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Deals & Steals

Benefit Cosmetics LLC


There’s a theory that beauty products sell well during economic downturns. The so-called “lipstick effect” is based in part on the idea that women are willing to exchange a new pair of Manolos with some dazzling lip gloss. They still get the rush of indulging without the guilt (or blisters).
Ugly economy? Pretty yourself up!

These days, women may be going even further in their quest to tighten the purse strings without abandoning their indulgences. Numbers suggest they are downgrading from high-end products like Shiseido skin creams to Neutrogena. The “prestige” beauty industry, meaning products usually sold at department stores, shrunk by 3.3% in the U.S. in 2008, while “mass” makeup and skincare grew, according to market research company the NPD Group.

While you may be feeling the need to cut back on weekly massages, lunch-hour manicures, $90 wrinkle cream and bi-monthly highlights, you don’t need to give up cold turkey. Here’s how to continue your feelgood regimen (or at least part of it) without going broke.

Go at Off-Hours
Salons are packed on Saturday afternoons. Tuesday mornings, not so much. If you refuse to give up your favorite stylist/manicurist/masseuse, check out The site partners with top New York City and Los Angeles spas and salons to offer discounts — often 50% below regular prices –- at quieter times of the day.
Empty seats mean discounted services.

“The companies aren’t looking to have growth,” says Andrew Unger, the site’s cofounder. These days, “They’re just looking to stay alive.”

Lifebooker allows you to book appointments online for everything from Botox and men’s shaves to personal training. Best of all, you get cash back into your account for writing reviews, which you can then put toward your next appointment.

Be a Guinea Pig
To get even larger discounts on beauty services, you’ll have to relinquish some power. Offering yourself up to trainees can be scary, but the end product can be worth the risk. Many top-end salons have training days, during which new employees sharpen their skills. You’ll end up paying a fraction of the regular price and, because Mr. Hot Shot haircutter/salon owner doesn’t want anyone to smear his reputation, he’ll make sure you end up looking good. Allure magazine offers a directory of such salons (link is for NYC, but they do have other listings).

Stay Loyal
If you have a favorite line of products or store, stick with it! Companies are rewarding return customers like never before, offering up free shipping, new product samples and discounts on the stuff they see you buy to make sure you keep buying it from them., for example, which is a partner of, gives 5% back via “drugstore dollars,” which you can use toward future purchases. Enough paper towels and contact lenses (the site also links to, and you’ve scored yourself a free makeover! The online store also sends loads of free samples.

Do Your Homework
If you’re a fan of Lancome perfume, don’t go to Macy’s to restock right now. Hit up Bloomingdale’s instead, since they’re offering a makeup bag and seven beauty items free with any $35 purchase. Check store Web sites to find out which ones are partnering with your line of products this week. Deals change frequently, so keep browsing as you replenish your kit. Soon, you’ll have enough samples that you won’t need to buy new eyeliner for a very long time.

Source:  WSJ 3/10/09

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