Holiday stress making you Claus-trophobic?

Got resting Grinch face?

Parking. Crowds. Lines. The most wonderful time of the year seems more like the most wine-derful time for a beer!

Shake the ho-hum; don’t succumb to feeling glum, sugar plum. Here are a few tips “sooted” to have you sleighing holiday hassles with budget-friendly beauty buys:

Tip #1: Hold onto sets for deer life – or yule be sorry. Value and gift sets are one of the best ways to save time and money. You could gift one as a whole or buy a bigger bundle to split into smaller ones and give to more people. For example, the limited-edition Benefit Cosmetics BROW Superstars! holiday value set that retails for $59 comes with six full-size brow best-sellers, which would cost $144 when purchased separately. But wait, there’s myrrh! If you want additional savings, Benefit, Sephora and Ulta are currently knocking $10 off the price. Many brands like Benefit have their own sets, but if you’re not sure which to get, opt for ones that come with an assortment of beauty products from a myriad of brands.

Sephora Favorites are limited, exclusive sets (Sephora Inside JCPenney locations have their own exclusives) that are usually released around the holidays with a variety of their top-selling goodies, providing a way to experiment with new brands and items. If you know someone who loves clean beauty, mascaras, skin care, fragrances, lip products, hair products or a mix of everything, you’re pretty much … set.

The holiday perfume and cologne samplers in the Sephora Favorites collection cost $65 and each include a “scent certificate” or a voucher to purchase a full-size fragrance from the set. The perfume with the most value redeemable with the certificate in the 2019 Sephora Favorites Holiday Perfume Sampler is the 3.4 oz bottle of Clean Reserve Solar Bloom, which sells for $98 – a $33 savings! And if you’re gifting cologne, there’s the 2019 Sephora Favorites Holiday Cologne Sampler. The certificates can be redeemed only in a Sephora store, not the Sephora website nor Sephora Inside JCPenney. You can find similar exclusives at Ulta with Beauty Finds by Ulta.

It’s snow joke, holidays sets SELL. OUT. FAST. and change every year, so if you see something you or someone else would love – bag it. If the item you want is sold out online, you can enter your zip code under a “Find in Store” option to locate it in a store nearest you. Once it’s gone, it’s gone – never to be seen again, a ghost of retail’s Christmas past.

Tip #2: Don’t make it rein, dear. Did you miss your chance during Black Friday and Cyber Monday? You can still hold onto more of your monies. Sephora’s sale and Ulta’s sales and coupons pages will have items that are half off. And, usually every year in December, Sephora and Ulta offer rewards program members special discounts from 10 to 20 percent off. Until December 17, Sephora members could save $15, $20 or $25 off (the higher the tier, the bigger the savings) a purchase of $75 or more.

I used the $25 discount to buy the 4-piece Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Carnaval Celebration Set (#obsessed!) – half of the items were practically free considering it included a full-size $45 body cream – for $59 and the Josie Maran Nothing But Pure Argan + Hemp Duo for $19 (originally $25). My total came to $58. So, essentially, I got free items (including the Josie Maran bundle), the sales tax was covered – and I saved $1 on the Sol de Janeiro set.

Don’t fir-get the extras! When making a purchase on Sephora’s website, you can pick two samples with your order. If your purchase is at least $25, you can snag a freebie from the list of Beauty Offers.

Tip #3: Spruce things up by making your own gift set. Stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx sell luxury brands that include Shiseido, Perricone MD, Algenist, Kat Von D, Becca, First Aid Beauty, Anastasia and Too Faced for a fraction of the suggested retail price. For example, Dr. Dennis Gross Daily Peels, which are in-home chemical peels comprised of AHAs (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acid) to exfoliate the skin. A pack of 30 peel pads costs $88. TJ Maxx and Marshalls both carry Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads, which have the same ingredients as the Dr. Dennis Gross peels, contain twice the amount of product and cost less than a third of the price at $23.99.

Wrapping up on a Santa-mental note: Between stress, sets and sales, this time of year is about sharing — even if all you can offer is gratitude. Beauty starts with you and how you treat others. And, if you happen to come across a great deal along the way, go on, treat yo’elf.

 * Note: Prices were accurate, and items were stock at the time of publication. Because some items are limited, links may not remain active.

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