As Krazy Coupon Ladies, we know never to pay full price for our makeup.  The drugstore sales plus coupon matchups are amazing, but how great is free lipstick if you discover it dries out your lips? Or is the face powder at 90% savings a savvy buy if it has a smell that drives you crazy?

We also know that we can't always be brand loyal. So how can we try new products, stay within our budgets, and purchase wisely? The following suggestions will make you a more savvy makeup consumer and help you maximize your beauty budget

Research Before You Buy

Avoid purchasing a dud by using the following websites to research or exchange makeup products:

  • MakeupAlley: One of my favorite makeup sites! It is completely free to join. Search over 2 million user reviews of over 100,000 makeup, hygiene, perfume, and hair products. The detailed reviews are so helpful, and you can sort by skin type, age, hair color, etc.  If there is a great deal on CoverGirl products, for example, search this site to see which products are highest rated, which ones would be worth your money, and which ones to avoid; you're much more likely to be happy with your purchase.  There is also a Swap section of the site. If you purchased a product that you don't like, you can swap used products with other community members.
  • Beautypedia: This free site is managed by beauty expert and consumer advocate Paula Begoun, with over 45,000 detailed makeup reviews. Does the product have harmful ingredients? Does it live up to the manufacturer's claims? Find out here! The two things I love about this site are that it is so easy to search, and the reviews are based on research.  Paula will tell you if the drugstore or department store product is better and if it is worth your money.

Take Advantage of Free Samples, Membership Programs, and Return Policies

Some of the large makeup stores and companies have great membership programs, free sample offers, and generous return policies.

  • Sephora: Sephora has a generous return policy on used products if you are not satisfied, including free returns from online orders. All online orders over $50 ship for free, and you can select up to three free samples with each order. You can also join the Beauty Insider program, which awards you points for the dollars you spend in-store and online.  Redeem these points on future purchases. You also get a free gift each year for your birthday!
  • Ulta: Ulta carries many of the drugstore brands in addition to some department store/boutique brands. They will accept manufacturer coupons, and their weekly ads often contain dollar-off coupons (such as $3 off a $10 purchase).  You can receive these coupons via email if you sign up on their website. They will also accept used items for returns, although you will need to return online purchases to the store or pay for return shipping. They also offer two free membership programs in which you can earn points or rewards for each dollar spent.
  • Other Free Sample Offers: Sign up for the free sample offers you see posted on the KCL site. It's a great way to decide if a product is right for you, and the free samples often come with high-value coupons!

Spend Wisely on Department Store Cosmetics

I get most of my beauty products at the drugstore but sometimes splurge at the department store. Here's how you can ensure you spend wisely at the department store.

  • Try on in store and get a free sample:  You already know you can sample virtually any department store product at the counter, but you can also get a free 7-day sample of foundations, lotions, or other products, even if there is not a promotion. It never hurts to ask!
  • Generous return policies:  You generally can return any opened product for a full refund if you are not happy with your purchase.
  • Gift with purchase:  I only buy department store products when I get a free gift with purchase (GWP). These often contain full-sized products that last a long time! Check out GWP Addict and My Gift With Purchase to always know when your favorite brand is having an in-store or online promotion.
  • Shop online directly from the company:  Many department store brands offer free samples with every online purchase in addition to other promotions. My favorites for online promotions are at Estee Lauder (free shipping and returns), and Clinique. You can find information about free sample offers and promotions at the GWP sites above.

Who says we have to suffer for beauty? These stores and sites make shopping for makeup frugal and fun!

This has been a guest post by Sarah from Minneaplolis, MN
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

Beauty and the Budget: Maximizing your Makeup Money