Getting the Look for Less (safely!) at Marshall’s

By Voxy  

If you’re looking for some skincare or cosmetics bargains and happen to find yourself at a Marshall’s store, you could do worse than to check out their bath-and-body section.

If you’re a regular Marshall’s shopper, you know two things about the store: 1) there’s no predicting what’s going to be there on any given day, and 2) the cleanliness and organization of some areas of the store (including bath-and-body) often leaves something to be desired. The bath-and-body displays usually have all sorts of products jammed in together, many of which have been opened and dipped into (or spilled) by other people’s grubby little fingers. Sorting through them requires patience, a keen eye, and a high tolerance for sticky hands. (Antibacterial wipes afterwards are a really good idea.) This kind of atmosphere deters a lot of people from even plunging into the mess, which just means more possibilities for those of us who are brave enough to dive in and get our hands dirty.

The best way to shop for skincare at Marshall’s is to go in having no idea what you want and to be open to picking up anything you come across. A lot of the brands that Marshall’s habitually carries are brands that don’t show up in other skincare/cosmetics stores, but around this time of year (pre-holidays), they tend to get an influx of odds-and-ends from more well-known lines, as well as some recently discontinued items. For example, here are some things that were on my local Marshall’s shelf this morning (OK, I actually compiled them from several shelves, but you get the idea):


Brands, from left to right:

Freeze 24/7, StriVectin, Joey NY Specialty, Alterna, Ahava, and the good old drugstore standby L’Oreal. In front: Nexxus.


Brands, from left to right:

Sebastian, Borba, Joey NY, DDF, Perricone MD, SexyHair

So, there may be some quality products at bargain prices mixed in there with all of the gloppy half-full bottles of off-brand bubble bath. Assuming you’ve patiently dug through the goop to find them, what’s OK to buy and what’s not?

1. Don’t buy anything that you can see has been opened or used.

2. Things that are still in plastic wrap, or that have unbroken seals, are usually safe.

3. Check expiration dates on creams with sunscreen and other products with active ingredients that may expire; there’s no point buying a sunscreen cream if it will expire before you could possibly get through the container.

4. Do buy:
• Sealed containers of products you already know you like
• Bulk containers of salon hair-care products (shampoos and conditioners may have been opened to smell, but given that there are no showers at Marshall’s, they’re unlikely to have been actually used).
• Products you’ve wanted to try but didn’t want to pay full price for. Yesterday morning, for example, I came home with two Urban Decay Sparkler Pens (shimmery lip glosses, now discontinued) for $3 each. I know it seems like lip products would be the last things to buy in a place like Marshall’s, and the boxes had been opened, but the products had not been tested — the white application brush needs to be primed with product before application, and since there is no color bleeding up through the brush, I know these haven’t been used. Most expiration/throw-away-by dates are calculated from when the product is first used, not when it’s manufactured (sunscreen and acne products are an exception), so although this product may have been sitting on the shelf for awhile, it should perform essentially the same way as a prodctt that was manufactured yesterday — and if it doesn’t, I’m only out $3.

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  1. avatar Inthelab
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 7:06 am | Permalink | Reply

    Fragrance bargains can abound at places like Marshall’s, too. I’ve scored new-in-plastic gift sets of L’air du Temps, new boxes of White Linen EDP, and more.


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted October 28, 2009 at 7:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

      This is good to know. I haven’t bought fragrance there, partly because it’s hard to know how old the package is, and therefore how much the scent has morphed/aged/changed. Have you found that they’re OK and still true-to-scent and full of fragrance? That would be great.


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