Instead, why not take advice from the Glamumous notebook and source out free alternatives: samples, giveaways and other methods of satisfying your hunger for beauty products which have absolutely no impact on your wallet.
This, my fellow frugal mums, is having your cake and devouring it!
There are many ways of acquiring free beauty products (cosmetics, skin care, fragrance, etc.) such as:
- Internet promotions and giveaways
- Becoming a "club member" of your favorite brand
- Vouchers from magazines (often for full-sized premium products)
- In store promotions
Internet promotions and giveawaysThis is the first method I ever tried and has still proved the most reliable, cost-free method of finding free beauty samples and giveaways ever used.
Basically, you scour the internet for free samples, paying particular attention to "deal sites" and message boards where other frugal aficionados post their latest finds.
It's time consuming, especially when you have to fill in your details for each and every single offer you encounter, but it's well worth it. Last night, for example, in the space of an hour I ordered about 10 different fragrance samples (for myself, DH and as well-wishing gifts for friends and family), 2 full-sized lipsticks, a full-sized mascara, nail varnish and other body care products.
Use a different email addressTo do this, you will need a "ghost" email address (sign up at Hotmail or Google Mail for a free account) as many offers require you to sign up for newsletters in order to receive your gifts. Don't be tempted to use your main email address or within a day you will end up with an inbox full of stuff you don't really want to read (or which could potentially tempt you into spending - after all, we're trying to be frugal).
Every now and again (I usually check once a month or so), check your "ghost" email account for details of any new offers and vouchers. Also, keep emails which detail your username/login details for any sites you have registered with to ensure you can access future offers.
Finding free samples and giveawaysWhile you could search for free samples through Google, I prefer to take the shortcut and scour through sites and bulletin boards where members post their latest frugal finds.
My favorite place for finding free beauty samples is HotUKDeals.com. This is truly a treasure trove for all things free (or at least, very cheap!). You will need to scour through many posts to find products suitable for you, or search the site instead. Luckily you don't need to register in order to link through to the listed sites, though if you find something wonderful it's a great feeling to share your find :)
Another highly useful site is MoneySavingExpert.com, in particular, the Freebies section. Here you can find a hoard of free stuff, giveaways and the like. It's not quite as comprehensive and up to date as HotUKDeals, but is well worth a look (or sign up for the newsletter to save time).
Here's a handful of the best promotions running at the time of writing this post to give you an idea of what to expect:
- "Lipstick Jungle" themed lipgloss (1000 to be given away)
- Aveeno SKin Relief Lotion sample
- Loreal Dermagenesis sample
- Ghost Sweetheart sample size perfume
- Dior SkinNude foundation sample
- £100 of Perfectil Platinum for trial participants
Become a member of your favorite brand sites/Join mailing listsWhile most of the best deals can be found on bulletin boards and other freebie sites, there will undoubtedly be some which slip through the cracks.
So to make sure I get freebies and samples from the products I like (or would love to use if I could afford them!), I sign up to receive newsletters by email/post and enjoy "member status" of sites where this is possible.
Here are some of my favorites (be sure to visit the websites of your own favorite brands if they aren't listed here!):
- Club Olay: an excellent membership with regular freebies and discount vouchers by mail, plus invitations to special events.
- Loreal Paris - Beauty Confidential: Joining allows you to create your personal profile so any freebies are tailored to your needs. Skincare samples are sent frequently; make-up can be acquired through regular limited giveaways, and you may also receive vouchers/samples of haircare products. This is one of the best and most valuable beauty memberships I use.
- Elizabeth Arden Newsletter: I've received vouchers for sample perfumes and Eight Hour Cream, plus notifications of seasonal offers and in-store promotions from signing up here.
- Rimmel London: I personally haven't received any postal freebies from Rimmel. Instead, registration is useful for participating in the "Win one of 10,000" product giveaways which happen regularly. The odds of winning 1 od 10,000 products is pretty good and certainly worth a few moments' registration.
- Maybelline New York newsletter: Few samples available, but you may be sent vouchers and do receive automatic registration in prize deaws.
- Chanel Newsletter: When new products are launched, you may well receive a free sample in the post (I received a sample sized lipstick and several mini perfumes). Also, receive notice of in-store promotions which are also useful for freebies.
- Dior Newsletter (and free samples?): I wasn't aware that Dior had a newsletter until today (though I had searched as this is another of my favorite premium brands). If you're reading this soon after posting, you may still be able to claim a sample of their new foundation range by signing up. If this offer has expired, sign up anyway as future offers may be available.
- Lancome Newsletter: Infrequent (though always welcomed) freebies, and notification of offers, in store events and such.
Magazine Vouchers and FreebiesA favored method of persuading consumers to purchase magazines (especially the premium, £2.50+ types) is to offer a free gift, either with the magazine itself or as a voucher which can be redeemed in store.
In recent months, I've seen magazines offering free Elizabeth Arden eye shadows, Clinique perfume and even full sized mascaras!
For the cost of the magazine, you could well receive something far more valuable in return and have a magazine of inspiration and reading material to boot. Don't forget to look through the small print of ads in case a different (non-advertised) sample is offered too. You may find a URL to claim yet another discount voucher, or discover a newsletter you haven;t signed up for before.
Also, be sure to check out the websites of popular magazines from time to time as other freebies may be available exclusive to the site. Glamour and Marie Claire are sites I visit regularly, and I often see ads and offers available which have not been featured in the actual magazine (especially when you sign up to the sites' weekly newsletters too!).
In-Store PromotionsOne final method I have found of discovering free cosmetics is using in-store promotions. Now these vary in type, so I'll explain a few of the tactics I have personally used:
Buy something, get something free offersFor offers such as these, you will initially need to spend something in order to receive a valued free gift.
Premium brands such as Clinique ("Bonus Time" offers), Dior and Elizabeth Arden seem to do these on a regular basis, whereby if you purchase two or more products, you can receive a set containing a selection of seasonal items. Boots No.7 and 17 ranges also offer similar deals and generally offer exceptional value for money.
Store magazines and loyalty schemesMany stores offer free magazines for customers in which vouchers and the occasional freebie voucher are often found. Superdrug, Boots and many leading supermarkets offer such magazines which you can pick up free in-store.
If your favorite shop or outlet offers a loyalty card with which you can earn points from purchases, sigh up for it! Besides the obvious "points=cash-to-spend-in-store", you will likely receive other useful offers and vouchers to assist your frugal quest for luxury.
Make friends with shop assistantsEach time you visit your favorite stores, make a point of being polite and friendly to the people working there. Saying "hello" and "thank you", asking questions and showing an interest helps you develop a friendly relationship with beauty counter assistants, and in turn you may find yourself in receipt of beauty tips, demonstrations and the occasional freebie (especially when you make a purchase).
Boots Advantage Card
This means that over the course of time, I can save enough points for my absolute favorite luxuries: Chanel lipsticks and YSL Mascara which I covet like no other products :) Yes I know it seems outrageous for a frugal mummy who shops at Aldi (with vouchers!) to indulge in such expensive products. But I can assure you, for all the expensive cosmetics garnishing my dressing table, I haven't actually paid a single penny!
Here's the way I see it: I only purchase from Boots the things I would need to buy anyway for the family. I could spend the same aount elsewhere without earning points. Effectively this means the Advantage card points are a bonus, just for me.
Furthermore, using your Advantage card offers access to even more ways to save: in-store, you will find Advantage card machines where you can use your card to print vouchers for more points, money off your total spend, and even the occasional free sample.
To make your Advantage card work even better for you, why not share with a friend or family member? My mum and sister share a card so their points add up more quickly. Don't forget, you can also use your Advantage card online!
ConclusionsIn this article I have shared my tried and tested methods to help you find free make-up, skincare and fragrance to help you feel luxurious without having to feel guilty about spending your weekly housekeeping finds.
Getting things for free means that you will have to compromise on your expectations. Many of the free beauty treats you can find are sample sized, limited to the first X customers, or accessible only by spending (wisely of course) on other products first. You probably won't get that Chanel lipstick in the exact shade you want (though it can happen...).
But who cares when you can have luxuries landing on your doorstep or finding their way into your shopping bags every week without any feelings of guilt?
If you know of any other recommended methods, please feel free to share these with Glamumous readers and leave your comments below.
Image credits: Cosmetics counter by Eliazar, Boots shop sign by Redvers, Magazine cover by Fotographix.ca, Rouge by Kanko. All via Flickr Creative Commons.