How to Save Money on Makeup (Our Ultimate Guide)

Tips for beating your face – on a budget.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you purchase through our links. Please read our full disclosure here.

How to Save Money on Makeup

Like a lot of college girls, one of my favorite pastimes is trying new makeup products. From a new foundation that will help my face stay matte in humid Southern heat, to a cute lipstick in a new color, I love testing out different looks. 

One of the worst things about trying new makeup, however, is how it affects my wallet. I love to go through Sephora and test out all the cool new releases – but I’m not so excited by the prices once I get to the register. What can a college girl do to stay current with new makeup trends, without spending a fortune?

Whether you love Instaglam looks or prefer a super-natural ‘boy beat’, here are six tips for saving money on makeup that I use to keep both my collection and my budget alive.  

1. Learn to love multipurpose products

Your favorite lipstick… or blush, or eyeshadow…

One of the hottest makeup looks this summer is monochromatic looks – where you wear a single color on your eyes, lips, and cheeks. However, this sounds kind of tricky – isn’t it hard to find an eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick, all in the same color? 

Enter multi-use products: things like stick blushes, liquid eyeshadows, and lipsticks can be used on multiple parts of your face to get an all-in-one look with a single item – or just use a color that you love in a new way. We shared some of our favorite multi-use makeup products on CF previously, so check out that list to get started!

One important thing to keep in mind about using multitasking products, however, is safety: make sure to check whether your products are lip- and eye-safe before you use them as such!

2. Research products and shop for dupes

Drugstore Makeup
With some smart shopping, a full face of drugstore is indistinguishable from your favorite prestige products.

There are so many super-hyped products out there. In fact, it’s hard to watch a single youtube video without a vlogger mentioning her new favorite product. Of course, these products are always *brand-new, limited-edition, prestige products*: AKA, they have all of the ingredients to cost you even more money. 

When there’s a product that I’m super interested in, I try to figure out what about the product is really striking my fancy: is it the packaging (such as a stick highlighter)? The applicator (such as a tiny brow wand)? The color (such as a cool new eyeshadow)?

Once I know what I’m looking for, I research the product on the Internet and try to find a cheaper item that has the same thing I’m looking for, also called a dupe. Makeup dupes are not only a great way to have trendy new looks without buying a similar set of products, they’re also great if a limited-edition or new-release product is out of stock – if you can’t buy the original, you can still get the same effect!

3. Shop outlets

Sale sign
If the full price of an item is making you blush, try finding it at a different store.

If you’re looking to expand your collection, but not necessarily interested in a particular product, there are many stores that sell high-end makeup at discounted prices. Not only will outlet stores sell your favorite products for less, but even stores as commonplace as TJMaxx and Marshall’s often have popular products at really affordable prices.

If you’re willing to invest some time into searching through their merchandise (as it isn’t always organized), and possibly taking a risk on a product you’re not familiar with (as they don’t have online inventory, meaning you can’t research buys beforehand), these stores are a great place to buy new beauty products. 

4. Join a rewards program – or several

Ultamate Rewards program from Ulta

A great way to save money on makeup is to join rewards programs for your favorite stores. Many stores, such as Ulta (with their Ultamate Rewards), Walgreens (with their Balance Rewards), and MAC (with their MAC Select loyalty program), have programs that are free to join and start giving you rewards regardless of how much you spend; many others, like Sephora (with their Beauty Insider program) and Smashbox (with their Smashcash program), give you rewards that scale based on how much you purchase.  

Even if a company doesn’t have a rewards program, signing up for their email list will often get you discount codes and will alert you every time there’s a sale going on, which will mean you don’t miss out on any great discounts.  

5. Invest in tools

Makeup Brushes
The secret to unlocking your makeup’s potential might have nothing to do with your makeup at all.  

One of the most important things in my makeup collection is my set of beauty tools. Up until a few months ago, I never though my makeup tools were important; as long as I had an eyeshadow brush, a brush for my liquid foundation, and a brush for powders, I thought I was all set. But I recently bought a foundation sponge, an eyeshadow blending brush, and an eyebrow spoolie, and my entire routine is different – I’ll never go back.  

Even if you have fewer and cheaper products, having a comprehensive set of tools is key to creating any kind of makeup look with ease – so don’t skimp on buying a few different brushes if you’re feeling stuck in your makeup routine. (See our guide to essential makeup brushes for more on this.)

6. Know your makeup needs

Applying Eyeshadow
Understanding what makeup you wear – and what you don’t – is key to having a manageable collection.

The most important thing about your makeup collection, after all, is that it’s yours. It doesn’t matter if the new trend is to wear 16 different colors of eyeshadows if you prefer how you look with just one or two. Similarly, if you don’t like how your complexion looks with brown-y nude lipsticks, you shouldn’t wear them.  

When you’re going out to buy new makeup, the most important thing to keep in mind is whether or not you will want to wear a particular item. If you know you need a foundation that will last a really long time, an eyeshadow that will never crease on your lids, or a lipstick that will never transfer, then you should research and buy those products, even if it means you spend a bit more. But if you never wear bold highlighter, buying the latest formulation from Becca because all the beauty gurus love it isn’t a good choice for you. 

Makeup is an individual art form – and that means the best way to have a great collection is to know what you like, and buy from there.   

What do you think?

Are you a thrifty makeup lover? What are your favorite affordable makeup products? Share your money-saving makeup tips in the comments below!

1 thought on “How to Save Money on Makeup (Our Ultimate Guide)”

Leave a Comment