Cosmetic costs

Published September 15, 2011, in MSUM’s, The Advocate


Despite high prices, students still find cash for beauty

College students are known for having meager funds. It’s an expensive time in life with tuition, rent and other bills picking their wallets clean. To add to these daily expenses, beauty is still a top priority and quality makeup is not cheap.

Michelle Roadfelt, 21, MSUM film major, works as a local beauty consultant. As a college student herself, she understands the financial difficulties presented, but also realizes the power of product assurance.

“You find your favorites and that’s your go-to when you keep coming back for something, whether it be more expensive or not,” she said.

Getting dolled-up can get pricey. Many college students lean toward more affordable beauty goods, while others stick to the products they have tried time and again, with cost as no object.

“As a college student, I have no money for makeup, but I do find stuff that works best for me and works best for my skin,” Roadfelt said. “If I do have to pay a little bit more, I’m willing to do that because in the long run, my skin’s going to be better off.”

Sophomore Lisa Holman, a vocal performance major, buys the majority of her beauty products at Target.

“I love Target; all of my eye makeup consists of CoverGirl, Rimmel and Maybelline. My eyes and lips are my beauty priorities. I always need lipgloss and mascara on,” she said. “I do, however, splurge on my face makeup. I love bare Minerals.”

Though some still find a time and a place amid their thriftiness to treat themselves to more expensive luxuries, others even find products at Walmart and Target overpriced.


“Makeup is too expensive in general,” Emily Spitsberg, a 23-year-old art major with an emphasis in printmaking, said. “Even the Target stuff sometimes.” Spitsberg still buys her products at Target, but is frustrated with the cost of beauty.

Women in the United States spend an average of $7 billion on cosmetics every year, according to research done by the YWCA. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2008, the typical U.S. consumer spent a total of $616 on beauty products, a 54 percent increase from 1998.

Due to the recession, living and college expenses, students  especially feel the need to restrict their budgets. However, some still find ample funds to splurge on more enviable items now and then, even with the hike in product prices.

Brenda Radloff has been working as a beautician since she was 18 years old, and this fall marks her 11-year anniversary as the store manager of Merle Norman Cosmetics in West Acres Mall.

In relation to the dramatic increase of cosmetic spending in recent years, Radloff said, “People are just willing to spend more to take care of their skin properly in this day and age.”

She stressed the importance of quality products for a thorough skin care regimen and that our skin’s health should be a top priority.

“The more you spend on your skin care routine, the more benefits you’ll see and the happier you’ll be. It’s worth it to spend more because you’ll see results.”

Emily Risch, 22, a senior mass communications major with an emphasis in public relations, buys both Clinique and more affordable products.

“I buy Clinique when I have extra money to spend. I have never regretted spending the extra money,” Risch said.

For some, the temptation higher-end stores hold can be enough of a sales pitch.

“I only buy expensive makeup when I am in a store that sells expensive makeup, like Sephora. I cave,” said Melanie Lang, a 21-year-old senior studying elementary and special education. “But for the most part, I go Target all the way.”

Like most students, Lang prefers the costlier brands, but opts for more inexpensive items in between splurges.

Many top-of-the-line makeup companies such as Estee Lauder, Merle Norman, Sephora and Clinique have catered to more financially stable women of 35 and older in the past, according to an advertising case study by Ryan McCormick.

However, plans to bring in more female consumers between the ages of 18 and 25 have been in the works. More affordable lines are beginning to pop up.

“When it comes to having to buy cosmetics and skin care too, the best deals are from kits. You get close-to-full-size products or full-size products in the kit. You end up getting a few items for free when you look at it that way,” Roadfelt said.

Though students are forced to be frugal, many will continue to make beauty a top priority.



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