The title of this post changed quite a few times as I was writing it. “Who’s this chick that thinks she has any authority on how I buy my makeup??” If there’s one thing I’m incredibly good at, it’s getting the most value while shopping. Does this mean my friends make fun of me for having coupon codes at the ready? Absolutely. Does it mean B rolls his eyes every time I make him go into an extra store because they have 100 kicks that day? You betcha. But stretching my dollars means more clothes in my closet so no shame. This post is going to be a long one based solely on the depth of information I have to share with you, so definitely go grab a snack before diving in.
Makeup is one of those things seems to never be on sale. It scarcely goes out of style and if they can charge full price for it, why not? So my number one trick for affording the makeup that I want is maximizing the point systems to my benefit. I usually only voice my positive opinions on this blog and just choose to omit the more negative ones, but I’m going to break it down for you guys and give you my real opinion so you can hopefully maximize your own hard earned cash too.
Stop Number One: Ulta Beauty. Ulta’s point system is the. best. in the business you guys. You get points for everything you buy, and you can redeem them on absolutely anything. Zero exclusions. You can redeem your points at any value, so no waiting to spend $1000 to earn a measly $20 reward. Since they also hand out coupons like it’s going out of style, I buy 100% of my drugstore beauty needs from Ulta. That’s everything from Burt’s Bees and Conair to NYX and OPI. If it can be found at Ulta, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be buying it there. For starters, there’s the coupon situation, but for seconds this helps me earn points towards the prestige brands.
Prestige brands, while not included in the regular coupons, frequently have other deals going on inside Ulta. Whether it’s $10 off a bareMinerals purchase or 5x points on an Urban Decay purchase, I’ve found that patience in waiting for these deals always pans out in my favor. In November I went on a huge Ulta shopping spree for free because I had $175 in points saved up. That included everything from an Anastasia Beverly Hills palette to Buxom lipgloss and Urban Decay Naked foundation. It was a good day.
Stop Number Two: Nordstrom. While Nordstrom’s point system is not as lucrative as Ulta’s, I do spend a lot of money there on clothes so it makes sense to also use my Nordstrom card benefits towards makeup purchases. If Ulta doesn’t carry a brand, I go straight to Nordstrom. Brands like MAC and Bobbi Brown are frequent Nordstrom purchases for me. They also have my favorite Sigma Beauty brushes for powder foundation and liquid foundation. Despite the fact that I think their price points are perfect for the quality makeup you’re getting, I also love the specialized training the girls at their respective makeup counters have. Combining the quality and knowledge with a decent points system makes these a solid double in my book. Granted it seems to take forever for me to get a Nordstrom Note (return on investment), but it’s the best option available for sure.
(It’s important to tell you guys that I used to buy all of my NARS products at Nordstrom before they were carried at Ulta! Ulta doesn’t have the full line yet, so I’ve still been buying the classic NARS lipstick and lip glosses at Nordstrom, but anything that Ulta carries will always be bought at Ulta!)
(Also worth noting is MAC’s Back to MAC recycling program. You can return six empty MAC products to your MAC counter or store, and receive a free MAC lipstick as a thanks for your commitment to the environment!)
Stop Number Three: Sephora. I know I know. I love Sephora as much as the next girl. But if you can get past their sleek black and white interior and the really good lighting, their rewards program is kind of garbage. You can spend tons of money at that store and you’re still only able to redeem it on things that they say you can. And even then, more often than not they’re only sample size products. Don’t get me wrong, I have gotten some really great samples from them, like Urban Decay eyeshadow primer or a Sunday Riley cream I was dying to try but afraid to drop $65 on. But when I know there’s so much more return on my investment I could be getting, it’s really hard to justify spending my money at the place with the better bag. For this reason, I usually only buy things at Sephora that can’t be found at Ulta or Nordstrom, i.e. Bite Beauty, Marc Jacobs, or Kat Von D. They also tend to have much, much more in the skincare department, so masks and face serums are frequent Sephora purchases for me. In addition, Sephora’s service is 1000x better than Ulta’s, so if I really need advice on a new contour color or new facial oil, I will definitely go to Sephora and just bite the bullet on the rewards points because it’s nearly impossible to get the same friendliness or knowledge at Ulta. But when I’m going to replace the same concealer I always use… I just have to go through the chain of command.
Moving into a slightly more shopping-neutral territory, I use ebates and shopkick religiously in my shopping escapades. Most of my actual purchasing is done online, which you would never know if you asked B how frequently we go to the mall (about once per week). While I love the experience of seeing things in person and am a total mall rat, I’ve found you can really maximize the bang for your buck by doing your actual purchasing online. First step is I can add and take away things from my cart without the pressure of a sales person breathing down my neck. I add things, think about them for a day or two, and then can decide whether or not I really need/want it without the pressure of deciding in 37 seconds (nothing flares up my indecision quite like the pressure of time). After I’ve added everything to my cart, I can wait a day or two to see if it goes on sale (this is particularly true with GAP brands. They have always have 25-40% off, so paying full price there is just straight silly).
The other part of online shopping that gets me the most cash back in my pocket is ebates. Since I do so much online shopping, it would be just straight silly to not use ebates. Even if you don’t do that much online shopping, anything is better than nothing. All you have to do is go to the ebates website, find the store you want to shop at, and then click through their link. Then once a quarter, they will send you a Big Fat Check in the mail with all of your cashback. Yes, seriously. It really is that easy. Click here to get an extra $10 when you sign up! Last time I used my check to help ease some of the holiday season bills, but I’m thinking I might use February’s to splurge on some face masks or Too Faced’s Peach line. My nose says buy the delicious smelling makeup, but my brain says face masks. Skin first, makeup second.
Thank you all so much for reading! I hope this is helpful as you go about building those stellar makeup collections!