By Lulu Anderson, our digital marketing whiz

Part 1 - Care and Beauty line

Where is the line between luxury products and basic necessities? It seems as though each time I make a trip into CVS or Target I can't walk out the door for under $100. In fact, maybe that number is really $150. Some of those items are in fact pricier "beauty" needs like $20 razors or $30 moisturizer with SPF, but these are hardly the luxe versions that I could be opting for in the actual department stores or Sephora. These basic items are oft capable of unisex functionality and are rarely on sale. This is where I've found that pre-identification of a few basic things, some luck, and staying informed can come in handy. 

1. Know your brands: Keep a wishlist on Amazon and check back for deals (like when Gillette razor refills go down to under $4.00 per razor)

2. Stay on top of the best giveaway sites (more on this to follow!)

3. Being an informed customer: How do you know what a good deal is for a specific item? Take notes! For example, I know that 1 oz. of my YSL foundation for $56.91 with free shipping is a great deal... for what it is.

Hands down, Amazon is the best option when it comes to paying for your necessities (and those slightly more than necessity items) - and if you're not on Prime yet I really do not know what you're waiting for. The annual membership is well outweighed by the extra trips that are made each week to the store (try for free here for 30 days).

But with all of the noise on the web for giveaways, sweepstakes and promotions - how do you narrow down some of the most efficient to increase your odds of winning? Here are some basic tips as well as a list of my personal favorites for scoping out cool prizes: 

• Stay local: Find up and coming local brands that are looking to grow their database. These brands are likely to have less entrants, thus increasing the odds that you will win! Here is a small organic beauty brand in Boston, I follow their blog, social media and pop by the store regularly for samples of new products

• Speaking of social media, follow the brands you like - all of these brands have marketing teams that have to find ways to get people like YOU excited about their brand, often via a sweepstakes or giveaway! (See Aveeno's Page where there are plenty of discounts, then compare drugstore prices with Amazon)

• Giveaway & sweepstakes sites that aren't bogus!

  • Poshly is a free subscription site that offers up beauty giveaways and features a cool countdown feature to show you how much time you have to enter
  • Giveaway Monkey sources free giveaways into an entire Beauty + Hair category
  • Beauty magazines (Allure, Elle, Cosmo ... etc.)
  • Bloggers - the perfect source for legit giveaways, also depending on their readership they may not have many entrants, which increases your chances of winning! Here are 50 great ones sourced by Stylecaster!

The net-net of giveaways, sweepstakes and great savings is that there is often a bit of time required to win, however that can be the source of the fun especially considering the crippling trips to the drugstore that seem to pile up each month. My recommendation for each person is to strike up the perfect balance for the time spent entering to win, and time (and money!) saved when using Amazon type sites that source the best deals (even on a daily basis) and save all of your personal preferences! Finding the right mix will wind up with you feeling like the winner in every way! 

Part 2: To be continued ...