High-Priced Beauty on a Budget

Oh, the things we do for beauty. Apparently the average woman spends $15,000 on beauty products in her lifetime. Is it just me or does that seem like a low number? 😉

Regardless, I can guarantee you that some of those beauty purchases were ones that didn’t work out: lipstick color that looked great on you in the store–but awful in your daily life, orangey-looking foundation in the light of day, mascara that smudges too easily and dries out quickly, skincare that makes you break out, the list goes on.

Trying out the product before you buy is essential for skincare and makeup. Using a face cream on your hand doesn’t really do it justice, since the skin on your face is much more delicate. Sometimes products work great the first couple days and then plateau after that. And then how do you sample a facial cleanser in a store? Here are some of my tips for saving money and getting more product for the buck.

Say Yes to Samples

  • Take advantage of the stores that have in-store or take-home samples like Sephora, Ulta, and Kiehl’s.
  • Ask for Samples: Go to Sephora or Kiehl’s and get samples of anything you need for your routine. For me, getting samples of skincare products like serums, moisturizer or cleanser are critical to making a decision to buy. Kiehl’s stores are used to giving out free samples, so don’t feel bad about asking for them. That’s how they do business!

Join Loyalty Programs

Why I’m Obsessed with Sephora’s Rewards Program:

  • Sephora’s loyalty program is so easy to join. No purchase required and they give you access to lots of deluxe samples and promos.
  • Don’t you want to be able to call yourself a “VIB”? Spend $350 a year and become a Very Important Beauty Insider. 🙂 If you get to Rouge status, you can even get free shipping, access to pre-sales and special gifts.
  • Offers regular sales and offers. Just sign up for their mailing list to get the redemption codes OR just go to the “Beauty Offers” section under “Shop” to see what they’re offering this week before you buy online. I go in person to try out products and then only buy online so I can use these codes that are often online-only.
  • Sale Dates: They offer pre-sales of 15% and 20% off everything twice a year, in April and November. If you’re Rouge status, you get in before everyone else grabs all the popular products. That’s when I wait to buy my super expensive splurges like SK-II Facial Treatment Essence.

Why I’ve Recently Become Obsessed with Ulta:

  • Sign up at Ulta to get emails but always check out their website for coupons you can use in the store or online. The great thing about Ulta is that they have brands you can’t find at Sephora, like the full line of It Cosmetics (Sephora only has selected products), MAC Cosmetics, and drugstore brands like e.l.f. and NYX.
  • Follow your brands or favorite stores on Facebook and Instagram. They’ll offer deals of the day and special promotions through social media.

Money-Saving Tips:

  • Get samples for your suitcase: Use the samples from stores for trips. The samples Sephora gives you are automatically travel-sized and airplane approved. They’re even often in a plastic bag. There used to be a Sephora in the airport where I lived and I would pick up samples in the airport minutes before getting on the plane!
  • Reuse older products that don’t work as well for another purpose: I use all my failed face creams as neck or body lotion. You can use failed eye creams on dry spots on your hands since they’re more moisturizing than some face creams. Doesn’t go to waste!
  • Take used hotel amenities home: I have no idea what happens to those half-used bottles of shampoo and body lotion that I use at hotels, so I’ll occasionally take them at the end of my trip. I can’t imagine that they would be reusing those, so I feel like it’s not going to waste if I take them. 
  • Brand Bonus Time: The old school way to get free products. Wait for bonus time for certain department store brands to get deluxe samples. Clinique Bonus Time is happening now online and in stores! It’s always a good way to get a good selection of products for not too much of a minimum purchase ($28-40).

    clinique bonus time.jpg
    Purchase $28 worth of Clinique products and get a choice of these gifts
  • Sell your barely-used product fails to friends at a discount – “That’s what friends are for…”



Follow this blogger to find out about every sale possible. She does the work so you don’t have to:

More Sephora Hacks: For more info about how to hack Sephora, here’s an article about all the ways, ethically questionable or not:

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