Pressed versions can be dropped and broken. To weed out the damaged ones, gently rattle the container next to your ear and listen for the sound of crumbled bits, recommends makeup artist Maria Verel.
4) Stock up on the tools
Basics like nail files, wooden cuticle pushers, foot buffers, mirrors, sharpeners, and hair brushes are ideal picks because the quality doesn't vary much, says Verel
5) Check the testers
Many dollar stores don't offer testers, but when they do, look to see if they're clean (for heaven's sake, don't use them). If they are, the products should be, too. "It's a sign that the makeup hasn't been there for too long," says Verel.
6) Make sure you can read the labels
No matter how tempting or cheap a skin-care product is, bypass it if you can't read the language on the package. "I've seen a few foreign skin-care products that looked interesting, but I had no idea what the ingredients were," says Fusco.
7) Skip hair appliances with damaged boxes
"Chances are high they've been dropped, and with something like a blow-dryer, you can't look inside to check for visible cracks," says Fugate.
8) Make repeat visits
The selection is nearly constantly changing, so frequent stop-ins are the best way to grab deals