Beauty Hacks: How to Get High-End Products for Less

Author: Liang

Mar. 07, 2024

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Tags: Beauty & Personal Care

Beauty isn't cheap -- a fact you're no doubt painfully aware of if you frequently buy skincare, hair, and beauty products. In fact, the average American adult spends $722 each year on their appearance, according to a survey by Advanced Dermatology.

Buying beauty products doesn't have to break the bank, though. Follow these four tips to get high-end products for less.

1. Sign up for a beauty box

If you want to score samples of high-end beauty products, consider a beauty box subscription, like Ipsy (starts at $14 a month for five personalized "deluxe-size" samples) or the Allure Beauty Box (starts around $18 a month for at least six products, including three full-size items).

You can check out new products without shelling out full price. Each box usually includes special promotions for the items featured, so if you find something you like, you can get it for a generous discount.

2. Buy hair extensions from Amazon

Hair extensions and wigs are growing in popularity, both among people who want a quick way to update their look and those who have hair loss due to a medical condition. But buying and installing hair can be expensive. Even buying clip-in or tape-in extensions (typically the cheapest options) directly from your salon will set you back between $100 to $200.

But Amazon has a pretty good selection of clip-in and tape-in extensions in a variety of colors, hair textures, and lengths that are far less expensive than you'd get at a salon. For example, I pay about $64 for two packs of extensions, which is about $100 less than I paid when I bought them directly from the salon, and no one has ever noticed the difference. It's still a luxury, as I pay my hairdresser around $150 to install them, but I save substantial money by buying them online.

3. Hit up T.J. Maxx and discount stores

Discount retailers T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, and Nordstrom Rack frequently have steep discounts on high-end hair and makeup brands. I've found normally expensive brands like Clinique, Milk Makeup, Giorgio Armani, and Stila at T.J. Maxx for a fraction of what I'd pay at a beauty counter.

Stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls typically buy high-end products when department stores order too much of a certain item, though occasionally, cosmetics manufacturers will design products specifically for these retailers to test whether customers like them.

These stores aren't ideal if you're seeking a specific shade, so they aren't great for finding the perfect foundation or concealer. But you can find plenty of steeply discounted lipsticks, eyeshadows, mascaras, and skin creams. I've also had good luck finding hair-styling tools, like straightening irons and hair dryers, often for less than 50% of the regular price.

4. Use shopping apps and browser extensions

When I'm shopping for anything online, I always use a few shopping tools to make sure I'm getting the best price. Here are a few that have helped me score good deals on cosmetics recently.

  • Ibotta: Use the Ibotta app to find mostly store-specific offers, then scan your receipt to earn cash back. I recently earned $5 cash back on the $25 moisturizer I regularly use by clicking on an offer for Publix supermarket and scanning my receipt.
  • Rakuten: The Rakuten browser extension and app lets you earn cash back when you shop online at more than 3,500 retailers, including several cosmetics giants. For example, as of this writing, you can get 4% cash back at Ulta Beauty.
  • Capital One Shopping: The Capital One Shopping browser and app will search thousands of coupon codes to ensure you're getting the best deal on purchases and also offers anywhere from 1% to 10% cash back at a host of retailers. You can't use both Capital One Shopping and Rakuten at the same time, but it's worth adding both extensions to your browser to see which one gives you the best deal.

One thing I avoid when shopping for beauty products

When you make a purchase at a department or beauty store, it's practically inevitable that you'll be asked to open a store credit card. Though it's occasionally tempting, I always decline because store credit cards -- even ones with a Visa or Mastercard label that you can use practically anywhere -- tend to have limited rewards on purchases that you don't make through the issuing retailer.

Consider using a rewards credit card that offers a higher overall cash back rate on all purchases, even if that means earning a lower rewards rate on beauty purchases.

You won’t have the chance to sample every foundation under the sun before choosing which ones to buy. So take from your own experience and research makeup recommendations. Seek advice from more experienced makeup artists and read or watch product reviews on reputable blogs and vlogs. Find interactive makeup artistry forums or social networking groups and discuss products with other professionals before you purchase something you’re unsure of. You don’t have to base your decision on other peoples’ reviews. But they are helpful for beginners who haven’t been exposed to a wide range of products or makeup brands yet.

Beauty Hacks: How to Get High-End Products for Less

Building Your Makeup Artistry Kit on a Budget

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