'Tis the season of giving, which of course means that many of us have very little money left to spend on ourselves. The horror! Not to worry, no matter how tight your beauty budget is this season, you can afford to treat yourselves to these beauty freebies and cheapies.
Julep offers a monthly beauty subscription, but unlike other beauty box companies, Julep will give you a first box for F-R-E-E. Head to julep.com/quiz and answer a few questions about which items best illustrate your personal style. Not only will you get a style assessment — apparently I'm a "confident frill-seeker with magnetic appeal" — but, best of all, you can scoop up a personalized beauty box free of charge (just pay $3.99 shipping).
My "bombshell" box included a Luxe Repair Skin Serum, plus Julep nail polish in "Zelda," a metallic pink champagne and "Kendra," an army green frost.
Once you subscribe, you'll enjoy monthly packages full of beauty goodies. For those with a fear of commitment, cancel or "pause" your monthly subscription by the 24th of any month.
Get a gift, give a gift
If your beauty-obsessed sister, mom or best friend loves playing with cosmetics and skin care, gifts with purchase are an ideal way to give and get this season. I highlight some of my favorite GWPs at my website, PrettyCity.com, but my source for all of the best GWP info is actually a blog called "GWP Addict." There you'll find nearly daily information about the newest GWPs, coupons, deals and more. So you can head to Lord & Taylor and buy your little sister Lancome's new Art Liner, perfect for creating cat eyes, and keep the free seven-piece gift for yourself.
I've spent a pretty penny on lipstick. And while I'm a fan of Christian Dior's Diorific Lipstick in "Ruby Red" (photo, $36 at Sephora), the best lipstick I've ever tried, and the one I wear most days, is Revlon's Super Lustrous lipstick in "Fire and Ice," a flattering fire-engine red with a long-wearing, no-smudging finish ($4.99 at Target). Pair it with a $3 lip liner sold at Walgreens, Jordana Lip Liner in "Sedona Red" — hands down the best lip liner I've ever reviewed — and you've got the recipe for mistletoe pucker that won't kiss off.
— Carolyn Brundage is the founder of PrettyCity.com, a guide to the best in local beauty. Need beauty advice? Tweet up with Carolyn at @tampabaypretty.