Welcome to the most epic penny saving guide when it comes to beauty you will ever see! Here I have compiled my years of thriftyness into one handy blog post so that everyone can afford to look great no matter how deep your pockets go. I want to arm you with the tools to build a beauty collection and get smart with how you spend so that you can get the most out of your makeup wardrobe and not feel left behind.
Here are my top 20 tips to help you. If there are any more tips I haven’t mentioned leave me a comment and share the budget friendly love!
The very first thing you should do is assemble all of your makeup into one place. Have a look through everything and see what you use and what you do not. What isn’t working for you and why, and what products do you need more of and what do you have too much of? Knowing your beauty inventory back to front will save you from making costly mistakes when you do come to spending.
Don’t buy anything you already have at home – use it up first and don’t buy anything you know you will use never or at best once. Neon eyeshadows anyone?!
No matter if it cost £1 or £80 – anything you do not use up to it’s entirety is a waste.
Possibly the most obvious point on my list but so commonly overlooked. Tom Ford and Charlotte Tilbury are amazing but absolutely not a must to still look amazing. Has anyone ever stopped you in a lift to question why you are wearing a dupe eyeshadow and not the Chanel?
Swatch, layer and think about adding a primer if appropriate to make the product pop if needs be. Don’t fall for consumer hype if you can’t afford to play along. Makeup is great but not the be and end all.
Here are my go-to dupe brands:
Base/Face – Nyx
Concealers – Collection 2000
Eye Palettes – Sleek/Makeup Revolution
Lips/Nails – Barry M
Amazing quality brushes that blend well, wash up well and are incredibly soft to the touch. They also don’t lose bristles or degenerate over time. One whole set is the same price as one single brush in Mac or Bobbi Brown. They are also sold in Tk Maxx and Asda at an even lower price than Boots and Superdrug.
Also the Miracle Complexion blending sponge is the only tool I use to apply foundation as it gives a flawless coverage. Pick one up for a fraction of the price of the original Beauty Blender – £20 for a sponge?! A SPONGE?! Lol no tar.
Always swatch before you buy, and never ever rush a purchase especially if it’s outside what you would normally spend on an item. Ask, do I need this, will I wear it? Did I want it as badly before I came into the store?
If you are unsure go to a counter and ask for the product to be tested on you or for a sample. Go home, look at the results in natural light and check out the reviews online. Also double check there isn’t a dupe you could buy instead especially if it’s an eyeshadow or lipstick which are the most commonly duped items out there.
No mascara or lipstick is ever worth not being able to pay your bills so don’t get carried away if you know you really can’t afford to. I’ve been to counters before where I just wanted that one item but they start trying to sell me unrelated items so be firm with yourself and the person serving if needs be.
One day you will be able to afford it and it will be great – until then resist temptation or find a dupe. Trust me it will feel great initially but only until your statement comes through. If you want to be able to comfortably afford this stuff in the future it’s time for you to get financially smart.
6. Beauty Card Events
Department stores frequently have beauty club card events such as 10% off all products or triple points. This can lead to big savings if you are the type of customer who buys all their beauty in one go once a year. You can sign up to alerts or ask in store when the next event will be.
7. Beauty Bags/Offers
Following on from my last point, if you are someone who buys your makeup all in one go – look out for beauty bag offers. Companies such as Dior, Lancome, Clinique, Clarins, Estee Lauder etc frequently give out gift bags full of products if you buy 2 or more items. It depends on different stores and the offers will differ too. The best ones tend to be at Christmas where you can get an insane amount of makeup for free just for buying what you normally would just at a different time of year.
Quite simply, it’s an amazing treasure trove of different skincare and makeup brands at heavily discounted prices. It’s a pick and mix for beauty lovers and the stock differs greatly everytime you go in. Illamasqua, Nars, Lauder, Essie and OPI are just some of the brands I have spotted in there recently.
9. National Beauty Events
Imats, The Clothes Show, Beauty Con and Professional Beauty are just some of the events that happen every year and offer massive discounts against the original price. Granted, you have to buy a ticket to get in, but you can guarantee you will make your money back in savings especially if you are a MUA in need of lots of products for your kit or if what you need is quite specialist.
Over the years I’ve won hundreds of pounds worth of products which you’ve probably seen me blog about if you’ve been following me for long enough! I’ve won items from Sunday Riley, Nars and Sleek on caption contests run on their official social media channels (p.s: I never enter ones where you just enter your details and they sell these on for profit…)
My Tip? Never start with “I want to win because”. Give it a bit of thought, sass and something unexpected for the judges. Don’t believe me? I haven’t lost a single one I have entered up to now.
Don’t have money for endless eyeshadows and lip colours? Get into custom blending (you can use separate pots to make your own lip products for example) you can also layer different toned eyeshadows together to create a completely custom colour.
Also, some products are multi-use such as benetint which is designed for lips and cheeks. These are perfect for travel too!
Only spend more on products on what is most important for you. For me this is the base. I need a good foundation that will last well and gives me good coverage as if the base is wrong, nothing else is right! If you struggle to find a colour match for your skintone you should also factor in a mixer shade to alter up the colour/undertone as well.
I personally feel high end foundation cannot be duped to the standard of other makeup products which is why I don’t cop out on my base but do with other products.
13. Research before you buy
Just because a brand has a new contour or eye palette out doesn’t mean it’s right for you. If you can – swatch on your own skintone, read reviews and check for cheaper dupes before you part with your cash.
Makeup Revolution have duped pretty much every Urban Decay palette at 1/10th of the price. If you’re in a financial tightspot this is a godsend. Granted, sometimes there is a difference in the quality but not always so do your research. You’d be amazed at what can be found as a cheaper alternative if you don’t settle on the first thing you see.
14. 3 for 2 offers
Boots and Superdrug frequently have 3 for 2 offers across all beauty. Save up for these events and make the most of it by buying 3 similar priced items. Don’t spend £30 on skincare then £2 on your cheapest item which you’ll get for free – get crafty with it to maximise your savings.
15. Seasonal Sales
Christmas sales aren’t just for onesies and tacky jumpers. Often companies will sell Christmas themed items such as beauty advent calendars or gift sets with a seasonal theme on the box which they wouldn’t be able to sell after that date. It’s the exact same stuff just in a festive box which you’ll recycle once you get it home anyway.
Look out for these offers right after any seasonal holiday in makeup, skincare and fragrance – you’ll be amazed! Selfridges for your higher end items but do try all online retailers depending on where you live.
Every Month keep an eye on what the magazines are giving away as a free gift. In the UK it’s not uncommon to see products from Benefit, Eyeko, Estee Lauder and Ciate amongst many other brands as the free gift. Sometimes the price of the magazine only costs a fraction of what the gift is worth!
Also, some magazines offer makeup as a free gift when signing up to a subscription so if you were planning to do this anyway it can be an added bonus.
Great if you have a job interview but cannot afford a new foundation for it. You can always return and purchase it if you get the job (and love the product of course!)
If you have a special event coming up or are just stuck in a makeup rut and don’t want to spend money on products you are not sure if you will love – call up or visit your nearest counter or store of your favourite brand.
Some brands will offer a makeover free on the spot, and for others you will need to book ahead. Some brands charge a fee that’s redeemable against a product and others may charge a flat fee so it’s worth finding out in advance to make sure you can afford it.
Many brands offer this service and some of the most popular include Mac, Bobbi Brown, Lancome and Urban Decay. For prom and event makeup it always works out cheaper than hiring a makeup artist or visiting a beauty salon – plus you get all branded products which isn’t always the case depending on where you go.
Damp eyeshadow brush = amazingly pigmented eyeshadows
Damp Eyeliner brush = dip in shadows to create liquid liner from powder pigments.
The sleek palette in Storm is my favourite for this. You can do eyes, brows and liner all in one palette. Don’t overload the brush with water to avoid turning the shadow into mush. Make sure you use the same amount of water on each eye to get the same intensity.
I love this tip and share it with customers all the time. It allows you to re-invent what you have and create a whole new set of products from using exactly what you had already! Try using a bottle lid to keep your water in so you don’t keep having to run to the tap.
When applying foundation with a sponge, don’t apply the product directly onto it as it will soak it straight up and you’ll end up going through your foundation much quicker.
Finally, watch you close up your nail polishes directly after using them to avoid them drying out as you won’t get the ml’s you paid for and you’ll have re-purchase much quicker.