Best buys for beauty

By Consumer Reports
Shopping for beauty products can get ugly. Products can be too expensive, look too cheap or simply don’t work how you want them to. ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports, has six major tips to help you become a better beauty shopper.
“We’ve all had our regrets when it comes to buying beauty products,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor in chief of ShopSmart.
Six ways to shop smarter:
1. For the best deals on drugstore cosmetics, skip the drugstores. The same brands can be found at other retailers for much cheaper. Buying your beauty products at Harmon (HarmonDiscount.com) can save you big money.
2. Going online can get you lots of free samples and special deals. To discover new products and get
free samples, visit Bluemercury.com, or for a selection of freebies and other perks visit Beauty.com.
3. To make the most of your beauty buys, it pays to go online for free expert advice and user reviews. To see tutorials on how to apply makeup go to Beautypedia.com, or to view data on the safety of hundreds of beauty
products, visit EWG.org/skindeep.
4. You don’t have to waste your money on cosmetics that don’t work for you. Look at stores’ return policies and you will find that shopping at the right ones can save you money. Both Macy’s and Nordstrom take back opened beauty products online or in stores with a receipt.
5. Beauty rewards clubs can be very rewarding. But watch out for the gotchas. Look for beauty rewards clubs at Sephora.com and CVS.com.
6. Watch out for risky beauty products and bad advice that can waste your money, or worse. Make sure that all products you are using are FDA approved.
Get rewarded
ShopSmart took a look at the major rewards programs in the beauty category to identify those that really pay off and to find where the gotchas are!
— Back to Mac — MacCosmetics.com. For every six MAC product containers you return at a MAC counter or online, you receive a free lipstick of your choice. Gotchas: You pay for shipping. Also, paper boxes, samples and trial sizes, packaging and applicators are not accepted.
— Beauty Insider — Sephora.com. Get one point for every dollar you spend; redeem at 100-and 500-point intervals. Reach 100 points and you get a deluxe sample; 500 will get you a limited-edition product. If you spend $350 a year you become a Very Important Beauty Insider, which gives you 10 percent savings on your next purchase, event invites and more. You also get a free birthday gift.
— Drugstore.com Dollars — Beauty.com. This program combines purchases you make on Beauty.com, Drugstore.com and VisionDirect.com. You receive a 5 percent in-store credit for every dollar you spend per quarter. Gotchas: You must redeem quarterly rewards on one of the sites within a month of receipt and you can’t earn or use points on prescriptions or gift cards.
— Extracare Beauty Club — CVS.com. Get a onetime beauty-shopping pass for 10 percent off when you sign up, $5 ExtraBucks rewards for every $50 spent on qualifying products, and $3 ExtraBucks on your birthday. Products include cosmetics, fragrance, hair products, skin care and hosiery. Gotchas: Only one membership per household is allowed. Also, trial-and travel-sized items and CVS’ Beauty 360 products don’t earn ExtraBucks.

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