Friday, March 19, 2010

Smart(er) Makeup Shopping

In these difficult economic times (I had to use that phrase!) we all have to be smarter about our money. I've heard it said that cosmetics is one thing that is not hurt too badly during a recession but I beg to differ. Yes, people can go buy an item or two of prestige or what seems like only a few dollars but my hypothesis is that people instead go buy more items for the same amount of money at the drugstore (gasp!). I recently read on Yahoo in an article about saving money that a great way to do so is to use drugstore cosmetics. The article said that most of it is made in the same factories with the same ingredients as prestige brands, implying that it is the same thing. Well, here's a news flash for you, it's not! Let's take the example of Lancome and L'Oreal. Does the L'oreal own Lancome? Yes. Do they share product information? Yes Do they share certain common ingredients? Yes. Are you paying twice as much at the department store for Lancome when you could be getting the same thing at CVS for mere pennies? NO!

Here's why...drugstore brand makeup is much less pigmented meaning you need more of it to get the same-ish look. You're using more, no savings there plus, if you are using say, more eye shadow, it is more likely to crease and look nasty, so just don't do it. Secondly, re: skincare...yes, drugstore brands can claim this or that fancy sounding ingredient all they want but the fact is that it is cheaper because there is less of the active ingredient(s) in it. You really are paying for what you get. Just like with the eye shadow, you will have to use more to get the same-ish effect and, with skincare, it will take MUCH longer to see results and the results will, most likely, be more subtle than if you were paying for a prestige brand. I'm not going in to the $300 moisturizer v. the $70 prestige one, you can decide what you can afford yourself:)

Even though that section of the article was clearly hallucinatory, there was another suggestion that was great. I made it on here (kind of) months ago. Makeup swaps!!! The article I was reading suggested setting up a makeup swap with your friends to trade. But why trade with five or six people when you could trade with thousands of friends (read: complete strangers) on a site like I have been trading on MUA for several months now and it has been a blast. I really should add up the $ of everything I've swapped for but that just probably isn't going to happen:) Here are a few of the things I've gotten though (all for the price of postage - cheap - and while getting rid of crap I don't use or want): Brand new - Diorshow mascara, NARS lip glosses (3), Clinique Lip Pencil, Stila Lipglaze, Stila eyeshadow palette, Frederick Fekkai Smoothing Cream, Redken Overnight Treat, and Clarins Body Scrub; and slightly used (but I cleaned and sanitized the hell out of them): five or six fragrances I wanted to try, MAC lip pencils, Benefit blushes, Chanel lip liner, and Shiseido White Lucent Cream. And those are just the things I'm thinking of off the top of my head!! Try it!!

Another smart makeup shopping tip that I also think is fun is to remember that the best deal on your prestige cosmetics is usually not going to be at your local department store. Prestige brands rotate their GWP's across the country and higher end stores (Saks, Bergdorff Goodman) have nicer GWP's with more items worth more $ than lower end retailers (Belk). Considering this, most of the time, some national retailer is going to be having a GWP on the major prestige brands. If you are in the market for a Estee Lauder moisturizer, spend two minutes online and google "Estee Lauder free gift" or "Estee Lauder bonus." You'll quickly see which stores are having GWP's and what they are. If I used EL, which I don't, and saw that Neiman Marcus was having a GWP and my store wasn't, obviously it is a better deal for me to order my items from NM online. #1 I get the GWP, #2 since there isn't a NM in AL I get no tax, #3 most department store retailers have free shipping offers if you spend a certain amount going on almost all of the time and, if not, if you're getting out of tax you're probably doing better if at least not breaking even.

If you can't find a GWP, which I know is v. disappointing, most of the time, depending on how much you're spending, you will come out better shopping online at,, or All of these sites give free samples with every order and also have GWP-ish items for different brands almost all the time. Free shipping over $50 usually and, if there isn't a store in your state, you get no tax as well. So, if I want to buy the Benefit Laugh With Me LeeLee fragrance and the Smashbox blush in Sugarbomb (which it just so happens I do) and I can't find a GWP online, I am going to come out much better ordering those items from Sephora, where at least I will get three free samples (and add to my frequent spenders account that you can redeem for free products) than going to the local department store and picking them up.

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