Monday, June 9, 2008

Learn to Save Money on Discretionary Items Like Cosmetics

Ever since my mother brought me to the Clinique counter at the tender age of 13, and the sales clerk poked my forehead with her pointer finger and inquired, “Oily or mild?” (it turns out, I was oily), I have been addicted to name brand cosmetics.

Unfortunately, department store cosmetics are very expensive, and usually one of the first things people cut from their budgets when times get tough. While I agree not purchasing expensive, name brand cosmetics is really the best way to save money, weaning yourself completely from all high-end products is not always realistic, especially if you have sensitive skin like I do. For example, I’ve tried using cheap brands like Cover Girl and Revlon many times to "save money", but I always break out because my pores get all clogged up.

So, if you’re in the same situation as I am, or just prefer using higher end cosmetics, here are some ways you can save money:

(1) Buy Cosmetics When There is a Free Gift with Purchase Promotion

It seems like major cosmetic lines like Lancome, Clinique, and Estee Lauder always have a promotion where you can get a free gift with a purchase of a certain amount (e.g., $29.50). I always try to time my purchases around the promotions so I can get the free gift. Unfortunately, most of the time, the free gift is a hideous looking make-up bag or tote bag filled with travel-sized samples and one full-sized tube of lipstick, usually in a terribly unflattering color.

However, the free gift item I most covet is the trial-sized mascara because I simply cannot justify spending $25.00 for a full-sized tube (especially, since I only wear mascara on special occasions.) Furthermore, mascara is a breeding ground for bacteria so it should be replaced every 3 months, and who really wants to throw away $25.00 every 3 months on MASCARA? If you have to buy a full size tube of mascara, you should use disposable wands to help minimize germs! Trust me -- disposable wands are your friends!

(2) Get Free Samples of Products

In just the last couple of years, I have managed to amass an enormous collection of cosmetic samples.

How did I get so many samples? Well, depending upon if I get a nice sales clerk when I'm purchasing something, he or she will usually throw a bunch of free samples into my bag for me to try at home, in hopes I’ll come back and buy more. Even when I've had the misfortune of getting a cranky or stingy clerk (i.e., one who doesn’t give any free samples), I always ask for some, and they usually toss in a bunch just to get rid of me. Yes, apparently, they really love their jobs...

Sometimes, the cosmetics companies will put tear-out cards in magazines for free cosmetics samples that you can bring into the store to get a free sample. I've done that dozens of times. Other times, there will be in-store events where you can get free samples and gifts just for stopping by for a free consultation or free make-over.

I used to love getting free make-overs, but after I suddenly became a germaphobe, I am much more selective about what I’m willing to do for a free sample because I cannot stand the thought of having make-up from those filthy, contaminated display testers put on my face! I mean, seriously, think how many people have stuck their dirty, germy fingers into that pot of lip gloss, the make-up artist is now applying over your lips! EWWWW!

The Clinique counter at Macy's currently has a free gift with consultation going on, but I really don't think it's worth the risk of getting pink eye or a staph infection, just to get a travel-sized eyeshadow in three of the fugliest colors I have ever seen -- – bright green, bright blue, and bright orange. (Good God, bright orange!)

(3) Use Up What You Have Before Buying New

Right now, I have a bathroom closet overflowing with expensive, department store products I just had to have but never used or only half-used. I also have two huge boxes of free samples to use. Considering make-up has a very short shelf-life, I have decided I need to use up what I have before buying anything new. In addition, by using up what I have instead of buying new, I am also helping the environment.

After going through all of my items and tossing out products that were old or expired – you can tell an item’s expiration date by looking at the symbol that looks like an open can of cat food with a number on it; that’s the number of months the item is good for from the day you open it -- I’ve come to the conclusion I could probably go at least 6 months (maybe longer, if I keep getting free samples) without having to buy anything. Clearly, this will have a very big impact on my checking account!

(4) Shop at an Outlet Like the Cosmetics Company Store

Most people don’t have a well-stocked mini-cosmetic counter in their bathroom like I do, so it’s highly unlikely, you will be able to go 6 months without buying anything.

So, if you MUST buy something, an outlet store is a great place to get new, overstocked or discontinued name brand cosmetics for less than retail price.

I’ve been to the Cosmetics Company Store a couple of times in Albertville, Minnesota, and I was quite impressed with its selection. Brands like Estee Lauder, Lancome, Prescriptives, MAC, Origins, Clinique, and Bobbi Brown lined the shelves.

Unfortunately, the two times I’ve been there, I have not been impressed by the staff at all. For example, last summer, I probably would have purchased quite a few items if I hadn’t gotten pi$$ed off at one of the teeny bopper sales clerks for trying to hit on my fiancé -- who was only about 18 years older than her! -- RIGHT IN FRONT of me.

AHEM...exact quote from one sales clerk to another -- “Like, omigod, he is so cute; like, what is he doing with her?” – unquote.

Oh, I sure hope those little twirps were on commission!


yellowdog granny said...

I use so little make up it's almost a waste of money..little blush so i won't look like a dead person, mascara, lipstick, and eye brow pencil ...dats it..but all good ideas..

nixtress said...

I've always been somewhat of a germaphobe, so the only free makeover I've ever gotten was one from a Mary Kay lady before prom one year, and we watched her bust out brand new little sample cosmetics and applicators.

She put blue eyeshadow on me, the girl with brown hair (at the time LOL), brown eyes, and olive skin. I've never gotten over it.

That Rude Girl said...

Yellowdog Granny: Free samples are great for people who don't wear a lot of make-up!

Nixtress: I WISH the make-up artists at the cosmetics counters would use individual sample cosmetics when giving makeovers. :( Yes, I know what you mean about blue eyeshadow. The same thing happened to me once. Blue and GOLD with really thick black eyeliner. Yuck.

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