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Makeup maven: How to score makeup bargains

Who can resist the slash and burn pricing of clearance sales? Just about every store has a clearance section, but makeup counters? Not so much. That doesn’t mean you can’t score a great deal… if you know where to look.

Woman applying lipstick in store

Many women live for year-end clearance. Those kinds of bargains come to the cosmetics counters, well… never. There are several crafty ways to score a deal on makeup. There are even stores, both online and brick and mortar, where clearance cosmetics abound. It just requires a bit of savvy to find.

Work the website

If you have a favorite cosmetics brand, get on their email list and learn your way around their website. This is how you get those coupon codes and those special offers. Before you make an online purchase, Google “coupon code” plus the name of the store and see what turns up. has some particularly generous offers of gift with purchase and you get automatic free shipping just for signing up as a Pretty Points member. Some stores and brands have an online clearance section, including Sephora, Urban Decay and Smashbox. The Final Call Section at can be found on the drop down menu under “Shop.” That Sephora sale section? Well, scroll down to the bottom of the home page and it’s the last item in the links section.

lipstickAll cosmetics wholesale

This awesome site is chock full of discontinued merchandise from MAC, Urban Decay and more. You can also find special gems like the last of Limited Edition collections that can’t be found in stores.

Do the Q (QVC that is)

QVC has a customer reach that is hard to match, and brands are always coming on the air with exclusive deals and items. Some great brands are only sold on QVC. You can often find large sets of makeup being sold at a fraction of the retail value for each item individually. Laura Geller, Smashbox, and Josie Moran as well as beauty tools like Clarisonic and T3 hair care will have QVC offers that you can’t find anywhere else.

Find an outlet

Cosmetics mammoth Estee Lauder owns MAC, Clinique, Bobbi Brown and maybe half the counters at any given department store. They quietly clear out their old merchandise at the Cosmetics Company Store, a retail outlet chain with about 70 locations in various outlet malls. You can also sometimes find a makeup deal at department store outlets like Nordstrom Rack.

Fake it ’til you make it

Many drugstore lines offer superior quality at a fraction of the price of the department store counters. If you’re lusting after some cosmetics item, see if you can dupe it with a drugstore brand. YouTube vloggers like Emily Noel are experts at this. Her MAC eyeshadow dupes video has topped 260,000 views.

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