This was sugggested to me as a new feature-how to stay looking fabulous even when many of us have had to cut our beauty budgets. One of my friends who favors department store products even asked me to shop CVS with her to attempt to find good relacements for her favorite products.
Before you even step into a store though, do what any good wardrobe consultant would tell you; look at what you own first. Here is where I need to practice what I preach.
I have a terrible habit of buying new things for my kit that I already have and then using the new stuff before the old is gone.
See what you can salvage from those half finished lipsticks. Have a foundation that never really matched? See if you might be able to blend it with another shade to make it work.
See if you may be able to repurpose products that didn't work for you-a stick foundation, for example, can be used as a nice undereye concealer, if it has the right consistency. If it is way too dry to use under your eyes, try it as an eyeshadow base. A shadow that ended up being way too dark or too sparkly might make a great eyeliner when used with a small damp brush. This sounds a little 1950's, but some lipsticks might make a cute cream blush.(don't try this if you have very oily, break- out prone skin though)
Be resourceful, but while you are at it, toss anything that looks seperated in the bottle, smells "off" or is non-salvagable. Lipsticks and glosses go bad very quickly and harbor all kinds of cooties; if it smells funny, pitch it. If you have some old skincare lying around, chances are it's no good-maybe a cleanser has more chance than an eye creme or moisturizer.
You can go on Makeup Alley and swap your barely used or unused makeup mistakes; (caution-it is very addictive and very time consuming!) I was a frequent swapper during my Saks days (read:before kids) and it was fun to try different products but the shipping back and forth was a annoying. I was also an avid ebay-er in those days so it was all part of the grind to go to the post office every day.
More budget friendly ideas to come...