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The Real Cost Behind Red Carpet Looks

By Choncé Maddox
February 8, 2019

I know I can’t be the only one who thinks celebrities look absolutely flawless and stunning at red carpet events. But, let’s be real: It takes a whole team to create those glam looks, from hair and makeup, to attire and accessories.

So what’s the real cost behind red carpet looks? And how can you achieve something similar without blowing all your savings?

To help you go glam without breaking the bank, we’ve broken the costs. Take a look at how you can recreate your own red carpet look for your special event – on a budget.

Pre-Event Skincare Routine

You better believe that celebs have their own proven pre-event skincare routines to keep their skin glowing and blemish-free. Jennifer Aniston’s skin care routine, for example, reportedly runs around $1,187. This includes facials, chemical peels, skins creams, etc.

Other celebrities have been known to pay anywhere from $180 to $800 per facial, according to Vogue.

Budget-Friendly Hack: Don’t have $1,000 to shell out on skin products and services? No worries. Celebs recommend Neutrogena’s Facial Cleansing bar which only costs around three to four dollars. You can also get the Kinara Red Carpet Facial Kit on Amazon for $114. Or you can get free skin care product samples from direct sales associates for companies like Avon and Mary Kay.

Hair Styling

Your hairstyle can make or break your red carpet look. Some celebs take huge risks with their hair for events while others keep it classic. Hair styling can cost anywhere from $300 to upwards of $1,200 for red carpet events. According to Business Insider, Jennifer Aniston’s hair styles by celebrity hair stylist Chris McMillan have been known to cost $920. This includes both the haircut and color.

Budget-Friendly Hack: If you want a glamorous hairdo fit for the red carpet, all you need to do is find an exceptional stylist who’s willing to work with your budget. Show her the celebrity hairstyle you’re looking to emulate, and see if she can do something similar for you.

You can also check out celebrity salon chains like Mario Tricocci and take advantage of the expert services. Also, be sure to look for periodic offers at salons and deals on sites like Groupon.


Famous artists and entertainers like Beyonce can spend up to $900 on nails alone. Well, in Beyonce’s case they were gold nails, but this is still a steep price to pay.

Budget-friendly hack: Do your own nails. Purchase a quality polish from the drugstore and give yourself a manicure. You can also buy press-on nail polish strips for less than $10. Local nail shops can also give you a celebrity-worthy look for much less – whether you’re looking for acrylic nails, gel, or even 3-D elements like this.

Red Carpet Outfit

The outfit is often the most expensive part of a winning red carpet look. Women can spend six figures on dresses, while men can spend thousands of dollars on a nice tux.

In 2014, actress Lupita Nyong’o wore a $140,000 Calvin Klein dress to the Oscars. In 2015, actor Eddie Redmayne wore a $3,500 Alexander McQueen blue sapphire tux to the Academy Awards. Cate Blanchett, however, takes the cake by wearing an $18.1 million Armani Prive gown to the Academy Awards.

But are celebrities really paying big bucks to wear these outfits? Perhaps. Many of them, however, borrow attire or are gifted ensembles by designers who are hoping for a shout-out on the red carpet.

Budget-friendly hack: If you have a special event coming up, you can get a similar look without going into debt. For example, try checking out sites like Rent the Runway and Fashion Nova. At Rent the Runway, you actually rent the clothing via monthly subscriptions, while Fashion Nova sells fashionable attire for deeply discounted prices.

Shoes and Accessories

Shoes and accessories for a red carpet look can cost just as much as the outfit. It’s not unheard of for celebrities to wear $20,000 earrings and $600 designer shoes, while carrying a  $1,500 designer bag.

Again, these items may be rented or gifted from the designers themselves, but it’s still probably out of the question for people like you and me.

Budget-friendly hack: Charming Charlie is an accessories store when you can buy beautiful jewelry and bags for a fraction of the cost at other retailers. In addition, Stella and Dot is a great website to shop for statement jewelry. You can also find gently-used designer and brand name shoes and bags at Poshmark, ThredUp, and Plato’s Closet for affordable prices.

Is the Cost Worth It?

Red carpet looks for exclusive events like the Academy Awards can cost thousands of dollars. So, is the cost worth it? For celebrities, the answer is probably yes, as they will be photographed and interviewed for the world to see.

Luckily, you can still achieve a fantastic look without spending thousands of dollars. All you have to do is ditch the designer labels and use the resources above above to get the red carpet look you deserve. Better yet, you can go glam on a budget.

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