How to Save Money on Makeup

Do you remember the 2001 Usher song, ‘You Got it Bad’? Well, I’ve got it bad–for makeup and beauty products. If you do too, there’s no doubt you’ve realized you need to devise a strategy to fund your makeup ways! No one understands this better than me, so here’s how to save money on makeup to afford your habit!


I have a condition called TM. My husband is quite familiar with it. TM is “Target Meandering” and an episode occurs on a nearly weekly basis. It involves me aimlessly strolling the aisles of my local Target, leaning on my red cart, Starbucks in hand, taking an hour or more to just meander and soak it all in.  When I’ve been gone a long time, my husband simply texts me, “TM?” Guilty.
I really do love Target though and I’ve cracked the code to saving big on beauty there:

  • REDcard I have the debit version of this so it just comes directly out of my checking account-no interest or late payment worries. I save 5% on every purchase, no matter what, and get free shipping online plus an extra 30 days to return items. 5% might not seem like a lot, but when combined with the other offers below, it can be!
  • Cartwheel App If you have a smartphone, download this app right MEOW! Every week, you add the deals you want to your cartwheel and they scan the bar code that contains all your coupons at checkout. I always search the Health & Beauty category and then Makeup.
  • Mobile coupons Sign up to receive these for extra savings. It’s usually a mixed bag but for example, right now there’s $2 off Neutrogena cosmetics.
  • Weekly Ad The weekly ad doesn’t always have sales on health and beauty, but it’s always worth a look!
  • Print coupons While it takes a little extra work to print these before you go, oftentimes, it’s totally worth it! This week in the ‘beauty’ category, I found $1 off select Maybelline item and 75 cents off Almay shadows.
  • Clearance Endcaps Less popular colors of makeup and nail polish colors are almost always chilling on an end cap. Did you know that if the clearance price ends in a 4, it is the absolute lowest price? More on reading Target clearance tags can be found here.
  • Sonia Kashuk Watch for brush sets to go on major clearance when the next set comes out around seasonally/for the holidays.



I think most of us would agree that the beauty of Ulta is the availability of both high-end and drugstore products, all in one place! You can stock up on your LORAC and your L’Oreal! Heaven! Ulta has some pretty great deals to behold, in addition to the selection. Here’s the best ways to save on the items in your orange bag:

  • Biweekly Ad Every ad has either a $3.50 off or 20% off coupon in it. This excludes the prestige makeup, but it’s a great way to save on drugstore makeup and skincare and basics like cotton pads, Q-tips, etc.
  • Gifts With Purchase ULTA offers various gifts with purchase for their prestige makeup and fragrance, something only found in department stores usually.
  • ULTAmate Rewards ULTA’s Rewards program is one of my favorites. You earn a point for every dollar you spend, which you can then redeem for cash back on future ULTA purchases!
  • Return Policy Buy something you regret? Don’t fret! Take it back! Doesn’t matter if it’s opened and used, just within reason. No need to keep anything that isn’t quite right.



Walgreens has long been my lunch hour guilty pleasure. Throughout my years working in dull office environments and stressful ad agencies, there was almost always a Walgreens nearby that served as my refuge. I’d go browse the makeup aisles on my lunch hour and then excitedly try out my new goodies in the car before going back to work. I find that Walgreens has the newest drugstore product launches before all the other stores and great displays too. Here’s how to make the most out of your lunch hour spree:

  • Weekly Ads There are often buy one, get one 50% off deals and the brands vary. I see Revlon and L’Oreal on BOGO often.
  • Balance Rewards Walgreens rewards program gives you money back to spend once you reach certain point levels. 5,000 pts=$5, all the way up to 40,000=$50. You earn points by purchasing featured items and often, these are beauty items. There will be little signs on the shelf that indicate it and it’s in the weekly ad.
  • Paperless Coupons These are coupons you select online that get added to your Balance Rewards card. Right now, there is a $2.00 coupon for one CoverGirl Outlast Lipcolor Product.
  • Return Policy Many people don’t realize that you can return open, used makeup to Walgreens. Again, within reason people, but if a foundation color just isn’t quite right, exchange until you find the one that is!




Ahh, my truest, oldest love. I loved Sephora so much, I worked there for 1 1/2 years and held every position except Beauty Leader. My most prominent position was of Sephora shopper though and needless to say, I know all the ways to save in my alma mater. Believe it or not, it’s totally possible to get some really great deals within the black and white columns:

  • Sale section Oh yes, Sephora has a sale section. It’s filled with an array of things-sometimes brushes, nail polish, limited edition makeup collections! It’s always, always worth a look! There’s nothing wrong with the items there. They are likely being phased out due to a new collection coming in. You can really score big when a brand is exiting Sephora!
  • Online Sephora’s online sale section has more than in-store, plus there are often online promo codes for extra samples.
  • Samples You can ask for samples in store or choose 3 with every online order. Here’s a tip for asking for them in-store, coming from someone who worked there: Ask for help, then samples. When it’s clear that someone is genuinely trying to determine the right foundation or skincare product, we’ll probably offer the samples to you! But we know when you’re on a freebie-spree and never plan to buy too 😉
  • Beauty Insider Sephora’s free rewards program is a no-brainer. Join and earn 1 point for every dollar you spend (before tax), then redeem those points for deluxe sample products, or perks, that switch out periodically. In addition, you’ll score a birthday gift every year and invites to special events! Beauty Insider has 3 tiers: Beauty Insider, VIB and for people with real problems-VIB Rouge. Not that I know anyone who is in that. Ahem! Cough! There are twice-annual opportunities to save 15-25% that will be mailed out and/or emailed to Beauty Insiders, usually around the holidays and a friends and family sale that occurs in early spring I believe. Use this opportunity to stock up on all your staples for less. I usually buy extra Clarisonic brush heads (seriously-I have like 2 year’s worth), my NARS foundation, They’re Real, etc.
  • Favorites Sets and Holiday Sets Sephora puts together these sets around the holidays and/or seasonally, like a Summer Must-Haves Set, for example. The retail value is always much higher than the set price and you’ll save a ton by purchasing these.
  • Return Policy Don’t love it? Bring it on back! With receipt, you’ll get a full refund and without you’ll get store credit. As long as you aren’t bringing back a cleanser that’s three-fourths used saying you had an “allergic reaction” or an eye shadow palette down to the pan, you’re good. And yes, those things happen.



  • TJMaxx I once got Shiseido skincare at TJMaxx for way cheap! It was the same stuff selling at Sephora for nearly 2x as much.
  • Marshalls Kat Von D liner sets were recently spotted at Marshalls. Sephora does sell unsold items to TJMaxx and Marshalls, often lines going away or limited edition sets. It’s always worth hunting for!


  • HauteLook Of all the daily deal sites, HauteLook has the best beauty buys. LORAC is on there often, Stila, Tarte, Becca, Josie Maran! The items are often last season’s collection but honestly, who cares? The prices are excellent. The shipping is slow, that’s the only bummer, but if you have a Nordstrom Rack in your town, you can return HauteLook purchases there!
  • Gilt Groupe Gilt is another daily deal site with beauty buys! Check out the ‘Women’ category for luxury beauty deals.
  • Zulily Look in the ‘Women’ section to find current beauty/skincare products. I got a ton of cheap Belletto Studio makeup on here!


  • Sale section Urban actually sells quite a few brands including NYX, Stila, Ardency Inn and hard-to-find Korean lines such as TonyMoly. I scored a Stila blush palette and set of full-size Stila Smudgestick liners for way cheap this year. Just look in the sale sections near the checkout.


sah-nav-logoThis little gem of a site is going to save you on ALL the aforementioned sites! So, I feel dumb because I didn’t know about Shop At Home until fairly recently. Makes me wanna barf when I think about all that I could have been saving, but hey, if you shop online, you NEED DIS. Bookmark this site right, freaking, now.

  • Cashback Mo money, mo makeup. Know what I’m sayin? You’re already shopping online so visit the Shop At Home pages of retailers like Sephora, Ulta, and Nordstrom to start saving, plus get coupon codes. Who wouldn’t dig that?
  • Coupons Shop At Home has both printable and online coupons, even on high end brands like Smashbox!



Ebates is nothing new. In fact, when I recently logged into my account, I still had money in there from years ago! I love that your cash back can go straight to your PayPal account. If you order from Sephora,, or Ulta on the regular, why wouldn’t you want to get 4% of that back? You would want to. You would. If you’re a BH Cosmetics fan, you can actually get 7.5% back! I always go to Ebates to get the best selection of Sephora promo codes too!

Well, well, well! Thanks for reading that insanely-long post, but I promise that if you did, you’re about to save some serious benjamins!


  1. Jenny

    09/18/2014 at 12:33 PM

    Bookmarked this post for future reference! I know about a couple of these already, but this is my first time hearing of Glambot and it sounds awesome! I’ve been figuring out how to get rid of some extra makeup, but a blog sale is just too much work, so this is perfect. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Ivy Boyd

      09/18/2014 at 12:40 PM

      So glad to hear it! I’m all about saving money and I hope other people can too! I will be sure to update on Glambot once I get my offer from them! Thanks for reading!

  2. Jess Zimlich

    09/18/2014 at 1:08 PM

    Target’s debit card has saved me SOOO much money! I’m heading into Sephora tonight, so I’ll keep that in mind for the samples 😉

    1. Ivy Boyd

      09/19/2014 at 1:57 PM

      Oh I’m constantly bragging about how much I’ve saved with my REDCard. You know how they announce how much you saved at the end of the transaction? One time, the person behind me in line even said, “How’d you do that?” It was like a Target commercial 🙂

  3. Amber

    09/25/2014 at 11:18 PM

    What great tips!!! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge =)

    1. Ivy Boyd

      09/25/2014 at 11:19 PM

      You’re so welcome, Amber! We could all save a little money! I’m excited to update on what sort of offer I get from Glambot!

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