ShopSmart: Four New Ways to Save on Beauty Products

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Article Courtesy of Consumer Report’s Smart Shop Magazine

Choosing store-brand products can save shoppers up to 40 percent; More than half of women don’t use coupons and discount codes on cosmetics according to new national poll 

ShopSmart: Four New Ways to Save on Beauty

Photo credit: ShopSmart

There are many ways to save on makeup and skin-care items, but 56 percent of women say they don’t take advantage of coupons and discounts codes, according to a new national poll from ShopSmart.

“There’s no reason to overpay or to miss a potential deal when buying beauty items,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “Also consider store-brand beauty products – if you like them, the savings can be worthwhile in the long run.”

Four New Ways to Save on Beauty Products

  1. New store brands. Store-brand beauty products offer more choices than ever. ShopSmart’s recent beauty-product price scan found store brands can save shoppers as much as 40 percent on products such as facial cleansers, scrubs, moisturizers and eye serums.  CVS, Rite Aid, Target, Walgreens and Walmart offer at least two tiers of store brands – a basic line that competes solely on price and a premium line.  Also consider bargain beauty products lurking in unlikely places such as Aldi, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
  1. High-end look-alikes. These “equivalents” compete with higher-end name brands with comparable ingredients. They might be more expensive than mass brands, but in most cases are cheaper than premium brands.  ShopSmart found CVS equivalents to best sellers such as Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream and L’Oréal Day Lotion Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair.
  1. Celebrity lines. CVS, Target and Walmart offer celebrity makeup lines that can’t be found anywhere else. Target carries an exclusive cosmetics line from celebrity makeup artist Sonia Kashuk with great prices and selection; Walmart recently launched Flower, an exclusive makeup line from actress Drew Barrymore, whose items typically cost $10 or less.  And CVS sells actress Salma Hayek’s Nuance line.
  1. Bulk buys.  Warehouse stores and their websites are great places to buy high-end beauty goods.  Costco is a secret source for high-end skin care and other beauty products for less. Kirkland Signature, Costco’s house brand, carries versions of Borghese products, a high-end beauty brand sold in upscale stores.  Though Borghese doesn’t say that Costco’s version is the same, it does say that the Kirkland Signature line is made specifically for Costco in the same factory.

True Beauty Confessions: ShopSmart’s Survey Highlights

ShopSmart surveyed more than 1,000 women nationally about their beauty-shopping habits and here’s what they found:

  • When They Shop:  43 percent of women bought cosmetics only when they were on sale.
  • Beauty Hoarders:  61 percent of women say they had beauty products that were expired or they no longer used.
  • Buyer’s Remorse:  33 percent of women said they had regretted a beauty purchase made in the previous 12 months.
  • Spend vs. Save: Foundation (including tinted moisturizers and BB creams) was the number one item women say they splurged on; lip gloss is the item they cheapened out on.
  • Favorite Makeup Product: Mascara was the cosmetic product women say they used the most.
  • Brand Loyalty: Facial moisturizer was the number one item to which women said they were most brand loyal to; lip gloss was the least.

Finding the Best Beauty Deals

To find out which national retailer has the best beauty bargains, ShopSmart asked secret shoppers across the country to price six name-brand and comparable store-brand beauty products at CVS, Target, Walgreens and Walmart. Two of the items featured in the price scan – facial moisturizers and facial cleansers – are two of the three top products women are most brand loyal to according to ShopSmart’s poll.

Store brands save big. More than half of women in ShopSmart’s survey have spent more than $20 on a single beauty item; and 14 percent have ponied up more than $50. ShopSmart found that store-brands save money. Walmart had one of the best store-brand deals – the 6-ounce size of the retailer’s Equate Refreshing Apricot Scrub, $1.97 cost 40 percent less than the same size of its brand-name equivalent St. Ives Invigorating Apricot Scrub, $3.27.

Walmart had the lowest prices on store-brand items and many name brand items.  If name-brand beauty products are a must, Walmart had the lowest prices on these items most of the time.  Walmart store brands saved the most, with 33 percent savings over name brands. Target store brands saved 30 percent over name brands, and Walgreens and CVS store brands saved shoppers 29 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

Online bargains. Secret shoppers also checked, the low-price winner in ShopSmart’s last makeup price scan. Now, Harmon carries a variety of name-brand cosmetics and skin-care products at prices as much as 20 percent less than the chain drugstores, but it doesn’t have as many store-brand equivalents as the other retailers, and free shipping requires a purchase of $50 or more.


About ShopSmart magazine:

Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication’s celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. It’s ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at 

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