Never pay for mascara: Money-saving tips to keep your makeup bag stocked

Times are tough out here, and we’re all looking for ways to make a dollar stretch. Fortunately, there are a few ways to make your money count. (Hint: I never, ever pay for mascara!)

1. Watch for gifts with purchase. The department stores run them in the spring and fall, and if you buy their minimum amount (usually a foundation or primer will be enough), they’ll give you lip color, mascara, moisturizer, and an eyeshadow and/or blush. If there’s a product in the gift you don’t intend to use right away, don’t unseal it; even mascaras, with their notoriously short shelf lives, don’t start to go bad until they’re unsealed, because bacteria can’t get in until the seal is broken. I wouldn’t keep them for more than 3-4 months before using them, but if you still have one that’s within its shelf life, don’t feel bad about not opening the new one yet.

2. Get signed up for rewards perks. Sephora’s Beauty Insider program is brilliant, as is Ulta’s ULTAmate Rewards. Ulta’s birthday perk this year is a full-size CK One Signature mascara, which, since I just got the one from Sephora, I’m leaving sealed for a bit. I don’t need it just yet, but I’m excited to try it out when I get to it. With Sephora, your first purchase in-store after signing up gives you a free mini mascara from Benefit Cosmetics, and on your birthday every year, there’s a gift with a free trial-size mascara and some other little makeup item. Last year the gift was from Benefit and had They’re Real! mascara (which I highly recommend) and Watt’s Up highlighter. This year it’s from Make Up For Ever and includes their mascara and a trial size of their Rouge Artist lipstick in color N9, which is a beautiful coppery pink that’s my perfect “my lips, only better” shade. I’ve found some of my favorite products this way.

In addition to the birthday perks, they give you points for every purchase you make, and once you’ve got a certain number of points stockpiled, there’s free stuff and discounts in it for you. I got my rollerball of Elizabeth And James Nirvana White that way–it was a 100 point perk at Sephora. Between birthday perks and gifts with purchase, it’s perfectly possible to have fancy mascara all the time and never have to pay for it.

3. Get friendly with the people at your local makeup stores and department store counters. If you establish yourself as a good long-term customer, they’ll let you know when events are coming up. Sometimes there will be gift set deals that make the designer and department store brands cheaper than drugstore brands.

4. For drugstore brands, watch the sale ads. Buy-one-get-one deals aren’t uncommon at all. Also, watch your Sunday paper, because there are often coupons.

5. Don’t even bother putting your foundation on with those little wedge-shaped sponges. They waste more of the product than they put on your face. Get a foundation brush to apply it; after that, if you need to, you can use a blending sponge to soften up the lines. Likewise, putting your eyeshadow on with a brush instead of those little foam applicators that come with it will help you avoid wasting product.

6. Unless you have sensitivities to certain ingredients, you probably don’t need the best and most expensive of most products. My eyebrow filler is by Wet’N’Wild, and I think I paid maybe $4 for it. My go-to lipliner is by Jordana and runs $3. In most cases, if you’re taking proper care of your skin and have a good quality (not necessarily high-dollar, but not nasty-cheap) foundation and mascara, you can basically use whatever you can afford for the rest. I’ve had plenty of dollar lipsticks in my day, and they’ve never hurt anything.

There are definitely ways to save money on your makeup. If you’ve got more tips, I’d love to hear them!

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One thought on “Never pay for mascara: Money-saving tips to keep your makeup bag stocked

  1. I do have the Sephora rewards program, but I rarely shop there because I think that their products are pricier than those in the pharmacies. But after reading your article, I will now watch out for those sales in cosmetic stores and department stores. Thank you for this tip.

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