Refining Your Style: Cost vs Benefit of Beauty Bargains

Everything I learned about applying and wearing make-up happened during the era of electric blue eye shadow, big hair, and Aqua Net.

Despite these questionable, very 80s beauty trends, I have refined my style choices and understanding of cost vs. benefit when shopping for beauty products. We all have our go-to brands for hair, skin, and make-up, some of which are more expensive than others. Thankfully, shopping online, taking advantage of store rewards programs, and checking out trending beauty sales can still get you those higher-end products at bargain prices.

Haircare Comparisons

I discovered Moroccan Oil Moisture Repair shampoo a few years ago and have used it ever since. It smells great, protects my hair from dryness, and keeps it strong and healthy through any type of styling. On Amazon and the Moroccan Oil website, the moisture repair shampoo comes in three sizes and sells for $12.00 to $75.00, depending on the size you choose. Looking for the best bargain on this product led me to choose the largest size, a 33.8 oz pump bottle, but I wasn’t thrilled about paying $75.00.

Some online comparison shopping got me the same-size bottle of Moroccan Oil shampoo on eBay for $61.50. Both the Moroccan Oil website and eBay offered free shipping. Admittedly, the 33.8 oz bottle is enormous but lasts over a year, costing around $3.41 per month/18 mos. Total shampoo savings: $13.50.

Another Moroccan Oil product I use is the Luminous Hairspray Extra Strong Hold. This firm but flexible styling aid keeps my curls tamed and looking natural. Purchasing the Luminous Hairspray Extra Strong on the Moroccan Oil website will get you one 10 oz bottle for $26.00. I use this product often and found that buying in bulk nets the most savings.

Again, I opted to get the hairspray from eBay, where a three-pack sells for $59.97. Both sites offer free shipping, but if you do the math, your total savings per three-pack of hairspray is $18.03.

Striking Skincare Savings

To combat fine lines and leave my face feeling baby skin smooth, I love Biossance Squalane Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum 1.69 oz. Initially, I purchased this skincare treatment at a Sephora kiosk inside a Kohl’s Department store for $68.00, agonizing my inner penny pincher. As I finished the first bottle and vowed never to pay that much again, I scored the identical product online for $39.99 with free shipping! eBay for the win, yet again, with a savings of $28.01.

Another go-to skincare product I use is StriVectin Hyaluronic Tripeptide Gel-Cream for Eyes. This lightweight yet effective moisture-rich formula soothes delicate under-eye skin while reducing the signs of aging. Surprisingly, I first encountered this item at my local Costco Wholesale Club for $27.99 after an in-store coupon. Costco sells the eye cream in a two-pack, a regular size (.5 oz) and a travel size (.17 oz).

I did a quick online search to compare prices and found that the .5 oz size of the same product sells for $65.00 on the StriVectin website. Of course, I bought the eye cream at Costco and got more product for less than half of the online price! Costco for the win, saving me $37.01.

Spend any time browsing beauty items at Costco, and you’ll find deals on everything from high-end skincare to luxury bath products. Neutrogena Rainbath Shower Gel provides a refreshing, lather-rich wash that cuts through dirt and sweat while leaving skin soft. Since I use this regularly, I always get the 40 oz size at Costco, where it sells in-store or online for $19.49 with a coupon.

This is a better price than the same size Neutrogena Rainbath online at Walmart, which sells for $31.29, plus shipping if you don’t have a Walmart + membership. Getting Neutrogena Rainbath at Costco instead of Walmart saves $11.80. Shopping at Costco requires a membership; still, many people find that linking their membership to the Costco Anywhere Visa card earns points back on purchases and a sizeable rebate check once a year.

Keeping it Real:  Make-up vs. “Fake-up”

My recent quest to find an eyeliner that doesn’t run, smudge, or look muddy led me to the Urban Decay cosmetics section of my local Ulta Beauty retailer. I purchased Urban Decay’s 24/7 Shadow Stick in the color chaos after a store employee assured me it would not rub off and last for hours.

While I wasn’t happy with the eyeliner’s $27.00 price, I saved 20% on my purchase by opening an Ulta Beauty Ultamate Rewards Mastercard, which earns more rewards points and perks than simply using the store’s Ultamate Rewards program. I wore the Shadow Stick and felt it didn’t live up to the 24/7 hype, so I returned it to the store and received a full refund of $21.65, the discounted price plus tax.

In my search for a smudge-proof eyeliner that lived up to its name, I discovered several exciting colors of the 24/7 Glide On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil on the Urban Decay website. The Eyeliner Pencil has a $25.00 regular price, is thinner, more refined, and appeared easier to use than the Shadow Stick. I ordered several colors of the Eyeliner Pencils, which were included in a 30% off sale. Additionally, I scored free shipping through another promotion, bringing the cost per Eyeliner Pencil, including tax, to $15.80.

The 24/7 Glide On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil stayed on all day, held up through an outdoor bike ride, and didn’t come off until I removed it that evening. In this case, savvy online shopping at Urban Decay’s website got me better savings, $5.85, than using Ulta Beauty’s rewards program.

So far, my combination of online and in-store beauty buys has saved me $114.20 for six of my favorite hair, skin, and make-up must-haves. While most of my online beauty bargains were legitimate new-in-box products, a recent purchase of my favorite mascara was a bust.

I bought Benefit Cosmetics BADgal BANG! Volumizing Mascara on eBay for $11.41, less than half the $28.00 retail price. I thought this was a great deal until I went to apply the mascara and found it to be dried out and unusable. Still trying to find a bargain on BADgal BANG!, I ordered it from Amazon for $18.00 and had the same issue:  a dried-out substandard product.

Fortunately, I received refunds from both Amazon and eBay. Going forward, I’ll get my mascara from Ulta Beauty and use their Ultamate Rewards program for discounts on higher-end beauty products.

Comparison shopping for beauty bargains is worth the time and effort, but make sure what you purchase is eligible for returns and remember:  if the price is too good to be true, the product probably isn’t worth it!

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.