Nothing makes me feel pretty quite like a new tube of lipstick. Classic and feminine, the right color of lipstick can change my whole attitude.

But as a budget-conscious consumer, I can't justify spending $20 or more on a single tube — no matter what the product promises. But you can kiss those high lipstick prices good-bye! With these tips, you won't be spending a lot to look great.


1. Use an online finder

This is one of my favorite (free!) online beauty tools. L’Oreal has a no-cost, no-commitment online finder that allows users to enter their current brand/shade of high-end lip color and see a comparable L’Oreal product that is more affordable. Click here and scroll to the "tools" section halfway down the page. Then, if you decide to shop for that L’Oreal product in store, print a coupon like the current one for $1 off any L’Oreal Paris cosmetic product.

2. Layer colors

If you get home with a free/cheap lipstick that you don’t like, don’t throw it out. Layer it with another color, or experiment by using a darker liner underneath the color. You might like the result — and salvage a tube!

3. Go for a darker color

In a recent promotion, I received a free Clinique lip shade that was too dark for my tastes. But rather than throw it out, I decided to use it more as a tint (with a Chapstick base underneath, bought, of course, with a coupon and already in my stockpile). So since it's dark, I apply it lightly, and it looks great! With a darker shade applied sparingly, you can get a lot more mileage from a single tube.

4. Make it stay on longer

Rather than reapply throughout the day, use this layering technique to get lipstick to stay put: face powder, lipstick, face powder, lipstick. It's an old trick my mother taught me, and trust me — it works like a charm!

5. Don’t throw away a broken tube

Lipstick accidentally twisted too high and broken off can be repaired with a match and some refrigeration: hold a flame between the two broken pieces to slowly "melt" them back together, gingerly roll the tube back down, and place it in the refrigerator overnight to set the lipstick back together. If the lipstick itself is beyond this form of repair, it can alternately be mashed into a cosmetic pot (like an old Carmex lip container) and then applied with a makeup brush.

6. Get a sample

Direct sales companies (like Mary Kay and Avon) offer free samples. Samples can also be requested from department store cosmetic counters (like Lancome) or in beauty stores like Ulta and Sephora. If you try before you buy, you won’t waste your money.

7. Make your own lip stain

There are several fun DIY lip stains you can make at home. Check out this article on how to make Kool-Aid Lip Gloss. Use this guide to choose your color:

  • Hawaiian Punch = bright red
  • Wild Strawberry Crystal Light = medium red
  • Strawberry Kiwi Crystal Light = light red
  • Cherry Kool-Aid = orange/red
  • Peach Mango Kool-Aid = peach
  • Grape Kool-Aid = purple
  • Country Time Pink Lemonade = Rosy pink

Another method uses berries to provide the color: Crush a small handful of berries using the back of a fork. Strain and add juice to ½ tsp. of extra virgin olive oil. Store in small beauty pot and keep in refrigerator. Use these berries to achieve certain colors, or mix them for a more personalized hue:

  • Pomegranate arils = wine
  • Blackberries = violet
  • Raspberries = dark pink
  • Cherries = rich red

Apply both of these formulas with a lip brush or Q-tip.

8. Consider using eye liner as lip liner

Certain hues (browns, mauves, and even some plums) look just as great on lips as eyes. So if you’ve scored an eye liner with a coupon (like Wet n Wild, NY or Almay), consider letting it pull double duty as a lip liner.

9. Get a free lip touch-up

L’Oreal was having an in-store event at my Walgreens, and I was asked if I wanted a free lip color touch-up. I sat down, and L’Oreal cosmetologists applied the color they thought was best with my skin tone — a bright pink (which was a color I never would have considered on my own). Surprise! It looked great! They even gave me a color guide and a free $2 off coupon. So having expert advice on what looks good — and being able to try it before I bought it — saved me from buying something I wouldn’t actually use. Free services like this are held not only at drugstores but also beauty stores and cosmetic counters. So if you want expert advice, ask for it!

9 Ways to Save on Lipstick