If you've ever been hooked on a department store beauty product, it's likely you've felt the sting of the price tag. Product junkies, label ladies and cosmetic connoisseurs alike all have paid the price for beauty, and I'm not just talking about the waxing, tweezing, pulling, plucking or teasing. That's right, I'm talking about the cashola (that stuff we work too hard for).

We all know what it's like when that pretty sales lady reads us our total, we smile and hand over our paycheck, when in the inside we are screaming "What??!!" I know first hand what it's like to pay the price for something that works for you. Instead of lowering your standards, risking breaks outs, or buying the wrong color, you bite the bullet and buy department store makeup from the counters you love so much: Clinique, Lancôme, Estee Lauder, Mac, Dior, Chanel and the list goes on. Although these lines never, and I mean never offer any type of discount, there is a way to stretch your pretty little penny. Here are some savvy dos and don'ts for the department store diva:

Do

  • Check online for discounted gift cards to your department store of choice. Whether it be Macys, Nordstrom's, Neiums, or Saks, sites such as eBay or plasticjungle offer an abundant source of discounted gift cards.
  • Get your free gift! Although not every line offers a free gift with purchase, several do. You can visit mygiftwithpurchase.com to see all the available gifts from different department stores and different lines.
  • Get your free samples! Certain department stores such as Nordstrom offer a plethora of free samples. Nordstrom even has "sample Saturday" where they give every visitor in cosmetics a free sample of some sort. However, if you are buying, you’d better be leaving with a sample, no matter what day of the week it is. I like to ask for a sample of foundation in my shade, the jars that they give you seem small, but so are the actual bottles of foundation. These jars last me 2-3 weeks on average. I also never hesitate to ask for a sample of my favorite perfume; the sales ladies are more than willing to make you a travel spray especially if you are buying makeup already.
  • Make a connection with one of the beauty advisors. They can inform you of the upcoming gifts with purchase and events. Also if you call your beauty advisor before you come in to the store and let her know you need to pick up your powder, mascara or whatever it may be, you can tell her over the phone to have a few samples waiting for you with your purchase, so you don't have wait for her to make them.

Don't

  • Resort to buying discounted cosmetics off of sites like eBay. Half the time the product is not authentic and not sanitized.
  • Be shy. If you are purchasing something from a counter in a department store, you should never leave without a sample, just ask; it will save you money in the long run.
  • Stick to just one department store.  If you have the option, why not use all the resources you have? If you have 2 different beauty advisors from 2 different stores giving you the latest scoop on free gifts and events, the better off you will be, because lines such as Clinique, Estee Lauder and Lancôme can only run one gift at a time. For example Clinique has a free gift with purchase in April at Macys and then again in May at Nordstrom, and they never repeat the gifts, so you are always guaranteed to get some new juicy samples.
  • Give up on your beauty store needs. Make sure if you are looking for a new foundation, powder, or any other cosmetics that you get, try it on first. That way you get a free consultation while you are in store.

This has been a guest post by Christina from Whittier, CA
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