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  • Writer's pictureMayra Bravo

My 10 Favorite Hacks for Maximizing Your Beauty Budget

As my bio explains, I am completely obsessed with all things beauty. However, I am also a college student, which means that I am forced to be somewhat conscious of my spending habits. This said, I have become fairly creative in order to satisfy my taste for luxury. Here are some of my favorite hacks for making the most out of my beauty budget.

1. Get a beauty subscription.

Okay, hear me out. With a beauty subscription, you spend a planned amount of money toward a variety of beauty items, typically at a discounted rate. Often, I don’t need to shop for makeup or skincare items for months just because so much of what I need, or even new products I’m interested in testing out, are included in these subscriptions. Also, most services will allow you to choose one or a few of these items from a selection provided each month. Will you sometimes get products you don’t want? Possibly. However, I discovered so many products that became staples in my routine thanks to such subscription selections.

2. Take advantage of the exclusive discounts that your beauty subscriptions offers.

I have tried tons of beauty subscriptions – from the “high vibe lifestyle” service, Goddess Provisions, to high-end services like BeautyFIX by Dermstore. In my experience, most of them will also offer an exclusive online store for members.

My current beauty subscription is Allure Beauty Box. Allure offers its members access to an exclusive online store in which they can purchase items up to 80% off retail prices. For example, Sunday Riley’s 5 Stars Eye Serum typically retails for $65, but Allure’s member store offers the same product for only $29.

From left to right: Sunday Riley's 5 Star Eye Serum as listed on Sunday Riley's; Sunday Riley's 5 Star Eye Serum as listed on Allure's exclusive member store.

3. Become a Sephora Beauty Insider.

It’s free! What are you waiting for? All you have to do is sign up, and you’ll have immediate access to countless perks. Of course, the more you spend, the more perks you’ll enjoy. Admittedly, I am a Rouge member, which is the highest tier within Sephora’s Beauty Insider program. (I hope my husband doesn’t read this.) My favorite perks, which are available at all tiers, are free shipping and the Rewards Bazaar, which allows you to trade your accumulated points for deluxe samples.

4. Don’t forget to select two samples with every online Sephora purchase.

With every online purchase, you can choose two samples from a fairly wide range of beauty products. I typically like to select fragrance samples. If I am unfamiliar with a particular fragrance, I get to try something new and wear it throughout the day to decide whether I like it on me, as oppose to just taking a quick sniff of it from an in-store tester. Plus, if it’s a fragrance I know I’m fond of, I like to carry these travel-friendly fragrance samples in my purse.

5. Stop ignoring Sephora’s Beauty Offers!

I am so surprised by how many people have never clicked on Sephora’s “Beauty Offers” tab. This section of the website lists additional available samples. These samples include makeup, skincare, hair and fragrances. Additionally, these samples will usually require a minimum purchase amount, but they are typically larger than Sephora’s regular samples.

Some of the available skincare samples offered under Sephora's "Beauty Offers," as of Thursday, March 23, 2023.

6. Split up large online Sephora purchases into multiple transactions.

This is one of my absolute favorite hacks. Okay, let’s say I’m interested in purchasing a Glow Recipe moisturizer and my favorite Ilia mascara. The moisturizer that I have my heart is set on is $39, and the mascara is $28. I would split this transaction into two separate purchases, as Sephora offers free shipping for Beauty Insiders without a minimum purchase amount. This would allow me to select two regular samples per purchase, as well as an additional sample per purchase from the “Beauty Offers” tab. Ultimately, I would end up with a total of six samples.

7. Search for “Sephora Favorites” sets.

Much like my reasoning for beauty subscriptions, I love “Sephora Favorites” sets because they include various products, many that I know I like and some that I am simply interested in trying. These sets can be categorized into sampler sets and “best of” sets.

If your priority is to try different products in order to find a favorite, you’ll love sampler sets. For example, many fragrance sampler sets will include samples of several fragrances, as well as a “Scent Certificate.” Once you try all of the samples and decide on a winner, you can redeem your “Scent Certificate” online or in-store for the specified size of your favorite fragrance.

In contrast, “best of” sets are most suitable for shoppers looking for the biggest bang for their buck. These sets, such as the “Hottest in Haircare” set, will include samples along with full-size products. The estimated value of this specific set is $91, but it retails for a mere $35.

8. Sign up for the Ultamate Rewards program.

I’m sure it’s painfully obvious that my favorite beauty supplier is Sephora, but in a pinch, I don’t mind shopping at Ulta. Like Sephora’s loyalty program, Ultamate Rewards is free to sign up, and it allows you to accumulate points from purchases. These points can be redeemed for specified dollar amounts, which can be applied to purchases.

9. Use Ulta coupons!

Ulta will almost always have some sort of coupon available. If you receive Ulta catalogs in the mail, be sure to keep the coupon printed on the back to use in-store or online. When shopping online, a coupon can typically be found under the “Sale” tab, and its value usually $3.50 off of a $15 purchase. The only issue is that these coupons cannot be applied to certain brands or used in combination with certain promotions.

10. Check out “Best of Dermstore” sets for the best value on luxury products.

If you’re a fan of pricier skincare products like myself, you’ve probably heard of Dermstore. This online retailer offers an amazing selection of high-quality products and prides itself on having been created by a “dermatologist who wanted to better serve his patients with easier access to the treatments their skin needed” (Dermstore).

My absolute favorite thing about Dermstore is its “Best of Dermstore” sets. These sets retail significantly lower than their estimated value. For example, the estimated value of “The Necessities Kit” is $431. It features products from revered brands such as Elemis, Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare and PCA Skin. This kit’s original retail price was $100, but shockingly, it is currently on sale for $60. That said, why are you still reading this?!

Some of the available "Best of Dermstore" sets offered at Dermstore, as of Thursday, March 23, 2023.

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