While I’m a fan of some high-end cosmetic brands, there are dozens of drugstore makeup brands that produce excellent quality items. I’ve discussed some examples in posts like Best Drugstore Lipstick: 20 Luscious Lip Products Under $10 and Top 20 Best Drugstore Foundations Under $20. However, you may be surprised that you rarely have to pay full price for drugstore makeup and beauty items.
Stores such as Walgreens, Target, Wal-Mart, and CVS are ideal places to get the lowest possible price on your favorite beauty brands. The world of couponing and price matching can seem pretty intimidating, but we’re here to help. This post discusses five ways to save money on drugstore makeup, toiletries, and more. Use this guide to help you navigate your way to stellar savings.
1. Use Receipt Scanning Apps
No matter where you go shopping – especially when it comes to buying beauty products – receipt scanning apps can be a great way to earn some extra cash back. These apps pay you when you buy certain products at specific stores. Earn anywhere between $0.25 – $5 per item.
All you have to do is keep your receipt after your purchase and take a picture of it with your smartphone. These apps are 100% free to use. Here’s a quick list of some of our favorites:
- Ibotta – Earn a $10 bonus when you sign-up using the promo code qFTVA and scan your first receipt
- Checkout 51
- MobiSave – Earn a $1 bonus after scanning your first receipt
When taking a picture of your receipt, just be sure to take a picture of the entire receipt. This way you include all of the information and you’ll be able to receive account credit. Most receipt scanning apps reward you in the form of PayPal deposits or gift cards. When you reach anywhere between $10 – $20 in credit you can cash out. The minimum amount depends on the app you’re using.
2. Download Smartphone Apps For Your Favorite Stores
Smartphone apps are undoubtedly one of the most convenient ways to save money. Many major retailers offer app-exclusive coupons, and it’s 100% free to download the apps. Why not download ones from your favorite drugstores and retailers? I’ll list some examples below along with how I use the Target Cartwheel app to save money. Here are some apps to get you started:
- CVS app (BONUS – get $5 ExtraBucks just for downloading the app; ExtraBucks is discussed in the rewards program section below)
- Walgreens app
- Safeway app
- Target app
- Wal-Mart app
- Dollar General
If you shop at any other drugstores, simply check the Google Play or Apple store to see if they have an app. Most retailers like these do, and they’re full of coupons and special promotions. I primarily use Cartwheel by Target. When you download the app, you can view savings and coupons by category. Here are some examples of current savings and coupons you can find in the ‘Beauty’ section:
- 25% off NIVEA Men Shave products
- 25% off all VO5 hair care products
- 20% off assorted Burt’s Bees products
- 20% off Soap & Glory cosmetics and beauty products
- 10% off TRESemme Hair Care
- 10% off all Wet n’ Wild cosmetics
- $3 off manufacturer coupon for L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Last lipstick
Since I use Burt’s Bees face wash, this Cartwheel savings deal would bring the price from $8.69 to $6.52. The in-app coupon for L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Last lipstick brings the price from $7.79 to $4.79. So in this instance, using the Cartwheel app saves me $5.17 on just two items. As you can see, these savings are pretty significant!
3. Join Facebook Couponing Groups For Stores
I’ve only recently started using Facebook couponing groups, and they’re a true game changer. These groups feature large communities of couponers both new and seasoned. Here are some of the groups I’ve found to be particularly helpful:
For “Open” or “Public” groups, you can view posts, coupons, and tips without requesting to join the groups. However, I suggest joining them so you can easily keep up with new posts. For “Closed” groups, you have to request to join and be approved be an administrator. So, what exactly will you find in these groups?
- Threads about clearance items and current sales
- Questions and answers about coupon policies, sales, etc.
- Information about stacking coupons and printed ad deals
- Scanned copies of weekly ads that may not be available online yet
I’ve used one group, in particular, to help me plan a toiletry shopping trip, and it made a world of difference. Seeing the tips for coupon stacking along with a peek at the weekly ad helped me make a detailed list. The coupons and sales added up on the makeup and hair care items I bought – $1.50 off coupon here, 5% off there, and so on. Your savings will add up quickly.
As you can see, these are a pretty invaluable resource. You can use the group’s search functions to look for makeup and beauty related posts. Also, don’t hesitate to post your questions – you’re likely to get some very helpful feedback!
4. Get To Know Your Favorite Store’s Price Matching Policy
Price matching is a super easy way to save money on makeup and beauty products. However, every retailer has a different price matching policy. Some stores will price match pretty much any competitor, while others don’t do it at all. I did some research and found that Target and Wal-Mart have the most beneficial price match policies. Unfortunately, many pharmacies and drugstores do not have policies in place. Here are the policies for Target and Wal-Mart:
- Target Price Match Policy – A snippet from the Target price matching policy states “We’ll match the price if you buy a qualifying item at Target then find the identical item for less at Target.com, select online competitors, or in Target’s or competitor’s local print ad.” Some makeup and beauty oriented retailers that they will price match include Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, CVS, Walgreens, and Ulta. You can read their entire policy and a list of competitors that they price match here.
- Walmart Price Match Policy – Walmart’s price matching policy is surprisingly a bit more strict than Target’s. Their website states “We’re committed to providing low prices every day, on everything. So if you find a lower price from an online retailer on an identical, in-stock product, or the item purchased from Walmart.com is now listed at a lower price, tell us and we’ll match it* (* limitations apply).” However, there’s a fairly long list of limitations that you can read here. Fortunately, they do price match beauty-related online competitors such as Amazon.com, DollarGeneral.com, FamilyDollar.com, Kmart.com, Target.com, and Walgreens.com.
In my personal experience, Target is a bit more accommodating when it comes to price matching. You can visit the Guest Services desk to discuss price matching your favorite beauty items. Despite Walmart’s general policy listed above, I’ve noticed they are a bit more difficult to work with. This sentiment is echoed in a lot of coupon and money saving groups. Just keep in mind that it never hurts to ask! And if you plan to price match, have a paper or digital copy of the competitor’s price on hand to make things move along smoothly.
5. Stack Manufacturer Coupons With Store Sales/Coupons
Stacking coupons is one of the simplest ways to get the lowest possible prices on makeup, hair care, skincare, and other similar items. You can do this by combining coupons from the product manufacturer with coupons from the store itself. You can also stack manufacturer coupons with the discounted prices featured in weekly ads. I’ll give two real life examples to show how easy it is.
- I found a printable coupon online for $2 off L’Oreal Total Repair Deep conditioner. In the app for a drugstore, I found a digital coupon that took around 10% off the exact same product. By combining these coupons, I got one of my favorite deep conditioning treatments for about $3.60 instead of $5.99.
- Target often has haircare sales featured in their weekly ads. They also have manufacturer coupons in the Cartwheel app. While I can’t remember the specifics, I’ve been able to combine these multiple times. For Target, this is also very common with cosmetics and skincare products.
It’s important to note that every store has a different policy when it comes to stacking coupons, but don’t worry. I’ve compiled a list of policies I’ve found online to make it a bit easier for you:
- Target Coupon Policy
- CVS Coupon Policy
- Walgreens Coupon Policy
- Rite Aid Coupon Policy
- Family Dollar Coupon Policy
- Dollar General Coupon Policy
- Walmart Coupon Policy
Most of these retailers have a “one manufacturer coupon and one store coupon per item” policy. This can typically be a combination of paper and digital coupons, too. To help you get started, here are a few beauty brands that offer manufacturer coupons:
Lastly, I like to use Coupons.com to quickly find coupons for makeup and beauty items. You’ll typically find them in the Personal Care category. There are currently coupons for brands such as Suave, L’Oreal, Crest, Gillette, Garnier, Carol’s Daughter, and more. Make sure to check out this page before you head to your preferred store to replenish your cosmetics collection!
6. Join Free Rewards Systems For Your Favorite Stores
Last but certainly not least, make sure you’re taking advantage of loyalty systems and reward systems. These are free systems that retailers offer where you accumulate points or spending money specifically for their store. Below I’ve highlighted some popular free rewards systems and what they offer:
- CVS – CVS offers a free rewards program called ExtraCare. It comes with perks like instant discounts on sale items when you scan your card at checkout. You also get 2% back in ExtraBucks when you shop. ExtraBucks are essentially dollars you can spend at CVS. In one makeup forum I frequent, users get insanely low prices on makeup by saving up their ExtraBucks!
- Walgreens – The Walgreens Balance Rewards card is a free program that allows you to rack up points. When you earn 5,000 points, you earn $5.00 off of a purchase. You can save your points and get up to $50 off a purchase. Additionally, you can virtually clip paperless coupons to your card, and they’re instantly applied at checkout. This is personally one of my favorite drugstore rewards programs. It’s convenient and I love the cash off rewards!
- Walmart – This isn’t quite like other traditional loyalty programs, but it’s still a way to get free Walmart gift cards. The Savings Catcher tool allows you to input your receipt and purchase date online. Walmart compares the prices to a database of their competitors. If they find that you paid more at Walmart, you get an electronic gift card with the price difference. NerdWallet.com gives a pretty insightful review of the app.
- Rite Aid – Rite Aid’s wellness+ Plenti program is similar to the Walgreens Balance Rewards program. You earn points for your purchases, and those points can add up to 20% off all purchases for a year. You can also digitally load coupons onto your card for convenient in-store use. The Rite Aid weekly ad often features sales deals that are exclusive to wellness+ Plenti cardholders, too.
Best of all, you can use these free rewards programs in combination with all of the other methods discussed in this article. You’re earning free points towards future purchases while also saving money using other strategies. Overall, it’s a pretty great win-win situation!
Drugstore Makeup And Beauty: Always Pay The Lowest Price
With this guide, I’m confident you can save money on makeup, hair care, skincare, and more at drugstores and big retailers. You can use one of these methods to cut costs or combine them all to get maximum savings. Once you get started, these practices quickly become second nature when you’re shopping. You’ll quickly notice how easy it is to get your beloved beauty products for super low prices.
If you enjoy saving money in all aspects of life, Frugal For Less is full of top-notch articles on this topic. Some of my personal favorites include:
- 41 Unusual Ways to Save Money
- 9 Tips For Saving Money On Airfares And Hotels When Traveling
- 17 Ways to Save Money With Social Media
Check out the posts above and other gems in the Save Money category. You’re sure to find some amazing resources for living frugally while enjoying life.