We've all been there: elbow deep in a cluttered display of broken highlighter palettes. You have a rogue brown lipstick smeared all over your favorite top and the light of hope in your eyes is starting to dim. Shopping for products at stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, & Ross (among others) is, in a word, overwhelming. Despite the piles of shattered powders and the shelves lined with no-name beauty brands, it's totally possible to find GREAT beauty products for a fraction of retail cost. Here are my tips for navigating the bargain shops:
Grab a cart
The thing I hate the most about Marshalls is that I can never find a basket to carry with me, but I don't want all the hassle of pushing around a cart. HOWEVER, I always end up circling back to grab one. You'll want the flexibility a cart gives you. I love to pick things up, put them in my cart, walk around a bit, put it back on the shelf, change my mind, and throw it back in. The cart gives me space to do this, and most importantly: it keeps my hands free!
Start with the most organized display
A lot of people make the mistake of rushing right to the makeup section hoping to find a pristine ABH Glow Kit... it's never gonna happen! You'll just get frustrated and spend the rest of your search seething at the bad selection and gloss over some really good finds in other places! Start somewhere pretty, go slowly, read labels, and b r e a t h e.
Don't be afraid to dig
One of the biggest mistakes I used to make was just waltzing into the aisle, taking a glance, and saying to myself, "there's nothing for me here". It's easy to do a quick skim, not see anything labelled "La Mer", and run to the Calvin's rack. But you aren't here for easy. You're a hunter. Dig to the back of every shelf, behind every marked down bottle of Clinique toner. Even the displays that are about a mile away from the beauty aisle and look like they're housing 3 tubes of mascara and a nail file: LOOK THERE. You never know what you'll find.
Try something new
Among the duds and poorly duped contour kits, there are some really cool products! I find the most interesting no-name products in the skincare and body care section. This is where your knowledge comes in. You know what your skin likes, you know what smells you're into, you know what you need. If something looks cute, read the label. Don't be afraid to pop it open and give it a try!
Look in sections you wouldn't usually be interested in
Listen: I never use product in my hair. I'm into all natural, hop out of the shower and let it air dry. BUT, for the past few months I'd been seeing a really cute haircare brand on Instagram, and I'd been dying to try some of their products. For the first hour or so that I was shopping (you heard me right, first hour), I kept skipping the hair section. It's just discounted bottles of Biosilk and argan oil after all, why would I be interested in that? BUT, when I broke down and took a closer look, there she was! My brand! I screamed, and snatched up a bottle. It's the only styling product I own, but I don't care! I love it!
Candles are a really great thing to buy in Marshalls too. They may all be brands I've never heard of, but who cares if it smells great and costs $6?
Look up online reviews
See a product you're unfamiliar with but you're kinda into? Unsure about whether that StriVectin eye cream is worth the high price tag? (It's supposed to be a discount, come on!) This is what God made online reviews for. See what your fellow beauty-lovers think of that product! This is my favorite thing to do while shopping, saves me so much heartache and keeps me from taking a product home that just isn't as good as I was imagining it.
Check the checkout line BEFORE you check out
THIS is where they hide the good stuff. I've found so many high end makeup products that are completely untouched here. People forget about this treasure trove, but now you won't! ALWAYS check the checkout line shelves before you're being called up to the sales counter and it's too late.
Shopping for bargain beauty is a talent of mine: I love to save a dime. Next time you're out at a bargain retail store, don't freak out. Just remember to take it slow, dig deep, and don't be afraid of trying new things.