Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cash-Saving Cosmetics Tips

I have a thing for makeup—nice, quality makeup that doesn’t look cheap or wear off quickly.
I’m also a graduate student and don’t make a lot of money at my current job. What a conundrum, right? What am I supposed to do? 

I’ve found a few ways to combat this issue, and I want to talk a little more in depth about the various ways you can save money on beauty products while still buying for quality.

You know what’s cool about beauty stores? They often have membership programs where your purchases earn you points that can be used for samples, coupons, or free gifts. 

If you don’t already know, one of the best perks is definitely free birthday gifts. Ulta and Sephora both give their members a free birthday gift each year during the month of their birth, and it’s always something high-quality and worth stopping in to pick up. 

Last year Ulta gave members Calvin Klein mascara (full size, not sample!) and this year it was an Ulta eyeshadow palette (normally $22) which I use on a regular basis because it’s that good. It glides on so smoothly and holds the pigment all day.  

Membership has its perks.

Sephora also does birthday gifts to members. This year it was sample size Nars matte lip pencils (which I was ecstatic about because Nars is crazy expensive). 

Membership has its perks x2.

And let’s not forget about hair color! Back when I was a redhead, I would buy my color from L’Oreal in a box. But did you know they have a membership rewards program? Each time you buy a box from them, snap a picture of the code on the bottle of dye inside. Enter the code on their website, and when you have five codes L’Oreal will send you a coupon for a free box of hair color. How neat is that?! 

Ulta usually does a sale each spring called 21 Days of Beauty, during which time select high-end products are 50 percent off. I like to keep an eye out for sales like these (either by mail advertisement or emailed ads/newsletters). I’m still kicking myself for not picking up a Too Faced blusher while it was only $15.  

Another thing I like to keep an eye out for is discount codes sometimes emailed by companies whose email lists I subscribe to—especially if I’m eyeing a certain product from a particular company. 

Clearance sections
If you’ve never dug through the clearance section of beauty stores, you’re gonna start after reading this. They’re a treasure trove of great deals—sometimes hit-or-miss, I’ll admit—and you never know what you’ll find. 

Clearance section products don’t necessarily mean that they don’t work well or are out of style. Sometimes products are there because the store overstocked, the products are seasonal leftovers, or because the makeup cake cracked inside the package. 

Two small cracks? No biggie.

I don’t know about you, but a small cracked cake of eyeshadow doesn’t bother me—especially when it means a $30 palette is marked down to $19. 

And did you know Sephora has a clearance section? They do. And it’s amazing. 

Sample sizes
I think I survived about a year and a half using sample sizes of Urban Decay’s eyeshadow primer on a daily basis before I caved and finally bought a tube of it. Crazy, right? They came free in one of the Naked palettes, and you really can’t go wrong with free samples.  

There are also sites where you can buy sample sizes for a few bucks to test out an expensive product before you buy it. A great example of this is The Body Needs, where you can purchase little sample pots of MAC lipsticks and other MAC products for $3–6.  This is fantastic for testing out colors or foundations you’re unsure about and would hate to waste $18+ on if it doesn’t work out. 

The Body Needs MAC sample in "Dare You"

Drugstore dupes
I like to do my research before buying any drugstore dupes of brand-name beauty products, but there are definitely some out there that are worth their salt. 

One of my favorite drugstore brands for eyeshadow is e.l.f. They’re cheap, but the colors have a nice pigment and brush on smoothly. I got one of their 32-color palettes for only $6 and am very impressed. I mostly bought it because I don’t have the Naked 2 palette, and the e.l.f. one has a nice range of browns and greens without trying really hard to be an Urban Decay product. 

I also really like Wet’n’Wild’s matte lipsticks. Some of the colors are good MAC dupes, but they don’t wear as well as MACs do.  You do get what you pay for, however, as they’re only $1.99 each. If it’s not a color I think I’ll be wearing on a regular basis, I’ll opt for the Wet’n’Wild version (or any other brand that has a comparable dupe).

If you’re looking for a dupe but don’t know where to start, I suggest browsing Pinterest—I’ve found many great product reviews there. 

Beauty swaps
But what about those inevitable impulse purchases that didn’t work out—the stuff you swore you’d wear but hardly touched and would hate to throw in the trash.

Have you considered swapping products with a friend or family member? I hadn’t either until fairly recently when my cousin and I were woefully contemplating purging our makeup drawers of the stuff we’d hardly ever used. It seemed such a shame to throw all that money away. We both mailed each other a box, and it’s been a lot of fun testing out and swatching everything.  

What fun!

Ultimately, there are some things I won’t buy cheap. Foundation, for example. Primer. Most lipsticks. You can usually tell when someone is wearing a product that’s really cheap, because it won’t wear well on their skin or look very flattering. But that doesn’t mean you can’t save a little money in your pursuit toward nice cosmetics—hopefully some of these tips help! And as always, I’d love to hear any tips you have that I haven’t mentioned.

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