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!