Thursday

How to sample beauty products and save — like a boss


You know from watching my makeup collection and storage video that I buy a lot of makeup and beauty products. However, I sample many more products than what you saw without splashing out a lot of cash, by using some simple strategies.

1. Subscribe to a beauty box. I currently use Birchbox. There are many others with varying price ranges, like Ipsy and Glossybox. The boxes are hit or miss — sometimes I'm thrilled and get big samples of products I end up loving, and sometimes I get foil packets, insultingly tiny blushes and a lot of meh. At $10 a month, I've been able to shrug off the meh. When you review the samples in your box on the website, Birchbox rewards you with points that convert to cash you can use toward buying full-size items. By redeeming points, I just ordered the Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser, one of my favorite samples, and paid just $2.95. It retails for $32.95.

2. Ask for samples when you shop. Lush is so good about this. When I go in to pick up some shower gel or a face mask, they either offer me a sample without me asking, or will gladly give me a tiny pot of a shampoo I'm curious about or something along those lines. Sephora includes samples in online orders, and in-store I've gotten little custom samples like foundation (that's how I decided to buy the Laura Mercier foundation I love so much).

3. Be alert for free-gift-with-purchase deals at department stores. I've only used this option once, when Macy's had a promotion where you'd get a customized sampler of Lancome products if you spent a certain amount, I think $35 or something. I bought a lipstick and a nail polish, and got a mini eye cream that I still have tons of, a mini Visionnaire serum, a small tube of Hypnose Drama mascara, and an eyeshadow quad that I loathed, but it was the only miss.

4. Join loyalty programs. At Sephora, you earn Beauty Insider points when you shop, which can then be redeemed for curated products packaged specifically as rewards. For instance, I once redeemed my points for a 100-point Sephora+Pantone Universe emerald liquid eyeliner. And for 500 points, Sephora once had a fabulous Ole Henriksen skincare kit with facial wipes, serums, eye cream, the works. At Ulta, points translate to cash toward whatever you want. This lady used her points to snag a Tarte Cheek Stain for the price of goose egg.

5. Think small. On Sephora's website, a product listing shows you a larger size by default. Many products come in smaller or travel size versions listed right there with the big boys. Do not let your eyes skim past these! With products like my Amazing Cosmetics concealer and Smashbox primer, the fun-size bottles have lasted me FOREVER.

What do you do to save your beauty bucks? Let me know in the comments!

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