Finding beauty products without breaking bank

Skin care, makeup, hair product – the art of being beautiful (or for most of us attempting to be beautiful) is expensive. From discovering which products work for me to debating the age old dilemma of price vs. effectiveness, my budget always cries a little bit when I walk into a Sephora or ULTA or attend a party hosted by a friend.

Buying a product you’ve never used before always brings a risk of wasting money. How’s a consumer to know what’s the best fit for their appearance and their wallet? These simple strategies might help you sort through the beauty and the cheap debate.

Sample, sample, sample

Nothing makes me more depressed than opening a cabinet or drawer and stumbling across a full sized bottle of something I haven’t used. Whether I didn’t like the fragrance or the product couldn’t tame my crazy curly hair, the hall closet next to the bathroom is where beauty supplies go to die in our house. Stores such as Sephora are more than happy to allow you to try out a specific product before you purchase. When you can, sample a product before making an investment.

Don’t make high-pressure decisions

I have many sweet friends who have made good money over the years selling products they love. From makeup to bags to kitchenware, the business opportunities abound. In-person parties have morphed into online gatherings in recent years. In wanting to support our friends and their excitement for their products, it can be easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the moment.

We order to help their burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit. We order because of the persistent posts online. We order because of a limited time offer. Purchase products you love, but it’s not a good idea to simply buy something because you feel pressured. The same principle applies when you’re being helped by an associate at a beauty counter, too. Buy only what your budget can afford.

Take advantage of rewards programs

ULTA, Sephora and Beauty Brands all offer rewards programs giving you special coupons and discounts based on your purchases. So if you shop these stores, you need to be taking advantages of those offers and timing your purchases well. They also offer fantastic birthday freebies, too. But be warned my last two birthday freebies led to me to buy the full sized products because I loved the promotional item so much.


You’ll still find plenty of fantastic deals on skincare, makeup and hair care in your favorite big retailer or drugstore. Pay close attention to unit price on tried and true products, opting for a larger size when it’s most economical.

Most major brands run rotating deals that coincide with coupon offerings.

Ask around

If you notice a friend has beautiful skin or love someone’s shade of lipstick, ask. I’ve discovered some of the simplest and most affordable products merely by asking a question or two of my friends. Use social media to share your quest for the perfect mascara or mousse. Find out what brands others have had success with and which ones you should avoid, too.

Don’t be a brand snob

Especially when you shop at a big box retailer, don’t be afraid to try the generic skin care line or shampoo. Products with the highest ticket price aren’t necessarily the best fit for you or even the better choice. When you can, buy the store brands instead of the name brands. Many have the same or a similar quality.

Go homemade

Coconut oil, eggs, vinegar, baking soda … no, it’s not a recipe for a protein smoothie. All of these natural ingredients can be used in multiple ways to enhance your appearance. Do a simple YouTube search for frugal beauty ideas and you’ll find videos showing how to make the most of your kitchen cabinets in the pursuit of better skin, teeth and hair.

Cultivate beauty

Your heart, your soul, your spirit, your humor define your beauty more than any lipstick ever could. Your personal habits also can feed or destroy your beauty. Staying well hydrated and eating well might do more good for your skin than any cleanser ever could. Make wise choices and let your loveliness shine right through.

The pursuit of beauty rarely leads to true happiness. Realize there are no miracle products, solving every issue or problem area.

Be smart about which products you buy and make the most of your chances to save. After all, a full wallet is a thing of beauty, too.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. She is the author of “Slaying the Debt
Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.” Send questions, column ideas and comments to