7 Secrets to Saving Money on Makeup

If you don’t already know that I love saving money on makeup, then you have probably never visited this blog before now. In which case, welcome!

Since starting college, I’ve been determined to budget my money while still fueling my makeup obsession— part of my inspiration for starting Slashed Beauty! Besides staying as far away as I can from Sephora and makeup counters, I’ve discovered a few great secrets to saving money on makeup and other beauty products.

saving money on makeup

1. Return Products You Don’t Like
It’s amazing to me how many people will purchase a beauty product they are unsatisfied with, yet take no action to get their money back! Even if you’ve lightly used a makeup product and it just isn’t working for you, there is no reason for you to keep it and have it collect dust in the back of a drawer. Wherever you purchased it, there is most likely a return policy. Even drugstores like CVS go out of their way to have hassle-free, no questions asked return policies on makeup items. Get over thinking it’s awkward— that money could buy you something you actually like!

2. Use Every Last Drop
I don’t know how many bottles of foundation or moisturizer I’ve tossed, even though there was still a bit of product left that I just couldn’t pump out. Use a plastic knife or mini spatula to get out every last drop of product.

3. Sign Up for Loyalty Cards
If you’re a drugstore beauty shopper like I am, you might already know that signing up for the store’s loyalty card program really pays off! For example, Rite Aid constantly holds 30% off, BOGO 50% off, and sometimes even BOGO FREE beauty products for wellness+ card members. You’ll be able to slash dollars off of what are already affordable finds, and joining is free! On top of using your loyalty cards, make sure you’re subscribed to weekly ads that the stores send out via email. That way, you will be notified of upcoming promotions and can plan out the sales you want to take advantage of.

4. Get Cash Back when Shopping Online
I think one of the coolest ways to save money on makeup (and actually, everything else) is shopping online using cash back websites. Websites like Ebates and ShopAtHome will pay you a percentage of the total amount you purchased from a store! So for example, if I make an online purchase of $100 from Kohl’s and the cash back promotion is 10% that week, I’ll get a check for $10! You just have to remember to click through to whatever website you want to shop at from the cash back site. I have an Ebates plug in on my browser that will flash if I’m on a website that is eligible for cash back. Many of your favorite beauty retailers are included on these cash back websites, like Sephora, ULTA, Nars, Too Faced, BHCosmetics, Stila, Tarte… the list goes on and on. I have gotten multiple checks from Ebates, which is my favorite of the two because there isn’t a payment threshold you have to reach before they send you a check.

5. Find a Dupe
Are you lusting over a specific shade from a high-end line? Do some research online to see if there is a similar product from a more affordable brand. You can’t imagine how many dupes of MAC shadows bloggers have found from Wet n Wild, at literally a tenth of the cost. (One of my favorites is WnW’s Nutty as a notorious dupe for MAC’s Satin Taupe). If you can find a product that will give you similar look and wear for cheaper, why the heck not? Nobody will ever know the difference!

6. Flash Sale Sites
Many sites of this nature have popped up within the past few years. These online retailers offer brand name items at reduced prices for a very limited time. Shops like Hautelook, Amazon’s MyHabit, and Gilt (which also qualifies for Ebates cash back) partner up with companies to bring you insane sales on hot items from high-end brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Clarins, Tarte, Stila, Deborah Lipmann, Tom Ford & more. You’ll also see a lot of sales from already affordable brands like NYX, Crown Brush & e.l.f. pop up, too, which are always especially exciting because you’re really getting those products at a steal!

7. Use Up the Makeup You Already Have
This was one of my New Years resolutions. I have a habit of buying new products before I’m done using old ones. For example: I’ve got about 4 bottles of different facial cleansers open right now because I kept wanting to try the newest one on the market. If you make it a point to use up what you have before you go out and buy a new product, not only will you save money but you’ll avoid wasting product that will eventually expire after opening. Listen to Jenna Marbles and don’t be a goo hoarder!

Image courtesy of Daniel St.Pierre / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


  1. I am a total goo hoarder! I just watched that Jenna Marbles video and it’s so true… eep. These are really good tips, hopefully I eventually take heed! Great post 🙂

  2. I have to admit I’m one of those people who doesn’t return stuff (unless I have an allergic reaction). I feel oddly guilty about using something and then returning it. Silly, I know.

  3. I am a huge proponent of returning items that don’t work out , but it’s surprising how many people hold on to them!

  4. Great tips. I remember when I was your age, I only relied on lipstick to do 3 things (1) lipstick (2) eyeshadow (3) blush. That’s how broke I was, haha!

    1. Finding multiple uses for one product is the best! I often use conditioner as shaving cream… but mostly just because I’ll be too lazy to go get a new can!

  5. I love my little spatula to get every last drop of everything! I upcycle any products I don’t like from conditioner to BB cream into shaving cream lol

  6. Use up? What language is that?
    I love Ebates and Mr. Rebates online and CVS’s rewards. I can’t keep all the drugstore ones straight so I usually stick with CVS.
    Don’t forget about drugstore.com dollars when you shop there or beauty.com – you get money back from them plus if you use Ebates etc. then you are double dipping.

  7. I wholeheartedly agree with #7 – I’ve been trying to be better about that lately. And I’ll add one to your list – double coupons! Some stores (like Target) will allow you to use a manufacturer coupon AND a store coupon on the same item. Occasionally the stars will align and you’ll get two that match, and you can get a good mascara for like a dollar or something.

    1. That’s a great tip! I always forget to look for manufacturer’s coupons. They post them a lot to the brands’ facebooks!

  8. Great advice. Personally, I could just shop my stash and save myself the grief of 1-6 but what fun is that? 🙂

  9. *whine* but I don’t want to use it up before I try a new one. I can’t wait! lol. I have about 3 or 4 cleansers open right now, too. Bad girl, Nidia, bad girl. lol!

  10. Great ideas! I like to to shop at the beauty shows but there’s so much that I end up spending waaay too much and the down side is there are no returns.

    1. Right?? Also, one of the reasons I didn’t get a ticket to IMATS this year was because I’d be paying $90 to SHOP and spend more money! LOL

  11. I had NO idea what Ebates was, thank you for explaining that. I see people post about it on FB like they earned XX and I’ve never taken the time to understand WTH they’re talking about. Great post!

    1. I love Ebates! If anything you can at least get your tax back (at least here in California where it’s 9% bleh!)

  12. I’m a member of Ebates and I’ve actually never used it! I need to figure out how to do it. The problem is most of the time I shop, it’s in person and not online.

    1. Sometimes when I’m making physically big purchases it’s easier for me to do it online because then it can be delivered to me. But it’s especially convenient for beauty purchases because sometimes there are online-only sales, and if I know I can get cash back from ordering online vs. in store, I’d rather do it online! You should definitely install the tool bar which will remind you to activate your cash back 🙂

  13. I used to be one that didn’t return products, but I agree with you and I do now. I also love Ebates. Thanks for these tips and your help sharing my blog! It has meant so much to me how you have welcomed me to the blogging community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *