Friday, July 20, 2012

How I budget my high-end beauty purchases

Happy Friday everyone!

The following tips serve as my general shopping guideline. I then mix and match the tactics to maximize the saving. In the next post, I'll share with you my favorite places to shop for specific brands:)

1. Get on the mailing list and/or sign up for free membership
The retailers send you information on promotions, product updates, tips, tutorials, events, etc... through email. You can plan your purchase months in advance. The biggest sale event of the year are their Friends and Family Sale. It tend to take place during the holiday season.

Last year, giant beauty brands like YSL, Giorgio Armani, Lancome, Bobbi Brown, Clarins, Too Faced, Stila, Benefits, Smashbox had 20% Off Friends and Family Sale.

My personal pick is Sephora. When you join their Beauty Insider program (for free), you may get up-to 5 sale events through out the year . For every dollar you spend you get 1 point in your beauty bank. When your bank has 350 points, you become a very important beauty insider VIB. You get delux sample when you have 100 points and 500 points in your beauty banks.

Bloomingdale's started their loyalist program that give you 2 points for every dollar you spend on Beauty and Fragrance. You'll get a $25 coupon on any item in the store when you have 5000 points. It's long way to go, but Bloomie carry Chanel!

  • Great saving if you have a particular favorite. Many brands/retailers rewards their members with delux samples, free shipping, discounts from time to time.
  • Usually save 20-30% of the retail price (most brands shoot for 20% off) for Friends and Family Sale.
  • Retailers like Sephora, Ulta, carry diverse mechandise, you have discount on all brands (Sephora and or select brands (Ulta) rather than a single brand. 

  • You need to love enough number of items from the brand in order to qualify for the sale 

2. Last call
Many brands liquidate part of the line to refresh with new products. The last-call prices are considerable lower than the full price. I love last-call items from YSL, Smashbox, Lorac, Stila,.

  • Always discounted price
  • You might find products that you have waited to save up or don't love enough to buy at full price.

  • Need to act quickly
  • Tend to not offer the most popular shades so you need to look hard

3. Discount retailers
There are a number of whole sale or discount companies on the market. I've tried 3 of them. They're all authentic but the quality is either a hit or miss.

For example, ACW, Haute Look, Strawberrynet (freeshiping worldwide), Izzysbeautyshoppe

  • Always discount price
  • Ship worldwide

  • Some products are already opened and slightly used.
  • The quality aren't good sometimes. I threw away a whole bottle of Dior Skin Nude from ACW because it dried out too much to be blendable. 

4. Online Cash back 
Some online rebates give you cash back if you shop through them using their affiliated links. I personally have Ebates account but Mr Rebates is a similar company. Ebates sends you a check at the end of the quarter or you can have them deposit directly into your paypal account.

  • Always get back certain amount of money you spend. This can add up quite a bit.

  • You have to wait until the end of the quarter.
  • Not everything you want is available online.

5. Tax free from out-of-state retailers 
Note: if you buy in store, that store might charge you shipping free.
High tax rate can be painful on huge orders. I remembered IMATS LA. Pasadena tax rate was nearly 10%. I didn't save as much even after discount.

  • Tax free

  • Sometimes the return fee if unsatisfied overwhelms the tax. You might want to make sure you like the purchase. 

6. Free shipping and/or free return
Most retailers waive your shipping free for $50 purchase. Some ship free all the time (Nordstrom, Derstore, Strawberrynet, ASOS).

  • You can save quite a bit if you are an online shopaholic. Imagine paying $6-$10 extra for each shipment.

  • The mental factor "I need to stock up for free shipping" might urge you to spend more than you need. Be "wise" and "disciplined"! (thinking about my own problems now...)

7. Gift with purchase 
Lancome, Clinique, Estee Lauder and Clarins are among many brands that give good GWP at a reasonable minimum purchase. Many times, I find the GWPs well worth the saving

  • You can try delux samples or sometime full size of popular products
  • Most GWP include a good makeup bag. I never have to buy makeup bags

  • You might overspend just to get the gift.

8. Duty free
Those of us who travel internationally, especially who transit in Asia, can find a whole shopping mall there or shop aboard. The brands carried there are the most popular in the market like Chanel, Dior, Guerlain, Shiseido, Shu Uemura, Bobbi Brown, Cle de Peau, YSL, Givenchy, Clinique. Some brands design exclusive products or value sets for duty-free shops. When I shop at duty-free, I stick with my absolutely needed list and try to only browse through gift section.

  • No tax
  • You can find duty-free exclusive products, Asian/European exclusive or limited editions that were no longer available in your country.

  • Between flights, sleep deprivation, dehydration, no tax combined with a weakness for makeup can lure you into splurges that you may (or may not) regret later. I'm just saying:)

9. The extreme
Completely avoid shopping malls, beauty sections at drugstores, and browsing through beauty blogs or retailer websites. If you're a makeup junkie, you know what I'm talking about :). We beauty addicts are much easier to be intrigued :D.

Now, if you combine several tactics, you can save more. For instant, I never pay for shipping, I'd rather wait and be patient until my shopping cart fills up to the minimum require purchase. Another choice is to buy through retailer like Nordstrom who always waive the shipping. But again, you can weight pros and cons of different perks to make decision.  

How do you budget your beauty purchases? I love to learn more and more ways to save :)

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