How to Save Money on Makeup

Portions of this post first appeared as an end-note of sorts for a two-part series on When to Save and When to Splurge on Makeup, but it has been revamped and updated for this post.  You can view Part 1 of that post here and Part 2 here.

Ever since I was a little girl who first figured out what makeup was, I was obsessed with it.  I used to get into my mom’s makeup and ruin it (sorry, Mom), and as I got older, I’d make trips to my local Rite-Aid on Friday nights to buy my own.  When I was in college, I started switching from drugstore cosmetic brands to beauty counter brands.  Then, towards the end of law school, I started to switch back.  Now, I still enjoy buying both cheaper and more high-end cosmetics, depending on the product, but the constant is that I like to save money on whatever makeup I’m buying.  Here are my tips for putting more makeup in your makeup bag with your dollars.

Drugstore/Discount Store Cosmetics 
Favorite Brands: L’Oreal and NYX

Ulta is usually my go-to place to save on these cosmetics. Ulta’s deals cycle throughout the year, but I always majorly stock-up when they have their 40% off sale for my favorite drugstore brands (more rare).  That’s also the time when I try to pick up any new items out there that I’ve been wanting to try.  They more frequently have BOGO 50% sales on these brands.  I like to purchase from Ulta because I can combine their sales on drugstore brands with Ulta’s weekly coupon, which you can find here, and any manufacturer coupons.

For NYX fans, you can also find some amazing deals on their website.  

Drugstores (duh!), like Rite-Aid and CVS, are another place to find deals on drugstore brands.  Be sure to look for their BOGO 50% sales, which occur quite frequently, and combine with any manufacturers coupons. is a great place to print these coupons if you don’t get the Sunday paper. Also, sometimes the original prices are cheaper at drugstores than Ulta, but I usually come out with a better deal once I use the Ulta coupon. Finally, don’t forget to sign up for Ulta Rewards so you can start earning points, which can then be used for an additional $-off discount.

At Target, search their store coupons and Cartwheel app for beauty deals.  These can be combined with manufacturer’s coupons for some pretty sweet savings!

Just as a note, I rarely buy make-up at Walmart because they don’t really run promotions on their makeup.

Beauty Counter/Prestige Cosmetics
Favorite Brands: Mac Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, and Too Faced

When it comes to beauty counter/prestige cosmetics, it may seem like you’re stuck paying full price, but that’s not always the case.  Here’s how I save money on beauty counter makeup.

First, for whatever brand you like, go to their website and sign-up for their emails! Many of these brands, such as Too Faced and Urban Decay, send out emails with promo codes and/or sales. Bare Minerals has 12-hour flash sales called Beauty Rushes during which they have fabulous savings that they send notifications about via email, and I’ve even received emails from them for freebies before!

Second, while you’re on the websites, check to see if they have a sale section. Sephora usually has a good sale section both in-store and online.  Other brands, such as Urban Decay, also have a sale section.

Third, sign-up for rewards programs at specialty stores.  Ulta sends out a few coupons a year to their Ulta Rewards members (join here) that can be used on most prestige brands.  They also have their 21 Days of Beauty sale each March and September (the next event starts this March 13!), where they feature amazing one-day deals on prestige cosmetics.  Sephora usually doesn’t have coupons the way that Ulta does, but once a year right before Christmas, they send out a $15 off $50 purchase coupon to their Rewards membersm and you get a free birthday gift (sign-up here).  For Sephora VIB Rewards members, there are additional savings. 

Fourth, keep your eyes peeled for “free gift with purchase” promos. If you like brands like Clinique, Estee Lauder, or Lancome, make sure you’re maximizing your money by purchasing when they have free gifts with purchase.  Check here and/or here to see what’s supposed to be currently available (be sure to verify with the specific store).

Finally, check out your local outlet stores.  MAC and Bobbi Brown never have discounts, but you can usually aways find their products at the outlets in the Cosmetics Company store.  I’ve found several really great deals there on some of items I missed out on when they were at the beauty counter.

CAUTION: I do not purchase beauty counter/specialty products from random deal websites. You can never be sure that those products are what they say they are, and that the ingredients are what they’re supposed to be for that product.

Nice to meet you!

Hi there! I’m Tif Fannin, the blogger behind Bright on a Budget, based in Lexington, Kentucky. Bright on a Budget is a Southern fashion and lifestyle blog where I share everyday looks, beauty, and travel, along with a behind-the-scenes look at my life as a working mom of two. I have a penchant for bright colors + good deals. Follow along for posts that are relatable to the everyday woman.

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