I absolutely love a good bargain. In fact, I have been known to buy beauty products purely because they’re on sale. While that type of behaviour is DEFINITELY not the message of this blog post, I have rounded up some hints and tips I have learnt over the years which see me paying less than full price for my beauty products nine times out of ten, and on the rare occasion I do pay full price, it’s on items I choose to splurge on, and not because I have to.
I am always happy to share this type of information, as I think we are massively ripped off in this country when it comes to makeup and beauty products. Sometimes, no matter how gorgeous that Chanel perfume/Tom Ford bronzer/Glam Glow moisturiser is, you just can’t justify paying that much money. Luckily, that’s where this list of ways to cheat the system comes in!
1. Know the store
First thing’s first, know the store that you’re dealing with. Realise that you will never get a deal at some shops, while at other shops you will have to be mad to pay full price for a product. Start making mental notes of stores that run promotions, sales, deals and discounts, and which ones want to bleed you dry.
For example: I feel pretty damn confident saying that you are not going to be getting a sale on YSL makeup anytime soon. They, like many high-end brands (like Dior and La Mer), do not have discounts or two-for-one’s or seasonal sales. It just doesn’t go with their luxury image. Now think of the Body Shop. Can you remember the last time you walked past one of their stores that DIDN’T have red signs and stickers everywhere? No, because the Body Shop has sales more often than not. Just one of the many reasons I love them.
2. Know their sales
Now that you’ve figured out where you’re going to start looking for your sales, begin to look for patterns. Certain shops will only have seasonal sales, think Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Women’s Day. Others may have seasonal sales that are at a specific time of year, but for no particular reason i.e. every April and August.
If you do this for one full year and do a bit of planning, and I promise that you will never pay full price for beauty and fashion items again.
Try to get into the habit of remembering what kind of sales occur at the places you shop at most frequently, so that next time you need to repurchase your very expensive foundation, you manage to do it during a 20% sale. Planning and plotting is as important as the sale itself, as you may think you’ve scored big on your latest haul, only to see an even further discount a few weeks later.
For example: Some of my favourite stores just do not seem to have sales. Lush, I’m looking at you. But they do have a post-Christmas clear out, where everything considered seasonal is reduced. One of my favourite body washes is technically ‘Christmas’ stock, despite it being available at other times of the year, so it’s important to wait for that sale before I buy it.
Kiehl’s is massively over-priced. Sorry, but it is. The only way I even considered buying their products was because of their Family and Friends sale. It happens for certain weeks of the year, but always at the same time, once during mid-March to early April, and again during mid-September to early October. Buying outside of these times seems silly to me, as I know I can get a guaranteed 20% discount if I’m patient.
3. Shop around
So you’ve found the product that you want, but the shop that stocks it falls into the we’re-too-good-for-sales category. Or maybe, you read this article a little late, and you just missed the Woolworth’s 20% off sale. This is where your snooping skills are going to come in handy.
Do a little investigative work to see who else stocks your favourite brands, many department stores stock the same cosmetics, which means if you miss out on one sale, you can grab the same item (maybe for even less) at the next sale somewhere else.
A great example is fragrances. Places like Dischem and Clicks sell a fair selection of high-end fragrances at significantly lower prices than Edgars and Woolworths. The more stores that stock your product, the easier it will be for you to find a good deal.
For example: Smashbox is stocked at Foschini and Woolworths, these stores both have different types of sales at different times. Foschini often runs promotions along the lines of ‘Get R500 off when you spend R2000 or more’ whereas Woolworths has a 20% of beauty sale when you buy two products or more. Depending on your needs, pick the sale that suits you best.
Certain brands have stand-alone stores that are not going to be handing out discounts, but these brands are often stocked elsewhere, in stores that run promotions. Urban Decay, whose store is in Sandton, will probably never have a sale after the Stuttafords fiasco, but they are available online through Foschini, where you can take advantage of the beauty sales on offer to get discounted Urban Decay makeup.
4. Choose what you’re going to save on, and what you won’t compromise on
I don’t like cheap lipsticks. Or perfumes. Or hair-styling tools. But I’ll be damned if I pay more than R100 for mascara. So you have to choose, some things are just silly to splurge on, whereas other things, like skincare, it makes sense to spend a little more. Where you’re willing to invest is a personal decision, but make sure you know where your beauty priorities lie so that you don’t end up buying things you aren’t going to use.
5. Be picky and patient when it comes to splurges
I am not an impulse buyer. Okay, I am not an impulse splurger. I do my research, hesitate, read reviews, hesitate some more, try to convince myself I don’t need it, shop around and then eventually cave. And I cannot tell you how much money it has saved me. Being super finicky and drawing out your purchase gives you an opportunity to find better deals, wait for sales or time to realise you don’t actually need that product.
For example: If you read my Christmas wish list post from last year, you’ll know that one of the items I was coveting was a stunning forest green Fossil bag. I wanted that bag for months and months and months. Every time I went past a Fossil store, I’d go in and hold it, show whichever unfortunate family member that was with me how beautiful it was, and then say goodbye.
Right at the very end of December, I went in to remind the bag how I much I loved it, and the Fossil guy casually says “That’s 30% off right now”. And now I have a Fossil bag. But my point is, the sale wasn’t evident from outside, nor was the price on the bag marked down, so if I hadn’t gone in regularly to check, I wouldn’t have even known there was a possibility to get a discount.
It also saw me choosing a black version, instead of the green one, as the one I originally wanted had suede sides and a leather front and back, whereas the black one was leather all over. I was worried that the suede would get damaged and would wear more quickly. Had I bought it the first time I saw it, I wouldn’t have known that the other variety was an option.
6. Don’t be too selective when it comes to cheaper items
Who can honestly say that they have a holy grail toothpaste? No one. Hopefully. That’s because some of the little things just don’t matter all that much. Once you’ve found the things that you aren’t willing to compromise on, start being flexible with the things you are willing to mix up. This is a HUGE money saver for me, and is a habit that can lead to extreme-couponing-like behaviour.
7. Become a hoarder (just a little bit)
This follows on from the previous point. Due to how unpredictable sales on cheaper items can be, you may have to stock up on when the opportunity presents itself. If you see an item on sale, and absolutely know you will end up needing it, buy it! Keep a plastic box somewhere out of sight, like under your bed or next to your shoes, where you can keep the things you bought in advance until you need them.
If you can afford to buy products before you need them, it is definitely worth your while. Buy your hair care and toiletries on Clicks’ three for two offers, purchase your sunscreen for the year in July, and get your mother and sisters’ Christmas presents during the Body Shop’s 20% off sales.
For example: This is a boring example, but nonetheless. Recently I bought four Nivea deodorants from Dischem while they were on promotion. It was a brand and type I had used before, and I knew that I would be needing deodorant for the foreseeable, sweaty future. So I got four for R50, where they are usually R25ish each. Maybe this isn’t a particularly big saving, but applying this to all the items you regularly buy can enable you to spend less on beauty each month.
8. Team up for maximum effect
As much as I love buying two beauty products instead of one, I can admit that it’s counterproductive to pay double what you originally planned on spending just to take advantage of a 10% discount. So next time you see an offer you want to take advantage of, but your purchase doesn’t meet the requirement, chat to your mom, aunt, gran, bestie or even another beauty-fanatic on Instagram, and see if you guys can group your purchase so that everyone wins!
For example: I recently made an overseas purchase from Colourpop, during their very exciting sale. If the items in your basket came to over $50, you qualified for free international shipping. And while my purchase met these requirements (obviously), another beauty blogger had chatted to me about kindly grouping our purchase. Making beauty friends has all sorts of benefits!
9. Always be on the lookout
Keeping your eyes peeled and your ear to the ground is one of the best ways to catch sales. I suggest making an effort to follow your favourite brands and stores on Instagram, and regularly checking their Facebook pages to stay on top of possible sales, discounts and giveaways. Brands often slip in exclusive information on these platforms to encourage a greater following, so read their full post to ensure they haven’t mentioned a discount code at the very end.
For example: Hayley is a beauty and lifestyle blogger affiliated with ghd South Africa. She recently shared a R500 discount code for the hair styling brand’s site. Now R500 is A LOT of money, when you consider that their products are only about R2 000. If I had not been following her on Instagram, I wouldn’t have known about the code, and would never have been able to take advantage of the discount.
10. Sign up wherever possible
Another great way brands reward your online following is through email-only sales and rewards. Signing up to your favourite store’s email list will keep you on top of any offers that may interest you, and ensure that you’re the first one to know about their sales.
More often than not, signing up also gives you a discount on your first purchase through the brand’s site. If you know you’re going to need a new tube of your favourite Clinique mascara, consider purchasing it after signing up, just to make use of their ‘first purchase’ discount.
If you’re worried that your email will be taken over by spammy messages from all these brands, don’t worry because it will be! That’s why I suggest you create an account purely for all of these sign ups, so that you can choose when you want to sift through all of their promotions.
For example: I know that Colourpop offered me a $5 discount on my first purchase when I signed up with them, and ghd offers a 10% discount when signing up with them. I would be interested to know if you can provide the same payment details with multiple emails… indefinite discounts anyone?
11. Loyalty is key
Finally, invest in a big wallet or purse, because you’re about to be signing up for a lot of loyalty cards. They are by far the most underrated way to save on your beauty products, because the way I see it, if you’re going to be shopping at these stores anyway, you may as well get something out of it. And no matter how small the reward is, having a full ‘Promotions’ section in your inbox is a small price to pay.
For example: There are three ways that these little guys allow you to save. The first is through a cash back system, run by stores like Clicks, Dischem and the Body Shop. A certain percentage of your purchase is given back in the form of cash off your next splurge.
The second way is where you are required to buy a certain number of products, in order for your X-th one to be free. This is more often done by food-related stores, think Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream, but the benefits are still great.
And finally, stores reward card-holders with members-only offers. This could either be like Woolworths, where sales only apply after your card is swiped, or like the Body Shop, where members receive R50 off a purchase in their birthday month.
If you have stayed reading to this point in the post, I thank you! This was a monster article, but I hope it provided some great ways to save on beauty products. I would love to hear your tips and tricks if I haven’t already mentioned them, and see whatever you guys manage to grab on discount.