|And this isn't even all of it....|
I like getting a good deal just as much as I like trying lots of beauty products. Naturally, over the years I've become quite good at not paying full price for these things and knowing how to get the best high-value gifts with purchase (GWP) and samples. With a little bit of research you can save quite a bit of money and get a lot of travel-friendly samples. In this post I'll share some of my favorite resources that help me keep up with beauty deals as well as a few tips that I keep in mind before making bigger purchases.
I'll start with the super obvious money-saver that most of you are already using which is Ebates (my referral code here on the off-chance you're not already a member). Sephora usually has 4% cash back but frequently is 8% cash back as well. If you're ordering from department stores like Saks and Barneys, Ebates is also helpful.
I check Gilt City every weekday at 10am ET (that's when the new deals appear) because they often have free coupon codes for well-known beauty brands. If you don't already have an account, you can sign up using my referral code here and the code GIVE25 to get us both $25 in credit. Estee Lauder brands frequently appear on the site (Mac and Clinique coupons are available now) as well as beauty retailers like SpaceNK and Follain. I've saved a lot on luxury makeup brands through Gilt City offers and I've bought a lot of their New York-specific offers as well (facials, hair treatments, cooking classes, workouts). I've never had a bad experience using Gilt City and highly, highly recommend checking it out - especially if you live in one of the major U.S. cities where they have local deals (the digital beauty coupon deals are available nationally no matter where you live). Edit: After I published this post, Gilt City revamped their app because they were spun off of Hudson's Bay (Saks' parent company) and acquired by Rue La La. Since then the deals have been a lot less enticing than they used to be. There are still deals through Gilt City but since the relaunch, I have not purchased any services or discounts through them. Such a shame because they used to have some of the best deals!
Beauty Budget Collection on Instagram is my favorite deals-oriented account. Ashley is super quick to post hot deals across a variety of brands from low to high end. If you find yourself on Instagram several times a day like myself, it's super easy to check this page and find some good deals.
I Can GWP is my favorite blog to find out about large GWP opportunities. Speaking of large gifts with purchase, let me talk about a few I look forward to every year.
SpaceNK and Barneys do my favorite semi-annual GWPs in the spring and summer and I Can GWP usually has the details in advance. The buy-in for these are typically in the $200-$250 range so I try to plan my wish lists in advance. Since SpaceNK and Barneys cater to the luxury beauty market, it's not hard at all to hit the gift target. The gifts come with a variety of deluxe-sized makeup, skincare, haircare and bodycare products that are worth much more than the buy-in price. I try to focus my attention on brands that are exclusive or semi-exclusive to SpaceNK or Barneys. For example, ByTerry and Chantecaille are two brands that rarely go on sale and you can't find them at Sephora. Whereas, Hourglass is sold a Sephora so I'd rather wait for the October 20% off sale to shop that brand.
Cult Beauty also does a massive gift with purchase deal several times a year and the buy-in is lower for Americans because we don't have to pay tax. The buy-in for this is around $150 if I remember correctly. Nordstrom also does a decent gift with purchase but with mostly foil samples for around the same buy-in. Bloomingdales doesn't have great overall GWPs but I highly recommend signing up for their Loyallists program because they'll have pretty good beauty deals sometimes. Last year they had a promotion where you got $15 off every $50 you spent across all beauty lines so I picked up some Chanel goodies for essentially 30% off.
GWP Addict is another great blog for discount and GWP codes. GWP Addict is super helpful if you already have a brand in mind that you want to shop for because she lists out codes by retailer. Both I Can GWP and GWP Addict update pretty much daily so you'll always have fresh codes to use.
The "Deal Too Good To Pass Up" thread on Sephora's Community boards is updated frequently and sometimes I'll see something on here that I haven't seen in the other places.
Sephora is generally not the best place for GWPs and coupons but I shop here a lot because they carry so many brands and their app is really easy to shop on (the seamless UX is really good at taking my money). That being said, I will usually only place orders when there's a decent promo code GWP. I'm often lulled in by samples of new products that I haven't tried before or the VIB/VIB Rouge trios of gifts which can sometimes be quite high in value. That being said, I don't really recommend spending $1000 if you don't already to reach Rouge. The benefits are hardly better than VIB and my orders are constantly getting messed up so half the time I don't even receive my GWPs.... It's incredibly annoying and if you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen many a rant on this topic. I usually avoid buying much doing the spring 15% off sale because that's barely a discount (considering many brands do a 20%+ F&F sale at least once a year) and I wait for the 20% later on in the year. Another reason I wait for the 20% off sale is because it's when all the holiday sets are released and there are even better deals. Last year I went hard during the 20% sale and picked up lots of skincare and haircare sets to last me a few months.
On the topic of holiday shopping, I like to look back on previous years' Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale compilation posts to get an idea of what's in store for this year. For example, Beautylish does their $20 giftcard for every $100 you spend during that time period (their only "sale" of the year) so throughout the year I will add things to my Beautylish wishlist in preparation for that promotion. Again, I'll take note of what brands are available there that aren't available on other retailers I tend to shop at. For example, I'm interested in trying several things from Kjaer Weis which Beuatylish offers but the brand is also sold at green beauty retailers like Credo Beauty and Follain. I'll comb through those retailers' Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers to see which has the better deal. Not all deals are equal and some people (like me) might prefer a GWP offer over a percentage off discount.
My shopping habits are on the more obsessive side and it's definitely taken years of doing my research, shopping and interacting with these brands and retailers to get a sense of what works best for what I'm looking for. I like trying samples of products before buying the full-size, if possible, so I'm all about scoping out a nice gift if I'm already interested in buying something anyway. The downside is that it's super easy to get sucked into buying things you really don't need because of a "good deal" which has obviously happened to me too many times to count.
Do you have any tips for getting the best deals when you buy beauty products? How often do you get lulled in by a really great GWP offer? Tell me I'm not the only one!