Get it Here: Shopper's Guide to Buying the Right Product at the Right Place

How do you beat the high cost of beauty products at the department store?
How do you beat the high cost of beauty products at the department store?
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Shopping for makeup on a budget can be tricky business. When you pick up the occasional lipstick or blush it might not feel like a splurge, but those purchases add up. In fact, you'll probably spend about $180 every year on makeup --over $13,000 in your lifetime, according to London's Daily Mail. The trick to saving money on makeup is to find bargains without giving up quality.

Shopping online is probably the best way to save money on makeup. From sales on retail sites like Amazon and Sephora to discount beauty sites like ImageBeauty and Beauty Ticket, you can browse and shop for great deals on name brand makeup. Retail sites -- either for department stores or your favorite beauty brands -- tend to have better selections than discount beauty sites, but no matter where you shop, timing is the key to finding makeup bargains online. In January 2012, for example, Sephora sold off the previous year's makeup online at up to 80 percent off! If you can't find the eyeliner you want at the price you want, you have to keep checking back. (The end of the year or early the following year is a good time to stock up.) Or see if you can sign up for the sites' newsletters to get emails about sales and special offers.


It's a good idea to try the makeup at a store before stocking up through an online sale. Products like foundation and eye makeup are particularly worth buying and trying out for at least a few days, especially if you have sensitive skin. A foundation that makes you break out or mascara that gives you itchy, red eyes is only going to sit unused in your medicine cabinet. Invest in the smallest size available at the store to make sure the product works for you before you buy more online. You can also take your sample of name-brand makeup to a discount store or drugstore and match the shade to a cheaper brand.

Brick and mortar stores can have good deals too. Beauty shops like Sally Beauty Supply and even drug stores or discount retailers like Target or CVS sell makeup at low prices. That doesn't necessarily mean it's low quality. In fact, many top makeup artists swear by Maybelline Great Lash mascara. On the other hand, that $2 nail polish may go on streaky or clumpy. You may have to take some risks because you can't always try before you buy but at least you won't be out a lot of money. In fact if you like bright-colored lipstick or eye shadow, you might find that those cheaper brands are bolder than the more expensive ones.

Keeping an eye on store fliers is another easy way to save on makeup. Most of the luxury brands run seasonal specials at department stores where you can get free gifts or discounts (or both!) when you buy over a certain amount of makeup. Raiding the MAC counter might be a budget no-no during most of the year, but catch them during a big sale and you can load up your makeup bag without breaking the bank.

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  • Carter, Nicole. "Average woman will spend about $13,000 on makeup in her lifetime: study." NY Daily News. March 10, 2010. (Sept. 3, 2012)
  • e.l.f. "e.l.f. Studio Eyeliner & Shadow Stick." (Sept. 3, 2012)
  • Ellis, Kori. "Look Beautiful for Cheap." She Knows. October 27, 2008. (Sept. 3, 2012)
  • Nylon. "Cheap Designer Makeup!" January 2, 2012. (Sept. 3, 2012)