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Save money on makeup with these 12 hacks

Makeup is notoriously expensive, and fuelling your addiction to eye shadow palettes can seriously drain your student loan. But not if you follow these top tips... 

save money on makeup

From colourful eyeshadow palettes to gorgeous lipstick shades, there's nothing better than stocking up on some fresh makeup products to add to your collection.

But they don't come cheap - a recent survey found that Brits spend on average £192.20 a year on makeup products.

If you're savvy about it, there are ways you can fuel your addiction without breaking the bank - and make your makeup last longer too!

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

12 top tips for saving money on makeup

  1. Recycle makeup packaging

    This one isn't just good for your bank balance, but also the environment too! A couple of brands have set up schemes whereby if you return their product packaging, they'll reward you with a freebie.

    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 some black pots to your local Lush store and you'll be treated to a free face mask! It's one of the best ways to

    Back to Mac

    One of the most well known of these 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 - empty blusher pots or foundation bottles, for instance - but they have to be primary packaging. This means that things like paper boxes and cellophane wrappers aren't included in the scheme.

    Some savvy Mac fans have even come up with a nifty tricking for depotting eyeshadow from the plastic containers they come in, speeding up the return process and getting your hands on the free lipstick even quicker!

Discover other ways to reduce plastic waste and save money!
  1. Get free makeup samples

    Your first port of call for free makeup samples should be the Save the Student Health & Beauty deals page. We post free samples and exclusive discounts on there every day, so get it bookmarked and join our WhatsApp group to make sure you’re able to grab the free samples before they run out!

    Lots of beauty counters, especially those in the big department stores, will give you free samples of products if you simply ask for them. Tell them there’s a product that you’re really interested in but you want to try it 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!

  2. Revive old makeup

    revive old mascara

    There’s nothing worse than spending a load of money on some fancy new makeup, only to have to put half of it in the bin when it starts to go off.

    Makeup unfortunately doesn’t last forever, but if your favourites are starting to fade, here’s some tricks to try to give them a new lease of life:

      You know when your mascara starts to dry out and go all clumpy? Yeah, that’s the worst. Add a few drops of saline/ contact lens solution to the tube, swirl it around, and it should be good as new!
      You can make your mascara last longer by not pumping the wand, 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 doesn’t work you could 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
      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 – follow the instructions here.

  3. Can you return makeup?

    return makeup

    It’s quite common in the US for customers to return makeup products they no longer want and get a full refund, but in the UK it often isn’t so straight-forward.

    If you have some unused and unopened makeup, and your 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 you feel it isn’t up to scratch then 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, so always try and make sure a product is right for you before you buy.

If you’ve bought a lipstick or eyeshadow that you’re not keen on, you could try mixing and blending it with something else to make a brand new shade!
  1. Sell unused makeup

    If you’ve bought a new product and then decide you no longer want it, but aren’t able to get a refund, your best bet is probably 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

    dupe Mac products

    Dupes are the holy grail of bargain beauty products. They’re essentially copy cats of big name or designer products for a fraction of the price.

    Unfortunately, the only way to really keep track of the best dupes on the market is to follow beauty blogs and YouTube channels who spot them – but here’s a pretty comprehensive list of the best dupes in 2018.

    As a rule though you should try and avoid the expensive brands as much as possible, and instead find the products you need in own brand ranges instead.

TK Maxx is great for getting high-end brand makeup at discount prices!
  1. Use beauty loyalty cards

    Boots Advantage Card

    There are a whole load of loyalty cards out there which, if you make good use of them, could bring some 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, 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). Essentially you earn 3 points for every £1 you spend, and for every 500 points you rack up you get £5 to spend in store or online. This means you have to spend £166 to get a £5 reward – which doesn’t sound that amazing.

    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 which include a Benefit brow wax. 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 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.

  2. Volunteer as a product tester

    test makeup

    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 do get a spot, you can 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 (and you’ll receive compensation for your efforts).

    Applications open again in December 2018, so make sure to get in there quick if you want a spot!

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

  3. Don’t fork out for expensive makeup brushes

    paintbrushes as makeup brushes

    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 fancy case – standard paintbrushes will do just as good a job, and you’ll feel a lot less guilty about throwing them out when they get caked in makeup.

    Another clever hack is to reuse expensive mascara brushes in cheap mascara tubes. At the end of the day, the black stuff is pretty much the same across the board – it’s the brush you’re paying more for. Give it a quick clean and pop it into your new tub when you need to use it.

  4. Use the power of influencers

    Picture-perfect beauty bloggers and Instagram-influencers can be annoying, but they’re also 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.

  5. Be smart when shopping online

    searching for jobs in LinkedIn

    You’ll often get a much better deal when shopping online as opposed to in store – and an even better deal if you try 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.

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

    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 frequently!

  6. Don’t forget your student discount

    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 and Beauty Bay.

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.

Got any tips for saving on makeup that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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