10 Ways to Stretch Your Beauty Budget

Money has been uber tight this year, and I've been working hard to get my finances in order. When working with a tight budget, beauty is a good place to cut down. Plus, we can all stand to shop a little smarter, right? These are my top ten ways for cutting back on beauty spending!

1. Roll & clip
I'm a squeeze in the middle of the tube kind of girl, which can make it hard to determine how much toothpaste/hand lotion/face mask is left, not to mention getting the darn product out of the tube. Roll and clip is easy. Step 1-push all of the product towards the opening. Step 2-roll the empty top of the tube down until you reach the part fat with product. Step 3-clip the rolled part with a binder clip, paper clip, clothespin, or whatever you have handy. Voila! Keep squeezing, rolling, and clipping until the product is empty.

2. Shop your collection
A lot of women I know (myself included!) have a basket full of beauty products tucked away in their linen closet or bathroom or bedroom. This collection begins innocently and grows beyond belief: things you bought when they were on sale, because you wanted to try them, that were mostly empty and you already moved on to the next thing but can't bring yourself to throw this last bit away, got as samples, got as gifts...and on and on.

Shop your collection has three main functions: 1) you use up a product you already own and save yourself some bucks, not to mention reduce some clutter, and 2) you try out something (in the case of samples, for example) before you go out and buy another one or a full size one, and 3) If you still don't like it (in the case of an abandoned product), you can probably toss it and move on with your life.

3. Don't buy until you run out
When I start to notice a beauty product running low, I start shopping around online for the next thing I want to replace it with. Then, often, I jump the gun, go ahead and buy it, and then of course want to try it out right away, leaving me with the last bit of whatever it is to add to my collection. Or, I buy it, put the new product in my collection, and then that "last bit" of products last for-evah and I could've kept my money in the bank for all that time. Chances are, you're not going to run out of face wash. Just wait. Wait until you really, really need it. Except for shaving cream. You will always run out of shaving cream. Stock up on that stuff.

4. Sign up for a sample service
There are two types of people in this world: people that save money using sample services, and people who don't. If you're the latter, and you know this about yourself, know that you will then need to go in and buy the full size of all of the products you like from your sample bag every month, please kindly disregard this suggestion. For the rest of us, signing up for a sample service (I'm currently using ipsy) allows us to try out some new products and satisfy that itch without paying big money for a full size product. Many beauty sample services are about $10 a month, and some (like ipsy) also include some full size products in addition to samples.

5. Streamline your routine
How many steps do you have in your routine? How many products do you use on a daily basis? Could you have fewer and still be happy? Could you use more multitasking products? If you want to simplify your routine, wait until you run out of your overly specific products, and then replace with multipurpose ones (or simple don't replace at all).

6. Host a product swap
I often give friends and coworkers beauty samples (they can accumulate) or section out some of a product I'm using if I think they'll like it. A fun way to get some new products to try without spending a dime is hosting a product swap. Open a bottle of wine, throw on some tunes, and look through the items your friends brought. Best case scenario, you go home with some new things to try. Worst case scenario, you get rid of some things you weren't going to use and were taking up space.

7. Don't buy before you try
I remember getting my hair cut once and the stylist was telling me that in her search for a flattering drugstore lipstick color, she probably could have bought the most expensive department store lipstick and still saved money. This isn't always true, and it's not always possible to try something before you buy it, but if it is an option, do it. Places like Sephora and beauty counters will usually give you a pretty good size sample and/or put the product on you before you make a purchase. Utilize samples (see #4) and ask friends for samples of their favorite products (see #6). Make sure the products you spend your dolla dolla bills on are worth it.

8. Check the return policy
If you get something home and don't like it, return it! A lot of times I think people don't think about doing this with beauty products because it can't be used by someone else now, but a surprising number of places will actually accept returns, give you store credit, or swap the product for something else. Make sure you shop at return-friendly stores, and actually take the step to return products you just aren't loving.

9. Shop Sales
This, like #4, can be a double-edged sword, so be careful. This is a great video series on snagging drugstore deals and this is a great blog for finding out about beauty coupons and online sales. However, do not forget the other points on this list when shopping sales! If you tend to get swept up in sales, just wait until you run out, pay full price, and know that while this may seem silly, you are actually saving money by not shopping more to get a better deal on this one item. If you have oodles of self control, shop around, wait for a good store sale (or until you have a coupon for the product you need, or drugstore cash back), buy what you'll need (and have tried and know you like), and put it away when you get home until you run out of your current product.

10. Share your wishlist
Asking for beauty products as gifts is a great way to get splurge (or hey, non-splurge) items without taking it out of your own budget. Just make sure you ask for exactly what you want--no one else is in as good of a position as you to determine your foundation shade or moisturizer needs.

A big part of saving money is knowing yourself and anticipating and preventing your overspending tendencies, however big or small they may be. Ultimately, it tends to be a bit more work, but it's worth it!

What are your favorite beauty saving tips and resources?

Yours Truly, Jen


  1. Well, I can't say this is really my own tip but I like getting the sample size Urban Decay Primer Potion at Sephora because it is half the cost and also comes in a squeeze bottle, which is easier to get every last bit of product from. Also, the best nail polishes I have all came from friend swaps.

  2. There are a couple of sample size products that I've been using for 1+ years because I need to use so little at a time! I actually can't imagine anyone buying the full size of those types of products.


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