On Shopping Smart for Beauty Things

I’m an observant person when it comes to cosmetics and skincare shopping. There’s a big market for beauty here in the Philippines, so choosing wisely to get the most bang for my buck is an absolute necessity. From my personal experiences and from what I’ve read and heard online, I’d like to share some tips I’ve taken to heart for the smart beauty shoppers out there:

1. Don’t be pressured to buy immediately, especially when it comes to expensive base makeup.

Any beauty junkie worth her salt would know that shopping for foundation is a tedious process. If you take it seriously, you’ll be doing lighting tests in addition to road-testing the usual longevity and skin compatibility. A lighting test is observing the color-match of foundation to your skin in bright light/spotlight, indoor light, sunlight, fluorescent light, etc. A sales attendant who is truly knowledgeable in makeup will not find it weird, if you tell him you need to do a lighting and longevity test before you decide.  If the SA gives you the stink eye, be forewarned that that person is strictly after the sale without considering the basic rules of makeup testing. (Also, see tip #3.)


2. Blind buying foundation/concealer/BB online may not be the best idea.

Well, okay, if you’re looking for cheaper base makeup on the black market, then it’s not such a bad idea in terms of savings. But if you’re looking for an accurate color- and skin compatibility-match, how can you do it unless you’ve physically sampled the product? (Yup, emphasis on tip #1 and how much of a pain it is to shop for foundies.) The best scenario is to do re-purchases online, so you know exactly what you’re getting and you’re well-aware of the SRP (suggested retail price). Otherwise, it feels like Russian roulette. If you do insist on blind buying, do it at your own risk.

*This tip I learned from the foundation series of pro makeup artist, Lisa Eldridge.

**Yes, I break this rule on occasion at my own risk. However, I try not to get anything expensive. It’s usually a good sale that gets me to become a daredevil.


3. SAs are either your best friend or your worst enemy. 

There are generous SAs, and there are snobby ones. There are knowledgeable SAs, and there are consummate salesmen. I know that brands use certain psychological techniques to get consumers to buy, but who knew that shopping for makeup would require so much psychology on a customer’s part?!

Half the work is in reading the SA. You can tell right off the bat, if they’ve already pre-judged the crap out of you. The snobbier ones don’t bother giving you their full attention, though some shoppers prefer that they don’t have an SA following them step-for-step. The nicer ones are more generous with samples, and they readily teach you techniques. If you encounter the former, consider if you love the brand/products enough to tolerate the cold SA. Otherwise, find another counter on the double.

One more thing, beware of SAs that aren’t knowledgeable I usually encounter this with drugstore makeup brands, but I’m surprised that some high-end counters also have SAs that seem to make faulty recommendations. When in doubt, take your time to decide.


4. For those on a tight budget, apply the 3-month rule AND always ask yourself if you can imagine finishing up a product within a realistic time frame.

This one I got from Tellie of Beauty by Tellie. If you find yourself wanting something, sleep on it for three months. If you’re still gaga for it and can see yourself hitting pan, make the purchase. Personally, I should revise it to a 5-month rule. Haha. What I do is I write the item down on a “Lemming or Love It?” list. I’ll get back to each item in five months time. That dormant period usually involves several trips to the store to consider and reconsider before I get my go-signal.


5. If you want the best (a.k.a. sulit/competitively-priced) value sets/discounts/promotions/freebies, be patient and wait for the holiday season. 

In the Philippines, I notice that the big sales start in October. However, the value sets are launched in November. I can’t stress this enough. Be patient. Don’t get distracted by the usual mid-month or end-of-the-month sale.


6. If you want the best value sets at discount for yourself, wait until after the holiday season.

Put yourself last. That’s not actually a bad idea. January-February is that sweet, sweet time when the holiday leftovers are being dispatched left and right in time for shiny, new spring/summer offerings. You can easily get value sets from 25-50% off.


7. Trying to save money? Look for a Korean dupe!

Undoubtedly, the Korean brands work fast. While they have their own beauty trends to market, they are also able to produce excellent dupes of some popular high-end Western brands. It’s not the same for skincare as Koreans have a different approach with their skincare layering (6-8 products in a routine is standard), but makeup is a safe bet. So while you’re doing the three-month rule, try and spot a cheaper Korean dupe in the process.


8. Workshops are your ticket to discounts on brands that don’t usually give out discounts.

In addition to learning the latest beauty trends, workshop days are often tied-up with additional promotions. Clue: It’s usually a 10% discount on the high-end stuff.


9. For online shoppers, don’t neglect canvasing prices.

Last year, I bought some stuff at retail, only to find that there were online vendors that went on-sale and ship for free! Ouch. I’ll take my sweet time this year. I’d also weigh the pros and cons of getting points on my loyalty cards versus free shipping and discounted prices.



That’s what I have right now. Any smart shopping suggestions you can share? Please write them on the comments section below!


10 thoughts on “On Shopping Smart for Beauty Things

  1. Those SA’s man. The snobby ones I almost always encounter at pricier brands. The lazy ones I encounter at more affordable ones. Ugh. I’ve noticed Essence SAs and Korean brands in general are nice.

    • Thanks! I have to work extra hard on #2. I get so dissatisfied with what I see in the counters that some part of me is optimistic enough to want to try a blind buy. 😦

    • That’s the first impulse I have. As long as the product is new, the Korean brands will probably have it. Unfortunately, the quick turnover comes to mind again. Last year, I was looking to get Benefit High Beam and Sun Beam dupes from The Face Shop, but I dragged my feet on that one. I came back this year only to find out that they’ve been discontinued. The Golden Ratio one from Etude isn’t quite the same, sadly. I hope they come up with a dupe for Watt’s Up soon.

      • Yes, it’s so true! Korean makeup is incredible. They’re great quality but so affordable too! 🙂 Aw no! 😦 I’m so sad about that, surely there are other brands that sell dupes too, just have to keep looking! 🙂 That would be awesome if they came out with a Watt’s Up dupe, I’ve always wanted to try it but haven’t been able to go past the fact that it’s so expensive here! D:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s