How to Save Money on Makeup

How to Save Money on Makeup

Considering how big my makeup and skincare collection is, I’m not the right person to educate you on how to buy less makeup and save money. What I do know though is how to be a smart shopper and get more (and better quality!) products for your buck. Today, I’m sharing my top seven tips on how to save money while shopping for beauty products.

Tip #1: Buy Everything Online

Beauty stores have this magical influence on me that I always end up overspending even if I didn’t really need anything when I arrived there. All the beautiful displays, delicious scents, and sale announcements combined with the pressure from sales representatives influences me to open up my wallet and spend more that I need. What I do now instead is go to Sephora as if it was a museum. I’ll try things on, take photos of the items that I’m interested in and go home. I’ll purchase all of the items I picked in store online so I have more time (and less pressure) to compare prices and select only those items that I really need. Such approach also allows saving items into a wishlist so you can return to them during the sale.

Tip #2: Try a Sample First

As you probably know, you can return every single item that you purchased at Sephora or Ulta in case you didn’t like it. However I’m the worst with the returns. I grew up in Russia, where return policy is non existent, so for me if I purchased something I will own it forever. As a result, I always lose my receipts, throw out the boxes, and overall forget about the items that I need to return. At one point I realized that all the makeup goodies that I never return cost a lot of money that end up wasted so I established a rule for myself to only purchase products that I already tested. Saying so, I use my exploratory trips to Sephora to pick up samples of products that I am planning on purchasing so by the time I press the ‘Place Order’ button I already know that the product will work for me.

Tip #3: Save On Shipping

I recently learned that Sephora offers free expedited shipping for a year when you sign up for the Sephora Flash program and now I’m addicted! It’s not free ($10 for a year) but it’s totally worth it! If you think how many orders you place on the website every year you’ll see what a big saving it is. The best part about Sephora Flash is that you’ll be receiving your orders much faster than your typical Sephora shipping. It’s especially handy for bloggers: if you are looking to review a new product, you’ll be one of the first ones to receive it. Finally, if you are having a VIB Rouge status, Sephora Flash program is absolutely free for you. All you have to do is to sign in into your Beauty Insider account and activate this offer.

Tip #4: Sign Up for Beauty Subscription Boxes

Many people treat subscription boxes as a way to learn about new products, but it’s actually also a great way to save money. Think about it this way: a typical subscription box costs $10 and offers you 5 deluxe samples that could be anything from a shampoo sample to a miniature version of the newest hot lipstick. I don’t know about you, but a deluxe sample of a blush will last me for at least a few months, so it’s a great way to save on pricey beauty launches. Oftentimes, I actually prefer miniature versions of beauty products as these are so handy to grab when you are on the go or traveling.

Beauty Subscription Services to Try

Play! by Sephora: 5 deluxe samples plus a free fragrance sample for $10. You also receive a Sephora Play card every month that allows you to schedule store appointments and subscriber meetups. All items come in a cute cotton bag which design is updated monthly. There is a waiting list to subscribe to this box, but it’s definitely worth it!

Birchbox: This pioneer of all subscription boxes is still one of my favorites. Birchbox comes in a beautifully designed paper box and offers 5 deluxe samples for $10 a month. The best part about this service is that you receive points if you purchase items that you sampled and loved on Birchbox website or review items from your bag. I was able to order a few items for free simply because I shared my opinions about the products with the Birchbox community.

Ipsy: This box designed by a YouTube superstar Michelle Phan also goes for $10 and offers 5 products, but some of such products go in a full size (as opposed to a sample size). Most of the brands the company is working with is high-end and so far I’ve been really pleased with the product selection. The best part about this box is that every month you receive a beautifully designed free makeup bag. I simply adore this feature as before I signed up to Ipsy my makeup was all over my bag and now it’s neatly organized inside of my bag.

I also regularly receive these two boxes directly from the brands (for review purposes):

BeautyCon: In opposition to other boxes mentioned above, this service is seasonal (not monthly). The BeautyCon box is also unique as it offers a curated collection of makeup, skincare, and haircare items handpicked by famous beauty influencers. I love the idea of receiving all the favorite high-end and affordable products by influencers—it’s like getting all of their monthly favorites delivered to your house! 

GlossyBox: This box is unique as it features specifically luxury brands that are, as we all know, are very pricey. It goes for $21 a month and guarantees you 5 full-size products. The box itself is bigger and more durable than the one by Birchbox and it’s so beautifully designed that I use is as a staple decor piece for my beauty room. Considering the level of beauty brands GlossyBox is working with and the amount of product you receive, this box offers perhaps the best value for the price!

Tip #5: Buy Things in Bulk

This tip is especially relevant to items that you use all the time: shampoo, body lotion, setting spray, beauty blenders. I prefer purchasing all these goodies at Ulta as it often offers ‘Buy 1 Get 1 Free’ deals so you can stock up these everyday items at a discounted price. Same goes for purchasing things like q-tips, tissues, and cotton balls. Never ever purchase them at the drugstore! Instead look for deals at Ulta or Amazon! You’ll be surprised how much money you save when you purchase them online and in bulk. Also, who wants to walk home with five plastic bags full of beauty supplies? I’d better have them delivered to my doorstep!

Tip #6: Become a Beauty Guru

The most affordable makeup is free makeup! If you are a real makeup and skincare collector and you love sharing your opinions about products you test I highly suggest signing up for Influenster website where you can review products and receive free goodies in exchange for your social media shares and reviews. Depending on your social media following and the level of engagement, you may receive products from the brands like Marc Jacobs, Bite Beauty, L’Oreal, Shiseido—the list goes on! Many beauty bloggers are actually members of the website too so you can engage with your favorite makeup artists and even ask for their advice on a specific product or a look you are creating!

Tip #7: Consult with Influencers

My rule of thumb for purchasing makeup products is to check reviews by my favorite bloggers first, then check out swatches on the Temptalia website (Christine is the best!). Thanks to makeup influencer efforts, I learn about all the best sales and promotions right when they land on Sephora, Ulta, or brand’s website which obviously saves me lots of money. To name a few, I recently purchased Too Faced Sweet Peach Palette with 40% discount and free shipping and saved lots of money by picking some of the best Cyber Funday goodies. In other words, if you are a beauty junkie as I am, I highly recommend subscribing to beauty blogs!

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I hope my recommendations were helpful and you were able to find some new ways on how to save money on beauty products. If you have your own suggestions on how to save cash on makeup and skincare, please share your tips and tricks in the comments area below!


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  1. I totally feel your pain, Alexis! I’m the worst when it comes to makeup — I just always want every single new makeup product out there!

    Posted 2.20.17
  2. Me too! I subscribed to so many boxes that every month I have tons of products to play with!

    Posted 2.20.17
  3. Agreed!

    Posted 2.20.17
  4. That’s a great approach, Cristina! I’m trying to do it too, but every once in a while I still purchase beauty products simply because they look super cute!

    Posted 2.20.17
  5. Thank you Liz! Glad you enjoyed them!

    Posted 2.20.17
  6. Me too! I have a separate folder on my phone with all “wants” from Sephora and Ulta – I buy everything online!

    Posted 2.20.17
  7. Lucky you! I always buy too much makeup so for me reviews are essential!

    Posted 2.20.17
  8. Agreed! These always make me happy!

    Posted 2.20.17
  9. Me too! Sometimes I use just one sample an entire month which is a real money saver! Also, I explored so many cool new products through my beauty box subscriptions!

    Posted 2.20.17
  10. Thank you! I hope you found some new tips to check out!

    Posted 2.20.17
  11. You are very welcome! So glad it was helpful! xoxo

    Posted 2.20.17
  12. Taylor Smith wrote:

    This was awesome! Thanks for your advice!!!!

    Posted 2.17.17
  13. Great tips, you really broke everything down in an approachable way!
    City Style and Living: The Editors Notebook | Instagram

    Posted 2.16.17
  14. These are all such great tips! I LOVE my Birchbox and totally agree that most samples actually last quite a while (and the points system is magical).

    xx, Pia

    Posted 2.16.17
  15. Tanvi wrote:

    I like your tips. Subscription boxes are a great monthly surprise :)


    Posted 2.16.17
  16. Great tips! I always look for reviews when it comes to make up but I never spend too much.

    Posted 2.16.17
  17. I love shopping at ulta because the coupons and rewards points. I tend to go in an take pictures of what I want and then decide later for what I want. And do the subscriptions. such great tips!! :)

    Posted 2.15.17
  18. These are such great tips!

    xo, Liz

    Posted 2.15.17
  19. Cristina wrote:

    Thanks for the tips! I don’t usually buy beauty products unless I’ve tried a sample first. I don’t like to take risks ;)

    Posted 2.15.17
  20. Allison wrote:

    This is lovely! Gotta save money where you can
    Allison from

    Posted 2.15.17
  21. I definitely got a lot of free makeup from beauty subscription services!

    Posted 2.15.17
  22. Alexis Towle wrote:

    Wonderful advice! I’m definitely one of those people who over spend on make-up.


    Posted 2.15.17


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