Ultimate Guide to Beauty on a Budget

Everyone wants to look their best, but money is tight these days and why should you spend more than you need to? Whether you’re a serious beauty lover or a skincare aficionado, you can treat yourself without bankrupting yourself by following these tips!

Plan ahead

It might not sound very sexy, but smart shoppers do their homework. Before you hit your local Ulta or department store, think about what you’re looking for and do a little research. The internet is full of reviews of general categories and specific items of cosmetics and skincare, so do a quick search first and get an idea of what you need. Try Temptalia for swatches, reviews and even foundation shade recommendations. Then you can look up coupons and promo codes for the brand or item you’d like, and you’ll be able to save some cash. Most stores will allow you to combine a brand’s coupon or ad with their own store discount, so check both before heading out!

person-apple-laptop-notebookGet the employee discount

One or more times year, many retailers will have a special sale during which anyone can get the friends and family or employee discount on their stock! Sign up for email alerts from your favorite beauty brands and stores, and if you hate getting a ton of ad emails, you can easily have those emails sent straight to a specific folder to check through once a week. Since this usually only happens once per year, many people make a list of their preferred items to purchase on this sale, and go online as soon as the sale is active to be sure the items will be in stock. Try setting an alert on your phone so you won’t miss out!

Alternatively you can find plenty of coupon codes at Mamma.com that help you find coupons on all your favorite online retailers!

Look good on paper…

Keep an eye out for fliers, circulars, and ads for beauty brands and products. Don’t just toss them into the recycling, check for free coupons and sale information that could come in handy next time you shop! Stores usually have some type of sales going on no matter what the occasion, so keeping track of what’s currently discounted can help you avoid paying full price. Ask an employee if the store will allow you to “stack” these paper ads with other sales and coupons, which can maximize your savings even more!

pexels-photo-80218…or go paperless

There are now hundreds of websites devoted to posting past, current and near-future ads, coupons and other sale information for major retailers like Ulta, department stores, drugstore.com and many more. Bookmark your favorite and take a look every so often, or sign up for emails about specific shops. Try the Weekly Sale Round Up at Nouveau Cheap for quick, bullet-style overviews of each week’s promo codes and coupons. Keep in mind, you should always double-check that the sales are valid in your region!

Secret shopping

Have a beauty budget and a little free time? Try becoming a mystery shopper, so you can earn money while you shop! You may be asked to solicit help from employees or ask about certain items or promotions, and sometimes purchase and/ or return items, depending on the assignment. When you’re done, you get to spend more on the things you need! (We recommend doing a quick search to verify that your intended secret shopping service is completely trustworthy before signing up.)

Make it work

If your budget precludes frequent new purchases, another easy way to keep looking gorgeous without overspending is to purchase multi-use items. Makeup that multitasks is all the rage these days – watch Lisa Eldridge videos to see how you can use lipstick as cream blush (or vice versa), highlighters and bronzers as eyeshadows, and more. There are many new products on the market that are meant to be used in more than one way and countless ways to reuse your current favorites! Check out StyleCaster’s list of their favorite multi-taskers in the beauty world for more ideas, or search for some of the different uses for coconut oil to find out how beauty bloggers, celebrities and models keep their skin, hair and nails looking fabulous.

Shelf life

Did you know that your cosmetics and skincare expire? Well, just like food and drugs, mascara, sunscreen, nail polish and more can expire some time after opening and either be rendered useless, or actually harmful to you with continued use. Essential oils and certain types of vitamins should always be kept out of direct sunlight, preferably at room temperature and in dark glass bottles. Nail polish, lip products and other items can be kept inside your refrigerator to extend their use or make them easier to apply. Specific brands may have their own expiration dates, which will be printed somewhere on the packaging, but here is a quick reference to use guide after opening: mascara should be discarded after three months; liquid or cream eyeshadows can be used up to one years; eyeliner can last for one year; blush, powder eyeshadows, foundation, moisturizer, powder and concealer all last around two years; lip products are generally safe to use for up to one year; and sponges should be replaced every six months. Do keep in mind, however, that any time an item changes consistency, scent, or color, it may be unsafe to continue using.

Bonus tip: keep your cosmetics at their best by frequently cleaning, sterilizing and replacing brushes, sponges and other applicators that touch your products. Make sure to never apply skincare (or foundation) by touching it inside the jar or the top of the bottle; rather tip a little into your hand or use a small plastic spatula to apply. This will help limit the spread of bacteria that can break down your makeup and skincare items.

If you are interested in beauty on a budget, these tips are sure to help you on your quest for inexpensive glamour. There is no need to sacrifice quality for price if you know how to make the most of your budget! Be sure to come back and let us know how these tips have helped you by leaving a comment below!