What are your top three tips for saving money on beauty products?

1.) If you have favorite retailers/brands, sign-up for their emails, because most have reward programs, loyalty promotions, and so forth. 2.) Try to consolidate shopping to a few retailers that have the best/right reward system for you. 3.) Look for seasonal sales like Sephora’s big VIB/VIB Rouge November sale or gift card promos run through Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, etc. (which are throughout the year).

— Christine


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Nancy T Avatar

Yours definitely sound way better than mine! Seriously, though.

1.) Take full advantage of sales, ie; Sephora, and coupons, ie; Ulta 20% coupons with no brand exclusions that they do a couple times per year.
2.) Plan future purchases very carefully, as in checking to make sure that you do not have dupes. Multiples for any future palette, and just 1 or 2 for say, a lipstick. If so, I usually will skip it.
3.) Check reviews! Yes. More than one. Because I don’t want to waste any $’s or time if I have to return it.
I am also trying more than ever to buy quality over quantity. One thing that my Mom tried drilling into my stubborn head for years, was that point exactly. I am finally getting it.

Linda Avatar

1. To my fellow Canadians – Shoppers Optimum points = free makeup
2. Redeem my Visa Rewards points for Hudson’s Bay gift cards (MAC!)
3. Never buy mascara. I grab deluxe samples as point perks whenever I can and that saves me $50-200/year.

Lulle Avatar

– Shop online and use a cashback portal such as Ebates. Sometimes they have promotions and major retailers offer 10% cashback or more.
– Always buy your skincare on sale, with at least a 30% off discount. Makeup sales can be rare, especially for high-end brands, but skincare brands and their retailers have sales all the time. Sign up for Dermstore emails, and also for the newsletter of your favorite brands. They tend to have promotions with big discounts more often than bigger retailers.
– Learn which makeup brands go on sale regularly, and which ones don’t. If you want something from the permanent range of, say, Tarte, Urban Decay, Benefit, bareMinerals, Lancome, then wait for a sale, they have Friends & Family events and flash sales multiple times a year. Higher end brands such as Chanel, Guerlain, Hourglass, Giorgio Armani, don’t have sales often, so if you see a random 10% off at Nordstrom, it’s already a pretty good deal.

Roxi Avatar

In my country high end department store brands such as LancΓ΄me Chanel Dior Guerlain Sisley etc even La Mer all join the 30% sale, it’s the makeup brands (UD) that are excluded from these sales. Isn’t that weird!

Marta Avatar

1. Here we have “half price on all drugstore makeup” weeks, that used to be twice a year and now like every month one shop does that. So if I’m running low on any basics or there are any new releases I would like to try, it goes on my list and waits for -50%. If HE, wait for Sephora’s -20% or other sales.
2. Go drugstore if you do not need special products (like allergies or skin that has problems with staying power). Drugstore is really great recently.
3. But then if there is one HE specific thing you crave and dream about, don’t bother buying 10 drugstore dupes, because the sum will exceed what you would spend on HE in first place.
*4. Check Temptalia before any HE purchases. I limit myself to only A (maybe B+) grade HE products, Strict but saves a lot of money.

Phoebe Avatar

That 3rd point you made – don’t buy a million drugstore dupes – that is like super essential! I think about what makeup I use regularly and realise all those lipsticks from cheaper brands are nearly always forgotten, if only I hadn’t bought them and I could have more high end makeup! Its kinda only really hitting me now though, better now than never I guess! But now I definitely will buy that Mac eyeshadow tomorrow!

Mariella Avatar

My #1 tip (and, of course, the one I can’t seem to grasp) is “Stay away from Temptalia” because most of my makeup purchases are fueled by coming here and seeing all the new stuff that I’d otherwise be oblivious to. Of course, because I come here, I also SAVE a lot of money because the high quality reviews and information help me avoid wasting my money on duds.
#2 is to buy what I can at Shoppers Drug Mart either on their Seniors Days (20% off) or when they have their 20X the points offers and then, when I accumulate points and see something I want, I use those points to purchase cosmetics, skin care or fragrance.

#3 is to wait for worthwhile GWPs or Sephora’s VIB sales.

LindaP Avatar

Stop. Assess and curate. Return.

Stop can mean several things….
1. When you have what you like and what works, just stop buying the shiny new objects. I had to ask myself of ALL the eye palettes introduced this season, are not 99% basically dupes of what I have? SO MUCH unoriginal stuff has been released, I just don’t need it.

2. Stop trying to make a trend work. Contouring in any major way does nothing for me. Highlighters can make my eye troughs look deeper. I stopped trying every product under the sun to make a force fit with a fun trend. Move on and leave it behind.

Assess and curate. If a shade is a tad different from what you have, is it REALLY going to make that big a difference? Probably not. Assess and pass on a lot of stuff that’s close. Assess quality (which gets us to the issue of returning below.)

Curate carefully. I find it’s much, much more fun to have products that are well-researched and really work for me, rather than closets full of stuff. Too many choices stress me out. It brings up issues of money I’ve wasted, and confuses me in applications.

Return. I do not do this lightly. It’s a pain point of stress for me to return a used product. HOWEVER….if the quality is not there, or if it is something that truly will not work for me, I return it as promptly as possible. And I don’t just mean higher-end choices. If an $8 item from Walgreens is crap, I now return it. Those small amounts of money add up.

My 3-cents on this topic. πŸ™‚

ouineque Avatar

Returing is not an option here, but I copied and pasted your points and printed them! Do I need 10 shades of olive green eyeshadows with gold speckles in it? Probably not… More shadows do not make me more skilled in applying them, so start working with what you have! Thanks! The greed in me has diminished!

LindaP Avatar

Hi ouineque!

Your comment made me zero in on something that has been rolling around in the back of my head. Now it’s time to for me to focus on the “artistry” of application — esp with eyeshadows. Maybe get a lesson from a local talent. I dunno.

The eyeshadow purchasing is over for me. I filled in what I need with Viseart at the Sephora sale (more color and shimmer to my neutrals). What more could I find in terms of shades and quality? There isn’t anything more. I have what I need, great quality, and more combos than I could dream up in a lifetime. Now it’s time to USE THEM to best advantage. πŸ™‚ This could be very fun learning!

ouineque Avatar

Yes! Good idea! I might go for a lesson at the local Mac store, I met a really good makeup artist there, I want to learn from her.
And yes: once you’ve known Viseart shadows, what more can you wish for! More Viseart, hahaha! (I am hoping secretly that they will come out with more color schemes in the Theory palettes next year though, just to replace the greens or purples that I have now, it’s such a delight working with Viseart shadows.)
btw I still have no clue of how I can follow you as a member, if you can tell where is the button to do so, please let me know! Thanks:)

ouineque Avatar

Hahahahah! πŸ˜€
The technical team got back to me but without the right answer to help me… I will be floating here without any person in my ‘following’ list to guide me. Hahahaha. Well, that’s how I managed the last months, I think I can handle it. πŸ™‚

Anne Avatar

My tips are more philosophical in nature:
1. Know what looks good on you, so you aren’t enticed by advertising, sales people, YT gurus and rave reviews to make an impulsive purchase that you’ll regret later. (Know thyself!)
2. Appreciate your money. Don’t buy just to buy. Leave it in the store or in your on-line basket. Then, pat yourself in the back for being prudent. There’s almost always a way to purchase it later after you’ve thought about it.
3. When you do purchase, cherry pick the best products for YOU (and no one else) and then enjoy them.
4. Allow yourself a LE treat every now and then, but only after #1 is met.

Trish Avatar

Absolutely agree 100% Anne. I could not have said it better myself.

I’m generally not in favor of the rewards programs offered by both Ulta and Sephora. I think it encourages reckless spending by dangling that proverbial carrot… the “OMG 20% off” sale. Yep, load up that high interest credit card so your savings equals out to absolutely nothing…

and… read Temptalia and use Christine’s dupe list- that is No.1

Erin Avatar

Yeah VIB for sure. Sample first, anything you can to make sure it’s right. Pair down, you don’t need as much as you think you do. Look for holes in your routines or collections and fill them first before buying the same thing again. Hit pan before replacing. Don’t buy backups of anything that can dry up easy like gel liner.

Stephanie Avatar

1-Seniors Day at Shoppers Drug MArt-20% off every Thursday for those who are 55+ or thereabouts lol
2-20X points beauty weeks coupled with the 20% of making over 40% off
3-Sales at individual retailers, bricks and mortar or online

RedHedd Avatar

1. Watch for special sales / eBates / Rebates.
2. Keep track of my rewards points and use them!
3. Coupons and sales and combinations of same.

Glenda Avatar

I look for sales whether it’s at drugstore, Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom etc. I look for sales on EVERYTHING I buy. Most of the time I’m able to find something on sale that is perfectly adequate for my use.
I use Ebates when I purchase anything, makeup or skincare, etc. for everything.
Do your research and spend wisely!!! Also, check return policy!

miekogirl Avatar

1) EBATES! Since makeup rarely goes on sale, always check ebates & buy from the store that has the most cash back. Most department stores carry the same items (at the same price of course) so pick & choose the best cash back. I have found Neimans & Saks give the MOST cashback so I will wait till it gets up to 10% or 12% cash back & buy my skincare or higher end products like Tom ford.

2) Points! If you have a department store credit card or reward status with Sephora or Ulta, check to see if they’re doing a 3x or 10x points purchase. If so, bundle that up with the most cash back from ebates.

3) Check to see if any other sites are having sales! Besides the obvious Sephora or Ulta 20% off sale, Dermstore was having a 20% off sale right before the VIB sale & Beautylish had their 20% giftcard promo going on too! Also check brand stores too for their friends & family sales which are usually 20% off & check instagram for one-day promos.

4) Try to buy from a store that has a great return policy & KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS! Nordstrom & Neimans for example, I’ve never had issues returning products that I’ve tried & wasn’t happy with so long as i had the receipt. I just found out MACYS is no longer accepting returns of used product (must be in new resellable condition) so I don’t buy cosmetics from them anymore UNLESS its a tried & true product I know I will love.

Joanna Avatar

Look for sales at Sephora and online on beauty products I love. Buy products I like from drugstores,use coupons. Of course upscale beauty products are kind of hard to find on sale.

Flaky Avatar

I’m often just as happy with minis. The Sephora Favorites boxes usually make me much happier than if I’d spent that $$ on one or two items. Between that and my subscription boxes, I feel like I get to try a lot of fun stuff without spending a fortune. I also don’t feel as bad if there’s a dud in the box that I pass onto someone else.

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

I agree with Christine. Loyalty programs bring so many forms of savings including free shipping and returns in addition to discounts, points, samples and other rewards.

Genevieve Avatar

1. Join loyalty programs of your two most favourite stores so you can consolidate your purchases, as Christine has suggested.
2. Check reviews of products – make sure that they work, good value, provide an update of ingredients etc.
3. Plan for sales – especially the big ones like 40% off.

Beth Lincoln Avatar

1). My daughter and I go to IMATS in Los Angeles every year. Many many brands participate, and you never pay full retail for any of it. Most of my Sigma and Morphe brushes were purchased at IMATS. We have discovered some Indy brands such as Elcie Cosmetics there and we love her products. THE place to stock up on false lashes if you wear them.
2). I only use Paula’s Choice skincare and there is a sale regularly. Used to be available online only but now Nordstrom carries most of the products online (yay free shipping). Paula’s Choice also participates in the Ebates program, right now it’s 4% cash back but it varies.
3) I use the Sephora twice yearly sale of course for the high end products I covet, and since I’m a Rouge free shipping all year long.

Rachel R. Avatar

1) Remember the drug store. There are lots of good quality drug store items, some are as good or better than mid-range and high-end. Plus they go on sale a lot. Great for basics like mascara, or for trendy colors that you won’t wear past 1 or 2 seasons.
2) Coupons and sales. Sign up on brand websites for notices on both. Stack coupons with sales whenever possible.
3) Ebates and/or other rebate programs. That money back adds up, and often they have coupons or special days where you’ll get a bigger percentage back.

Bon Bon Avatar

1-don’t go browsing through Ulta and/or Sephora. Try to make a B line for what you need or order on line.
2-in same stores try to avoid pushy sales clerks. I’ve had too many “match me perfectly”, I get home and I’m on the orange side.
3-don’t try to avoid drugstore brands or low priced items. I’m so glad I found Colourpop.
There are several items I won’t change and that’s my UD setting spray, Mally cream eyeshadow wands, Becca opal poured highlighter and Dior blackout mascara and eyebrow pencil. However “never say never”!

Lea Avatar

I buy the majority of my products through Nordstrom and Sephora, but I focus more heavily on Nordstrom because the rewards dollars are better than Sephora points overall. I just started using Ebates and kick myself for waiting so long; it even works for immediate gratification purposes now that stores like Nordstrom and Neiman’s let you buy online and pick up in-store; today I earned reward dollars and cash back without having to wait on shipping.

I think it’s good to pass on sales if you don’t truly need to replenish. I’ll need new Sunday Riley Good Genes and Luna eventually, but I’m only half way through my current bottles. So while it’s a good deal, I just don’t need them yet.

For a staple item like mascara, I wait for the annual Nordstrom buy 2 get one free and then use them one at a time so I buy infrequently. If I want to try something new, I’ll use a sample size – but I always end up with my standard one of four options that I know don’t smudge.

I also don’t do GWPs anymore unless it’s skincare that I use regularly. The color cosmetics are always the popular sellers, but that’s usually not my shade of foundation or lip product. Mini regular skincare is great for my travel bag though, so if it’s the right combo of products I might.

Silvia Avatar

1. Do not even think about it/walk/browse through makeup isles!
2. Do not even think about it/walk/browse through makeup isles!
3. Do not even think about it/walk/browse through makeup isles! ????
Just too much temptation and I’ll fall for something even if not needed. Another color, a different texture, different brand to compare, etc.
I’m fully loaded as it is at the present with all my heart’s desires of beauty products but can’t stop buying more. But steely I been a good girl have seen and listened to millions of bloggers and I’m really liking products from the drugstore lately (my excuse for savings) but love to try everything. And have tons! WetnWild many things I love from the brand eyeshadows, blushes, their matte lipsticks do not dry my lips I’m loving it all. The bronzer, highlighters! Milani their baked blushes are gorgeous! Cover Girl has come up with three beautiful blush shades oh! and I have them all. NARS is my favorite no doubt from high end.

Maggie Avatar

I’m bookmarking this. I skimmed to make sure I’m not repeating any tips.

1. For skincare, bear in mind certain skincare products contain ingredients with a short shelf life (like vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid or most chemical sunscreens).

So do not buy back-ups of these products unless you plan on using the same month of purchase and do not purchase at discount stores like Ross or TJ Maxx where these products have been sitting around for a while. There is little point in wasting money on quality ingredients to treat your skin if you allow the ingredients to denature–they will be less effective and you’re not getting what you paid for.

I always read 1-star reviews of products to see if I can live with the cons of a product. Also, if you’re a beauty newbie, you’ll have to do some research and figure out what your skin type(s) is and what colors “suit” your coloring and undertones–this way, you learn what products suits you best and the rest is not necessary. I liked Leslie Baumann’s The Skin Type Solution and the recent editions of Paula’s Choice books–just don’t believe all the marketing hype implying you’ll look in your twenties forever–that sounds like a trip to the derm or plastic surgeon to me.

3. Develop a selection criteria and be strict about your wishlist items fitting within the criteria.

For example, I haven’t purchased any of Anastasia’s beautiful highlighter kits bc I do not need medium-dark highlighters that do not suit my pale skintone. And I do not have any of the Too Faced Chocolate Bar palettes bc they’re all scented and the shadows go on best with primer–my criteria is fragrance-free and shadows that do well without primer.


1) I am a member of a few face book pages and buy other people’s unwanted items. I live in the UK and am a member of a group who buy from QVC and then sell on. So I no longer feel compelled to buy a full kit for one or two items. It has a fair pricing policy too.
2) look out for magazine freebies. Not sure if you get these in the US but before now I’ve been able to buy a years worth of Elemis Pro Collaen Marine Cream and L’Occitane hand cream for the cost of the magazine price.
3) look out for flash sales.

Susan Avatar

Tons of great tips here. I don’t have much to add other than to say WAIT. If you’re an Ulta VIP member, wait to buy almost anything until you get 5x points on it. Wait after something new comes out and don’t think you have to be the first one to buy it. Often you’ll realize you neither really want it nor need it.

Shop your stash. I rotate my stash with the seasons so every three months I discover great new things all over again.

Understand compulsive shopping. Buying something may make you feel better for a few hours or a day, but the feeling rarely lasts.

Terry Douglas Avatar

1) For Sephora and ulta, check their brand products. The Sephora brand products are much improved and always cheaper then the other brands in the store. Ulta brand has some really good dupes of some highend products for a fraction of the price.
2). The Beauty Supply store has some makeup gems, that are crazy inexpensive. LA Girl is carried in a lot of these stores, as well as Ruby Kisses and several others. Not all the makeup is bomb. But when you discover the one that is, it’s worth the trip.
3). When shopping online, always search for discount codes. Most of the time there is free shipping or a percentage off the purchase on the website you are shopping from.

Bonnie Avatar

While I don’t try too hard to save money on beauty, these ideas help me:
1. Have a budget for your fun money. Then you can decide what to do with it. But it’s your limit for the week, month, pay period etc.
2. For high end stuff, check ebay. I have had great experiences buying from the. Also, when new collections come out, even for drugstore items, if you are the type of person that likes to purchase the whole collection, ebay has great deals. I get my seasonal OPI and Essie nail collections this way. Check a few sites/stores. Make sure you’re getting the best deal.
3. I’m allergic to many things, especially in the eye area. I use Vaseline for an eye makeup remover, and sometimes for a lip balm. Super cheap, no reaction. Baking soda makes great zit medicine. Use your household items when you can for basic care.

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