Q&A: Bargain Beauty Buys

By Erin Donnelly

Q: I’m really trying to curb my spending right now, but a girl’s gotta get her beauty fix. Any beauty advice on where to find beauty freebies or discounted products?
A: Like my mother always used to say, “If you can’t afford La Mer, don’t despair.” Terrific, almost-too-good-to-be-true-but-totally-legit beauty deals are all over the place—even (shockingly) at luxury institutions like Barneys. Read on to get the scoop on $1 makeup (really), free makeovers, designer perfume for next to nothing, and more.
e.l.f.: Welcome to the virtual beauty version of the dollar store. Nearly everything in the e.l.f. (eyes lips face) beauty line costs just $1, which means you can score a new nail polish, plumping lip gloss, foundation brush, and liquid eyeliner and STILL have money left over for an order of fries.
Scents for Cents: If you’re the kind of gal who rifles fashion magazines just to get the fragrance samples, or just a perfume lover with ADD, you’ll love Lucky Scent. The online fragrance boutique sells miniature vials of big-name scents (Calypso Christiane Celle, L’Artisan Parfumeur, etc.) for as low as $3. Over at Aedes De Venustas, you can order up to seven .1oz scent samples for $15 (includes ground shipping). And Beauty Café offers five assorted samples for $5, and will credit you that amount towards a future fragrance purchase.
Styli-Style: Styli-Style’s a cult beauty favorite thanks to its innovative flat eye pencils, and at Cosmetic Mall it’s possible to get the brand for 50% off. They’re called Styli-Steals, and at these prices—$2 for an eye or lip pencil, $4 shadow pens, $10 flat eyeliner trio slashed by 64%—you’ll definitely feel like you’re getting away with something.
Freebies 411: About.com is a great source for regularly updated beauty freebie offers, with detailed information about each offer. It’s typically best to sign up for offers directly from the beauty brand’s website, as opposed to survey sites that have hidden catches like required purchases, or sharing your information to marketers.
Scoring at Sephora: This beauty Mecca may carry some pricey A-list brands, but there are still plenty of deals to be found amongst the endless aisles of body lotions and lipsticks. Those who order online at Sephora.com receive three free beauty samples per purchase, with free shipping for orders over $75. But you’ll have to swing by the store in person if you want to take advantage of its best deal: complimentary beauty consultations! In addition to its basic makeup consultations with its trained staff (during which you can earn more free samples), Sephora stores nationwide frequently host in-store events and personal appearances with big-name brands like Too Faced and Stila. Just book an appointment, and you’ll be able to try out new products and get expert advice, all for nada. P.S. Many department stores like Barneys also host complimentary makeovers with pros from top beauty brands; whether you cough up and buy a product is up to you.
Have a question? Email Erin here.