Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tip Tuesday: Discount Beauty Sites

I'm changing it up with Tip Tuesday!  Because who wants to pay more than necessary?  Here are some great sites for budget-minded beauty folk.  I haven't ordered from all of them, but they are all well-respected and -reviewed by other beauty bloggers.  Some of them are dedicated discount beauty sites, whereas others are the sale section of beauty brands (always a great place to look).

All Cosmetics Wholesale (and its new sister site, Suite 7 Beauty)
ACW is the motherlode of discount beauty websites.  Their selection is truly mind-boggling, and I have spent many hours perusing it and idly adding items to my shopping bag (though I've yet to actually purchase anything from them).  They have some really great deals on stuff (their clearance section often has oodles of 50% off+ sales), though it varies by brand, and they also have a huge selection of discontinued MAC products (at a marked-up price due to their rarity, of course).  I've got several lipsticks from Urban Decay, NARS, and Clinique in my shopping cart right now, and I'm just biding my time until I feel I can afford it to order them…Suite 7 Beauty carries Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, NYX, Lime Crime, and Sugar Pill, among others, though the prices there are usually the same as retail.

BT used to have a wide range of products and great weekly deals and surprise makeup bags, but their selection has decreased of late (though they currently have MOR Cosmetics for 40% off, and I am so tempted to pick up a couple of the mini body butters for Christmas presents!).  They sometimes have VIP sales (you just have to join to be considered VIP), though those are infrequent.  It's a good place to look, and they have some MAC prdoucts for cheaper, too, but overall I prefer ACW.

These are all designer flash sale sites, and while the latter two concentrate almost exclusively on clothing and accessories, Hautelook features a lot of beauty brands at significant discounts.  I've seen Rock & Republic, Lorac, NYX, Jane, Stila, 100% Pure, 3 Custom Color, and Urban Decay in the time I've been a member (about a year, I think?), and there have been times when the products have been 80%+ discounted.  The biggest drawbacks of membership sale sites like these are that shipping is usually quite expensive ($7+), it takes weeks to arrive (often around a month), and there are absolutely no returns accepted.  In spite of that, though, they're good to have on your radar!

Sale Sections of Beauty Sites
These links are pretty much exactly what they sound like!
Sephora always has a lot of items in the sale section.  The weekly specials they have can be a great deal, too––a preview is posted Tuesday night, and the codes go into effect sometime on Wednesday (haven't yet figured out what time, but it's definitely after 2 am Pacific (I mean, I'm just guessing, it's not like I've ever been on the Sephora website so late…).
Ulta carries a combination of drugstore and higher-end lines, and has weekly specials (BOGO1/2, for example) and coupon codes (usually $3.50 off $10 or more), so it's a good place to check out.
Drugstore.com, much like a drugstore, has lots of weekly specials and discounts, and with free shipping over $25, it's a good place to go when you want to stock up on things.
Too Faced, Stila, Urban Decay, LORAC, and Smashbox all have sale sections on their own sites that are worth checking out, especially when there's big end-of-the-season sales to get rid of LE products.
eBay has an enormous selection of beauty products, and you can find things at a significant discount.  You do have to tread with care, though; only buy from Top Rated sellers, and read product reviews before purchasing.

There are some brands it's nearly impossible to find for cheap: NARS, Bobbi Brown, and MAC rarely go on sale, though they can all be found at ACW for cheaper than list price (but often, not by enough––NARS lip glosses are normally $24, and on ACW they're $18, which, while 25% off, is still more than I want to pay), and really high-end luxury brands like Burberry, Le Metier de Beaute, Chantecaille, Serge Lutens, Chanel, etc. are next to impossible.  You can, however, plan your purchases to coincide with store specials or good GWP deals, so that you're at least getting more bang for your buck(s).

Shopping reward programs are another way to maximize your returns; Sephora, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and most (if not all) beauty brands offer loyalty rewards with free products and special deals.  Ebates* is another option, especially since the rewards are in cold, hard cash rather than product (though I'm certainly excited by free product, too).  Finally, you should always check Retail Me Not to see if there's any coupons before you place your purchase, because you can often find free shipping or % discount codes, or tips on how to get discount codes (as was the case with Tarte).
*These are affiliate links, so if you register via them, I receive credits, but regardless of whether you choose to do so via my link or not, I do recommend them!

What are your favorite discount sites?  Why do you like them?  Have you tried any of the ones above?  What did you think?
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