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ShopSmart Discovers the Best Beauty Buys

How to find the best products for your look and your wallet

ShopSmartYonkers, NY – Shopping for beauty products can get ugly. Products can be too expensive, look too cheap, or simply don’t work how you want them to. The July 2011 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, found six major tips to help you become a better beauty shopper.

“We’ve all had our regrets when it comes to buying beauty products,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “We’ll give you the advice you need to avoid overpaying for beauty products and get what you really want, for a price that works for you.”

6 Ways to Shop Smarter

ShopSmart discovered a few things that you should watch out for when shopping for beauty products.

  1. For the best deals on drugstore cosmetics, skip the drugstores. The same brands can be found at other retailers for much cheaper. Buying your beauty products at Harmon (HarmonDiscount.com) can save you big money.
  2. Going online can get you lots of free samples and special deals. To discover new products and get free samples visit Bluemercury.com, or for a selection of freebies and other perks visit Beauty.com.
  3. To make the most of your beauty buys, it pays to go online for free expert advice and user reviews. To see tutorials on how to apply makeup go to Beautypedia.com, or to view data on the safety of hundreds of beauty products visit EWG.org/skindeep
  4. You don’t have to waste your money on cosmetics that don’t work for you. Look at store’s return policies and you will find that shopping at the right stores can save you money.  Both Macy’s and Nordstrom take back opened beauty products online or in stores with a receipt.
  5. Beauty rewards clubs can be very rewarding. But watch out for the gotchas. Look for beauty rewards clubs at Sephora.com and CVS.com.
  6. Watch out for risky beauty products and bad advice that can waste your money, or worse. Make sure that all products you are using are FDA approved.

Get Rewarded!

ShopSmart took a look at the major rewards programs in the beauty category to identify ones that really pay off and where the gotchas are!

Back to Mac – MacCosmetics.com
For every six MAC product containers you return at a MAC counter or online, you receive a free lipstick of your choice. Gotchas – You pay for shipping.  Also, paper boxes, samples and trial sizes, packaging and applicators are not accepted.

Beauty Insider – Sephora.com
Get one point for every dollar you spend; redeem at 100 and 500 point intervals. Reach 100 points and you get a deluxe sample; 500 will get you a limited-edition product. If you spend $350.00 a year you become a Very Important Beauty Insider, which gives you 10 percent savings on your next purchase, event invites, and more. You also get a free birthday gift.

Drugstore.com Dollars – Beauty.com
This program combines purchases you make on Beauty.com, Drugstore.com and VisionDirect.com. You receive a 5 percent in-store credit for every dollar you spend per quarter. Gotchas- You must redeem quarterly rewards on one of the sites within a month of receipt and you can’t earn or use points on prescriptions or gift cards.

Extracare Beauty Club – CVS.com
Get a onetime beauty shopping pass for 10 percent off when you sign up, $5.00 ExtraBucks rewards for every $50.00 spent on qualifying products, and $3.00 ExtraBucks on your birthday. Products include cosmetics, fragrance, hair products, skin care, and hosiery. Gotchas- Only one membership per household is allowed. Also, trial- and travel-sized items and CVS’ Beauty 360 products don’t earn ExtraBucks.

Bad Beauty Buys

Who knew beauty products could pose such serious risk?  ShopSmart found that many sites and products make claims that are not even scientifically possible. ShopSmart identifies three bad beauty buys:

  • Skin-Lightening products that contain 4% hydroquinone:  Anything over a 2 percent concentration requires a prescription from a doctor. 
  • Extremely potent topical steroid creams that are not FDA-approved sold as lightening and brightening agents: Creams and lotions of this nature are filled with chemicals that can destroy the natural pigmentation of the skin- especially people with darker skin tones.
  • Skin products with higher concentrations of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or retinoic acid: Creams containing large percentages of acids should be prescribed by and monitored by licensed physicians do to the potential for adverse skin reactions and irritation.

About ShopSmart Magazine

Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon Consumer Reports’ celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. The magazine features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. ShopSmart is 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 www.ShopSmartmag.org.

ShopSmart is now available 10 times a year. Subscribe at www.ShopSmartmag.org.


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