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How to save money on beauty products


The price of beauty products can get high, but ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, found that shoppers don’t always have to pay high prices for products comparable to brand-name items.

In its December 2014 issue, ShopSmart reports on high-priced products shoppers can swap out to save money.

“Don’t over-spend on beauty products,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “After reviewing ingredient lists, we found drugstore cosmetics that are comparable to high-end brands sold at Sephora and department stores.”​

Four tips to finding the best beauty buys

Below are four tips from ShopSmart for finding budget-friendly options similar to expensive products from boutique brands.

  • Try sister brands. One way to find affordable alternatives to high-ticket items is to go to the website of a premium brand and see whether the company also owns less expensive lines. For instance, a lower-priced line of anti-wrinkle creams might have ingredients and formulations similar to a higher-priced brand from the same maker. Example: L’Oréal owns Kiehl’s and Garnier.

  • Compare ingredients lists. Compare what’s in high- and low-cost products in stores and on websites such as, which lists ingredients for most of its inventory. If the first five ingredients are the same or nearly the same, then the product is probably similar. Example: MAC Studio Fix Fluid, 1 fluid ounce and L’Oréal True Match Super Blendable Makeup, 1 fluid ounce.

  • Follow the blogs. Instead of experimenting on themselves, shoppers can learn from beauty bloggers who recommend similar-looking makeup shades. For instance, found a Wet n Wild Color Icon eye shadow palette for $5 that is almost a dead ringer for an Urban Decay set priced at $54.

  • Look for look-alike products. ShopSmart’s tests have found that look-alike store-brand foods, drugs, and personal-care products are often smart buys. These products are the ones with labels that say “compare to,” then list a name-brand product that’s usually next to it on the store shelf. Example: Walmart’s Equate version of Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion did almost as well as the brand-name version in ShopSmart’s tests.

For more on ShopSmart’s tips on saving money on beauty proucts, see the December 2014 issue available on newsstands now.

Copyright 2014, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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