Let me start off by saying that I’m not a beauty guru. My eyebrows have never been on fleek and I’m still not quite sure what it means to “glow up.” But I do know what it means to grow up and have more expenses than disposable income. I love to play with makeup but sometimes it can be expensive AF. And even though the drugstore is stepping up its game, the prices are coming with it.
I’m all about saving money with apps and clipping the occasional coupon, but that’s not what this post is about. It’s also not about combing through the dollar store or discount bins. Here’s my #1 method to saving hundreds of dollars on my makeup collection.
Before making your beauty purchase, do your research.
I cannot stress this enough! The beauty industry preys on our insecurities and makes our wallets cry every time we pass a Sephora. So many things in your makeup bags are impulse buys and upsells. Which is fine, especially if you end up loving the product. But how many times have you bought something and regretted your purchase? Here’s my step-by-step guide on how I select which products are worthy of a spot on my shelf.
Take a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror.
No, no. Not to scope out your imperfections, but to figure out what kind of canvas that you’re working with. Is your skin oily, dry, or a little bit of both? Does your skin have a cool, warm, or neutral undertone? Which features do you want to highlight? The list goes on and on.
Find out what the beauty influencers are buzzing about.
My guilty pleasure is to spend hours every week watching YouTube beauty gurus. I love to know about new product launches and their thoughts on the products. However, I always take their opinions with a grain of salt because the majority of products are sent to them. Don’t get me wrong. Hustle hard, girl. BUT before I head to the store I need to know the good, bad, and the ugly about a product. I don’t want to waste money on a product because they’re too polite to say anything negative.
I appreciate all of their input. I’ve even tricked my friends into thinking I know a thing or two about makeup. I was shopping recently with my friend and we were looking at lipsticks and I was giving her the lowdown of what was good and what to pass on. She appreciated how I’m her personal encyclopedia about beauty products.
The best knowledge to nab from a beauty guru?
- New product launches
- Overall impression
- How the product applies and wears
- Color swatches <<< the number one thing I pay attention to
P.S. Don’t forget about podcasts. Although you can’t see the products in action, they can be very informative. I’ve recently been binge-listening to Natch Beaut. This podcast’s style is a bit of an acquired taste, but you learn a lot about vegan and cruelty-free beauty products. For example, did you know animal testing is required in China? So if you’re curious if you makeup is cruelty-free, check out to see if the item is listed on the Chinese Sephora. If it is, some bunnies may have been harmed in the production of your mascara.
Read reviews about the product.
I’m not talking about reading comments on Ulta’s website. These comments are often cherry-picked and filtered to hide the negative reviews. My favorite 3rd party website to visit is Makeup Alley. I’m sure there are better forums out there, but I have checked this website out for almost every single beauty purchase I’ve made for almost a decade. It has led me astray, but it has also helped me save hundreds of dollars.
The best knowledge to nab from beauty forums?
- Overall impression
- Value of the product
- Is the price for the amount a good deal?
- Would they buy it again?
- Product alternatives
Sign up for email lists to see if there are any coupons or sales.
Sometimes it’s smarter to shop online. If you can wait, Ulta often has flash sales in the middle of the day that gives you sample sizes of high-end products. I love holding off until my lunch break to make purchases because I was going to spend that much anyways, but holding off helped me score a deal on some stuff I already wanted to try.
Also, sign up for rewards programs. I do most of my beauty shopping at Ulta because your points add up to savings really quick. While this post isn’t about couponing, Ulta often sends you discount codes and the opportunity to get 5x the points at least once a month. Right now my mom is lusting after this face mask but I’m holding out until there’s a bonus deal. Sorry, mom!
The best knowledge to nab from email lists?
- How to save money on products you already love or have been lusting after #freesamples
Visit a beauty store in person.
From the department store to beauty havens like Sephora, it pays to see a product in person. How many times are you online shopping and you’re playing guessing games? Is this the right color foundation? How bold is this lipstick? Does this concealer have a thick consistency? How well will this eye shadow blend? The list goes on and on. Not to mention it’s so much easier to throw a bunch of random products in your cart because A) give me free shipping or give me death, B) sometimes online shopping makes you feel like you’re playing with Monopoly money. If your goal is to save money on makeup and other beauty products, online shop online if you know for sure you’re going to love something.
Although I’m all about drugstore makeup, I never shop at CVS or Walgreen’s. Why? They are so expensive! I’m sure there are tricks and coupons to save at the drugstore, but Walmart and Target instantly shave off a few dollars. I’m all about swatching but ladies, do not be rude and open up makeup while you’re shopping! If you can be patient, head over to Ulta. You can swatch most of the drugstore products because they have testers. Nothing grinds my gears more than finding the exact product I want at Target but someone broke the safety seal. Pro tip: people are gross and no matter how many dumpster dive beauty hauls you watch on YouTube, do not purchase makeup that has been opened.
The best knowledge to nab from beauty stores?
- In-person swatches help make your decision easier
- Check out product sizes (how big of a bottle is 1 oz?)
- Walk away with a sample to try out at home
- Most department stores will let you walk out with a small jar of skincare to try out at home
- Do you usually research your beauty purchases (even if they’re drugstore) or do you prefer to make impulse purchases?
- What’s your favorite trick to save money on makeup?
- How do you find out your beauty news? YouTube? Blogs? Instagram?
Images via Lauren Roberts.