I consider myself a “frugalista”. I love makeup and hair care products like nobody’s business. My walls are lined with jewelry I adore. However, I’m equally in love with saving as much money as possible. As a mom and a woman in her mid-20’s, I’ve mastered the art of frugal living while still enjoying myself. And I’m 100% confident that you can do it, too!
Below you’ll find nine tips related to saving money on makeup, jewelry, clothing, beauty services, and more. There are detailed explanations and real-life examples for each tip; I’ve even shared a few of my own personal money-saving experiences. So give this article a read and you’ll quickly learn how to save yourself some cash.
1. Sign Up For Free Rewards Memberships
When cashiers ring you up at stores, they often ask if you’d like to sign up for their free rewards program. In many cases, you may automatically dismiss them. Perhaps you’re in a rush to get home. Perhaps you think you won’t use the program much.
In short, it’s definitely worth signing up for programs like these in-store or online. I’ll use the Ultamate Rewards Program by Ulta Beauty as an example
- Just by signing up, you get a free gift on your birthday. This past year, I received a free Urban Decay eyeshadow worth $19.
- You receive approximately $250 worth of coupons per year via e-mail and snail mail.
- You earn one point per dollar you spend. On special occasions, you can earn 2-5 points per dollar spent.
- At least once per year, you’ll receive a coupon for 20% off your entire purchase.
- On a regular basis, you’ll receive coupons for $3.50 off a purchase of $15 or more.
- You can combine your accumulated points with coupons! Let’s say you have 200 points (a $6 value) and a $3.50 off $15 coupon. You can get $15 worth of makeup for $5.50.
As you can see, all of these free perks really add up. You can find memberships for the brands you love simply by searching “(brand name) rewards program” on Google. Spending a few minutes signing up for these programs may collectively save you hundreds of dollars per year.
2. Don’t Turn Your Nose Up At Store Brands
Brand name items are very appealing, especially when it comes to makeup. I think that investing in high-quality items is the way to go, but a product’s “prestigious” name is not what makes it high-quality. Many drugstore cosmetics and off-label brands are nearly identical in formulation to pricier alternatives.
This logic also applies to hair care products, skin care products, and all sorts of related accessories. Below I’ve two differently priced eyeshadow primers as examples. I bolded the identical ingredients in each primer:
- Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in “Eden” is $20. The ingredients list is as follows: “Isododecane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Polyethylene, Triethylhexanoin, Trihydroxystearin, Isopropyl Lanolate, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Talc, Dimethicone, PEG-40 Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Synthetic Beeswax, Propylene Carbonate, Aqua (Water/Eau). May Contain: CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77491/77492/77499 (Iron Oxides).”
- Ulta Beauty’s Eye Primer in “Champagne” is $12. The ingredients list is as follows: “Isododecane, Mica, Cyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Synthetic Beeswax, Cyclohexasiloxane, Quaternium-90 Bentonite, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Propylene Carbonate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Trihydroxystearin, Tin Oxide. May Contain: Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).”
Out of 19 ingredients in Urban Decay’s primer and 15 in Ulta’s primer, 11 of them are identical. Furthermore, they both have ratings ranging between 4.4 and 4.7 stars on Ulta’s website (at the time of publication). Why spend $8 more on a product that’s nearly identical to the store brand alternative?
Sure, doing comparisons like this is going to take you a bit of extra time and legwork. However, you can save tons of cash if you spend a few minutes doing research like this. In many cases, you’ll find that store brands are identical or equal to their brand name counterparts!
3. Consider The Price Per Item (PPI) When Shopping
Chances are you buy a lot of things in multiples. A few beauty-related examples that come to mind are cotton swabs, cotton balls, makeup sponges, makeup brushes, and bobby pins. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. So, let’s talk about how to get the best deal on these items.
A box of 250 cotton swabs for $1 at the Dollar Tree seems like a steal, right? Not exactly. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of dollar stores and discuss them below. But you’ve got to consider the price per item when buying items like this.
The PPI of dollar store cotton swabs is $0.0040. A box of 500 cotton swabs at Target costs $2.89. This makes the PPI of the Target cotton swabs $0.0038. Is that a significant amount of money? No, but it sure does add up over time. The amount of money you’ll save is 100% worth it in the long run.
I used the Unit Price Calculator to figure out these prices; you simply type in the numbers and get your results. It can be accessed from your mobile phone, so it comes in handy when you’re out shopping. It only takes a few seconds to use, and it’ll instantly save you cash.
4. Sign Up For E-mail And Text Alerts
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to skimp over e-mail alerts. I know that my instinct is to click “exit” on pop-ups, even when they’re for e-mail lists. But I’ve learned that signing up for can save me a ton of money on clothes, makeup, and more. There are two main benefits to signing up for mailing lists – instant discounts and long-term savings.
Instant Savings – Many online retailers will immediately send you a promo code for a discount when you sign up for their e-mail list. Some retailers I got instant discounts for include:
- Tarte Cosmetics
- e.l.f. Cosmetics
- ColourPop Cosmetics
- wet n’ wild Beauty
- NYX Cosmetics
- Bauble Bar
- The Balm Cosmetics
These are just the examples I found by skimming my inbox. Over the years, I’ve gotten literally dozens of free shipping deals, percentage discounts, and more just by signing up for e-mail lists. Make sure you take the time to do this!
Long-Term Savings – Not all retailers send out instant discount codes, but many of them will send them out on a monthly or quarterly basis. I get free shipping codes for Forever 21 and H&M sent straight to my inbox several times per year. You’ll get TONS of codes and sales info around holidays – I didn’t pay a single cent for shipping when I did my online Christmas shopping this year!
So next time a website prompts you to sign up for their mailing list, go for it. You can also find mailing lists for your favorite brands and retailers simply by searching “(Brand Name} mailing list” on Google. You never know what kind of killer savings you’ll find.
5. Use Money-Saving Extensions When Shopping Online
Online shopping is a personal weakness of mine, but I use many different tools to my advantage. The Chrome browser extensions I discuss below are excellent ways to save cash while you buy makeup, clothing, and more online. I’ve also given some examples of how they’ve helped me.
- Honey – Honey is an extension that works for both Chrome and Firefox. When you are checking out on a website, this extension shows you any and all available coupon codes for your purchase. A small box pops up and you click “Try Codes” during your purchase. I’ve used it while shopping on Amazon, Groupon, Target, and a few other sites. It can be hit or miss, but it is certainly helpful at times!
- eBates – You’ve probably heard of eBates at least one dozen times. I know that I heard about it for years before I actually tried it. I decided to give it a shot this holiday season. eBates offers you cash back when you shop through various online retailers. I’ve gotten cash back from Ulta, Forever 21, and many more places. They send you a check in the mail; I received my first one a few weeks ago. It’s not much, but the money adds up fast!
These are my go-to sites, but there are dozens more like CamelCamelCamel, InvisibleHand, and CouponCabin. Check them out to see which ones suit your needs the best. There’s nothing better than saving money with virtually zero effort!
6. Shop At Beauty Supply Stores
I’m one of those people who changes her hair color once a month or more. My hair is also naturally very dark, so I bleach and tone it on a regular basis. As you can imagine, I have to use high-quality dyes, restorative products, conditioners, and so on.
However, I budget well for these things and don’t buy products from salons. Instead get my goodies at Sally Beauty, Beauty Brands, and similar stores. Chances are you have a beauty supply store in your area.
Beauty supply stores are an excellent place to stock up on all of the hair care and nail products that you need. I’ll make a list of some examples of how I save money at stores like these.
- My favorite non-chemical hair dye brand is Manic Panic. Their dye retails on their website for $13.99 per jar. At Sally Beauty Supply it retails for $10.49 per jar. I have a Beauty Club Card, so I only pay $9.49 per jar. That’s an instant $4.50 in savings.
- Many beauty supply stores have what are known as “liter sales”. A few times per year, stores like Beauty Brands and Sally Beauty will have mega discounts on liters of shampoo and conditioner. At Beauty Brands, you can get a liter of Joico shampoo for $12.99 instead of $31.99. That’s an instant $19.00 in savings.
These are just two of many examples. The point is that you can save $20 or even hundreds of dollars per year depending on how much you shop. Look for these stores in your city; many of them host online sales, too.
7. Look For Alternatives To Salons And Spas
This is one tip I learned as a teenager, and I’ve implemented it ever since. Always look for beauty schools in your area that provide salon and spa services. These services are performed by students who are training to become licensed cosmetologists, estheticians, and massage therapists.
They are supervised by their instructors, so you can feel confident that they’ll do their best. And don’t hesitate to give polite feedback; the instructors are very willing to ensure you get the results you want! The best part is the incredible amount of money you save with this tip. Here’s how much money I currently spend and save on haircuts.
- I get my hair shampooed and cut at a local Paul Mitchell School salon. It cost $12 to get this done by a Phase I student and $15 for a Phase II student. I’ve never been dissatisfied with the results!
- I looked up the prices for a shampoo and haircut at three hair salons in my area. Salon one costs $37. Salon two cost $28 to $40. The third salon costs cost $36 to $47.
This same logic – and drastic savings – can be applied to hair coloring, manicures, massages, bridal makeup, and more. Trying a new beauty service can be a little overwhelming, but it’s certainly worth a shot. Just make sure to read online reviews of the beauty schools ahead of time, and choose one that has excellent feedback. It’s saved me a ton of cash over the years!
8. Consider Giving DIY A Try
I’m a huge fan of simple and practical do-it-yourself projects. This is especially true when it comes to hair care and skin care. I’ll list a few examples of some DIY beauty routines that I adore:
- Using coconut oil as a nourishing hair mask. A 15-ounce jar of Kelapo Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is less than $12 on Amazon. The nutrients and fat in coconut oil do wonders for repairing damaged hair. Compare this price to an 8-ounce jar of Living Proof treatment, which costs $42 at Sephora. DIY is certainly the way to go!
- Making my own body scrubs and lip scrubs. This can be done using simple ingredients like sugar, coconut oil, and a few drops of essential oils. A lip scrub from Clinique cost $19.50. A body scrub from Ulta cost $15. Spend $12 jar of coconut oil, about $8 on essential oil, and a dollar or two on sugar. You’ll have ingredients to make endless scrubs for months – or possibly years!
It’s so easy to get creative with DIY beauty routines. Take advantage of free resources like Pinterest to find recipes. Just think of products you like – foot scrubs, lip balms, etc. – and search for “DIY (product)” on Pinterest or Google. You’ll find so many fun, diverse, and affordable options to try out!
9. Look For Dollar Store Deals On Beauty Products
As I mentioned above, I do love Dollar Tree and other dollar stores. They have excellent deals on tons of items that are identical to what you’d find at Target, similar retailers, and online stores. Here are some examples of items I found at the Dollar Tree that were absolute steals.
- Wet n’ Wild makeup brushes for $1. These brushes range from $0.99 to $2.99 plus shipping fees on the Wet n’ Wild website.
- Storage baskets for makeup, clothing, and jewelry for $1. They have pop-up fabric storage cubes that are almost identical to ones that are $5.99 at Target. I also get tons of Dollar Tree plastic storage baskets and mason jars to organize my makeup and brushes.
- L.A. Colors makeup items for $1. This brand can be found at stores like Target, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart for two to three times the cost.
- Wet n’ Wild nail polish for $1. Their base coat, top coat, and a wide assortment of colors are always in stock at my local Dollar Tree. The exact same items are at Walgreens for $1.99 or more.
- Miscellaneous toiletries for $1. From charcoal face masks to argan oil shampoo, I’ve found duplicates (see Section 2) for higher-end brands. You can also find name brands like Colgate, Suave, and dozens more for several dollars cheaper than anywhere else.
Lastly, dollar stores are a great resource for DIY beauty gift baskets. You can get adorable baskets and tons of items to fill them for a few bucks. The same goes for baby shower gift baskets; the Dollar Tree has a product line that’s identical in formulation to big-name baby shampoo brands. Explore your local stores to see the goodies you can find!
Save Money By Using These Savvy Shopping Tips
That wraps up my detailed list of “frugalista” tricks. By implementing these tools and practices, you can cut costs, get free perks, and so much more. It makes indulging in shopping a guilt-free experience, and you can truly feel good about the cash that you’ve saved.
Feel free to view my other Frugal For Less posts about fashion and beauty to learn more about cutting costs while enjoying cosmetics, clothing, and so much more.