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Deal-a-Day Sale Sites and Beauty

May 10, 2011

I actually know a good looking guy who won’t date a girl if she reads the Red Eye, which is the Chicago Tribune’s every-other-day publication of zero newsworthy content but rather contains everything you would ever need to know about Chicago trends and gossip, with lots of fun pictures, listings for local events, sports commentary and such. This means he would never date me, for not only do I always pick it up for its crossword puzzle (in my opinion, always a valuable thing to do before any homework), but I actually was a lead in to one of their cover stories about two years ago. Yes, it’s true! It was about why Chicagoans were trending with lattes rather than actual coffee, and I was accosted by a sad looking college grad at my local coffee shop who was doing interviews. But that’s another story, for you and your Google search.

The real reason I mention this is not just to sigh at how I’ve been eliminated from this guy’s blackbook, but because today’s Red Eye has an article about all the daily-deal sale websites that have been popping up like crazy lately… since Groupon took off, there’s an army of them. Trust me, I know, I think I’ve signed up for them all and spend a good 30 minutes every morning going through them and consequently deleting them. Most of them are useless, unless you count getting discounted gym/trainer services. I don’t. So which ones are worth signing up for, beauty-wise?

(Oh look, random female-internet-shopping picture!)

Must: Hautelook
This is definitely the best daily-deal sale site for beauty products. Beauty products come up almost every other day, and there’s a good range of brands. In this last week, they had drugstore-cheap Nyx cosmetics and department store brand Lorac. The Lorac sale was particularly great, because they had amazing prices – as in $2-3 products (makes me wonder how much Ulta’s markup is!). I’ve seen some lesser known brands here as well. There’s also always a whole lot of products to choose from… some other daily-deal sites only offer maybe 6 products from their brands, products which are so obviously from the clearance bin. Hautelook is really good at not committing this faux pas.

Must: Gilt City
I think it’s worth signing up for your local Gilt City regardless of whether you are into beauty or not. There’s a lot of different experiences, and I think the restaurant deals in particular are really good. But in terms of beauty, they often have promos for salons and services which give you a bit of an excuse to cheat on your regular salon to do some exploring. From the Chicago version, which I subscribe to, there’s also some great curatorial decisions behind it. Most often, deal sites let just about any business offer a coupon… just look at Yelp to see how many women have been lured into a salon by a Groupon and have earned bad color jobs because of it. Gilt City has only ever offered services from very well-rated salons… in Chicago, Art + Science as well as Blo Dri, for example. I feel much more confident buying a service through Gilt City rather than any other daily-deal sale site.

Must: DailyCandy Deals
OK I know this is a bit of a cheat as it’s not a daily-deal sale site per se. It just sends out mini-editorials on many things, either what’s hot in your city or a list of things based around a theme like Mother’s Day. DailyCandy has been my tip to discovering so many great products, shops, and websites. In terms of a deal, they do have their own daily-deal sale site, Swirl, which is only lately doing more beauty sales (and I have not been impressed yet), but the DailyCandy Deals email (the “everywhere” one) is worth signing up for because they will occasionally send out coupon codes for major discounts on well-known makeup brands’ own sites… Tarte and Somme Institute come to mind as examples.

Honorable Mention: Gilt
Regular old Gilt, the first and the original. They don’t have beauty products like makeup on sale very often, but they have more recently been coming up with deals on skincare lines like Mario Badescu. Whether the number/range of products are hit and miss (sometimes a lot, sometimes a joke). What makes Gilt a good beauty sign-up is the fact that they’re the only deal site I’ve seen where high end beauty tech products have gone on sale, like the Baby Quasar. And we’re talking MAJOR discounts. Just sign up for the sake of not having to wait until your next bonus.

Disappointed in you: Pretty City’s Beauty Closet
Pretty City to me just feels like it tries too hard sometimes. Kind of hard to explain why. Maybe the crappily designed newsletter emails they send out? The fairly unoriginal content? I signed up originally to get access to the list of spas/salons doing $40 services for October’s charity (they do this again in February, though for a different charity — I suck for not remembering) and just never got around to unsubscribing. In the last month or so, they’ve created the Beauty Closet, which offers one particular product at a highly discounted price, about once every week or two. Here’s the thing: it’s usually a product no one’s ever heard of, and they don’t usually write enough about it to make me feel like the product’s being sincerely endorsed for its effects. More often enough, it feels like a pay-for-plug, e.g. “(Random Celeb!) uses this!” or dull press release-blurbs. To be fair, this last week’s offering of Artisan Naturals serum has a bit more written content (i.e. an ingredients list)… but given how unconvincing the regular Pretty City email is to me, I’m not entirely willing to go all the way and invest in a product based only on their recommendations. Pretty City overall needs to step up their game.

So, what do you think? Have I got it wrong? Am I missing anyone? You can comment and let us know!

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