I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t enjoy snagging a great bargain. So today we’re going to specifically focus on the best ways to save money on drugstore skincare and makeup products.
Don’t Focus on Eye Level Products
Most retailers put their more expensive products at eye level, so be sure to look both above and below eye level for products.
If you have a Costco or a Sam’s Club near you – and you’re a member – be sure to check their skincare and makeup offers. As we know, it’s sometimes necessary to buy things in bulk at these stores, so consider splitting the cost and products with a friend.
Check out “Retailmenot” for coupons. Sometimes you can find a great coupon that works. And you can almost always find a free shipping coupon.
Discount stores like T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack often have products for less (even high end). But be aware that these products are most likely discontinued products or reformulated, so if you fall in love with a particular product, you may not be able to find it again. Also, make sure there’s no way others could have tested the product – especially during these times.
YouTube Discount Codes
Always check the description box on YouTube videos for discount codes. Many YouTubers have discount codes with different brands. For instance, the video above offers a 25% off discount code with the skinstore.com which is good through May, 2022. The discount code is my name ELISE.
There are flash sales at sites like Zulily.com. Sites like these will sell goods at greatly reduced prices, but the sale lasts for only a short period of time.
The beauty supply store Sally’s carries their own brand of quite good makeup called Col-Lab. There’s a $5.00 yearly membership, but you quickly make up for this charge and save far more money with coupons and different sale offers.
Have you ever stood in line at a drugstore and watched someone in front of you pull out a huge roll of coupons from their pocket? The cashier scans each one into the system and you see the total decrease with each beep. And you realize that this person has only paid $5.00 for $50.00 worth of merchandise.
And you may think, how is this possible? Well, really all you need to do is sign up for the store’s customer loyalty program which allows you to earn points and coupons you can cash in at a later date.
I’ll be focusing on Walgreens, CVS and Target, but many other drugstore chains have a similar program. For those of you outside the U.S., Walgreens does have locations in the UK, but CVS doesn’t operate outside the U.S. However, I have no doubt there are similar types of customer loyalty rewards programs in drugstores where you’re located. And Target does have some stores in Australia and New Zealand.
CVS and Walgreens’ probably have the best known Rewards Programs. And Target has great gift card deals. You can save the most money if you combine offers.
CVS has an Extra Care Bucks program which is basically extra cash towards your next purchases or transactions. Your ExtraBucks® Rewards will print on your receipt or at the ExtraCare® Coupon Center two days following qualifying purchase(s).
In addition, CVS also has a free Extra Care Beauty Club. If you sign up, you can get $3 in free Extra Care Bucks Rewards on your birthday, and it allows you to earn $3 in Extra Care Bucks every time you spend $30 in beauty care products at CVS. If you combine these programs with newspaper and/or digital coupons, and any special store promotions, you can literally almost get some products for free.
Walgreens has a program called “Walgreens Cash.” It’s a simple dollar amount you’ll be able to use on everyday purchases – similar to CVS Extra Care Bucks or RiteAid’s BonusCash. Shoppers get 1% back in Walgreens Cash with myWalgreens.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot more to know about each of these programs. So here’s a link to an article from the New York Times which goes into a great deal of detail and compares these programs so you can determine which program might be best for you.
Another great option for saving money on lower cost skincare and makeup products is through Ulta Beauty which has drugstore products as well as high-end ones.
Be sure to check out Elise’s YouTube channel which specifically focuses on makeup tips, techniques, and product reviews for those of us 50+. Don’t forget to subscribe!
In addition to Ulta’s standalone stores – usually in strip malls – Ulta opened 100 new locations inside Target stores this past August and will eventually open Ulta sections in 800 Target stores – who knows, perhaps even in Target stores in Australia and New Zealand.
And there’s also good news for those of you who live in Canada. Ulta will be opening standalone stores in Canada this year as well. And although Ulta doesn’t ship overseas, it is possible to register with a shipping forwarding service such as Myus.com. This service forwards orders to any place in the world and they can actually place the order with Ulta on your behalf.
First and foremost, you can always get an Ulta coupon since you can always find them on the homepage of their website. And sometimes they’re reusable, so if you buy multiple things that cost more than $15.00 each, you can do separate transactions to get money off each item.
These coupons exclude higher priced brands, but twice a year Ulta does send out 20% off coupons that don’t exclude prestige brands. These are usually sent out during the Holidays and once in the spring.
Buy More and Save
The second way to save at Ulta is through “buy more and save” deals which happen all year.
They often have free gifts with purchase offers which are always for a specific brand. So you might see something like “get a free IT Cosmetics Deluxe size mascara with any $35.00 IT Cosmetics purchase.”
Ulta applies coupon discounts after you reach a minimum spent amount, not before as other retailers do.
So let’s say you’re trying to spend enough to qualify for a promotion that requires you to spend $40.00 to get a free gift with your purchase, but you also have one of Ulta’s $3.50 off coupons. Ulta will ring up your items, see that they total $40 and hand you a free gift. Then they’ll apply your coupon. In the end, you’ll pay $36.50 rather than $40 for a free gift with a $40 purchase.
Make sure you sign up for Ulta’s Ultamate Rewards program to get many perks. You’ll get alerts about sales, new products, current promotions, and you’ll more frequently get 20% off coupons that can be applied to higher priced or prestige brands about 3 to 5 times a year.
Ulta’s Rewards program has three tiers – just like Sephora’s. There’s a basic one that’s free, a Platinum level and a Diamond level. Platinum and Diamond members get more frequent emails about certain products or brands that qualify for 2 times, 3 times and even 10 times the points.
Free members get these too, but less frequently. You can also get a birthday gift during your birthday month. You’ll receive an email with a scannable code that can be used for 30 days after to choose between two travel size options. But what’s especially great is that you earn 2 times the points you normally earn all month long.
Members can also earn points by going to Ulta’s Hair Salon, Skin Bar or Brow Bar. Three to four times a year, Ultamate Reward Members will get an email about a 5-times point promotion. That means you’d get 500 points on a $100 service. And if you refer a friend for any hair, brow or skin services (and your friend would have to mention your name at the appointment), you both get $15.00 off the service.
21 Days of Beauty Biannual Sales
The Ulta 21 Days of Beauty Sales happen in March and September. These sales include three weeks of daily deals and each daily deal lasts 24 hours. Discounts on products can often be 50% off – even for prestige brands. I mention these sales (as well as Sephora sales) in my YouTube videos.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
The very best time to buy prestige products is during Ulta’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. As an example, some prestige brand mascaras like Tarte, Lorac and Buxom were on sale for only $10. And they’re usually $21 – $24.
Holiday and January Great Buys
The Holiday Season “5 for $5.00” sales are great for buying stocking stuffers. And if you get 15 $1.00-items, you can use the $3.50 off coupon and you’ll pay $11.50 (plus tax) for everything. That’s 77 cents for each item.
The best time to purchase skin care is during the Love Your Skin Sale which is held each January for 21 days. There are daily deals for up to 50% off for cleansers to eye serums. Prestige and high-end brands are also included.
And Even More Ulta Options
Since Ulta carries some of the same brands as drugstores – like NYX, Elf, Maybelline and L’Oreal – there is one advantage over drugstores: you will find testers at Ulta so you can often swatch a product. However, do check with the store near you to see what their policies are on this during the pandemic.
You can find discounted Ulta gift cards on a site called Raise.
Every Wednesday from 10 to 2 Central Time, Ulta offers Beauty Break deals. This is a special online only sale that lasts for four hours which offers brand specific gifts with purchase. So for instance, if you spend $50 on Anastasia of Beverly Hills products, you might get a free ABH gift set.
Free Shipping Is Definitely Worth It
And the last good deal I want to mention at Ulta involves shipping. A few times a month, Ulta will drop their minimum amount for free shipping from $50 to $35.00. So be sure to check email alerts.
The very last way I want to mention that can save you money is through a cash back shopping site like Rakuten. Here’s how it works. It’s free to join Rakuten and all you need to do is go through the Rakuten site first and then enter in the name of the store where you want to shop.
Stores pay Rakuten a commission for sending you their way and Rakuten shares the commission with you so you get cash back for shopping at over 2,500 stores. You get paid every three months, plus earn a cash bonus when you join and shop.
If you click on my link to join, you’ll receive $30 after your first purchase, and I get a referral perk. And I thank you if you decide to use my link! ($30 is the amount you can get paid as of 8/27/21. The amount can vary between $20 and $40).
Do you use any of these tips to save money on makeup or skincare products? If so, what tips do you use? What other tips do you have for saving money on makeup and skincare products? What’s the best bargain you ever got on a skincare or makeup product?