve been influenced on social media. Give yourself time, whether it’s 24 hours or even a week, to think through your purchase before buying.

Following this approach can help you navigate social media’s pressure/influence and be more intentional about your spending decisions. 

Dr. Murad believes stress can have a negative effect on your skin. How do you manage your own stress levels?

I’m very mindful about managing stress because I’ve experienced burnout and stress-related migraines in the past. My top ways to combat stress are:

I make sure to exercise often, whether it’s a brisk walk, a Peloton ride or a YouTube workout.

Practicing mindfulness and journaling. I have a daily 5-minute journaling practice that helps me stay grounded without being overwhelming or feeling like a chore.

Eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep and rest.

Keeping a daily to-do list where I can prioritize what’s most important for that day.

Being intentional about making time outside of work to spend with my family, meet up with friends, read a good book or catch up on a favorite show.

Tapping into the calming effects of aromatherapy. I have diffusers in my office and bedroom with my favorite essential oils.

Finally, every now and then, I’ll do a social media detox and disconnect for a few days.

It’s estimated by the US Census and Simmons National Consumer Survey that the average American spends $322.88 every year on skincare. Does that surprise you? Why or why not?

The average American spending $322.88 annually (which breaks down to $26.90 a month) on skincare doesn’t surprise me at all. Skincare has become a significant aspect of selfcare for many people, and there’s such a wide range of products available at various price points.

That said, whether this amount seems reasonable or not really depends on the individual, what their income and budget are and also what products they think are essential in their skincare routine.

I think this is a reasonable amount to spend on skincare and repurchasing products that you find work well for you.

It can be hard to show restraint in beauty stores that are literally packed to the brim with products. Since you’re all about empowering women to take control of their finances, any tips on how to not go overboard, whatever that may mean for individuals’ budgets?

Navigating beauty stores with tempting products while staying within your budget can be tricky, but there are strategies to help you stay focused.

Start by assigning a fixed budget to your skincare purchases, based on what you can afford and keeping your financial goals in perspective. Then before you go to the store or shop online, make a list of the specific products you want to buy to avoid impulse spending. If it’s a product you’ve not tried before, be sure to do your research, read the reviews and compare prices. You should never feel pressured to purchase an item because it’s on sale. Remember, there will always be another sale coming up!

What’s your advice to someone who got started on financial literacy late in life? How can they catch up without it being too overwhelming?

If you’re starting on financial literacy later in life, know this: It’s not too late, it just requires intention and focus. To catch up, it’s important to educate yourself on financial concepts like budgeting, saving, investing and paying off debt.

You can leverage online resources (Clever Girl Finance has over 30 completely free courses), and financial literacy books to help you learn more about money management. It’s also important to not just set goals but assign timelines to your financial goals, and track your progress. Your goals can include things like ensuring you max out your annual catch-up contributions to your retirement savings, creating a solid emergency fund and creating a debt payoff plan so you can eventually free up that money to save even more money.

If your schedule permits, it’s also a good idea to explore other income streams like a part-time job or side hustle to help accelerate achieving your goals. Having a serious/focused accountability partner or joining a supportive online community can help you stay focused. And if you need, consult with a financial professional for guidance or to help you create a plan

Most importantly, stay focused on the goals and intentions you have set for yourself, take consistent action and avoid comparing yourself to others—it’s the thief of all joy. 

More from our Skincare Seven series:
7 questions with this self-made TikTok skinfluencer
This Harvard educated, board-certified derm’s best advice for you
40+? Here’s what this TikTok famous makeup artist wants you to know about skincare
A beloved home decor influencer reveals how to make your skin look as good as your living space
Want glass skin? Here are the secrets behind this J-beauty influencer’s iconic glow

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Murad, and are for informational purposes only, even if the advice of physicians and medical practitioners are included. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not looked be considered specific medical advice.  

About the Author

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Sheela Soskin is a beauty editor and copywriter who has written for luxury and lifestyle brands such as Tom Ford, The Honest Company and Ipsy. She currently lives in London, where she spends her spare time exploring every corner of the Victoria and Albert Museum and obsessively searching for the perfect red lipstick.