Buying beauty products can be a pricey game of trial and error (those $8 lipstick mistakes add up fast!). Get more for your money—and a few freebies—with this strategic guide to shopping for beauty bargains ad drug stores, online and department stores.
Shop drugstores for low-cost beauty products, deep discounts and no-hassle returns.
Cash in Your Coupons
Drugstores have the best deals, hands down, especially when you stack manufacturer's and store coupons. Use coupons when there's a sale and you can save 67 percent on average. Find coupons in stores' circulars, on their websites and in e-mail newsletters. Many retailers accept printed online coupons, so check coupons.com, redplum.com and smartsource.com. And pay attention to the newspaper: 85 percent of beauty-product coupons are in Sunday inserts.
Return with Ease
At CVS and Rite Aid you can return any product—even if you've used it—for a full refund within 60 days of purchase. Keep the receipt (without it you'll get store credit). Hang on to the packaging; at other drugstores, returns are up to the manager, and the packaging can help your case.
Get High-Quality Goods For Less
Drugstore products are usually cheaper than department store offerings—but they're not necessarily inferior. Many beauty brands are owned by the same parent companies; they share research and development teams and might carry the same active ingredients (see next page).
Look for Deals on Items Wtih a Short Shelf Life
Mascara and liquid eyeliners last three to six months before bacteria builds up. Acne products and antiaging creams stop working in less than a year. Therefore, it's wise to choose effective, affordable versions.