12 Sneaky Ways to Save Money When You Beauty Shop

Before you start shelling out too much money on your makeup addiction again, read these tips on how to spend less for what you want. Because who doesn't want high-end beauty on a budget?

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Join loyalty programs

Big-name beauty retailers often have a membership or loyalty program available to customers. Ulta's version of this program, for example, is totally free and gives you nothing but perks, including exclusive deals and discounts on products. All you do is present your membership card at checkout (or include your membership ID when you buy online), and every you dollar you spend counts as one reward point, which you can eventually use toward a purchase. Plus, once you reach the Platinum Status (you have to spent at least $450 a year at the store), every dollar counts for 1.25 points.


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Know what to buy at the drugstore vs. the department store

A mascara doesn’t have to cost more than $20 in order for it to be effective, and the same goes with other must-have products. As always, do your research on what works best before you spend $100 in the makeup aisle on your next CVS run, but don’t be afraid to try drugstore formulas—many are best-sellers for a reason. 


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Look for areas where you can swap in natural formulas instead 

A key example of this money-saving trick is replacing your makeup remover with coconut oil. Coconut oil sets you back around $4 a jar that will last you well over a year if you only use it to remove stubborn makeup, meaning you save hundreds of dollars each year with this simple edit. Plus, the natural formula seriously hydrates your eye area at the same time.


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Take advantage of recycling programs

With a heavy focus on the environment, brands are slowly but surely adopting this trend. MAC Cosmetics is perhaps the best known for this, with its "Back-to-MAC" program offering customers one free lipstick of their choice when they return six primary packaging containers to their nearest MAC store or online. Translation: You're rewarded for your addictions.




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Buy multitasking makeup

Or make it yourself. A matching eye shadow shade is an easy replacement to fill in your brows, and the same goes for a bespoke lip gloss. A little bit of Aquaphor or Vaseline and your favorite shade of eye shadow is all you need for a quick flush of color. Try it on your cheeks, too!


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Do your research

Search YouTube or Instagram with the words “review,” “haul” or “swatches” to see what others (often bloggers or vloggers who are very experienced in the field) think about a product you’re considering purchasing, or to see what all of the shades of the product look like out of the tube or jar before you bite the bullet.


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Search for deals on designer makeup

Websites like Hautelook, a flash sale site that offers great sales on quality clothing and makeup, often have huge sales on top of their already-reduced rates on makeup you were going to purchase at the department store anyway. Amazon’s beauty section is also a mecca for makeup without a crazy price tag—just be sure to read the reviews before you buy anything you haven’t already heard of.


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Read the fine print

Be sure to check out the bottom of your receipts (or ask the staff) to see if you’re able to return the beauty products you purchase even after they’re opened. Places like Ulta and Sephora honor this policy, as long as the products are more than half full, to ensure you don’t waste your money on something you’re not in love with.


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Don’t be afraid to ask for a sample

Whether you’re at Target or a department store, samples are your friends and they’re available to you the majority of the time. Places like Sephora will always create a sample of a product for you if they don’t have one already made (even fragrances!).


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Buy a dupe

A “dupe” or the exact same shade of a beauty product at a much lower price is a great avenue to take if you’re in love with the color of a product and not necessarily it’s texture or formula. This is another great tag to search on social media and websites, as these swaps are becoming increasingly more popular.


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Check the price even after you've purchased it

At Sephora, if an item goes on sale within two weeks of purchasing it, you can call the store's customer service line to refund you the difference. There's no excuse to not get the best deal on a product. 
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Know your way around the store

Most beauty retailers keep their newest and most expensive products at eye level (for obvious reasons), so be sure to check the lower shelves for better deals. Plus, stores like these often have a clearance section so just ask an employee to direct you and make your way over during every visit.