Beauty products have an ugly side: They can sideline your budget and crush your couponing goals.

Primer, mineral makeup, liquid liner and oh, so much more. Makeup is a temptress, and it is easy to fall down the rabbit’s hole of debt while keeping up with the latest trends in cosmetics.

Some of us may only wear makeup a few days a week, but it can still be an expensive hobby. When I started couponing for groceries and household items, I decided to try saving on makeup purchases, too. Success! My curiosity and love for samples, freebies, and couponing led me to some fun places. Now that’s beautiful.

How to get fabulous makeup for less

  1. Sign up for a monthly sample service. One of my favorite ways to sample high-quality makeup products is through Birchbox.  This site features brands like Smashbox, Philosophy and Stilla. A monthly subscription is $10 (shipping included), and I receive a box customized with products that were selected based on my profile. I was skeptical of joining Birchbox because it is advertised as a sample box, but since the membership is month-to-month, I gave it a try.  I have received about four Birchboxes so far and have added some amazing products to my makeup collection. Bonus: Each month's box has included one or more FULL-sized products! I’ve gone to the Birchbox site to check the prices on the full-sized products I’ve received and discovered those items were priced higher than the monthly cost of my box! For example, one month I received a full-sized bronzer, valued at $13. The next month, I received a full-sized lipstick/lipliner pen, valued at $18. I have also received long-lasting, high-quality eyeliner that would have cost $15. Last month's Birchbox came with a free razor and high-value coupons for refill cartridges. Some boxes come with great perfume samples that are too expensive for me to buy full-sized, from brands such as Juicy Couture or Oscar de la Renta (and the trial size actually lasts for a while)!  Because of Birchbox, I have completely stopped buying makeup at the store, unless I need a restock of a cheap staple, such as mascara or foundation which I can purchase with coupons.
  2. Look around! In addition to Birchbox, there are other sites that offer subscriptions, such as ipsy. Like Birchbox, ipsy is $10 per month and includes an assortment of products (called a Glam Bag) in sample and full sizes. Products are hand-selected based on answers to your beauty quiz. Brands include high-end names like Mirabella, Carol’s Daughter and Juice Beauty.
  3. Purchase cheap samples of high-quality products. I try to use more eco-friendly and chemical-free makeup. The problem?  These products are not cheap.  And coupons are hard to find. Check out Everyday Minerals, a company that offers a seven-item sample pack of various mineral makeup foundations, bronzers, and blushes of your choice. Shipping will cost no more than $3, and their samples are long-lasting! I have used just one small sample pack of mineral foundation for about five days now and still have enough for a few more days. It's a great way to try something new. Watch for special promotions, such as 25% off a purchase of three products, or clearance sales on last season’s trends.
  4. Use websites that sell more than just makeup. My favorite example of this is Vitacost. You can find health, beauty, food, pet, baby products and more. The prices are always discounted, and shipping is free for purchases over $49. If you don't want to spend the full $49 to get free shipping, basic shipping is $4.99 regardless of the size of your order! I find that it is often cheaper to just buy what I need and pay the $4.99. Refer a friend to Vitacost and get a $10 coupon when they make their first purchase. I've been able to get multiple $10 discounts from referring friends.

This is a guest post by Vanessa from Placerville, CA
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