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I’m that shopper at the mall who can’t help but slow down every time she walks by the MAC cosmetics store. Sorry if I’ve walk-blocked you in the past, but I just can’t help but stare at all the pretty colors! Although MAC is normally kind of pricey, you’d be surprised at how much you can get for FREE. Here are my secrets:

1. Buy the refillable palettes.

You can save a bundle using this tip alone! Purchase a refillable palette from a MAC store or online (this Pro Palette Eye Shadow duo is $5), and then purchase the refill pans in your favorite colors. You get the same products, but because you're not paying for the expensive packaging again and again, you save a bundle. A single eye shadow costs $10 instead of the usual $16, and a blush pan is $17 instead of $22.

Note: Refillable items are only available at freestanding MAC stores, or online, and not at department store makeup counters. However, MACCosmetics.com offers FREE shipping on everything, always, so anyone can take advantage of this deal.

If you don't want to purchase a refillable palette, there are tons of tutorials, like this one, that show how to reuse the containers you already have.

2. Trade empty containers for free lipstick, lip gloss, or eye shadow.

The Back to MAC program is the best way to score FREE MAC makeup. All you have to do is bring any six of your empty MAC containers to a MAC retail location or counter. At a department store counter, you can trade them for a free lipstick, valued at $16. If you happen to have a freestanding MAC store close by, you can get a complimentary lipstick, lip gloss, or eye shadow for what you were going to send to the landfill anyway.

Related: 6 Ways to Find the Best Makeup Dupes

3. Use discounted department store gift cards.

While department store coupons aren't typically valid at makeup counters, gift cards are. This means you can buy discount gift cards online, and use them to get overall savings on your MAC cosmetics purchase. Sites like GiftCards.com or GiftCardGranny.com allow you to purchase Macy's, Nordstrom, and even MAC cards at a discount. Sometimes this will save you 5-10%, but I've even seen plenty of 13-18% discounts, which can really cut your bill at the register.

The goods

Just to show you how well these tips work, I stopped by the MAC store yesterday with six empty containers in hand. I turned them in and quickly claimed a FREE lipstick. YES! Next, I purchased a refillable eye shadow palette ($5) and two inserts ($10 each). Normally I would have spent $16 each for these three makeup items. That's a total of $48! Being the savvy shopper that I am, I only paid $25! AND the next time I buy eye shadow, I won't have to spend the extra $5 on the palette. That's a reality check you can take to the bank.

 Related: Splurge or Skimp? Your Ultimate Guide to Saving on Makeup!