I’ll tell you this right now: Halloween is not my holiday of choice.
I usually spend the weeks leading up to Oct. 31 being a grump and refusing to dress up. Then, a few days before, I start feeling left out and just want to go to the party, so I piece something together.
It always ends up being expensive.
And I feel like a fool in a scrappy costume while everyone else is dressed as a clever pun with Pinterest-worthy makeup.
Not this year, my friends.
Although Halloween is on a Wednesday, I will be prepared — and I refuse to spend too much money.
A co-worker (who is a lot more makeup-savvy than I am — thanks, Kelsey) recently let me in on a secret: Buying “real” Halloween makeup at a cosmetic store like Ulta is actually a lot smarter than going to Party City for the “cheap” costume stuff.
No way, I thought. But, lo and behold, it really is a smarter decision. Here’s why.
1. “Real” Makeup Is Cheaper
This is where I was hung up. I know how much the little bit of makeup I wear costs, so the idea of buying legit makeup over the costume stuff didn’t seem like it’d be cheaper.
But you really can find cheaper Halloween makeup alternatives at Ulta — both in-store and online.
Plus, you can apply some hefty savings to your order if you know what you’re doing.
For example, you can get free gift cards to Ulta by taking surveys through Swagbucks (which will also give you $ 5 to get started).
Once you’re in, buy an Ulta gift card and shop Ulta through the platform. You’ll earn two Swagbucks (SBs) per $ 1 you spend. You can exchange SBs for gift cards.
For context, 2,500 SBs equate to a $ 25 PayPal gift card, good for all your online shopping pleasures.
However, as it turns out, many of the costume basics are a lot cheaper if you get them from somewhere like Ulta.
I compared a few items and their prices:
- Sultry False Eyelashes: $ 4.99 at Party City
- Ardell Glamour Multipack (of four sets): $ 11.99 at Ulta, totaling about $ 3 per set
- Gold Glitter Lipstick: $ 2.99 at Party City
- Makeup Revolution: $ 2.49 at Ulta
- Black Shimmer Eye Liner: $ 3.99 at Party City
- Essence Kajal Eye Pencil: $ 1.49 at Ulta (also available in white)
Self-adhesive face jewels:
- Adult Sea Siren Mermaid Makeup Kit: $ 9.99 at Party City
- Lottie London Mermaid Self-Adhesive Jewels: $ 5.49 at Ulta (online-only)
- Colorless Setting Powder: $ 3.99 at Party City
- E.L.F. Prime & Stay Finishing Powder: $ 2 at Ulta (online-only)
Bonus: Here are seven other ways you can save money at Ulta.
2. “Real” Makeup Is Better Quality
One year in middle school, I decided to be a clown for Halloween… Lord knows why.
I hate clowns, and my face was covered in paint, which caused my already acne-prone skin to freak out. I think there’s one photo of the incident floating around somewhere…
When I dressed as a scarecrow a few years back, my face was not happy with the swirls of red paint on my cheeks. Also, the red paint refused to come off — even with makeup remover — so going to class on Monday was an adventure.
One of the perks of using “real” makeup is the quality. The likelihood of your skin having an adverse reaction to the product is probably lower. Plus, the real stuff is usually built to stay on all day, so it’ll be less likely to slime off during your rowdy night.
3. “Real” Makeup Stores Better (and You Can Use It Again)
I held onto that red paint palette I purchased for my scarecrow costume, because it felt like such a waste to use the tiniest bit and toss it.
Moving out a few months later, I stumbled across it. It was totally dried out.
When you purchase legitimate makeup, it’ll store better — and longer. Actually, depending on the product, it’ll probably be fine until next year.
There’s also more of a chance you’ll use eyeliner than black face paint on any other regular day.
4. “Real” Makeup Has More Options
At Party City, you’ll probably find limited options for Halloween makeup. You’ll see the white face paint, the palette of clown colors and maybe two colors of lipstick.
The nice thing about opting for makeup from a place like Ulta is you have so many options. You’re also not locked into buying the five-pack of eyeshadows, for example. You can probably find a singular one you actually need (and will use again).
Plus, did you see all those lipstick options? Black? Green? Purple? Neon yellow?!
The best part is you don’t risk running into someone who used the same pre-packaged kit as you. You’ll be unique. And, really, that’s all that matters on Halloween — because it’s awkward to run into someone dressed the same darn way.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
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This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
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