Around six months ago, I started getting into makeup. I guess it all started after we finished 2010's wedding-having/ house-buying palooza and I actually had some disposable "fun money" on hand. My allowance was about $100/ month and I spent most of it on makeup teenage-girl-style. I've definitely simmered down since then, but I have some new (thrifty) thoughts on the subject now that I spend more than $3.58/ month on the stuff.
When I first began buying higher-end makeup, I tried to do it in a strategic way. I'd been hearing about the subscription companies for a while and thought it might be a good way for someone (who didn't wear a lot of makeup) to buy nicer brands on the cheap.
The truth is that these subscription companies are more fun than they are thrifty. If you're planning on purchasing from the product line again, it's great to have the chance to try before you buy, but you're not going to be able to rely on the monthly samples to replace the makeup you use on a daily basis. In other words, you're not going to save anything at all with them- these will be extras to your budget. Here's the $40 full-priced microfoliant I ended up buying because of an amazing sample:
Oh, but they're so fun! Here's what every thing looked like in my July Sample Society box and Birchbox looked like when I opened them last week:
In my opinion, they're the best two subscription services out there as far as value (I don't think a $20+ box will ever be worth more than scouting out deals straight from the companies) and consistency.
Sample Society costs $15/ month, but offers monthly $15 off of $50 coupon when you buy one of the products in the box as well as points for purchases. They give out true deluxe sized samples and focus on the products that they offer on their Beauty Bar site. As a bonus to signing up, you get a subscription to Allure magazine as well.
Birchbox costs $10/ month, but includes a rewards program where you can earn 10 points for every product review and a $10 credit for every 100 points earned. Their samples seem to be more of grab bags from young and trendy eyeliner to mature perfumes.
As for the negatives, sometimes my skin reacts poorly to the samples (think: breakouts and dry skin) and the value of the boxes aren't always great. Once, I had a Birchbox with a value of <$10 :(. Still, last month's was >$50 so I think it generally evens out in the end. At this point, I'm so addicted to getting the "presents" in the mail that the extra $10-25 will be in my budget for months to come.
If you're looking for a makeup value, I'd skip the randomness and go straight to the "value set" sections of stores like Ulta or Sephora. These sets often cost around the same price point as the subscription sets and include the same deluxe-sized samples (3+ weeks of use) of the products, but you're able to pick them ahead of time based on your needs.
With all of my experimentation and research, I've found some new favorites I feel the need to share. Here are some of my absolute favorite makeup values (great price/ product) from the past few months:
2. Eye palettes:They're color-coordinated and usually include everything you need to do multiple looks. Everyone loves the Naked palettes, but I'm a big fan of Sephora brand's quality and love this blue eye set for $28.
3. Revlon Colorstay foundation and Color Burst Lip Butters: You can always find coupons for Revlon, but you can also find shockingly good quality and color selections with these products! Love them!
4. Benefit's Erase Paste: This is going to sound dramatic, but this product was a LIFE CHANGER! I have the worst dark circles and this paste covers them up. The best part is that I can usually buy it as part of a value set, like this one or on its own for $10, and the deluxe sample size will last me at least 3-6 months.
5. NYX eyeshadow base: Again, there are always coupons out there for NYX, but this base could fool anyone in the department store. It holds shadow really well, but I also love using the skin tone option alone when I'm feeling especially lazy.
I'm still on the hunt for more great higher-end or drugstore makeup deals (I don't have a favorite mascara yet). Have you come across any makeup recently and been shocked at the value?