6 Ways to Save on Beauty Products

You can pick up freebies and discounted items every day.

Woman testing lipstick on the back of her hand at the beauty counter of a store
AlamyWebsites can help direct you to beauty-related freebies.
By Laura Harders

Inner beauty matters most in my book, but trying to look your best outwardly can be important, too. Striving for beauty on the outside by using beauty products can help boost your confidence and show others that you take good care of yourself. On average, Americans spend more than $400 a year on personal care products. Although cosmetics and beauty products can add up to a pretty penny, beauty doesn't need to come with a hefty price tag. Here are some tips to manage beauty on a budget.

1. Free Samples

Marketers love giving out free samples so consumers have the chance to try new products and fall in love with their products. The hope is that if you try a little, you'll like it enough to buy the full-size product at its full retail price. For frugal shoppers, free samples can be a tool that allows us the chance to stretch our dollars. By taking advantage of a variety of free beauty samples from many manufacturers, over time we can end up with enough free sample products to replace a few full-size ones.

One woman who has perfected the search for freebies is Heather Hernandez, founder of Freebies4Mom.com. She started her site, which curates the best free samples available online, back in 2007. By signing up for her free e-mail newsletter you can be notified when new free samples are available and where to get them.

Besides visiting Freebies4Mom.com, Heather shares two of her favorite sources for online freebies: SampleSource and PinchMe. SampleSource.com is a relatively new site that allows users to get free brand name samples. She recently received a free shampoo and new toothbrush from their site, which is free to join. PinchMe.com allows consumers to try free products in exchange for providing feedback on a short survey. On her last visit to the site, she got to select a free nail polish in the color of her choice. PinchMe has become very popular, so she recommends that you "pay attention to the date and time of their next free sample release because they run out fast."

2. Trade

With all those free samples, you are bound to have a cosmetic or beauty care product that you don't want or need, or perhaps you use it and don't like it. Instead of letting them go to waste, find someone to trade that product with. You may find the most success by trading online on sites like eDivv.com. Founder Casey Casterline shared with me her reason for starting her site: "As women, we obtain many beauty products through many outlets including beauty subscription boxes, gifts with purchase and your everyday impulse purchases. Unfortunately, many of these products end up in a drawer and unused, wasting money. EDivv.com was created to help women gain value for the items that they weren't going to use in exchange for products they want by providing an easy to use, fun, and engaging online community for trading. We believe beauty should never go to waste."

3. Discount Beauty Stores and Websites

There are a variety of beauty stores such as Ulta (ULTA) and Sally (SBH) that offer a wide range of beauty products at discount. Also, websites such as Drugstore.com and EyesLipsFace.com are known for offering great deals on makeup.

4. Drugstores

Drugstores such as CVS (CVS), Rite Aid (RAD) and Walgreens (WAG) can be a great place to purchase beauty products. You'll see frequent sales and often have the chance to earn back money through each drugstore's reward program, when you purchase a certain amount of a particular brand. Plus you can combine these deals with manufacturer and store coupons to get even more bang for your buck.

Some drugstores also offer a money-back guarantee on cosmetics. For example, CVS allows you to return opened and used makeup and beauty products if you're unsatisfied with it. This is perfect for those that are disappointed with a new product purchase or who accidentally purchased the wrong shade or product. Refunds need to occur within 60 days of purchase at CVS, and it is best to bring your original receipt.

5. Dollar Stores

Don't dismiss the dollar store for beauty products. This can be a great place to buy items such as` cotton balls, Q-tips, powder pads, nail files, nail polish and polish remover. Check out the selection at your store and test a few products to see which are comparable to your regular name brand purchases. Remember it's only costing you a dollar, so it's okay to be a little adventurous.

6. Free Makeovers and Bonus Gift Bags

A little pampering can go a long way and many cosmetic retailers will give you a free makeover or complimentary makeup application at their counter, so you can see the results of their products. Just be advised that they'll be trying to sell you on all the products they're using on you. Before you even walk over to the makeup counter, I recommend you set a product limit or price limit in advance. For example, limit yourself to just one or two key products that are the most important beauty staple. Keep note of other items you like, and save up your money to purchase those items at another time, or place those on your wish list for upcoming holidays.

Department stores often have seasonal gift bag incentives. Although you typically can't control the exact shades or colors in your free makeup bag, you do get a wide variety of items which often include moisturizer, mascara, blush and lipstick.

There are many ways to save on beauty products, but these six sweet tips are a great start to help you keep your beauty regime in check.

Laura Harders is the founder of Beltway Bargain Mom, one of Washington D.C.'s most popular sites for money-saving tips, finding the best deals and living a frugal lifestyle.

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Men don't wear make-up, and they look just fine without it.

Women, however, are continually bombarded with advertising messages to buy more and more "beauty products". Make-up, hair dye, nail products, tooth whiteners, perfumes and cosmetics endorsed by sleazy celebrities, etc. The list is practically endless.

Your time is definitely worth something. The idea that you can "save" by spending time scouring websites looking for "free samples" is ridiculous. And so is the idea that women are somehow flawed and unattractive unless they cover their bodies with expensive "beauty products". Plus, most women already have a bathroom drawer filled with cosmetic items bought and never used up. But, somehow, we are supposed to be delighted at the opportunity to acquire more of the same stuff.

That "free sample" is just the wedge to open your wallet. The next step is going to the store to buy MORE of whatever-it-was in that free sample.

May 16 2014 at 9:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Next story after this one is about teeth whitening.
Do you brush and floss but still get cavities ? Here's why: cavities are caused by a contagious bacterium called Streptococcus Mutans that attaches to your teeth.
S. Mutans eats what you eat and produces an acid tha helps it attach to your teeth.
Once attached, it multiplies creating a nice home for its relatives (a cavity).
The fluorides in toothpaste retard S. Mutans but don't kill it. Fluorides are made from fluorine, an acid. Since S. Mutans lives in acid, it tollerates the fluorides.
If anything, the S. Mutans combines with the sticky toothpastes and spreads to more teeth (your toothpaste is giving you cavities).
To kill S. Mutans you need an antiseptic germ killer. Dip your toothbrush in this and kill the bacteria as you brush.
Dead S, Mutans can't give you cavities, trust me.
Now, go and enjoy that slice of Keylime pie !

May 16 2014 at 7:32 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply