If you love makeup then you know how expensive it can be. It’s never been more fashionable to buy high-end beauty products, but on a student budget it feels crazy that some foundations can cost as much as £30. Even brands available in Boots can seem pricey when a Max Factor mascara is £12!
However, beauty companies can be extremely generous when it comes to freebies. Just through signing up for every free product going you can go without buying a mascara for years, always have a few perfume samples in your handbag and be able to try out loads of new products without the risk that you’ll waste my money on something you hate, and we know this because we’ve done it.
So we’ve made a big list of all the ways we’ve got our hands on free beauty samples, and all of the pictures in this article are of things we’ve genuinely got for free using these methods.
1. Our site
Probably the easiest way of finding free makeup and skincare is to check the SMS beauty section. We make sure that all the newest beauty freebies are up on the site. In the past there’s been freebies from high end brands like Clinique and Benefit, as well as high street staples like Maybelline and Rimmel. Also check other makeup specific deals sites like Beauty Markdown or Nouveau Cheap.
We’ll put the best offers up on Facebook, Twitter and in our newsletter, but it’s best to check on the site directly, because usually the best freebies run out in a few hours. If you REALLY want to know about freebies first, follow editors Charlotte and Bronni on Twitter.
2. In magazines
Everyone knows magazines come with freebies, and when we were younger it was often the glittery purple eyeshadow that swayed us between Mizz and Shout. Nowadays though, the freebies you get are of much higher quality.
We’ve had free Nails inc polishes and Clinique makeup and skincare free with Glamour, free Benefit mascaras with Elle and pricey L’Occitane hand cream with Marie Claire. Even if you’re not interested in the magazine it can be worth getting them when it only costs £2 and comes with a £12 nail polish.
It’s worth checking out free magazines too, as sometimes they have samples of shampoo and conditioner inside, we’ve seen these in Boots and Superdrug’s in-store magazines before.
3. Loyalty cards
Picking up a Superdrug or Boots loyalty card is definitely worthwhile, as well as getting points back on whatever you buy (even boring stuff like toothpaste), there are also some 100% free freebies to be had.
All of the totally free items we’ve got from Boots have been through the Advantage Card app (you can also access it online - click ‘My Offers’). The app gives you personalised offers that you have to load onto your Advantage Card to be automatically applied at the till. How you get freebies from this is when the points reward is higher than the cost of the item - i.e 200 free points (worth £2) when you buy anything from the tea tree and witch hazel line - where the cheapest item was £1.99.
Everyone gets different offers depending on what they usually buy, but check the app frequently to see if there are any freebies you can get.
Superdrug also hand out freebies to holders of the Health and Beautycard. In the past couple of months freebies have included a Kinder Bueno and a box of hair dye - both of these were sent in the Health and Beautycard email and were automatically applied to the loyalty card. Also watch out for surveys - also sent over email - where free points are on offer, often these are up to 250 points each, that’s £2.50 to spend.
4. At counters
Beauty counters in department stores do have a lot of freebies to hand out, but it can feel disingenuous to just go up and ask for some. However a lot of companies have policies where they’ll give anyone a sample, Origins will give you a tube of GinZing moisturiser if you ask - this was confirmed over Twitter.
If you’re planning on buying something from a high end brand - especially something that needs to match your skin - counter staff should give you a small sample, no questions asked. Tell them you want to see how it applies and how it looks under different lighting and they’re likely to decant some into a little tub for you to take home.
Don’t push your luck of course, the samples at counters are meant for people who want to try before they buy!
Who doesn't love a bit of perfume and aftershave? It's the final touch before a big night out. It’s a tiny bit of luxury that will fit in a student room, because let's face it, it’s the only bit of Gucci you can afford as a student. And you know what, it's not even that cheap. If you want a full size bottle of a designer brand, you’re looking at £70+. But there are always to get freebies, sure, not full sized bottles - but samples.
5. Magazine perfume samples
If a perfume/aftershave brand is releasing a new scent, an old fashioned, but still popular way to do it is to put samples in glossy magazines. Perfume brands put these in magazines as a way to get you hooked on the smell so you invest in a bigger bottle.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out in doctors/dentist offices, friends and family etc. If people know you collect them, you’ll find you’re given them all the time.
If you have enough samples (and you don’t want to use them all), did you know you can make money with them on eBay? There’s real money in perfume and aftershave samples. Right now, you can buy four perfume samples (random scents) for £3.49, plus £1 postage.
6. Social media perfume samples
The very best perfume and aftershave freebies come from social media - especially if you spot one run by Sopost, which means a bottle will be delivered to your door. The best way to find these is to join a Sopost Facebook group, where the members send the offers to each other whenever they spot them online. To make sure you are one of the first to get your hands on a freebie, ‘like’ all the perfume and aftershave brands on Facebook and Twitter, so when they give away free samples, you’ll be one of the first to apply.
We’ve found some amazing perfume freebies online, including Escada, Lancome, Ghost Girl, Britney Spears Fantasy and Dior. We’re not ones to brag, but (ahem), but we’re kind of the best place to find these freebies, so keep checking back at Student Money Saver. If there’s a perfume or aftershave sample out there, we’ll find it.
7. In store samples
A department store is THE place to get a perfume or aftershave sample. You can literally visit every counter, show interest in the brand and ask if they have perfume samples you can have to try out before committing to buy.
Here are our top tops:
- Look keen - This is an obvious one, but you need to look like you actually might buy something, so act like what they are saying is the most exciting thing you’ve ever heard.
- Don’t look like a scruff - We’re not saying you won’t get freebies if you’re looking a mess, but beauty consultants are there to sell, sell, sell and samples are there to help them do it - so they’re looking for customers who look like they can splash some cash. Just make sure your makeup and hair is done.
- Take face wipes with you - As part of the selling process (which you’re going to have to endure if you want the freebies), a sales consultant is going to want to put the make-up on you. Once it’s on, and you’re looking, that’s when the wallet comes out. The more you act as though you love what they are doing, the more samples you will get - but you might want a fresh face when you go to the next counter.
- Kill ‘em with kindness - The key to freebies is sweetening up the beauty consultants before you ask for anything. Be as nice as you can be.
- Know the brand - This will not only give you some kudos with the sales assistant but it’s also worth remembering that the best freebies are usually part of seasonal promotions. Check online for when these are and plan your purchases around them.
8. Ask the manufacturer
This one is a bit hit or miss, but if the perfume/aftershave brand has a website, email its customer service and ask if they will send you a sample. If you find a website specifically devoted to an upcoming fragrance release, take the time to enter your name and address if there is a place to do so, as there’s a good chance you’ll get a miniature bottle of it through the door.
Remember, once you have your perfume, keep it out of the sun so it lasts as long as possible.
How to get a free haircut
9. Volunteer as a hair model
Getting a fancy hair cut can cost an arm and a leg, and if you start throwing in extras such as highlights and treatments, it can be unaffordable if you’re short on cash. But there is a way to get a free haircut or treatment in some of the UK’s best salons, by volunteering as a hairdressing model
Newly qualified hairdressers often look for people to practise on, to pass exams with, or to be part of a job interview, which is under supervision and no cost. Salons may also need models for competition practise, or if there’s a new style (think rainbow hair) they need to try out.
More often than not, you’ll have to book weeks in advance to get an appointment.
If you’re in London, you can really get free haircuts from some incredible salons. London or not, check out Gumtree to find hairdressers who are looking for models.
10. Go to a beauty school
If you want a free haircut, check out your local beauty school or college. Students are always under the supervision of a licensed instructor and because it is a teaching environment, the standards are usually high. If a mistake does happen, it is corrected on the spot.
There’s of course a standard disclaimer saying that something could go wrong, but there will be experts on hand to fix a problem if it does arise.
So, what’s the catch? - sure it’s not going to cost you any money (or maybe a couple of quid), but it can cost you some serious time. Students are not experienced and it can take a long time, especially if you’re having something technical done like highlights (four - five hours). You’ll need to show them patience, as they’ll be nervous working on a real head (rather than those creepy doll heads).
11. Do it yourself
This sounds a bit terrifying to us, but plenty of people cut their own hair - INCLUDING BEYONCE. True story, she revealed that she cuts up to two inches off her own hair! In fact, it’s becoming quite fashionable with experts like Lee Stafford showing you how to do it in Cosmo. There are thousands of videos out there with different techniques.
If you can’t be bothered to watch the video (please do if you’re going to cut your own hair!), below are the instructions Lee Stafford gave Cosmopolitan.
- Step one
Get your hair nice and smooth before you start especially if you have frizzy hair. This is a dry cut so no need to wash your hair.
- Step two
Tip your head upside down, brush your hair forward and gather it into a nice tight, secure ponytail that starts right on your hairline in the centre of your forehead.
- Step three
Work out how long you want your first layer of hair to be. Are you going for a fringe that ends at your eyebrows or layers that start at your chin? Measure the distance of where your pony tails starts on your forehead, to this point with a comb.
- Step four
Pick up your pony tail and hold it firmly. Get your scissors and then shear it off at the length you measured with the comb.
- Step five
Change your grip on the scissors now and pointing them directly into the hair, snip into the blunt end of the ponytail until it looks like your granddads shaving brush all graduated and fluffy and with no hard lines. Take care to lean forward as you do this so you don't jab the scissors towards your eyes or get bits of chopped hair falling into your eyes
- Step six
Pull off the hair elastic and shake your head so hair falls into place. Style as desired and voila... a DIY haircut at home!
How to get a free wax
12. Beauty schools
If you want a free wax, the best way to do it is in a controlled environment - aka, a beauty school. Sure, there are ways you can do it yourself (as listed below), but you’re dealing with hot wax and body bits - it’s a bit risky. Leave it to the nearly-professionals.
Google ‘Beauty college’ and your area, and you get a list of places who are desperately looking for willing (victims) guinea pigs, which are often free or will cost you a couple of quid to cover the price of supplies.
The students doing your treatments will be at varying stages of learning (so ask for someone in the later stages of qualification if you are worried), and will be supervised by a fully trained instructor - so you are in good hands.
13. Thread yourself
If you have a piece of sewing thread (about 11 inches long) and the ability to take pain - threading at home maybe for you.
With a bit of practise, swearing and tears, you'll always be hair free without spending a penny.
There are loads of tutorials online, but we like this one.
14. Make your own wax and wax yourself
Right - we’re not recommending you do this. In fact, we think this is a bit crazy - but lots of people do it, and the option is there if you want it - but, you can make your own hair removal wax for free (assuming you have standard equipment such as sugar in your cupboard).
Go check out lots of sites and YouTube videos to find one you like, but according to diynatural, the general recipe to make your own wax involves:
- Fresh lemon juice
- Raw sugar
- 2 tablespoons of water
- A cooking pot
- Stainless steel bowl
- Some strips of cloth (cut up any unwanted clothes)
Well… you’re braver than we are.