Monday, October 24, 2011

Shop Smart with your high end beauty products!

If any of you know me, you know I am a product junkie deal hound.  I spend LOTS AND LOTS of time scouring the internet for the best deals.  I love to research and I feel like I always get the best deal.  I do not buy anything that is from a grocery store or drug store, so this blog does not address anything but higher end products.

Watch out:  
I am about to sound like a crazy coupon lady: 

Here are some of my rules for buying high quality products - specifically makeup:


2.  IF YOU PAY FULL PRICE - IT SHOULD NEVER BE FULL PRICE - it should always have a combo deal included to make the deal equal out to not paying full price.

MAC never has discounts, deals, etc. - however if you save up 6 empty items and bring them back to MAC... you get the "Back to MAC" program that allows you a free shadow, lip gloss or lip stick.   I tend to go through a lot of brush cleaner and that counts as a "Back to MAC" so that is a deal to me.  
Brush Cleanser 

3.  IF YOU BUY ONLINE - it should be purely for the fact that you are A. getting a good deal or B. getting free shipping.  Your online purchase should NEVER be more than what you'd pay in the store.

I always check:,, and - between all of those, you should never pay full price according to my definition as described in this blog. 

4.  Don't wait until you are completely out of a product to buy it.  It will create an urgency and you will make rash expensive decisions that will end up either costing you more than you need to pay and or making you pay full price for something that you don't need to pay full price for, if you plan appropriately.  


Whenever I am starting to run out a product, I go through the scenarios below to figure out which one will work for my current beauty need.

Follow the 5 points outlined below and you will be greatly rewarded (or impressed with my research)! 

1. Never buy anything from Ebay, unless it comes from the US aka nothing from China and the seller has sold more than 100 items and has a good standing with customer feedback and ebay rating.

My Ebay Scenario: 
Although I work for BE, I don't get what is known in the industry as "gratis" or free product for makeup artists from the line in which you work.  That means I have to pay full price for an item I currently sell, but must wear as part of my "uniform" for that particular line.  I wanted to try out the new mineral moisturizer, but it would cost me over 30 bucks with tax at my local store (Nordstrom, Sephora, Ulta, etc), so I checked out Ebay and found a seller that met my qualifications (see scenario 1) and found the same product for 25 bucks with free shipping.  These items might have a crumpled box that was rejected by a store or was an overstock at any particular store and was sold to the highest bidder at an auction.  Much of the time, if you cannot get free shipping it is either low enough where it doesn't make much of a difference or you can combine items from that seller to significantly reduce your shipping cost.

My item arrived a few days later, in perfect condition, authentic and I saved over 5.00.  Over time, the 5.00 adds up when looking at your beauty budget (to be discussed in another post).

2.  Look at rule no. 3 and pay attention for how I worked out scenario QVC.  

Now QVC is a place I had not really looked at before for my beauty items, but got turned onto them about a year ago while looking for a beef jerky maker for my brother.  Odd, but I am now an avid researchers of their current deals.

Now, I go looking for the particular products I need.  For example, I was out of my Philosophy skin care that usually costs me an arm and a leg for.  I like the serums, eye cream, day cream, night cream, etc.  So, I looked to see what kind of a package deal I could get.

This is what I found for 94 bucks:
From philosophy.


  • 8-oz purity made simple one-step facial cleanser--full size
  • 5-oz when hope is not enough daily hydrating exfoliating mask--full-size
  • 1-oz when hope is not enough facial firming serum--full size
  • 2-oz when hope is not enough spf--full size
  • 2-oz when hope is not enough replenishing cream--full size
  • Bonus 0.375 oz when hope is not enough omega 3, 6, 9 treatment
When I add of this up, the savings was clear:  the cleanser is normally 20, the serum is around 40, the replenishing cream is 45 - right there I had already spent the amount I would have spent in the store!  The rest was gravy and all full size, except  the omega 3.6.9. - which I also use.  

This meant that I was getting the following for free: 

  • 5-oz when hope is not enough daily hydrating exfoliating mask--full-size
  • 2-oz when hope is not enough spf--full size
  • Bonus 0.375 oz when hope is not enough omega 3, 6, 9 treatment

3.  Buying In Store 

Trend Shows: Free stuff to try and receive with your purchase:

Scenario:  You need to stock up on your basics - or make an appointment with an artist to try some of the new fall (or spring) trends.  Always, always always... you will get free product.  

Here is what happened at fall trend this year: 
  • You got a free makeup consultation and application
  • If you spent over $50, you got a new makeup bag, full size shadow, mini eye primer and mascara.
  • If you spent over $100, you got all of the above plus a free large bag that matched and a mini lip gloss.
  • If you spent $125 at Downtown or Bellevue Nordstrom, you got all of the above plus a full size lip gloss trio (retail were 18 each).  
  • The other stores had random other items thrown in at the 125.00 range.  
  • If you purchased a foundation or mineral veil, you got a punch card (new to BE in the past two months), if you purchase 4 or more, you got a free foundation or mineral veil.   That is an ongoing benefit.  
Always ask for a sample of an extra product, when you are making your purchase - counters usually have items laying around that they love to give to have you try. 

This is just Bare Escentuals.  Can you see how much free product just one shopping trip can earn you?  They also had sets, which I will address below.  

4.  Holiday sets

Scenario:  Holiday time, all makeup lines celebrate the holidays with great deals, here are some of the ones I have already seen:

MAC brushes are currently on pre-order for pick up - 5 (depending on the kit) brushes for 49.50.   One of my MAC brushes can cost 30 bucks - so this is a deal in my book.  

Bare Escentuals has a beautiful holiday kit for full size products including 10 items for 54.00.  It is all product you will use (not random pieces) that go together to create one look.  If you don't like one of the items, you can always give it to a girlfriend, sister, daughter, etc.  

Clinique has larger sizes of it's every day products like their pump soaps.  All of their fragrances have "free" gifts in them. 

MOST fragrance lines offer free gifts or smaller items for just a bit more than you would already spent.  

Generally... you are getting a fantastic deal with whatever line has a set.  If you don't like everything, you can at least try something new and give it to someone else who may appreciate it.

Cosmetic lines that offer gift with purchase... need I say more? 

Hair products:  There are particular seasons that offer great deals and breast cancer awareness month is one that really pulls out all the stops.  For the professional, there were many kits we could buy at a fraction of the cost, special "collectors" items and sizes all adorned with pink.  This was not just hair spray, but appliances as well (you want a flat iron in pink...).  

Holiday sets are also not forgotten by the hair industry at this time.  Almost any item you buy... you can get in a kit for a great price that allows you to try something new. 

My example is this:  There is a new line that has just had a makeover, called KMS California.  They had a kit that I would normally had passed by, but it had one of the particualr items i was looking for (hello blow dry spray).  It was a set of 4 items with some coupons and samples of other items
i had not tried out.  Retail, this set was a good deal... at my cost, being a cosmetologist... it was a smoking deal.  Again, I was unsure about most of the items, except the blow dry spray, but decided to take a chance.  I LOVED the products, I hate one of them... it is a mouse that crackles really loud and I think it is a distraction to my client's experience, but suits the purpose for the time being.  The other items I now recommend to my clients and will be a must have for my own personal stash.   

3-Step Home & Away - Very Dry to Dry Combination Skin Types Regular price and you get a bag and 3 travel sizes

5.  Go to an outlet.  

The outlet closest to most of my readers and myself is at the Seattle Premium Outlets.  There is a store named "the Cosmetics Company Store" - it is owned by Estee Lauder.  Estee Lauder owns MOST of the typical department store cosmetic companies (see a few of the 25 companies listed below).  

Items are an average of 30% off retail. 

Here is what you will find: 

  • Over stock products
  • Past Season 
  • Repackaged gift with purchases (typically about 10 bucks)
  • Over sized products that didn't sell in the store
  • Discontinued items
If you call the store, you can ask if they have a particular item in stock, but they cannot tell you the price.  

Here are just a few of the 25 companies owned by Estee: 

  • MAC
  • Bumble and Bumble
  • Sean John
  • La Mer
  • Tom Ford
  • Prescriptives
  • Bobbie Brown
  • Coach
  • American Beauty
  • Lab Series Skin Care
  • Donna Karan
  • FLIRT!
  • Aveda Origins
  • Smashbox

Can't guarantee what they've got or what brands they are currently carrying, but it is worth the drive or at least a call:

  • The Cosmetics Company Store

  • Telephone
  • (360) 716-3200

All that said, ask me for my recommendation on a certain product and I can generally guide you in the right direction and if it is hair product, I can get it to you directly.  I always get the lowest prices to my clients. 

Send me your ideas, questions and thoughts! 

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