This post was inspired by the recent photos I posted of the nail polishes TJ Maxx had. At least at the time. Being a nail polish/art addict, you learn to find discount polishes real quick.
First, if you're really wanting to save money, buying online isn't ideal. Shipping usually adds up, and there's usually always a requirement (Spent $50 get free shipping being the most common) which quickly goes over your budget. Not to mention you're usually stuck buying a select few brands of polishes. (I can't think of ANY store that sells most polishes. A salon perhaps? Even then they don't sell the cheap ones.)
To save money and still have a hobby, I hate to say it, but generally avoiding indie polishes on Etsy is probably ideal, too. This sort of ties into the previous paragraph about avoiding polish buying online. Trust me, it pains me to say that. I have a list of about 20 polishes on Etsy I want, haha. But usually the polishes go for about $8 each (give or take) PLUS shipping. So if you get one polish you're almost guaranteed to pay somewhere in the $10 price range. Which is a lot of money. I don't know about you, but I use the cheap polishes for experimenting--spending $10 on one polish is rare for me.
But anyway, instead of writing a lengthy novel, I'm going to start with writing general tips for finding cheap nail polish.
- Find out what discount stores are near you. Discount stores generally have new inventory all the time, so going to check it out occasionally won't hurt. If you live quite a distance from them, calling to see when they get new polish in might save you a trip. Big lots, TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Ross (there's no Ross near me! I has a sad.), Burlington Coat Factory (they have a lot of stuff there, I don't visit very often though since some things are expensive.), Kmart, etc. I'm sure different areas have different discount stores, this is just what I've heard of and places I've went to. Each store is known to carry different brands though. Big lots for example has Revlon Top Speed in two packs if you're lucky. I've seen Essie in Marshall's, and TJ Maxx carries a little of everything when it comes to top nail polish brands like OPI, Essie, Orly, etc.
- Common stores usually carry decent quality store brand polish in the $3 range. Walmart has Pure Ice polish, there is Sinful Colors which can be found out several places: Walgreens, I think my local Mejer's started carrying them as well. Studio M, which is Mejer's brand, is also nice. Another common cheap brand is Wet N Wild, can be found out variety of places and is generally in the $3 or less range as well. (The Fergie line for Wet N Wild being an exception; I think those are around $4.)
- Google nail polish giveaways and enter them for a chance to win free nail polish. Free is also frugal, right? Right. The nail polish community is freaking HUGE and there are always a lot of giveaways going on, all you have to do is use your google fu to find them. I've seen some giveaways with a TON of EXPENSIVE prizes!
- Keep your eyes peeled for sales. For example, a few weeks ago some ladies on a nail polish forum told everyone that Walgreen's was having a sale on Sally Hansen Salon Manicure nail polishes for around $1.89 each. (Orig. price $8.) I hit up a local Walgreens (which was ravaged mind you) and got 6 for $1.89 a piece. Keeping up with local ads helps as well, and during special times of the year there are sales as well. (Black Friday in particular.)
- Coupons! Everyone loves coupons. I signed up for 3 different Target beauty bags this year and each time it usually came with a booklet of coupons. Including one or two for nail polishes. There are a lot of ways to find coupons, especially online in this day and age. Even coupons for other things work out nice--I went in Khol's with a $10 coupon, got some t-shirts and a bottle of polish for $12. Not bad!
- Make a wish list on Amazon! So you can link people to polishes you want if you're birthday is coming up or for special occasions when people want to get your something and don't know what. Amazon doesn't have a huge selection in polish, but China Glaze's are common, and there's a lot of OPI's as well. Some Zoya's and what not.
- Major beauty supply chains sometimes have sales as well.
Now, I will say, I've never seen Sephora have a sale on nail polish. Scratch that, Sephora very very rarely has online sales for Sephora by OPI. Very rarely I've managed to get a bottle for $3-$5. So that might be the exception--but Sally's, Ulta, etc sometimes have them. Just recently Ulta had a 2/$12 sale on OPI's from a previous Muppet's collection, and my local store usually has several sections with random inventory on clearance that's constantly changing. I've seen Sally's have a Buy 2 get one 1 free on China Glaze's. It's all a matter of keeping your eyes peeled. I just realized this ties in with a previous tip as well, but before I got into polish I never would have thought of major beauty supply places to have good deals.
- Sign up for specific polish brand emails/updates. Just make sure they don't go to your spam filter and you'll always be updated with nail polish info from that particular company.
- If you do buy online, look for special promotions. Zoya for example, has share the love points. You can do various things and save up points if you have an account--that can later be redeemed for things like free shipping, $5 off, etc.
- Look up swatches online before you buy them to lessen the chance of making an impulse buy. This has actually saved me quite a bit. Looks pretty awesome in the bottle, see a swatch and it's not what I was looking for at all.