Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tips on Buying Beauty Products from Discount Stores

Everyone likes to find a deal. But like everything else, when hunting for cosmetics bargains at discount retailers you must be a smart shopper. Discount shops like dollar stores, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc. get their deals when merchants have excess inventory they need to unload. That means, some of the products that you find may have easily been sitting in a warehouse for a while. Cosmetics do go bad. They expire and some items are affected by heat. Not to mention, rough handling can land you with damaged products. That means, you have to be savvy shopper to make sure you are not sacrificing quality when you amass savings. Don't buy a product just because it's a name brand at a deep discount. Inspect your products so your bargains are worth your while.

I have my own rules of thumb that I follow, and recently, there was an article on the homepage (courtesy of Allure Magazine) addressing this topic as well. So, I thought this was a great opportunity to share these tips with you. A lot of the tips I follow when shopping for beauty deals were listed in the article, with a few here and there that I'm now adding to my repetoire. Here's what you should know when beauty-bargain shopping:
  • Make sure products are sealed.
This may seem obvious, but it's worth saying. You use cosmetics on your face. You don't want them full of bacteria. Make sure they are sealed before you buy. Sometimes places like TJ Maxx will put items that are not sealed (like high-end eyeshadow palettes) in security containers to keep customers from touching the product or breaking it. You can always go to the counter and ask that they open the container so that you can see the product. The sales person can make sure you don't mess with the item, and you can look at it before you buy it.

Try not to buy products that are not sealed, especially cream or liquid products (e.g., foundations, lipgloss. facial wipes). But if you must, say you inspected it and to the naked eye it looks like it has not been touched, make sure you disinfect it when you get home. Makeup can harbor bacteria, and you don't want to end up with a nasty case of pink eye or cold sores. If a powder product is sealed, give it a light shake by your ear to listen for damage. If you hear moving crumbles, the product might be broken (they can be dropped afterall).

  • Disinfect. Disinfect. Disinfect.
Yes, it's possible to do. I purchased a Clarins compact bronzer, three Nars blushes, and some Estee Lauder and Model Co lipsticks at TJ Maxx. All of these products, while in their containers, were quite easy for me to open and look at, which means others could too. So, I made sure that (1) they looked clean (both the packaging and the actual product), and (2) did not look like they'd been touched to the naked eye. When I got home, to be safe, I disinfected them as well. Here's what you do:
  • For pressed powder: Take isopropyl alcohol (70% or higher) and put it in a spritz bottle and spritz it over your pressed powder product (e.g., eyeshadows, blushes). Use rubbing alcohol (same as isopropyl) because it evaporates quickly so that it doesn't damage your product and it kills bacteria (that's why you need 70% or higher). Don't douce it with alcohol, you don't want it to be all wet and get all gooky (is that a technical term?)
  • For lipsticks: Take a small container (like the alcohol bottle's cap or a shot glass), add rubbing alcohol, and dip the tube of lipstick into the alcohol. With a clean tissue paper, wipe down the top layer of the tip of the lipstick (the part you touch to your lips).
  • For eyeliners and lipliners: Dip the tip of the liner into a small container of rubbing alcohol (like with the lipstick) and then sharpen the liner (use a clean sharpener), then dip it in the alcohol again, and wipe it with a clean tissue.
  • For cream products (e.g., shadows, foundations) that come in a jar: Wipe down top layer then lighly spritz with rubbing alcohol. Note: It is a lot harder to make sure these products are disinfected. I would avoid buying them if they are not sealed. If you will use them on others, I recommend using a spatula to remove product rather than double dipping. It's the most sanitary way to do it. If you have touched the top layer, wipe it down, and spritz, and try not to do it again (unless you will only be using it on yourself).
I feel this bears repeating: If you are able to open a product, and it is obvious that someone touched it, put it back. It's really not worth getting an eye/lip/face infection.
  • Know your brands and products
Every bargain shopper knows this rule: Be an educated shopper. You want to be sure you don't end up getting ripped off, but also that you are indeed getting a good bargain. If I see a Nars product at TJ Maxx I know that I can expect that the color I see is the color I'm going to get. I am also familiar with the price I'd pay retail (or at least the range) so I know whether I found a good deal. I have aquired four Nars gift sets at TJ Maxx. I got them all for less than $30 each, which I knew was a steal.. I know the quality of their products are good, so I was able to purchase them with confidence. The more you educate yourself about products in general, the more armed you will be when faced with a bevy of different options to fish out the good deals. You don't need a Ph.D. in the subject. When you read magazines or online articles, look at prices. You'll eventually notice pricing trends. You will also learn what products others have tried and reviewed for you (something you could easily access with your phone these days). Don't think you have to learn it all at once. The more you peruse magazines, blogs, YouTube, and other sources, and the more you peruse the isles of discount stores, the better you will get. Remember: You don't have to buy. You can always just look around. If you miss out on a deal, there will always be a different one down the road.

  • Beware of heat damage
Heat can affect a product's performance, specifically cream products like lipsticks, cream blushes, and cream foundations. Lipgloss and powders a less susceptible to heat damage. Be familiar with your store's return policy especially when buying products that could under perform due to heat damage. You want to be able to return a product if its a dud.

  • Stock up on beauty tools
I purchased a set of Tweezerman tweezers for less than $20 (the retail value for one of this brand's tweezers). They have a lifetime warranty. Nail files, some brushes (check them for softness, density, etc. and be sure to wash them before use, if you can open the package and touch it, so can others), sharpeners, mirrors, etc. are all things that you will likely need. If you can get them at a good price. Get it (especially items you will need to keep replenishing like nail files or makeup sponges).

  •  Make sure you can read the labels
Sometimes you might find products from different countries that might look like an awesome deal. But, if you can't read the label, how do you know what the ingredients are? If it is expired? Is there anything in it you are allergic to? If you can read multiple languagues, then you'll be in luck, you have some more options. If not, be wary, it's your skin.

  • Check the packaging
Is the box in bad shape? Does it look like it's been manhandled and had it rough? Chances are, whatever is inside took a beating as well. With powder products, that could mean a huge mess. With hair tools, like blow dryers, that could mean internal damage you won't know about.

  • Visit bargain stores often
This is one of my favorite rules. TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, Big Lots, and the dollar store (to name a few) get new products regularly. While you might not find the same things over and over again, they do often get repeat products. I had missed out on a hair product I wanted to try but several months later they had it again. But the best part, they get new stuff all the time. The more often you visit, the better the chance you'll catch a deal. But remember, you don't have to buy every time. You are basically taking inventory. If you find something good, if not, it's ok. Don't fall into the habit of having to get something every time just to get something, that will defeat the purpose of saving money.

What are your tips for bargain shopping for your beauty products? How about bargain shopping in general?

Source article: How to Score Amazing Dollar-Store Beauty Steals

1 comment:

  1. These really happen. Many women have experienced buying damaged or expired beauty products or cosmetics from discount stores. Thanks for all these reminders.