I (along with, like, everyone else I know) started off 2016 with the promise that I would save more money this year. But as with most New Year’s resolutions, that lasted exactly one day. Next thing I knew, I was in Sephora buying a bunch of things I surely didn’t need. But you know what? I still didn’t break the bank, and that’s because I am somewhat crazy when it comes to looking for deals. So read on so you too can save some money and have some more to blow on makeup.
Savings at your Fingertips (Apps)
When I first heard of Shopkick I was a little skeptical. It sounded wayyyyyy too good to be true. But I gave it a try and OMG IT’S AMAZING! All you have to do is open the app when you walk in to stores and it gives you “kicks”. Some stores will allow you to scan specific items for kicks as well. Collect enough kicks, and you can redeem them for giftcards to places like Sephora, Target, Best Buy, and a bunch of other stores. You can also score kicks by referring friends. I’ve already redeemed four Sephora cards, so I definitely recommend this app.
SnipSnap is also a great app. Pull this one up when you’re out shopping, search for the store and you can “snip” coupons and use them immediately straight from your phone. You can also snip coupons and save them for later. I’ve been most successful using Snip Snap in places like Bath & Body Works and Macy’s.
RetailMeNot doubles as both an app, and a website. Use this similarly to SnipSnap, and find coupons by simply searching for specific stores on the app from your phone. Once you find the coupons you’re looking for, show your phone at the register and they can scan the coupon directly from it.
Ulta has one of my favorite rewards programs, Ultamate Rewards. You earn points (one point per dollar you spend) which you can later redeem for products. Below is the breakdown (from the Ulta site) for what your points are worth. Keep in mind that at certain times of the year your purchases can earn you 2-5 times the points you usually earn.
Ulta’s rewards program has two tiers, the regular Ultamate Reward which earns you 1 point per dollar, and the Platinum rewards, which earns you 1.5 points per dollar. Both tiers offer a free birthday gift!
Ulta also often has a coupon available: $3.50 off a $10 purchase. Keep in mind that not all items at Ulta qualify for this coupon, though. You can google “Ulta Coupon”and it comes up as the first link. You can use the coupon both online and in stores (I usually show it at the register on my phone).
For any other questions, you can refer to Ulta’s Ultamate Rewards’ FAQs.
The Sephora rewards program, or Beauty Insider, isn’t as good at saving you money as the Ulta one. However I’ve found that it’s a great way to try products before I purchase them. You earn one point per dollar spent, and you can redeem your points for rewards. The rewards are usually deluxe-sized samples of best selling products. Sephora also gives you three free samples with every online order. Another good idea is to download their mobile app, and go to the Mobile Offers tab, which has an abundance of offers (usually, but not always, only valid online and with a minimum order of $25).
Sephora has three different tiers in their rewards program: Beauty Insider (free to join), Very Important Beauty Insider or VIB (spend $350 in a calendar year). and VIB Rouge (spend $1,000 in a calendar year). Sephora will also gift you a free pre-selected product for your birthday. VIB Rouge members receive a small additional gift on their birthday.
For any other questions, you can refer to Sephora Beauty Insider’s FAQs.
MAC recently launched their new rewards program, called MAC Select. Similar to Sephora, there are three tiers. The tiers are called Seduced, Devoted, and Obsessed and are described in the screen-grabs below.
Keep in mind that in order for purchases to count towards your MAC Select balance they have to be made at a freestanding MAC store, or their website (so those of us who love buying MAC at Macy’s and Nordstrom are screwed).
MAC also has a program called BACK-TO-M·A·C, which can be easily traced with the rewards program. As described by MAC, BACK-TO-M·A·C works the following way:
By returning six  M·A·C primary packaging containers to a M·A·C counter or M·A·C Cosmetics online, you’ll receive a free M·A·C lipstick of your choice as our thanks to you.
For any other questions, you can refer to MAC Select’s FAQs.
Plug-ins and Websites
Ebates is one of the best tools for saving money by shopping. If you use my referral link you can earn a $10 gift card. Ebates works by sharing its earnings from online retailers with shoppers through cash back. The company is an affiliate to thousands of retailers, when you shop through their website you earn a portion of their earnings.
Different websites have different percentages of the cash back you earn. For instance, right now Sephora is offering 8% cash back on your purchases. That means that if you spend $100, $8 will be added to your Ebates account. Ebates will pay you via check or Paypal at designated times of the year, allowing you to accumulate some money. You may also redeem your cashback for gift cards.
The best advice I can give you is to download the Ebates plug-in onto your browser. When you visit stores affiliated with Ebates a big green banner will pop up asking if you want to activate cash back and the percentage you can earn. You can click on the button and your purchase automatically qualifies for the cash back.
As if Ebates couldn’t get better, they also have COUPONS!! These coupons usually pop up (like the banner) when you’re getting ready to pay for your order, or when you visit your cart. You can click on “apply coupons” and Ebates will automatically apply the coupons for you. Now if that isn’t the most amazing thing ever, I don’t know what is.
Honey is another amazing plug-in. It works like the Ebates automatic coupons but it has a greater variety of coupons, in my opinion.
HSN & QVC
Both HSN & QVC are shopping networks that offer products at a discount. They both offer payment plans on certain things. I like HSN and QVC because at times they have bundles on beauty products (like a blush that may come with a free brush, or two palettes for a discounted price). But the reason I really started shopping on these sites is the coupon code that surfaces a couple times a year. At one point HSN had a $20 off a $40 purchase, which I used to buy a Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette (and it’s a bundle with a free mascara) which is originally $49 but came out to $29 with free shipping. QVC had a similar code, but I wasn’t able to take advantage. Don’t worry though, I’ll be sure to notify you when another coupon code becomes available!
Some well-known blogs are famous for doing round-ups of sales.
Nouveau Cheap is one of my all-time favorite blogs. She is amazing at finding beauty deals, and her blog is all about that.
Trendmood on Instagram is also a good source of what is going on in the beauty world and deals that may be going on.