One of the many pleasures in this life is looking in the mirror after professionals have worked their magic with my hair and makeup.

A makeup artist I am not, and most days I look like a dreaded “Before” shot.

So for special occasions I would drop enough cash to buy a week’s worth of groceries for a makeover. I looked great but felt guilty about that much spending!

Fiscal realities kicked in a few years ago, so I had to find a new way to get makeovers for cheap or free.

I can now thank these companies for my “After” looks at special events:

Aveda: Offers free samples and has offered hair salon services for free. Visit their site to print out a sample coupon and receive a hair treatment. A purchase may be required, so I recommend finding a local Aveda Beauty Institute (beauty school) for a quality, inexpensive service.

Sephora: Hosts makeover days for various product lines. Sometimes, a purchase is required. The makeup artists are extremely skilled and offer pointers on their techniques and what products they are using to achieve it. Call your store for more information or to make an appointment

Ulta: Also offers makeup events. Because they have salons in stores, the company also offers hair services. I recently got a “frizz-free” blowout (a $30 value for the amount of hair I have) for FREE. Check their Store Locator and Event Page to see what events are going on.

MAC: I got a free makeover on Halloween a few years ago. When the makeup artist was finished, she convinced me to add eyelash extensions which cost less than $10. (They were critical to pulling off the look!) MAC offers a shockingly long list of complimentary services. Check out their Locator/Event page for this list and to find your closest MAC.

Macy’s: Has a MAC counter along with many other makeup brands: Lancôme, Estee Lauder, Smashbox and more. Speak to the associates behind your favorite makeup counter about setting up on appointment for a specific day. Macy’s also regularly brings in famous makeup artists who take a break from celebrities’ faces to work their magic on customers.

Local Salons: From time to time stylists may try to expand their repertoires and reputations through a hair competition. I got free highlights and makeup application when I “modeled” for a local salon’s entry in a hair competition. I had a consultation prior to the photo shoot day. At this point I could have opted out if I didn’t l like what the stylist proposed, but she had vision I could live with for six weeks or more so I signed on for a fun day of “modeling” and some fun pampering.

Craigslist: The “Beauty” section is a great place to find salons offering services. Call references, the stylist or owner, and check out their website.

Buy or Not Buy: 

  • I rarely attend any event that requires a minimum purchase. Ask when you are making the appointment!
  • If the beauty associate or stylist get commissions or bonuses, they may add a bit of pressure to buy. So I am honest in advance about what I need or if I just maxed out on makeup purchases.
  • Share the amount you are willing to spend.
  • Wait to see how the products react to your skin or hair. An associate can understand that concern.
  • Say “thank you” profusely. Ask the cashier or receptionist if a tip is appropriate, and leave one.

Plan Ahead: Call for an appointment whenever possible. It is likely that wedding parties, prom or homecoming attendees, and others will be competing for spots on the weekends.

Be a VIP: Krazy Coupon ladies get a lot of emails—what’s a few more? Provide a (coupon) email address to these companies for alerts for special events. Also “Like” them on Facebook or follow on other social networks for more “insider” information.

“After”: Plan out ladies’ or date night to flaunt your new look. After a makeover is also a good time to update your social media profile photos.

This has been a guest post by Leah
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!


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7 thoughts on “How to Be an “After” on a Budget”

  1. Thogg says:

    If you get a free makeover, give the artist a tip. If she can’t take one, she’ll tell you. Even though the artists (there are different types – the regular store counter staff vs traveling artists) get paid, the counter people usually get a comission and the travelers still have to track sales. If you don’t purchase, at least give that tip. If you get just a lipstick, still give her/him a couple dollars as a tip.

  2. Dana says:

    I just recently took my daughter and two cousins to Merle Norman where they received free makeovers and instructions for putting on makeup.  The lady who waited on us was wonderfully patient.  She made a lot of money on her time too.  We were originally going to go to Clinique (where I buy my makeup), but were told there was a two product minimum buy per girl. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    For my own WEDDING, I scheduled a private “makeup consultation”, where they literally TEACH you how to achieve whatever look you want for free.  The catch is you have to purchase $50 in makeup.  I ONLY use MAC eyeliner, so I took the opportunity to stock up and the balance was just small palette pieces of the eye shadows.  For the eye shadows, I asked her to use colors that I could wear every day, but still were versatile enough for this special occasion.  She showed me how to do each step and gave me a mockup with steps to help me practice.  By the time my big day came, I was well-rehearsed in my makeup routine and did it myself while I got my hair done.  I would have EASILY had to pay $75 to get my makeup done by a professional on my wedding day (that’s not even including the practice runs that most makeup artists want to make you do beforehand).  I had complete control over what I would look like AND I got to keep all the makeup!  I can now give myself a professional makeover for free for any special occasion!

  4. As a former Clinique consultant, we were required to offer free makeover to each customer. I worked in Macy’s, Rich’s, Belk, Dillards, and others. All Clinique counters look to increase sales, but the makeover is free. Booking an appointment is easy, and your consultant will be ready for you. 

    Though I don’t sell Clinique anymore, I still enjoy the free makeovers from my friends when I come back to stock up. Although, I would get a free makeover anytime, I combine my errands to make the best use of my time. Happy pampering!

  5. Raquel says:

    I would also like to share that a way to save cost is to learn to do your own makeup like a pro. Youtube video’s have help me tons! I watch people with similar skin tones that are open to high end brands as well as drugstore. There are tons of coupons and companies like ELF that sell workable products at low cost. Consider using paint brushes instead of pricy makeup brushes especially when you are learning. Elf has 2 brush lines where 1 line everything is $1 and the pro line everything is $3. You can make yourself beautiful on a budget!