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September 29, 2010

Feels Like Stealing: The Cosmetics Company Store

I don’t understand why people are snooty about outlet shopping. Why pay more for the same product if you can go somewhere else and get it for less? Take, for example, The Cosmetics Company Store (TCCS). There are 70 of these shops scattered in outlet malls across the country, including my own Albertville Premium Outlets, but many makeup-loving gals I know have never darkened their doors. I asked some of them why, and found that there are definitely some common misconceptions about outlet shopping.

Myth #1: You won’t save that much

Truth: Makeup, brushes, scents (including sets) and skin care products by Origins, Clinique, MAC, Prescriptives, Estee Lauder and Bobbi Brown at TCCS cost 20 to 30 percent less than at the department store. A perfectly pink shade (Poppy Love) of Butter Shine Lipstick by Clinique cost me $10 at the outlet versus $14 at the counter. My most favorite fancy hairspray, Spray de Mode by Bumble & Bumble, was $6 less at the outlet than at my salon.

Myth #2: Outlet’s only carry the bland, boring stuff that no one wants.

Truth: Yes, items at the outlet are overstock and/or discontinued, but that doesn’t mean they’re not in demand, on-trend or all around “good” products. In fact, if you missed a limited edition release of a MAC collection, you may get a second chance at TCCS. I got hooked on my pal’s Fascinating Ruby holiday lip gloss palette by MAC, for example, and snapped up two at the outlet for $15 each—$7 less than what it retailed for this winter.

Myth #3: You can never find exactly what you want at outlets.

Truth: Instead of walking into TCCS seeking a specific shade or product, go with a general list of what you’re looking for—moisturizer, bronzer, lip liner, etc.—and you’re bound to find something that works. For someone like me, who never buys “fancy” makeup, browsing the samples at TCCS and knowing that they were within my budget was nothing but a good time! And I left with exactly what I needed.

Definite drawback: Whenever I’ve visited TCCS, I’ve experienced nothing but lackluster, and frankly, uneducated service. Do not come here expecting the same level of trained, experienced help you’re likely to get at Sephora, or the undivided attention you’ll get at a department store counter.

To find the nearest Cosmetics Company Store, visit or

Meghan McAndrews is the founder of High Plains Thrifter and the editor-in-chief of all things cheap at Her Beauty Thrifter column appears every Wednesday.
  • Elizabeth Dehn
    Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009.
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