10 Tips to Save on Makeup

The makeup industry really makes out well – about $7 billion a year. The average person spends $600 a year on makeup, but you can spend less with these tips.


Everybody wants to look their best. But at what cost?

According to a 2008 study by nonprofit YWCA, women spend $7 billion a year on cosmetics. Meanwhile, The Bureau of Labor Statistics says Americans – so this figure is averaged across men and women – spent about $600 each in 2009 on “personal care.”

For some people, money’s no object. But for the rest of us, saving a few extra bucks matters. Even cosmetics professionals, like the one in the video above, acknowledge expensive brands aren’t always the best.

So if you’re ready to make saving on makeup a New Year’s resolution, here are a few ideas:

  1. First, take stock of your makeup bag and see what you actually need. Some people are impulsive buyers who grab something on sale every time they’re in the store, while others just forget what they have and never use it. And many people get to the end of a lipstick or mascara but are reluctant to throw it out – waste not, want not – but don’t know what to do with it.
  2. When you only have a little of a lipstick left, scrape it into an empty, clean container like an old lip gloss bottle. You can mix it with other shades and use a lip brush to apply it, and adding a little Vaseline can turn it into a gloss. You should use a lip brush with any lipstick, anyway, to avoid over-applying – you’re just going to wipe the excess off and waste it otherwise.
  3. You can make the most of nearly gone mascara, too: Set it up in a glass of warm water or heat it with your hair dryer to get a little more out.
  4. Extend the life of your liquid foundation and concealer by using half as much and mixing it with a dab of facial lotion instead.
  5. For non-liquid foundation, this MSN beauty tips article suggests getting your makeup sponge a bit wet before you dip it in. The sponge will soak up less foundation this way, so you won’t overuse it. (The article has a lot of other non-cosmetic beauty tips for saving money too.)
  6. Some people get in the habit of putting on makeup every day – try only wearing it when you go out, or at least minimize what you put on in a casual situation to something simple like lip gloss and mascara.
  7. Get free samples where you can. Department stores might offer them on certain days, or on request, and you can also get them online. Just don’t be tricked into expensive “freebies” where you have to make a big minimum purchase to get a free gloss kit: A “$30 value!” isn’t worth spending $50. Some sites like Ulta.com and Sephora.com will give you freebies with any order – which means they actually are free.
  8. Some products are worth paying more for if you have sensitive skin, but for things that won’t affect your skin – eye liner, mascara, lip gloss – buy less-expensive brands from dollar stores, drug stores, flea markets, and outlet stores. These places often have respectable brands like Maybelline and E.L.F. at much cheaper prices. Drug stores like CVS or Walgreens often have decent weekly deals, like buy one get one free or 50 percent off. You can also do a search with our deals search engine.
  9. If you have to have a department store brand, shop online and look for discounts – try eBay. Just make sure you’re getting a new product and the expiration date is listed.
  10. If you’re really serious about getting discounts, consider becoming an Avon representative or a Mary Kay consultant and you’ll be able to buy at wholesale prices for you and your friends. But know what you’re getting into, and don’t end up on the hook for a huge stock of inventory.

Follow these tips in 2011 and hopefully your bank account will start looking as good as you do.

Stacy Johnson

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