Department Store Makeup on a Drugstore Budget

If you’ve been lusting over some of the makeup brands I mention here, but thought you couldn’t afford it, this post’s for you!

While I do find there are some good drugstore products out there (I dedicated a whole week to trying out a few over on my website), they come with their setbacks (can’t test before you buy, shady cashiers who smile when you buy but give you the 3rd degree when you return, etc.). So how do you score some of the really good stuff when a $40 price tag on foundation scares you more than A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 1? Read on, my pretties!

1. Create a beauty fund. Skip 2 lattes (or your latte equivalent) every week and by the end of the month you’ll have about $40. You can get 2 MAC eyeshadows and a small tube of Benefit badGal Lash Mascara with that. Or a NARS Blush and a Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes eyeliner pencil.

Set up a no-fee, no balance requirement savings account so you can stash away your beauty dollars for a (pretty) rainy day. You can start with just $10/week!

2. Get outlet bound. If you’ve never been outlet shopping before, you are missing out, girl! Not only can you score designer wardrobe staples at a discount, but some makeup brands like Estee Lauder (the mother hen of brands like MAC and Clinique) have outlets where you can get up to 30% off! Estee Lauder’s is called the Cosmetics Company Store. You can find out if there’s an outlet near you by checking out

3. Join the club. Many retailers like Sephora offer free membership clubs (Sephora’s is called Beauty Insiders) where you can score some serious perks just by being a loyal customer.

4. Back 2 MAC. Just for being kind to the earth by bringing in 6 empty MAC primary product containers, MAC will give you a free lipstick (and in some stores an eyeshadow or lipglass)! Don’t throw away those containers! Check out Back 2 MAC.

5. Multitask. Buying multitasking products is not only good for your pocket, it’s good for the earth! Some of my favorite multitasking products include:

NARS The Multiple (use it as a blush, a luminizer, as a shadow, or as a gloss)
MAC #187 Brush (use it to apply blush, liquid foundation, shimmer products, loose powder, pressed powder, bronzer, etc.)
MAC Pigment (use as eyeshadow, blush, mix it in nail polish, shimmer, mix it in a mixing medium to make mascara, etc. and the best part is it will last you a long time! Split the cost of a container with a friend)

You can also use a great eyeshadow color as a blush, blush as an eyeshadow, etc.

6. Sample. If you don’t use foundation very often or just need it for a special event, ask for a sample! Just don’t make it a habit of asking for enough samples until you have a full bottle of the product because the makeup artist WILL remember you…lol.

7. Test. The products I mention here are mentioned because I’ve tried them on myself as well as my clients and know they work. Also note they are suggestions—you can find a million and one substitutes in other brands. So if you see a product mentioned that you can’t afford, don’t be discouraged. March on down to that makeup counter and check it out anyway. Take note of the texture, colors, how it feels on your skin, etc. Then keep those qualities in mind when you hit the drugstore so you know exactly what to get. You may not find the exact formula, but you’ll understand what will make a drugstore product great.

Those are my tips—now you tell me…how do you save on your favorite makeup products?


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