Mrs Money Mustache: Eliminating Lady Temptations

Eliminating Lady Temptations
An Indefinite, Ongoing Series by Mrs. Money Mustache

Being a Lady myself, I’ve fallen prey to lady spending in the past and occasionally find myself suddenly “needing” lady things out of the blue. Such as cute shoes, for instance.  I have also witnessed many seemingly normal and intelligent women declare that they need to go in for a manicure ASAP because their nails simply look horrific! Egads!

It seems that ladies like to spend money on products and services that help them achieve a sense of belonging or importance in society.  Things that make them look good and feel good.  Things other women have.

I can understand the feeling.. but these usually end up being short-lived “feel good” purchases that are later regretted and could have been replaced by something else that is totally free.  Moreover, women often compliment each other on these purchases, therefore reinforcing these beliefs more and more.  Why do we do this to ourselves?

Case in point: I have quite a few gray hairs that I have chosen not to color.  I have had many, many women tell me that I need to get these taken care of pronto!  But yet I have had an equal number of men compliment me on my gray and tell me they think it is beautiful.  I think the men may have it right, for once.

And what about the children?  Yes, the children!  As mothers, what are we teaching our children?  In my opinion, we are teaching them something that is potentially very destructive: that we place a lot of value on how we look, that we will pay to look a certain way, and that we reward ourselves with services or products that help us look or feel good.  We are teaching our children to become consumers and that their very happiness depends on it! The existence of spas for little girls is proof enough that we have a serious epidemic going on here (look it up, they really do exist).

In this series, we will be discussing several tactics for eliminating lady temptations from our lives.  These lady temptations include, but are not limited to: spending on shoes, clothing, make-up, books, manicures/pedicures, massages, fancy outings, etc.

Before we start, let’s begin by addressing the original source of modern Lady Temptations: The Shopping Mall.

The best and easiest way to start your recovery from the Temptations is to NEVER, EVER go shopping just for fun… EVER.  If you are a recreational shopper, please stop immediately. There is no such thing as “Retail Therapy”. Go for a walk, pick some flowers, hug your family.  Get your groceries from a Grocery Store or a Farmer’s Market (not Target).  If you’re going to buy shoes (after establishing a definite need), go in and get the hell out.  Be efficient.

And now on to today’s lesson: make-up.

Step 1:  Eliminate your need for make-up

I’m the first to admit that I don’t know as much as some ladies about this substance.  I do know that some women love to buy it — often very expensive stuff that promises to reverse aging and turn you into the most beautiful woman in the world.  In fact, the plethora of available products for your skin and hair is mind-boggling.

But doesn’t make-up usually make you look older? And, wouldn’t putting a bunch of chemicals on your face actually be bad for your skin and potentially age it prematurely?  What about wearing a hat when it’s sunny? Wouldn’t that work better?

I have heard that make-up can help make a person feel good, but it is really just a mask that women wear.  Sure, I can understand wanting to hide a giant zit under some skin colored product, but even then, one tiny bottle of a product could last you a year or two, couldn’t it?  I once purchased a bottle of foundation in high school that lasted until I graduated college.  You make-up purists out there will yell at me and tell me that “foundation doesn’t last more than 6 months at room temperature!” Well, I’ve just proven you wrong.

What about blush?  Doesn’t everyone want a nice rosy glow?  Well, how about going for a run or doing a few push-ups before going out instead?  That’ll do the trick every time.  Do you want bright glowing eyes?  Get some sleep.  Red lips?  Give them a little nibble and you’ll be just fine.  Want to radiate from the inside out? Smile!

The funny thing is that most women buy make-up in order to feel and/or look better.  Personally, I feel like a fool when I wear make-up.  The only thing that makes me feel and look good is being clean and healthy.  Nothing makes you feel better than biking around town and getting a natural glow, washing your face, exercising, smiling, drinking lots of water, eating organic apples.  Try it.

Take inventory of your make-up right now.  You may have a lot more than you thought.  Tomorrow when you wake up, try not wearing any at all.  Go out for a brisk morning walk after a full 7-8 hours of beauty sleep.  Take a shower.  Drop and give me 20.  Smile.  Then, take a deep breath and just go.  Leave your mask behind.  Write in and tell me how you did.


  • Jchung May 12, 2014, 12:29 am

    Wow, not to sound like a contradictory, but many of us Gen X, Y who grew up in the consumer times, will find it hard to go without makeup…. I am in my 30s, and although I don’t spend a lot compared to others….I cut and dye my own hair, pluck my own eyebrows, go for threading about bi-monthly for $10… I go to a salon for my lashes $50 per month so I don’t have to use much make up…. I also do my own nails and cut my daughter’s hair….

    Other than make up…. The weight loss industry is also a front runner for consumerism…. For example I work full time, so I need to plan time for exercise, using supplements to stay healthy….. Any comments…

    • Laura August 31, 2014, 6:29 am

      You could probably cut that $10… threading is so so easy to do yourself ! I promise, I am one of the world’s least beauty-skilled females, but after watching a few youtube videos I’ve been thread-shaping my own ‘brows for years. Mind you I just do the top side since this is almost impossible to screw up, and then pluck beneath.

  • Riles June 8, 2014, 7:30 am

    If you have ever seen those comparison pictures of women before and after makeup, it’s shocking. It’s like looking at two completely different people– which might just be a result of years of heavy makeup application, and the most extreme examples.

    I’ve also experienced this in real life with women I worked with in the past, and I thought there was something wrong with my glasses since I did not recognize them.

  • DMoney June 10, 2014, 1:46 pm

    I’m going to offer a dissenting opinion here. As a busy working mom of young children, I definitely don’t like putting on make up in the morning. I also hate blow drying my hair. Such onerous tasks when I’m rushing to shower after working out (although I have learned this time saving tip: hands free breast pumping while applying make up and blow drying!) .

    BUT – I think it’s kind of a professionalism thing. If I worked as a park ranger or changing oil on cars or a telephone operator, or something without a big customer service piece, I would never wear make up (or only for the elusive date night), but I’m a physician. And I believe my patients feel more at ease and trusting of me if I’ve put in the effort to look like a professional, which involves a small amount of make up daily.

    Male physicians are expected to shave and have haircuts at reasonable intervals. And I’d venture a guess that many customer/patient driven professions require you to look a bit polished. Lawyer in the court room? Saleswomen at a counter? Receptionist at a nice hotel? etc…

    • Woodrat July 1, 2014, 6:18 pm

      I know many professional women – physicians, lawyers, accountants, professors, realtors, etc. Some of them wear makeup, most do not. Of those that wear makeup, some of them look less than professional – as if they are more concerned with their appearance and looking glamorous than with their actual profession. I do think it is important for all professionals, male and female, to look well groomed – clean, dressed professionally, neatly trimmed/styled hair for both men and women. It’s about being respectful to one’s clients and projecting a business like demeanor. But altering the appearance of one’s face to change its complexion or color of lips, eyelids, cheeks, or hair has nothing to do with professionalism. Quite the contrary – it suggests superficiality and deception, even if the person wearing the makeup is neither of those things. And just to be clear, I’m not at all suggesting DMoney is personally deceptive or superficial. I’m just saying that when someone alters their appearance, it can send the *message* that they are trying to be something they’re not, and are concerned with form rather than function. When I see a physician wearing makeup, she looks to me like a candy striper or receptionist, not a serious professional. Where I work, it is rare for a female professor to wear makeup. When she does, she looks out of place and more like a secretary than a professor. Our veterinarian wears no makeup but some of her technicians do. Our dentists are a husband-wife team, neither wears makeup, but some of the hygienists do. It seems the more responsibility one has, the less time or inclination or need one has to fuss about one’s appearance. I guess it depends on the audience. Does the audience judge a woman on whether she looks like a magazine ad or on how well she performs her job? If a man is not expected to wear makeup to look professional, why should a woman? If a man did wear makeup, wouldn’t most people judge him as odd or narcissistic or obsessed with his appearance? But a woman doing the same thing is normal – women are *supposed* to be more concerned with their appearance? They’re just naturally more narcissistic… or insecure? Seems unfair and something we should strive to change in our culture, one professional woman at a time.

    • Melissa Yi/Yuan-Innes December 4, 2014, 2:43 pm

      I’m a physician too. I understand your point, although I basically never wear makeup. Emergency medicine is more forgiving that way! Plus you get to wear scrubs (pajamas) all the time.

      YMMV. One of my colleagues reapplied lipstick at 3 a.m. and when she told me about it, I said, “Well, you’re French.” And she said, “Exactly. I’m French. You understand.” ;)

    • Laura hahn August 1, 2015, 11:00 pm

      I understand what you are saying about being professional. And I do think a lot of jobs expect you to wear make up as a professional, but I don’t think that is right. In college part of my grade was based on my appearance for a large presentation and on the rubric it actually said I needed to wear make up. I was appalled and saddened at the reach of patriarchy into our culture. I can look clean and healthy without make up and am frustrated by societies expectations that professional=covering flaws with makeup

  • Stubbly mustachian-in-training July 1, 2014, 1:42 pm

    I’m surprised no one has linked to this “Mitchell & Webb Look” skit on gender based advertising:


    Reading through some of the comments here, it seems many of the women feel they need makeup to varying degrees, but I wonder how much of that is honestly just advertising?

    • Woodrat July 2, 2014, 2:27 pm

      Thanks for that link, Stubbly. It really does sum up nicely what many have said above re the underlying reason that some women “need” makeup or “need” to feel pretty. Or wear revealing clothing, or non-functional clothing. Plenty of female students where I work wear ultra-tight jeans, short shorts that show butt cheeks, completely impractical high-heeled shoes, and tummy-baring tops. I have never seen a single male student wearing any of those things. Women are taught, via the kinds of advertising that the video spoofs, they need to be alluring to men and that their natural selves are not alluring enough. Men are taught they are mostly fine as they are.
      Hence, with respect to the original post, many women spend more money than men do on appearance-related items – clothes, shoes, facials, manicures, hair styling, cosmetics, etc. Of course, there are probably categories where men spend more because of advertising and societal pressure. Maybe a topic for another post by MMM?

  • Kira July 5, 2014, 10:16 am

    Thank you for bringing up your opinion on hiding gray hair! I’m 30 and started noticing a handful of gray strands last year. At first, I nearly had a panic attack because I’m still “young”, but then I realized that my mom and grandma have both been coloring their hair since approximately the same age. In a way, I felt like it was a betrayal on their part because if I’m the one who breaks the chain, then I’ll appear to be “aging” faster than them. I don’t want to participate in that betrayal, especially since I have a daughter. On the other hand, my female boss thinks women who don’t hide their grays look like they are letting themselves go. I guess that’s just one more reason to be hyper-focused on growing my ‘stash so I don’t have to worry about whether or not my appearance is work appropriate (I already skip makeup most days and am trying to go no ‘poo).

  • Lorrie July 18, 2014, 11:38 pm

    This pretty much sums up how I have been thinking lately. What truly makes you happy? When you look back on the good times in your life do you even remember what makeup or the specific clothing you were wearing? I know I don’t. To me my happiest memories in life have nothing to do with these beauty products. I am seriously thinking about stopping wearing makeup completely. I wear makeup once or twice a week. I actually already really like how I look without it and never understood why all my friends spend hours on their hair and makeup while I always spent 5-10 minutes. I think all of this “masking” that you are referring to has to do with girls insecurities and wanting to feel wanted, loved, or appreciated. I am seriously considering getting rid of ALL of my makeup. I still have that debate inside my head that says “But Lorrie you look so cute with that eyeliner on” or ” I just need a little makeup to look cute”. I know that that thinking is completely irrational but that consumerism mindset is still there. Should I get rid of all my makeup?

    I really enjoy reading your perspective. Everything you and your husband write about really matches with my beliefs. I feel that I have always felt this philosophy about happiness deep down inside but never truly lived it or had a clear direction or priority. Already since reading this blog (which my husband found) my husband and I have saved $1,150 this month. We have set clear goals for getting rid or out debt over the next 2 years and are really thinking about saving 50% or more of our income to invest for the future. It could be that frugality and minimalism really sits well with me because my mother is a severe hoarder. With things up to the ceiling and 16 cats. (Lets just say I didn’t have the most functional or healthy childhood). At first I felt anxious about this lifestyle change but now I have fully embraced it. I’m so excited that I am telling everyone about it! But of course I am experiencing a lot of “complainy pants” remarks back about it.

    If you have time check out my blog. It’s mostly about my lifestyle change and how I lost 100 lbs in 2 years. I’m all about changing my perspective and learning new things!

  • Sarah August 21, 2014, 4:33 pm

    I have a different perspective on this one. I spend very little on makeup, and most people probably don’t realize I wear it at all ( I have had people tell me about how they find makeup so unattractive, with the implication that I was not wearing any at the time. They were wrong.) I did not mess around with it at all until I was 26, but I wear it daily now (concealer, light powder, brown mascara, sometimes a tinted lip balm). My reasoning: I am in poor health. When I wear minimalist makeup, people engage with me in a way that they never do if I wear none, because I look healthy, and people are more attracted to healthy people. I suspect the long term costs to not wearing makeup would be much greater than the benefits in my case.

  • Mrs. S. September 21, 2014, 3:57 pm

    Gotta throw my own experience in here :) I have long felt the pressure to be beautiful/attractive/acceptable according to our culture by wearing push up bras, posting lots of selfies to social media, and my least favorite, wearing make up. I wore make up on my wedding day and maybe a few times each month, but I outright reject the notion that I need to be enhanced or that I am not enough as I am on my own. I work in a retail setting and I can’t tell you how many men I speak with that tell me I am beautiful, and I am just wearing a tee shirt, jeans, no make up, and letting my curly hair run free.

    It has taken me many years to feel confident and lovely as I am, but as I continue to reject societal standards and believe truth about myself (and others!), I have been able to slowly distance from the self obsession and insecurity plaguing our country. I would encourage women to be physically and emotionally healthy first and foremost. For beauty, smile! Say something kind to someone else. Give generously. Take care of others. Forgive someone. Sing and dance aloud in your kitchen. Go for a walk outside and really look around you. There is so much more valuable self-improvement to be done in each of us, that spending undue amounts of time and money on appearance is poisonous, as it can give the appearance of beauty while neglecting the truth- beauty is inside!

  • Anni October 8, 2014, 3:45 pm

    I couldn’t help but comment on this. As a redhead, this is not reasonable. We have skin so pale, you can see our veins through it and every tiny blemish or slight difference is skin tone is blaring. Also, I have eyebrows and eyelashes that are lighter than my face. No, some of us don’t look just fine without makeup. Also, and this is unfortunate but true, greying hair and aging/unpolished face can affect employment/income level. So, for many, there could be a greater cost to not doing these things. My sister is a blond with even skin tone and dark lashes and brows. She looks lovely without makeup and she’s 44. It’s really not fair to assume anyone can do that, though.

    Oh, and all the men commenting that they like the natural look? I call BS. I don’t think you’re lying, I just think you think women aren’t wearing makeup when they are. I just read an article about this a few days ago! As a matter of fact, I dated a fella (a long time ago) who said I had the potential to be quite attractive (jerk) if I wore makeup. I was wearing makeup. As a matter of fact, he had not yet once seen me without it. If a woman applies tasteful daytime makeup, most guys won’t think she’s wearing any.

    This is why I always say personal finance is personal. What works for one doesn’t work for another. Some basic priciples, yes, but we all have to find our own balance. For some, that may be cutting makeup. But just for some.

  • Miss money moustache October 21, 2014, 6:17 pm

    Mrs money moustache, you’re a woman after my own heart. However, I’m still working so I use my 1/10000 bit of concealer on my under eyes every morning. Since reading this blog and simultaneously moving to the country I have stopped colouring my hair. However I am slowly reaching a point that people may realise the brown stripe down my part in my hair proves I’m not a natural blonde. What do I do? Brave the growing out of my hair (yuck, but it has been about 1 year) or colour until it’s all grown out.

    I’d love to brave it but I’m starting to look awful…

  • Dana December 28, 2014, 10:46 am

    Oooh yes, you are a woman of my own heart for sure! Yes, I have makeup, but I don’t wear it daily. I save it only for once or twice a year where makeup is somehow socially expected (anniversaries, weddings). I have been kicking around henna (or, rather, cassia, since I don’t want red hair) for hair health, and don’t mind my few grey hairs.

    • CHooper November 6, 2015, 3:37 pm

      Body-art quality henna and cassia are absolutely wonderful. I’ve used a blend of those for five years on my mousy hair, and love the warm tint it gives. Application is a pain though and best done with a friend.

  • Aaron January 13, 2015, 11:13 am

    I am incredibly blessed to have a wife who has a natural beauty that many other women have to use makeup to achieve. So when she does put on makeup (a very light amount, and maybe 2-3 times a year), the effect is that much more tremendous.

    I have one qualm about the comment about Target…I’m assuming it was said because the temptation would be to go shopping for other things in the same trip, not for value or quality of product. Because they are often cheaper for the things we buy than the traditional grocery stores.

  • Alex March 25, 2015, 7:24 pm

    I have to agree with the comments in favor of make-up in some form. My mother (who worked for decades in the fashion industry and knew the difference between “fashion” and style) has a favorite saying, “Nobody is so gorgeous that she does not need to adorn and groom herself.” There is a lot that people (not just women) can do to present a polished appearance without sinking into mindless consumerism. Clothing and grooming are a form of social communication, and the “I don’t need make-up or a hairdresser” line frequently has a whine of unfounded moral superiority that is unattractive in its own right.

  • E.L.Mc. March 27, 2015, 10:56 am

    I have no problems with someone not wishing to wear makeup; however, I feel that it’s doing the women who do wear it a disservice to call it a “Lady Temptation” and dismiss it without giving some advice on how to keep up one’s personal grooming standards frugally. One can both wear makeup and dye one’s hair on a regular basis without spending a lot of money on it, and, for some of us, it is considered both a pleasure and a necessity. I understand that it would save money never to do either, but that’s not always an acceptable option for everyone. Nor do we do it because we’re attempting to attract approval or affection from the males in our lives – we do it because we enjoy it.

    Some of the options for beauty products that exist are to go to home-made and natural products for skin care. A jar of coconut oil from Trader Joe’s costs about $5 and can last more than a year. I portion mine out into little pots and store what I’m not using. I also make home cleaning products myself.

    I purchase products on sale with coupons at Ulta and use my Ulta card whenever I go there to gain points, which I then use on discounted products. I rarely spend much money at all on anything. I use quality products with richer color content and I keep my brushes clean. Following sales is the key here. If you identify what you need or require, then wait patiently for a sale before you run out of whatever it is you need, you can often replace it in time without making any large outlay of cash.

    For home hair dying, you can go to Sally’s Beauty Supply, purchase a quality hair dye kit and do your own hair for very little money a month. I asked my stylist what she would do if she had little to no money for a visit to freshen up or change my color, and she told me to visit Sally’s Beauty Supply and purchase a quality dye kit there. It costs less and is safe enough to do at home.

    Hair cuts are another matter entirely and rely on skill and confidence, but, as with a pair of quality shoes vs. the cheap version, getting a quality cut will last you longer and look nicer in the long run. I go to the salon far less regularly than recommended, but I have a wonderful stylist who knows what she’s doing, so my hair keeps it’s shape far longer.

    If a person knows what they’re doing with makeup, it is quite possible to look younger, not older (I’m not entirely certain what the point of wearing makeup is if one is attempting to look aged). Most of that relies on proper skin care and sun protection, sleeping, drinking enough water, and not worrying about how much you’re spending on your makeup. :) Figuring out how to do it without impacting your pocketbook adversely is the fun part.

  • Kat April 29, 2015, 2:52 pm

    Very late to this party but I happily went grey in my 30s and was fortunate that it looks great. HOWEVER, about a year ago I decided I was tired of being invisible (women over 50 are apparently much harder to see) I started using $10 pots of temp (washes out in 20-40 shampoos) color but in fun shades: magenta, lagoon blue, violet, etc.

    Having worked outdoors for the past 20 years with minimal or no sunscreen (yeah, bad me), my skin now requires substantial moisturizer to combat the damage but the stuff I buy on sale in the grocery store is doing a great job. I still can’t quite make myself go totally naked face, though I usually limit make-up to mascara and a touch of eye-liner. Tinted lip balm for the fancy nights out. :D

    I have been prowling though these posts for the past 2 weeks as time allows and am enjoying them tremendously! Thank you Mr & Mrs Money Mustache!

    It was very heartening to discover my own money mustache isn’t as pathetic as I’d thought; though I have a long way to go , it now seems much more do-able. And that ridiculous age 67 that SSA thinks I should work til? Hah!

  • Shannon July 16, 2015, 8:38 pm

    Awesome post Mrs. MMM. I am 37 and quite white with no intentions of dying my hair anymore. Not too many woman in my age group are not dying their hair anymore but hey I got my first white hair at 15. I am going to have a long, beautiful multicolored braid down my back. Besides no hair color that you can buy can match the beautiful colors your hair can be when you stop dying it!!

  • Miranda July 17, 2015, 9:11 am

    I believe women wear make-up because the industry has done an astonishing job at making sure we never feel like we are good enough. Just buy some make-up and you’ll be good enough. Except that it’s never true. 99.9% of women will never look like the ads. I was blessed with a husband who asked why I wore make-up (and not much) when I was younger, when I said I didn’t really know, he said why not stop, you look great without it. Both of our mothers wear their daily layers of make-up and are terrified of being seen without it, their faces actually look altered from wearing make-up for so long, very sad. I think this topic fits so many you address on this blog, so much crap we don’t need is marketed to our deepest fears and insecurities. We think we’re smarter than the ads, but most of the time, we are not. It’s a good battle to keep the crap at bay! Kudos to your awesome blog, I am so glad I found it!!

  • Laura hahn August 1, 2015, 10:53 pm

    I know I’m behind in posting here but just read an article tonight that, though it isn’t money related, I thought would be relevant to people reading this post. It talks about the reasoning behind women wanting to wear makeup just food for thought- http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/07/choices-not-always-feminist/

  • Anonymous August 9, 2015, 9:45 am

    Although I get your point about the extreme over-emphasis on women’s appearances in American society, I don’t think you’re taking the perspectives of *all* women into consideration. I don’t wear much makeup myself, but not all women use makeup because they feel compelled to by society. Many women enjoy the artistic expression that makeup allows them to create. They feel empowered by the ways in which they can change their appearance, if only for a day or even a few hours. They don’t do it because they *have* to, but because they want to. In addition, makeup can be used without being a major expense. A $5 bottle of mascara can last for years, and is nothing in comparison to hundreds of dollars spent at a CrossFit gym, and yet both choices can make a woman feel confident in herself. In many ways, it’s similar to the act of cutting one’s hair. You *could* leave your hair undisturbed and let it grow for your entire life without ever cutting it, which would be the “natural” thing to do, but perhaps you prefer a short length. It makes you feel better about yourself, and fits your face. You should comply with your own standards of beauty and confidence, not anyone else’s. There are many men and women who try to shame women about their use of makeup–perhaps nearly as many who try to shame women *into* wearing it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Fargles August 30, 2015, 2:44 pm

    Mrs. MM, I know where you’re coming from. I used to loathe and avoid makeup, especially foundation and mascara. Then in my mid-20s I got adult acne. Now my skin just isn’t that great anymore and I usually have to wear foundation to keep from looking red and blotchy. I miss being able to go bare-faced every day. On the plus side, I get to express my artistic side with different colors and “looks”. I also appreciate looking older and more polished at work because I look naturally a lot younger than I am.

    All this to say that not everyone has the same freedom to choose to go without makeup — I sometimes envy women with clear skin, and I am willing to buy affordable products that have the potential to improve my skin.

  • Readbx September 17, 2015, 8:40 am

    Thank goodness we all have the power to choose our own priorities. You’d have to pay me serious money to go anywhere near a crossfit gym, but I do enjoy using basic makeup when I go out. You see, I spent the first 50 years of my life in a church that forbade the wearing of makeup and cutting or coloring of hair. The beauty industry has nothing on that type of control.

    I have decent bone structure and reasonably good skin, so I don’t need a lot, but I am making up for the lost years by looking the way I want to look, which is grey-free (I’ll probably go grey when it’s all white–I find the in between stage extremely unattractive) with a stylish cut that has saved me hours compared to long hair, and tastefully light drugstore brand makeup. I look at old photos of myself, and in those taken from any distance, I am so pale I appear featureless. A little bit of eyebrow pencil and liner fixes that, and it lasts forever.

    Never again will I make grooming choices based on other people’s priorities or opinions. I’m having fun where I am in life, and looking professional for my work is part of the overall pleasure in being normal.

  • L October 4, 2015, 2:16 am

    Not sure if others have mentioned it but make up and shoes/clothes/etc. go on sale A LOT. Sometimes you can even score free products by couponing. There are still the environmental ramifications to consider but financially you shouldn’t ever have to “treat yourself” via going in debt.
    I keep a loose idea of what I may want/need and keep an eye out for clearance. Some new flats, better work pants, a few cute shirts in X color, and so forth, then try to make sure I’m only buying what I need. This works great with kid’s clothes too. Rain jackets on sale for $5- why yes please!
    There is also the French outlook of working with what you have and aiming for a classic not trendy style. Good skin care often means hot water to clear the pores and cold to close them, not a thousand creams. Make up is considered a less is more item. Few wardrobe purchases are made but the few that are, are of the highest quality and last for years. This means lots of savings as cost per wear is much less. Oh and hair is not fried to death with blow dryers but waves and such embraced. Working with your hair’s natural appearance and not fighting it, is truly a godsend.

  • CHooper November 6, 2015, 3:30 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I love your perspective and admire your gray, a mark of badassery that I look forward to achieving.

    One of my first and most proud accomplishments as a Baby Mustache was simplifying my body and hair maintenance. It seemed impossible, needing increasingly large and expensive mounds of conditioner to get a comb through my hair. Not to mention all the other items slathered on my body and face, ironically with the goal of looking naturally-healthy through artificial means.

    Now I only need a wash rag, some citric acid (combats hard water), and a safety razor. I never smell (some great recent published research about how this works), my hair has never been so soft (water-only hair washing with an acid rinse to remove hard water build-up), and I even had a professional makeup artist stop me at a bar to marvel over my (previously always pimply and embarrassing) clear and glowing skin. And I only need to wash once a week to smell and look clean, where previously I needed a shower twice a day to stay decent.

    The most important part for me was a healthy diet, free of (expensive) processed crap, which provided the optimum foundation for the above. It took a couple years of research and transition, but I feel awesome and I wanted to spread the good news. You can save money, be kinder to the environment, and look as good if not better by relying on how your body works when left alone and given what it needs to thrive.

  • doodleranch February 14, 2016, 1:58 pm

    I have been frugal my whole life and it’s part of who I am. How the heck do you find a like minded partner? If someone got me flowers on actual Valentine’s Day, I think I would shoot them for paying too much! :)

  • ALJ February 15, 2016, 8:46 am

    As an on-and-off reader of this blog, I finally decided: it’s a long weekend and I have the flu, maybe I’ll read it whole way through!

    I appreciate your outlook a lot. I never wear makeup, much to my mother’s chagrin. As another commentor said, the last time I bought makeup was for my wedding, and it, too came to almost $100! This of course was after I consulted with a professional make-up artist a friend got me in touch with, who wanted to charge $500 for a single.application.of.makeup. WTF?

    When I told him “no,” he responded “OK, but everyone is going to see those dark circles under your eyes and they’ll show up on the pictures.” I think there is no greater event that shows the horror of what we as a society do to women–in terms of what comes out to a “gender tax”–than the wedding.

    Does anyone have any good resources for cutting your own hair? I have looked online, tried a bunch of different things, and I always end up royally messing it up. Thanks!

  • Alison March 21, 2016, 7:29 pm

    Many years ago when I was in college, they brought in some sort of beauty “expert” who told us to never go out without at least mascara and lipstick on, as that accounted for 90% of what people noticed. I took that to mean a whole lot of time, energy and money was being wasted for that last 10%… and ohhh the money I’ve saved since that day :-)

  • Leya March 31, 2016, 7:25 pm

    Thanks Mrs. MM! I really wish there was a like button for some of these comments, haha MMM followers are RAD!! Appreciate this article on bringing things back to the basics. I rarely wear makeup as well, mainly b/c I live in sunny Hawaii where a little sun is all the makeup you need and generally people here are just not into all that stuff. I do have a little stash though for parties and what not. So, maybe I wear makeup 10x a year?? It’s nice b/c it’s something different but my hubs always tells me I don’t need it. Most awesome men don’t even care about that crap!

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher June 10, 2016, 7:42 am

    I gotta say, I’m still a bit of a whineypants when it comes to giving up my cosmetics. But I’m starting to turn to cheaper, natural alternatives. When you sit down and look at it, we don’t need all of this extra crap that marketers are trying to peddle to us. I do enjoy smearing makeup on my face, but I’m trying to do so in ways that are more financially and environmentally conscious.

    And I’m proud to say that I’ve stopped dyeing my hair! It’s been over a year and I’ve fallen in love with my natural hair color all over again. :)

  • Jane July 19, 2016, 2:30 pm

    Hi Mrs. Money Mustache,

    A little off topic, but I loved dying my hair because I found on certain days it would make me feel older than my age. And I hated the chemical stuff on my head and when I was trying to save money I would buy the box dyes and cut my own hair. But I have started using Henna as an emergency pick me up and alternative to the nasty chemicals for health reasons when I started looking at what we ingest and apply to our bodies that is so nasty. It’s cheap if you buy it online (about 10 bucks) and my bag last me two applications and it’s non toxic, smells like hay and all natural. I have dark hair and with lots of grey hair and the red henna gives my locks a wonderful highlight especially the grey ones as they are brighter without it running out of my head since it locks to the hair follicle and is permanent. My hair is the healthiest its been doing this since I’m not harming it or my scalp.
    As for makeup. I only apply coconut oil to my skin and I have a few Burt’s bees lip shimmers that I love. Less is more and I like it! Love your blog…just started reading it. Have lots to go, but love it so far! Thanks.

  • Winslow July 21, 2016, 5:23 am

    Thanks, Mrs. MM, that was a great assault on wasteful fakeness.

  • Zorronqueen September 12, 2016, 3:24 pm

    Re-reading this post after 3 years. Turned 40 this year. With age insecurities go up.
    I spent hundreds/thousands, trying to look, feel better….
    I hit a corner after spending money on laser eye surgery, then had issues paying for my kids medical bill.
    Any advice on how to do the no make up challenge?..first step is to cut out monthly expenses such as eyelash extensions…

  • Be September 25, 2016, 3:45 pm

    Premature grey runs in my family, I found my first silvers at 16, so I don’t associate it with anything negative.
    I have never worn make up – my mother put some blush on me for a ballet recital when I was 5 and I broke out in a rash. The most I tried from there was a little eyeliner. Anything more seems like a lot of work to me.

  • Jen December 21, 2016, 6:20 am

    Before my son was born, I decided to cut my makeup wearing and ‘beauty’ related time/spending drastically. I knew time would be limited with a newborn and I didn’t want to feel ‘ugly’ because I didn’t have time to layer on foundation and eye shadow galore, so if I eliminated these rituals, there would be no reason to feel ‘undone’. I kept a few items in the mix (eye liner and mascara), but quickly found that I was also able to eliminate them once I stopped my morning makeup rituals. My skin is healthier, my eye lashes are longer (because they grew back!), and now I brush my hair, teeth and wash my face and the day can begin! It’s freeing and worth the minor uncomfort that not wearing makeup might bring at first to some diehard makeup wearers like myself.

  • Carolyn March 3, 2017, 12:21 pm

    Just starting reading this blog from the beginning. So far i have enjoyed Mrs. Money Mustache posts very much, maybe i’m a little bias being a lady myself! I’ve never been a big fan of make up. I can’t help but feel like i’m lying to people with my face. And I find it alarming / distrubing seeing other ladies with a pound of make-up on i dont understand why that looks good… With that said I sometimes I do find myself with some foundation and mascara on for special events but day-to-day its just sunscreen for my face.
    Side note: I never met a guy that said he prefers i wear make-up, in fact my husband complains when i do wear it! Nonetheless, thanks for this post, it reassures me I’m not alone in my anti-make up sentiments.

  • Phoebe March 15, 2017, 8:30 pm

    I agree with parts of this post, and disagree with others.
    I basically never wear makeup, and I feel the same way as you, Mrs. MM. I feel weird if I do wear makeup. Sometimes, if I’m wearing it, I feel embarrassed, like people can tell that I’m wearing a mask. But I want to feel more comfortable wearing it when and if I feel like I want to!

    While for me, makeup would be a waste of money and time, just as I do not shave because it feels like a waste of money/time to me, I respect the right of all women to do what they want with their bodies. I am not superior, just because I do not wear makeup or shave. Maybe I have been raised in a less conventional way than many other people, and have had the fortune not to feel like it is my obligation to society to look perfect.

    It is so hard to be a woman in our society. As women, we are always being told how to act and how to look constantly. I don’t feel that telling women not to wear makeup is any different than telling them they must wear it. Women, do what you damn well please!

    That being said, I support women transitioning into wearing less makeup, and spending less time/money on it, if they feel like it is purely an obligation they feel to society, and not a choice that they make because it makes them feel good or fulfills them in some other way. :)

  • EarningAndLearning April 10, 2017, 4:05 pm

    Thank you for this post Mrs MMM, I know you share your husband’s concern for the Earth, so hoping you’ll read my two cents worth. Makeup production means testing the products on animals, usually rabbits, guinea pigs, even little hamsters. Animal testing by the beauty and cosmetics industry is very disturbing, and at this stage in the game, as we have been testing and re-testing for decades, it is also unnecessary. But you CAN find companies that refuse this cruel abuse. I only wear moisturizing lipstick that I buy at a health food store from a company that doesn’t test on animals. I buy my shampoo, soaps & creams from LUSH, which is expensive, but I like that they don’t test on animals & I use them sparingly like the luxury products that they are. I signed a petition to stop a large, well-known brand from testing their products on bunnies & believe me, the photo I saw of the white bunny with horribly infected eyes will never be forgotten. I encourage all makeup-wearing women to support companies that do NOT test on animals & advertise that fact loudly. Let’s all be more concerned about the Earth AND the sentient animal beings we share it with.

  • natalie August 7, 2017, 8:03 pm

    I love this post -especially with the makeup. I’m required to wear it for work and it gets so expensive! bah!

  • Leda August 16, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. It meant so much to be able to reread it this weekend. I wrote a blog post inspired by you.

  • BeDiff August 23, 2017, 3:35 pm

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is how I’ve felt ever since I tried on nail polish in elementary school for the first time and I was like, this is too much work, and did I really want to spend 20 min perfecting my makeup. No way!
    If I’m going to feel good about myself I will work on eating healthy, keep my head high, exercise, drink water and treat people the way they want to be treated and I’ve never felt better when making this decision.
    Makeup is beautiful but I’d rather have an alternative (cheaper for that matter) to feel good.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  • Carli September 4, 2018, 12:05 am

    I’m currently reading the book “Perfect Me” by Heather Widdows (2018) for a deeper understanding on the increasingly demanding norms of “ideal” feminine beauty in our culture and how make up plays into that. Borrowed from the public library, of course! I recommend it although it reads a bit heavy like a text book.

  • Alison December 24, 2018, 8:54 pm

    Thank you Mrs MM (and Mr MM) – great article! I have just started reading your blog and I love it so much that I have started reading from the beginning. Mr MM’s articles are hilarious and instructive, but I really enjoyed having a Lady’s input, as I too am a Lady and often get tempted by shiny things that promise to make me a far better, more beautiful and lovable person. Thanks for being a Badass and I hope you have more articles to come.

  • johnnybumblebee July 12, 2020, 4:46 pm

    My wife and I had a child at an early age(18). With our 22k yearly salary(CAD), we had everything we needed and we actually did manage to buy a house by the time we were 22 whilst setting aside 4000$ a year in RRSP. I had nothing to do with this success. My wife was mustachian supreme as she could do wonders while I, at that time, was dumb enough to entertain a nasty, pack-a-day, smoking habit (not in the 22k as they were bought with tips and I erroneously considered it pocket change…). I was raised in a typical family where the family income was 150k but debt was passed from one credit card to the next while my wife was raised in a household with a single mom who raised 4 kids on 25k a year. (My wife’s mother is actualyl wealthier today than my parents)

    Over time though, we did manage to creep up the scale. My wife finished her degree in teaching and I somehow convinced my employer that I was an excellent manager, regardless of a less than impressive ‘on-paper’ education. I had a lucky break where they used me as a ‘last resort’ (3 consecutive burn-outs) and realized I could get things done and from there, within the organisation, my education was not a limiting factor anymore (The down side is I’m sort of stuck there because most other organisations can’t imagine I have the profile for this type of work)

    My wife was a fantastic influence on me. We have no debt other than a mortgage, we have 4 kids, of which at least 2 will be a success (my humor), we travel 4 times a year, and left, all together, on lengthy family adventures. For example we crossed Canada and US from east to west (with a fantastic time in Yellowstone).in our 1993 motorhome who’s ridiculously low price came with the added benefit of having to learn mechanics and roadside safety basics. We used a 31 foot 35 year old cruiser (it was loaned to us, but the initial plan was to buy one and resell it for the same price) to travel the Rideau Canal and the Great Lakes for 3 weeks, anchored under starry skies and eating the fish we caught along the way, all budgeted at less than 2500$ of gas and dockage fees with 3 of the kids (the first one was 17 and working by then). The added learning experiences were another 2 hours of mechanical poking around, a few minutes of figuring out who to repack the shaft seal quicker than we were sinking and an anchor we lost that we replaced by searching the local classified adds instead of buying it new at the marina we were forced to dock at (how much better would a new anchor hold?). We’ve been having so much fun travelling on the cheap and the kids can entertain any adult in conversations about what they’ve seen and done.

    Sorry, didn’t want to write a blog of my own here, but where my wife had a fantastic beneficial effect on reducing my tendency for consumption and self-indulgence, I had the exact opposite effect on her. And although we consider ourselves wealthy and happy, I can’t help but wonder where we’d be if I had let her influence take completely over instead of watering it down. Of course, I brought a little more adventures to the table, but I also brought more restaurant bills, drink my Tim Horton’s coffee every morning, etc. Over the years, I got my wife to ‘relax, we’re not living in our basement appartment anymore’ or ‘we’re up to 170k a year, we don’t have to worry about a Tim Horton’s coffee.

    I hit 40 this april and after a very distressing appointment with my doctor who advised me I had to take cholesterol pills every morning, I started shuffling everything around. I pondered on my lack of physical activities in the last few years (not the worst but less than it used to be), but also on what I put in my plate. I refused to take the pills until I tried a complete shift of my eating habits. I decided to migrate towards a plant-based diet and see if that had any effect. I shifted with no difficulties at all and in 2 weeks I’m going back to see if it’s working (very anxious about that one)

    This was the first step in reevaluating my life, although not yet complete. I then started looking at minimalism, and reading up on that topic. I’ll admit, that also gave me interesting perspectives and, eventually I mapped out a plan to retire within 9 years(49).

    What strikes me about your blog is that my 18 year old wife was wiser about spending than what we’ve been applying in the last 15 years. Now don’t get me wrong, she laughed when the insurance lady asked if she had any jewelery over 1000$, she doesn’t use make-up and also has fantastic black hair striken with white strands (her white hair started at 13 and I am the one who told her to stop pulling them out because it was beautiful) but she used to be even better (I would have said worse a few weeks ago…). I remember getting an earful because I paid 3$ a pound for clementines, whereas now I definitely could get away with it.

    The day before yesterday, we had to use the car and our trip took a bit longer than expected so we didn’t have a supper with us. I recommended we go to the local groceries for a few fresh vegetables, fruits and bread, and she looked at me as if I was an alien. I replied to her look with a ‘what? you used to suggest that all the time!’ and then I quickly had to reveal that your blog had showed me the error of my ways and that she was right all the long. You would think she’d be happy to hear that but she was actually mad that a stranger had to tell me for me to listen more intently… I didn’t see that one coming but she was bang on…

    Anyhow, I think I’ve started her up again and this time she won’t be getting any resistance from me. There is definitely not tons of waste. We rarely buy anything new, our cars and motorhome are paid and we find it surprising what high quality furniture some people are willing to part with freely in exchange for us moving it out to make room for new furniture. As mentioned, there is no debt other than a mortgage, but we should have been able to clear that up by now. I just regret the 600$ a month in restaurant bills over the past 10 years, am eyeing the spa as something I might get rid of but definitely will close this winter and do think a closeline will appear shortly. Not sold on the haircuts yet, although the article was strangely timed for me as I had just returned from the hairdresser with a 140$ bill for all 6 members of the family.

    I do have a few questions but I’ll hold off until I’ve read all the blog entries, but I am really enjoying the read.

    Thanks. This blog is encouraging and helps maintain a feeling of support. Although I’m on to most of your tricks already, it shows we can do better and is motivating. I really like the idea of using my bike to go everywhere and have been shopping around for a cheap used bike trailer…

  • Shea October 17, 2022, 12:51 pm

    Super late comment but love this post!! Taking care of our health by getting proper nutrition, minerals, exercise and also just being a good person makes you look naturally more attractive and of course feel better about yourself!


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