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Save Money

Save money on makeup with these 12 hacks

Fuelling your addictions to eye shadow, mascara and lipstick can drain your Student Loan – and fast. With these top tips, though, you can indulge in new makeup for a lot, lot less.

woman with colourful makeup

Credit: Jacob Lund – Shutterstock

Every now and then, you deserve to treat yourself to a little new makeup.

Looking for new products, testing them out and trying new styles is great... until you see the price tags. But, the good news is that there are ways to stock up on new makeup and keep it fresh for longer, all without breaking the bank.

Follow our top 12 hacks and you'll be saving your money (and the environment) in no time!

Bookmark the health & beauty deals page of our site so you never miss a makeup sale or freebie.

How to save money on makeup

Here are the top ways to help you save money on makeup:

  1. Recycle makeup packaging for a free gift

    Cosmetics display in Lush, Oxford

    Credit: nanka – Shutterstock

    Recycling makeup packaging can be kind to both your purse and the planet.

    These brands have set up schemes which reward you with freebies if you return their product packaging:

    Recycle Lush pots

    If you're a frequent Lush shopper, you'll be well aware of their iconic black pots for things that come in cream, gel or lotion form. Unlike other packaging like plastic shower gel bottles, these can't be recycled at home, so Lush have set up a scheme to recycle them in-house.

    Return five clean, used black pots to your local Lush store and you'll be treated to a free face mask!

    Back to Mac

    One of the most well-known makeup recycling schemes is Back to Mac. Return six primary packaging containers to a Mac counter and you'll get a free lipstick of your choice.

    The packaging can be pretty much anything (e.g. empty blusher pots or foundation bottles) but they have to be primary packaging. This means that things like paper boxes and cellophane wrappers aren't included in the scheme.

    If you want to speed up your returns of used containers to Mac, you can empty products into other bottles and pots that you already have at home. Then you can then bring back the container early and get the free lipstick quicker!

  2. Get free makeup samples

    red lipsticks on yellow background

    Credit: I am Kulz – Shutterstock

    For free makeup samples, keep an eye on our Health & Beauty deals page – we post free samples and exclusive discounts on there all the time.

    Be sure to also join our WhatsApp group to grab free samples before they run out.

    Lots of beauty counters, especially ones in big department stores, will give you free samples of products if you ask for them. Tell them there's a product that you're interested in but want to try out first – you've got nothing to lose!

    You can also often get perfume samples from department stores – again, all you have to do is ask.

    Finally, join product testing sites which often send out new cosmetics free of charge in exchange for consumer feedback.

    If you find yourself with loads of makeup samples that you don't fancy using, you could make money from selling them.

  3. Revive old makeup

    cosmetic bag and makeup

    Credit: ADfoto – Shutterstock

    There's nothing worse than spending a fortune on new, fancy makeup, only to have to throw half of it away when it starts to go off.

    Makeup, sadly, doesn't last forever, but if your favourites are starting to fade, here are some tricks to try to give them a new lease of life, and save money in the process:

      When your mascara starts to dry out and go clumpy, add a few drops of saline/contact lens solution to the tube, swirl it around, and it should be good as new
      You can also make mascara last longer by not pumping the wand when you use it, as this traps air in the tube and makes the mascara dry out quicker – try twisting the wand instead
      If you get to the end of a bottle of makeup, but you know there's more product in there that you can't get at, place it in a bottle of warm water to loosen it up and decant it into a smaller container. This works to loosen up dry mascara too
      If the above tip doesn't work, try cutting bottles in half with some scissors and scooping the remnants out that way
      Broken eyeshadow? Mix it with some rubbing alcohol and press it back together again (you can also try this on pressed powders). Alternatively, you could mix it with some clear nail polish to create a new shade for your nails
      You can melt the ends of two broken lipstick pieces to stick them back together again, or completely melt it down and leave it to set in a lip balm container.

  4. Try to return makeup

    makeup stand in a shop

    Credit: Iakov Filimonov – Shutterstock

    It isn't always straightforward to return makeup, but it can be possible.

    If you have some unused and unopened makeup, and you return it within 30 days of purchase, you'll have the biggest chance of success (although it's not guaranteed). Each shop and/or makeup brand will have their own policy on this, so make sure you check before you start making demands.

    If you buy makeup and feel it isn't up to scratch, you might be able to get a refund – but this will likely be decided on a case-by-case basis. For example, if you buy a waterproof mascara that starts running when your eyes water, it'll be difficult for you to prove this to the store.

    However, if you buy a foundation bottle and the pump is broken, you've got some solid evidence and that should stand you in better stead for a refund.

    You can check out more info on your consumer rights here but, in summary, you should never rely on a refund. As such, you should always make sure a product is right for you before you buy.

Pamper yourself for a super low cost with these homemade beauty treatments that actually work.
  1. Sell unused makeup

    makeup spilling out of cosmetics bag

    Credit: Becky Starsmore – Shutterstock

    If you change your mind about a new product you've bought, but you're unable to get a refund, your best bet is to try and sell it.

    Sites like Depop are great for this, as you can literally take a few snaps on your phone, upload them to your profile and sell in minutes. Just make sure you're completely honest in the description about whether the makeup has been used at all, and make sure the price reflects this.

    You could also try eBay, although it's harder to compete against the professional sellers on here.

  2. Find dupes of your favourite products

    study for identical twins friends

    Credit: Warner Bros

    Dupes are the holy grail of bargain beauty products. They're essentially copycats of big-name or designer products for a fraction of the price.

    The best way to really keep track of the best dupes on the market is to follow beauty blogs and YouTube channels who spot them.

    As a general rule, though, it's best to avoid high-end brands as much as possible, and instead, find the products you need in the own-brand ranges of high-street shops instead.

  3. Use beauty loyalty cards

    Boots advantage card

    Credit: Maddie Red – Shutterstock

    There is a whole range of loyalty cards out there. If you make good use of them, they could bring some very good returns.

    It's likely you'll use at least one of the shops below to buy makeup and beauty products, so why not make something back in the process?

    Boots Advantage Card

    The Boots Advantage Card is one of the more generous schemes out there – for every £1 you spend in-store and online, you get four points which are equal to 4p. You can then use these points in-store and online, but they have to cover the entire cost of an item (you can't use your points to pay for half of something, and then pay the rest yourself).

    Watch out for special events and deals which will boost your points.

    Debenhams Beauty Club Card

    The Debenhams Beauty Club Card is specifically for customers buying beauty and fragrance products (so it won't work for clothes, for instance). You earn three points for every £1 you spend, and for every 500 points you earn, you get £5 to spend in-store or online. This means you have to spend over £166 to get a £5 reward, which doesn't sound great.

    However, the card comes with a range of other perks too, like free standard delivery on all online beauty orders, free samples and makeovers, and birthday treats, including a free facial by Elizabeth Arden. Never say no to a freebie!

    Superdrug Health & Beautycard

    With the Superdrug Beautycard you'll earn one point for every £1 you spend, but there are a number of special deals to help you rack up points quicker. Every 100 points you earn will give you £1 to spend in-store, and unlike the Boots Advantage Card, you can use them for part-payments.

    Each Thursday, you'll get access to exclusive discounts on a different brand, and you'll also get a special birthday treat.

  4. Volunteer as a product tester

    lipstick stand in shop

    Credit: Scharfsinn – Shutterstock

    It's fiercely competitive to get a spot as a beauty product tester, but if you do manage it, you could bag yourself a whole load of free stuff.

    The Boots Volunteer Panel is one of the most well-known product testing schemes. There are very limited spaces and specific criteria you need to meet, so places are like gold dust.

    If you get a spot you'll either be sent products to test at home, or you might be invited to the Boots Evaluation Centre in Nottingham to take tests under controlled conditions (don't worry, you'll receive compensation for your efforts).

    There are also plenty of general product testing sites that can offer makeup and beauty products – we list and review some of the best in our guide to product testing websites.

  5. Stop buying expensive makeup brushes

    lined up makeup brushes

    Credit: Svetlana Lukienko – Shutterstock

    Makeup brushes are SO expensive and there's just no need! Don't fall into the trap of buying the matching pink set in a cute case – standard paintbrushes are a pretty good alternative, and can be bought for a lot less.

    Another clever hack is to reuse expensive mascara brushes in cheaper mascara tubes. You can really notice the difference with good-quality mascara wands, so make high-end ones last. Give them a quick clean and pop them into your new (low cost) tubs.

  6. Use the power of influencers

    On facebook and twitter quote

    Credit: Walt Disney Studios

    Picture-perfect beauty bloggers and Insta influencers can be a tad annoying, but they're a great source of discounts and offer codes.

    Make sure to follow some of the big names on Instagram and Twitter, and keep an eye out for any discount codes they offer their followers.

    Also check out the description of YouTube videos, like makeup tutorials and reviews, for special discounts.

    And, you could even make money from social media yourself by setting up as a beauty blogger or influencer.

  7. Use online shopping hacks

    woman sitting at laptop

    Credit: Africa Studio – Shutterstock

    You'll often spot a good deal when shopping online – and you can find even better deals with these hacks.

    Try filling your online basket with all the products you want, then closing the tab and leaving the site. If you've signed up for an account with the site, they might send you an email with a discount encouraging you to close the deal and buy what's in your basket.

    And, make sure to search the web for discount codes and special offers before you check out.

    Don't forget you can also use cashback on some sites when buying beauty products online – use our guide to getting cash back to see how it's done.

    Finally, don't forget to clear your cookies and internet history before browsing online. Sites like to bump the prices of items they know you buy or view frequently!

  8. Don't forget your student discount

    woman holding red card

    Credit: UfaBizPhoto – Shutterstock

    If you're busy focusing on loyalty cards and special discounts, it's easy to forget to use your trusty old student card in the process. But in some cases, it can save you some serious cash.

    In Superdrug for instance, you can stack it on top of other offers you get through your Health & Beautycard for bumper savings!

    You can also use your student discount at popular online makeup outlets like ASOS.

Find out how one student's turned her knack for online shopping into a nice little money earner by Instagramming Love Island clothes.

Shopping for clothes for graduation or balls on a budget? Our guide will help you find your perfect outfit without spending too much.

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