As I mentioned in my Makeup Low Buys and Decluttering post, this discussion on beauty sales was originally posted on my old blog (Sensitive Beauty Blog) on October 25, 2017. I wanted to give it a home here on this website because it will always be relevant. It may be especially helpful now with the numerous Memorial Day sales soon to come if they haven’t started already.
I don’t think sales on beauty are as rare as it may seem, so I wanted to talk about it. Hopefully, if you are looking to save money this will help you find some avenues that would work for the beauty products that you like to purchase. I also wanted to talk about it because it seems like people advise others to shop sales because they don’t happen often and I just don’t think that is true. I think that years ago sales may have been rare, but that is no longer the case. In general, I find that 15-20% off sales are not as rare. 25% off and up are the types of sales that I’d look for if you do want to shop just because there is a sale.
If you are triggered to shop by knowing about sales, you may want to stop reading here. My goal with this post is to offer a different perspective to the conversation of shopping that has helped me buy less. I used to think I should grab what I wanted because it was on sale and I’d rather get it at a better price so why not. Now I realize and say to myself, don’t worry, there will definitely be another sale and it will probably be next week. I also realized that I purchased things on sale that I passed on several times at full price. That got me thinking about the fact that if I didn’t want it at full price, I probably didn’t want it at all. If I’m willing to buy it at full price and it just so happens to be on sale, then great. But if you’re buying something simply because it is on sale, hopefully this can help you gain some perspective. There will always be another sale, so there is really no rush. I understand that limited edition items can be extra tempting, but either you can find something similar or the brand will at times re-promote popular items.
So realizing that sales are plentiful and that I can get exactly the products I truly want when I actually want them (no stocking up), I decided to share just how frequent sales can be.
Ordering directly from the brand website can be a good way to get items on sale. Most brands have a discount code available for signing up for their newsletter for the first time. So if you are brand loyal or like several things from one brand, consider signing up with them to get that initial discount and to be emailed about future sales. A few that come to mind as having a lot of sales are Clinique, Smashbox, Wet n Wild, Elf Cosmetics, Tarte Cosmetics, Juvia’s Place, and Sigma Beauty.
Always read the fine print, Chanel as an entire brand and at times fragrance purchases are often excluded from these sales. Belk, Macy’s, and Bloomingdales are ones to keep an eye out for. Nordstrom price matches some of these sales so they are worth looking into as well.
Drugstores (CVS, Walgreens, Riteaid)
If you want more than one thing, I’d hold out for at least 25% off. Otherwise, I’d just shop at Walmart and Target where the prices are always low. If you compare prices at drugstores versus Target and Walmart for the same item, you’ll find a markup nearly every time. BOGO 50% off sales often encourage you to purchase two things even if you only wanted one. Also in most instances, you cannot mix and match between brands if you want products from different brands. Occasionally they do have mix and match between brand events, so just pay attention to the fine print.
I feel like during the VIB sales I always hear people on YouTube talk about how you need to stock up now because Sephora never has sales. They have two VIB sales a year and the gift card event at the end of the year. So that is at least 2 opportunities to get what you want at a discount and possibly a third depending on how much you shop.
Ulta has their 21 days of beauty event 2 times a year and they run other similar promotions fairly often. Just pay attention to the fine print because every coupon and sale has different exclusions. Before the pandemic Ulta offered several coupon events throughout the year. Some Ulta coupons exclude prestige cosmetics making them limited to only drugstore/non-prestige items, but they are no longer as frequent. They do still have some targeted deals that work on prestige products, so you can sign up for emails to hopefully get some of those. They typically have a coupon listed on the website that works on drugstore and non-prestige items. Just keep in mind that Ulta does have a markup on drugstore items, so it may not be the best deal you can get.
Friends and Family Sales
Anyone remember the days when friends and family sales were legitimately just for friends and family? Employers used to give people a certain number of coupons to hand out and the discount was equal to the employee discount instead of one of the normal sale amounts.
Or the days when friends and family sales seemed to happen only once a year? These days brands are having 2 or 3 friends and family sales a year. If you have a favorite brand, sign up for emails because they will likely have at least one friends and family sale.
Cosmetics Company Outlet (CCO)
This is a discount outlet owned and operated by Estee Lauder Companies. You can find several of their brands like MAC, Clinique, Origins, Smashbox, Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford and of course Estee Lauder being stocked at a discounted price.
Flash Sale Sites (Nordstrom Rack, Zulily, Gilt City)
Some brands I often see on Nordstrom Rack are Urban Decay, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier, and Charlotte Tilbury. Zulily often has Lancome, YSL, Marc Jacobs, NARS and Clinique. These aren’t exhaustive lists, just what I can remember seeing off the top of my head.
Gilt City sometimes has free coupons and sometimes they are for purchase. A recent Gilt City example was a free Bobbi Brown voucher for $30 off an $80 purchase plus a free gift. In the past they have had vouchers for purchase from Sigma Beauty where you could pay $50 for a $100 credit, $75 for $150 credit, $100 for $200 credit, or $150 for a $300 credit.
AAFES & Navy Exchange
If you are in the military or are a military dependent you can purchase makeup from the exchanges for a discount. As a military spouse myself, this is a go to place to shop for me. I find the discount is typically 15% off for most items and there is no sales tax on anything sold at the exchange.
There are other sites and brands that I missed but I think I’ve made my point by just sharing those that come to my mind. The one brand that I do notice is often not on sale is Chanel. So if you are a fan and they make staple products for you and you find them on sale, that may be an exception to holding out for another sale (if you can afford to spend at that time). In the past Bloomingdales had a beauty sale for $15 off $150 purchase and Chanel was included and I nearly passed out.
I hope this post was informative and helpful to you in some way. Do you feel like you have to shop if you see a sale? Do sales make you feel like you are going to miss out on a good deal? Or do you only shop when you need to replace an item? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
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3 thoughts on “Beauty Sales: Let’s talk about where you can save money and why there is no rush”
If there’s an item I want, but intend to wait for a sale, I have a price in my head of what I’m willing to pay. If there is a sale and it gives me the number I want, I happily place the order. Most of the time though, the price drop is close but not quite close enough. That’s when I agonize over whether I think it could drop further later and is still worth waiting or if I think the current sale is as good as it’s going to get. I was very good about predicting things in the past, but in the last 1-2 years since covid has effected the economy and cosmetics sales are down, it has been less easy to predict how deep the discount will go. Sales are more frequent as you said. More brands that wouldn’t be on sale in the past, I have now seen them happen. For instance, I feel like Pat Mcgrath has 25% off every other month!
You mentioned certain brands are often excluded in sales, and that’s when I am more likely to jump on a smaller discount if it’s for a prestige brand. And I very much miss all those 20% off prestige coupons Ulta used to hand out.
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I agree, who is going to have a sale and how good of a discount they’ll offer is much harder to predict these days. I wish Nordstrom would have sales of their own instead of just price matching other stores because I prefer dealing with their customer service over some individual brands. I’m pretty good at resisting Pat Mcgrath’s sales, but that’s mostly because I’m only interested in a few of her products. But I’m also impatient so I tend to prefer Sephora’s faster shipping over the Pat Mcgrath website. On the one hand, I also miss the Ulta 20% off prestige coupons, but I also notice that I barely shop at Ulta anymore, so I spend less overall. It’s bittersweet I guess lol.
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I’ve spent a lot less at Ulta as well, because honestly those 20% coupons were a huge temptation. I keep waiting for them to release one and in the process of waiting, I’ve ended up removing many products from my wishlist. So, it’s probably for the best anyway, haha.
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