Saving the bucks on makeup

Audrey Moore, editor

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The average American woman will spend $15,000 on makeup in her lifetime, according to People magazine. That’s a lot of cash going towards your face. Makeup seems to be a staple in many people’s lives, and the beauty industry only seems to be getting bigger. With social media showing off innovative looks and a “beauty guru” being an actual career, the recent makeup boom is pretty apparent. For example, Colourpop, that was founded in 2014, has seen sales over $2.1 million in 2016 from social media promotions alone, according to Uloop. This being said, getting into makeup may be enjoyable, but it definitely has a tendency to be hard on your wallet. As a makeup fan myself, I’ve come up with various ways to save a good chunk of money and still look fabulous.

Rewards Programs

Ulta Beauty and Sephora, two of the biggest retailers of makeup, both have rewards programs. While Ulta Beauty’s program focuses more on achieving certain monetary discounts, Sephora’s is more geared towards earning free products.

I personally don’t have that much experience with Sephora’s rewards program, but Ulta Beauty consistently has deals that allow you to get a massive number of points without handing over the entirety of your wallet. For example, specific products or brands could offer you up to 5 times the regular amount of points during a promotion; a $20 lipstick is now worth 100 points ($3) of savings. If you keep racking up the points, the savings can even become much greater (2,000 points can save you $125).

Free Gifts

Though Ulta and Sephora offer free gifts with purchases at times,  freebies tend to be more common within makeup kiosks found in department stores. This usually only applies to higher end brands, but the amount you get for a relatively low price can be astonishing. If you pay attention to these deals, you could definitely increase the value of your makeup money by several fold.

For example, Lancôme recently had a deal at Herberger’s where you could get an eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, moisturizer and makeup bag ($74-$89 value) with a $35 purchase.

It’s also worth noting that Ulta and Sephora will give free gifts for your birthday just for being a part of their rewards programs. The gifts are small, but hey: free stuff is free stuff. For example, I’ve gotten a mini mascara from Ulta and a mini lipstick and blush from Sephora.

Drugstore Makeup

Though it gets a bad rep, drugstore makeup is a more affordable option that can, in some cases, be pretty comparable to the higher end stuff. The key here is to research, research, research! Look at reviews across the internet, and there are even publications with sections completely devoted to sharing drugstore makeup “diamonds in the rough.”

Though most beauty gurus don’t shy away from whipping out their Chanel products, many of them test various drugstore brands as well because they know that many people want more affordable options. It might take some time and a bit of trial and error, but you can come up with a drugstore makeup routine that works for you.


If an all drugstore makeup routine just isn’t sounding great to you, try to prioritize your makeup routine. Which parts of it do you feel you need higher end products on, and which parts can you cheap out on? The $40 foundation and $5 mascara costs less than $40 foundation and $20 mascara.

Email Lists

Though it can be a pain in the patootie to be flooded with emails full of advertisements, if you can deal with the annoyance, that’s where you’ll fish out some of the best deals. Sign up for every makeup email list that you can. This will allow companies to alert you of sweet sales.

Subscription Bags/Boxes

There are several services, such as ipsy, that will send you a fixed number of makeup items for a fixed price every month. I’ve only had a brief experience with ipsy, but the savings were phenomenal. I received a nail polish that was be $20 at retail price; that itself paid for the $10 ipsy bag two-fold! And I still got four more items: an eyeliner, two face masks, and a lipstick!

Subscription boxes can be a super affordable way to try out new things and keep a good amount of makeup on hand.

To Conclude

The word of makeup can be intimidating, both from a skill and price tag perspective. Despite this, I hope this guide helps knock one of those things off of the “why not” list and pushes you to experiment with makeup’s endless possibilities.