Shop Savvy: Best Ways To Try New Make-Up On A Budget

For the past few years, I have continuously wrestled with my passion for beauty and being stuck on a student budget. As (I'm sure) many of you have experienced, my eye for new lipsticks says 'yes' but my bank balance always hits back with a resounding 'NO'. Sometimes, of course, you have to give in and "treat yo'self", but this isn't something I can get away with doing very often. As the festive season dawns upon us and most of our pay packets are getting frittered away on Christmas gifts (when it could be being used to buy the latest MAC collection), it might be worth checking out these thrifty ways you can get your guilt-free beauty fix without having to splash out too much cash.

Magazine Gifts

It seems to me that magazines are dying an incredibly slow death. With that comes a plethora of 'freebies' that magazines give away in a bid to try and boost sales. Mags like Elle, Cosmopolitan and Glamour frequently team up with top brands to offer a sample-sized version of your favourite products. Balance Me skincare is one that I often see available, but samples have included the latest Benefit launches and Ciate nail varnishes in the past. It's definitely worth keeping an eye out for those monthly releases; some bloggers write posts each month detailing which magazine is giving away what, so that's another fab way to see whether there are any worthwhile beauty goodies to grab and stock up on!

Promotional Code Websites

Haven't we all been there? Staring longingly at your virtual basket full of goodies but desperately looking for a discount code that will justify your purchase? I know I definitely have, and having some form of discount almost always pushes me over the edge to clicking 'checkout'. Websites like WOW Free Stuff collate all of these beautiful offers in one helpful place, meaning you can peruse and pick out the ones you are interested in. These include discount codes, brands wanting testers for products, free gifts with purchases and just free sample-sized gifts from an array of top brands. Although many sites seem quite spammy, this is definitely one that's worth checking out- think of it as an information zone that will point you in the right direction for the sample/discount you want. It's great if you are looking to try new products on a budget- you never know what you might find!

Make-Up Counters

Although I wouldn't just go in to Boots and grab as many free samples as I could get, if you're genuinely intrigued by a new launch or cult classic but wanted to 'try before you buy', popping in to your local department store is a fantastic way to test out which products you want to invest your money in. Although most samples come packaged in little sachets (some foundation can be squeezed into a tiny pot for you instead), many of these products will actually last you a fair while. I've got primer and foundation samples that have lasted me a good few weeks! Despite initially feeling like a cheapskate student, I find this the most effective way to buy make-up. I don't have the money to splash out on a high-end product only to be disappointed when I get home, and want to know that my money has gone into the right thing. Knowing I love the product and that it will work for me has led me into purchasing the full-sized product so many times; I found my ultimate favourite Clarins primer and foundation this way, for example!

Gifts with Purchase

If you are buying products anyway (say, to stock up on your favourite cleanser), many online companies like FeelUnique or LookFantastic will give you a free gift if you spend over a certain amount. To be honest, around this time of year, most brands will be doing this anyway! If you popped into store, almost every brand will be doing a 'spend X amount and get this free gift worth X' offer. If you are spending the money on products you need anyway, this a the perfect way to discover some new products by that brand without having to directly invest in them.

Use Your Points!

I use my Superdrug and Boots cards so often- not just for buying make-up but for those mundane everyday things like deodorant, razors and shampoo. If you haven't signed up to get any of these loyalty cards yet, DO IT! Even if you're not buying Urban Decay palettes, we all have basic beauty essentials we repeatedly buy...using your points card every time you buy these will eventually turn into a little gift back to yourself. My mum used to do this and use her Boots points to buy her beloved No7 skincare sets! It really does add up and can get you those products you've always wanted to try but didn't want to splash out on.

What are your top thrifty tips for buying beauty products? Can you think of any handy ideas that I've missed?

Pretty and Polished

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with WOW Free Stuff.


  1. Points are my favourite thing ever. One of our big drugstore chains here in Canada has an insanely generous points programme and I've managed to get probably about $1000 worth of free stuff in the past year through my points. It's totally worth it to sign up for points cards especially if you're on a budget!

    1. That's such an amazing deal! Wish the points cards here were as good as that! x

  2. Magazines are a great way to try new products it was so good when a couple of them were doing Benefit minis.. i can't wait to cash in on my boots points i've been saving for like a year so trying to save up for something big


    1. I know the feeling, I always want to save them up and splash out rather than using them as I go along. Feels like more of a treat! x


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