Buying cosmetics has become quite a high-involvement process and getting your favorite looks can really pricey :(. Let's just say that I've bought way too many cosmetics throughout the years. I've learned a few tricks of the trade along the way that I want to share with you to make the process as simple and rewarding as possible.
A great starting place when looking for a new foundation, toner, eyeliner, etc. is the Sephora website's advanced search engine. You simply search the product category that you're looking for (i.e. blush) and then you can filter the results by a bunch of different criteria including ingredients preferences, skin type, price range, and age. This will give you an idea as to some of the products that will work for you.
Once you've narrowed down the selection, the best place to learn more about products that you are curious about trying is brand videos. Look on YouTube for QVC presentations and brand videos. You will both hear and see product results. These videos often explain how to use the product as well as its discuss key features and benefits...in much more detail than a website or a product package. Next, read consumer reviews on retailer websites and blogs (company website reviews may be controlled by the company) to see if the product is everything that the brand makes it out to be.
Tips to keep in mind when trying new products:
1. Sephora accepts opened and gently used returns with a receipt because they end up using them for testers. So try it! If you don't like a product, you can always return it.
2. Ask for samples. Most non-drugstore brands offer samples. Stores like Sephora and Blue Mercury as well as department stores offer samples of their skincare products upon request...just ask a sales associate! You can also get them from many of the actual company websites. Some of them will send you samples for free and others ask you to pay a small fee (usually a few dollars) for samples. Ultimately, products have different levels of effectiveness for different people. Before you invest in expensive serums and creams, make sure that they work on you. Samples are a great way to do so.
3. For those of you, who like to try new products for a friendly price, opt for beauty box subscriptions. Beauty boxes are the latest beauty craze. How do they work? You pay a monthly subscription fee and fill out a profile on the website. Based on your skin type and beauty needs and interests, the company will send you a customized delivery of deluxe samples from various brands ranging from nail polish to hair dye to lipgloss to eye cream. Birchbox (only $10/month) is the biggest name in the business right now, but check out this page to see other beauty box options: http://www.allure.com/beauty-products/2012/beauty-sample-services#slide=1. You can also try Yuzen Box, which specializes in samples of natural products. The benefits? No more wasting money on full size products you may only use a few times, and you will discover cool products you wouldn't ordinarily have found yourself.
For the products you know, love, and buy habitually:
1. Buy online. If you know what you're shopping for, it can be a lot cheaper to buy your products online. Retailers like Dermstore and Skinstore often offer 15% off coupons for spending a certain amount, and they ship for free! They also carry a variety of brands including smaller indy lines found in boutiques, department store brands, and brands from Sephora. In fact, Beauty.com is the best if you want to order both mass and prestige items. This means that you can get everything that you need from one place and don't have to visit multiple stores to get your collection of the best products. Remember to look for blowout sales...it's a great opportunity to stock up on the essentials. Many cosmetics lines do annual sales on discount sites like HauteLook, where they have one-day sales of up to 75% off on their products. It's a great way to get your hands on expensive products without the hefty price.
2. Have you walked into Walgreens to buy your favorite eyeshadow only to find that it's been discontinued? Drugstore makeup brands have a fixed amount of space on store walls. Each year, they launch new products, meaning that they need to delete existing products to make space for the new at the walls. Walls get updated around February of every year. If you see your products on a permanent mark-down in the fall and winter, it's probably a goner and won't be returning to the wall. So, stock up while you can!
3. Get rewarded for your purchases. Sephora, Ulta, and Blue Mercury have rewards programs, where you receive points for spending money. If you join, you can receive birthday gifts and coupons. At Sephora, you can even trade in your points for goodies (I just earned an Origins travel set with a mini eye cream, face wash, anti-aging serum, and SPF moisturizer...perfect for my beach vacation this summer). Who doesn't love freebies?
Hope that helps! Any other tips on trying and buying products?