There’s two parts to saving a TON of money on makeup and beauty products…
First up are the life hacks or habits that let you automate getting the makeup that makes you look AMAZING with the least amount of time, money, and effort. Then, I’m going to give you my best budget makeup, from a real 40+-year-old woman who is not a beauty expert, a dermatologist, or someone trying to sell you something.
I make a living finding hacks for chronically disorganized people to get the best results for the least amount of time and money.
I’ve done it with…
I’m including a list of items in my makeup bag that have been there for years and consistently give me the best look for the least amount of money.
Side note: If you suck at budgeting and need a crash course that teaches you how to budget based on your unique personality… You can join the 90-Day Budget Bootcamp for FREE here…
Part 1: Makeup Life Hacks
#1. Buy the majority of your makeup from Ulta (or CVS).
Why? Because you should buy makeup from companies that will let you return used makeup. If you do this you won’t get stuck with a $12 product that you now hate. You can just return it. I’ve had the most luck with the 2 above – Amazon usually accept used returns as well, but look for a lot of reviews- because make up is often resold there that’s old or expired.
Pro tip: Also keep a return basket in your house, so you actually return them. I use the “never forget system” for this and love it.
#2. When trying new products, use your usual makeup and then add in ONE product at a time.
So if you have a usual foundation, blush, mascara, brow pencil, or powder that you use, use that but add in one of the new purchased products a day to see if you like it better than what you currently have.
Pro tip: Return anything that isn’t as good or better than what you currently have.
#3. Have a base face.
Have a basic or usual makeup routine in different colors (I have beige, peach, pink, and red). Those are your base faces. Keep that makeup out and organized so you can quickly do your base face.
Pro tip: Keep extra makeup that you don’t use often away but still easily accessible. Things like lashes and dark eyeliner if you don’t use them every day.
#4 Use Ipsy.
Ipsy is about $12 a month, but if you love makeup and you’re the type of person to impulse buy all the new things… Ipsy is such a great value.
Ipsy lets you try lots of brand-name products every month for less than the price of one product.
If you use the base face hack, then Ipsy’s job is just to help you find things that beat your current base face favorites.
Pro tip: For the Ipsy products I’m not interested in, I save them and add them to presents or give them to friends. They do a pretty good job though of nailing what you like since the boxes are customized to your coloring and the types of products you like.
Part 2: Amazing Products That I LOVE
Believe In Beauty Nail Polish $2.50
I’m not joking, this is one of the best products on this list. This nail polish is only available at the Dollar General, I got it after reading this and COULD NOT AGREE MORE.
It dries (to the point of being able to wash your hands or sort laundry) in under 20 min, lasts insanely long and I love their colors. This is worth the special trip even if you never go to Dollar General.
Thrive Causemetics Mascara – $25
This is higher priced than most “budget buys” but it by far has the best value because I’ve never found another mascara that can beat it at any price point. It’s INSANE for giving thick long lashes. I used to wear fake lashes every day (either having them done, doing Lashify, or wearing strips depending on the season of life I was in), but when I started using this Thrive mascara, I stopped using fake lashes.
And then I found out the hack that makes Latisse cheaper than lash serum and started using that and am obsessed with my lashes that used to be super short. (You can see the full hack at the bottom of this post).
P.S. I routinely test drugstore mascaras and high-end mascaras against this and have never found one that performs better than Thrive Causemetics.
I am constantly testing mascara, so if I can find a drugstore brand that can beat this, I’m jumping ship. But in 3 years and a lot of testing, I haven’t found anything even close.
Thrive Causemetics Glossy Lip Hydrating Serum in Ruth – $26 (pictured in photo of me above on right).
My personal favorite. For lips, it’s the same as their mascara, these lip glosses have the highest ROI (return on investment) not the lowest price. You have to order this from their website, but dear God nothing else is better in my opinion.
The next two closest competitors are…
They’re the closest I’ve found to the Thrive Causemetics Ruth.
Seint – $16 per tin (The tins go in a magnetic case which comes free with your first purchase)
It’s an MLM (like Avon or Pampered Chef) which isn’t my favorite business model, but this stuff is so good they could sell it out of dirty vans in a back alley and I’d still buy it.
You have to get color-matched online, which is a pain and a bit of a process (you need makeup free sun selfies (stand in front of a window during daylight and take a selfie) and they need to teach you how to use it -with photos). That means who you buy from matters, because whether you get the right colors for your skin tone (and love the makeup) is going to depend on who did your color match).
I got matched by two representatives and ordered them both… one was WAY off and one was perfect, so I recommend her to everyone who asks (bonus because her Instagram page has so many easy makeup tutorials with Seint that I could binge all day).
Ulta Beauty Tinted Juice Infused Lip Oil: $10
Love this! You can find it here…
Farah Matt Boss Liquid Lip Pigments: About $10
I use Sienna for my go-to red lip. You can see it here…
Makeup Wipes: $6
While not technically makeup, these are one of my favorite skin care products. If you’re the type of person who aspires to have a nightly skincare regimen to remove your makeup, hydrate, and treat your skin but you often don’t do it or you skip nights all the time…then let’s hack that.
When you collapse into bed, wipe your face and rub in some cream. (No need to even do it at the sink).
If you’re feeling lazy or you don’t have dry skin, wipe your face and skip the cream.
Maybelline Dream Radiant Liquid and Dream Matte Mousse: These are the best drugstore makeup products and I’ve been using them for years. They give you that dewy finish. Until I found Seint, I’ve tried dozens if not hundreds of full coverage foundations from drugstore brands to high-end brands (like $135 Chanel). I’ve never found anything I like better than this drug store staple.
Getting the right match can be tough… here’s what I do.
Buy it in a place that lets you return used.
Buy a few different shades that you think you could be – so that you can test them at home.
Wear each shade for 3 days and take sun selfies.
Then rate each shade with a 1,4,7, or 10 (having less numbers to choose from is a hack that helps you get better data when deciding things like this) before you return the ones you don’t love.
You can find Maybelline Dream Radiant Liquid $12 (which I used in the summer before I found Seint) and Dream Matte Mousse ($12) (Which I used in the winter before I found Seint) here…
e.l.f. Power Primer: $10
e.l.f. Shadow Sticks: $5
I like Thrive Causemetics better than this but e.l.f. cosmetics are so cheap and they’re better than their competitors. Without question one of the top most affordable makeup brands and their stuff is good. The higher price for Thrive isn’t justified in my opinion (unless you want a color that e.l.f doesn’t have and that Thrive does). These are better than eyeshadow palettes because they’re so easy to use.
e.l.f. Instant Lift Brow Pencil: $3
How to get Latisse for less than $10 a month.
This is the holy grail of makeup (ish) hacks. Seriously, like the best hack EVER for medication lash serum with INSANE results for way cheaper than over the counter.
You know how everyone’s obsessed with long lashes and they sell over-the-counter lash serums that start at about $30 and go up to over $100? And after you’ve spent a small fortune, some say they work and some say they don’t.
Latisse: This medicated lash growth serum is $50 for a 4-6 month supply from your doctor if you use Good RX. It’s safe (according to my doctor, the biggest risk (which is rare) is darkening of the pupil, but certainly talk to yours about risks first).
Latisse is AMAZING! I was so annoyed that I didn’t know about this sooner because I’ve always had insanely short blonde lashes.
Any doctor will write an Rx for Latisse: Including your primary care doctor. You don’t need to prove that you have insufficient lashes or anything, you can literally just say “I want longer lashes.” It’s not a big deal. Doctors view this similar to Viagra, it’s not medically necessary to treat a condition, but they want you to get it from them instead of the online services (which is great because they will overcharge you $60 a month and use a teledoc to write the Rx).
Your insurance won’t cover it since it’s not medically necessary: So you need to download GoodRx (it’s an app that’s free, don’t upgrade to gold, you don’t need it for this) and search for the drug Latisse (Bimatoprost is the generic brand- that’s what I use). Check the pharmacies around you to see who has the best prices and go there (this will change monthly). Tell them you have GoodRx and you’ll pay that amount for the prescription. There’s usually several options to fill it for $35-$50 but if you don’t use GoodRx – They’ll likely charge you $175-$220 for it depending on which pharmacy you go to.
Hint: If it’s a pharmacy you’ve never used before you can often get bonuses (like gift cards, fuel points etc for transferring an Rx there or filling a new Rx there).
It takes about 6 weeks for you to get the full effects of Latisse, use it every day. Then, after that you can use it every other day (that’s why it’s 4-6 months). I saw a big difference in about 3-4 weeks and it just kept getting better.
P.S. If any of this was helpful- you should see how we teach you to work with your unique personality to master budgeting even if you’re super impulsive and suck at budgeting. Get that program for free here.
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