Everyone loves free stuff, and everyone really loves beauty and fashion brands that give free birthday gifts — and the good news is that several of them do so, from large retailers (here's looking at you, Sephora and Ulta) to individual brands.
With most sales and freebies, there's almost always a catch, whether it's a spending minimum or exclusions on certain items. Birthday gifts, however, are a different story: If you buy a $5 sponge at Ulta, you'll still get your birthday gift, and at Sephora, no purchase is necessary when you redeem in-store.
That said, there's one thing you almost always need to do: Sign up for the brand's loyalty program, and luckily, they usually cost nothing. Once you've signed up, you'll be able to collect your very own birthday freebie. At American Eagle, your signup gets you up to a 25% coupon on a purchase during your birthday month, and at retailers like Ulta and brands like Fresh, you'll be able to double the number of points you rack up for future purchases — and that's in addition to a birthday gift.
Want to cash in on as many fashion and beauty freebies as possible? Check out the gifts and requirements below.
If you're a Sephora Beauty Insider member, you can celebrate your birthday with a free gift. You can choose from one of three options in-store or online depending on your Insider status. For those opting for in-store, no purchase is required to redeem, but you do have to buy something if you prefer to snag your gift on Sephora's web site. No minimum purchase is required, and there are no restrictions on what you need to buy. Beauty Insider members usually get to choose between three items, and Rouge members have a fourth choice. The gifts change annually.
Like most major brands, Tarte has its own rewards program, Team Tarte. You can sign up for the brand's free program on its website, and on your birthday, you'll qualify for an exclusive gift. (The brand will e-mail you with the option to redeem.) This year, the birthday set includes a mini Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara and Amazonian Clay blush.
While the gift is great, the program also has a long list of other perks. Tarte is known for its sales events (hello, Custom Kit and Friends and Family sale), and members get early access to them as well as exclusive members-only deals. Plus, there are freebies galore. In addition to a birthday gift, members also receive an anniversary gift each year, and they accumulate points with each purchase that are redeemable for rewards like product minis. If you're in one of the two top tiers, you receive a mini with every online purchase.
When you join BareMinerals' Friends and Benefits loyalty program, you'll be sent a special promotional coupon to your inbox. (The brand doesn't reveal exactly how much it is, but a discount is a discount, right?) You can redeem it online or in-store with no minimum purchase required.
And in addition to a birthday gift, the brand also has a few permanent rewards you can get in on, including multiple opportunities to score discounts. The brand gives all members $10 off purchases of $150 or more, 15% off your first purchase after you sign up, and early and exclusive sale access.
Unlike other brands, you don't have to sign up for a rewards program to take advantage of Benefit's birthday gift. In fact, the brand doesn't have any sort of loyalty program, and their gift is a bit different as well: Instead of a freebie or a discount on your purchase, you can get a free Brow Arch service — aka a brow wax — for your birthday.
All you need to do is show up at a store during the calendar week (Sunday-Saturday) of your birthday, verify your big day with your ID, and you're in. Keep in mind, however, that the service is only offered at Benefit locations, not at Benefit Brow Bars inside Ulta stores.
Smashbox may take the title for the brand with the most cult-classic primer, and with its loyalty program, called SmashCash, you can score discounts on its Photo Focus line. When you register for the free program, you'll get an undisclosed birthday gift for your big day if you hit the program's second level (meaning you spend $75 or more in a calendar year), and the program also allows you to collect points for monetary discounts.
You need to be a second-level member to redeem your points, but you can start earning them on the first level after you initially sign up. You get 10 cents off for every 1 point you earn. Once you hit 100 points, that's a $10 discount, and yes, you can bank them. Keep in mind, though, that when you do redeem your points, you have to use them all at once.
Looking for a new birthday outfit? If you sign up for American Eagle's Real Rewards program, you get a 15% off coupon emailed to you during your birthday month. The program is divided into three tiers. Those who spend a little extra each year hit higher levels and, as a result, increase their birthday gift. You can snag a 20% discount if you spend $150 or more per year and a 25% off coupon if you spend $350 or more.
But it's not just the birthday gift that makes the loyalty program worth the signup. If you're a frequent American Eagle shopper, for every $1 you spend, you earn points that later can be redeemed for discounts on upcoming purchases racking up a maximum of $60 off. First-tier members get 10 points per dollar, the second-tier earns 15, and the top tier gets 20. American Eagle's denim is its signature item, and the program reflects that with double the points on jean purchases.
Members also get free returns, free shipping on orders of $50 or more (top-tier members have free shipping on all orders), and access to exclusive sale events.
Ulta's Rewards Programs has a stellar program when it comes to loyalty points. Like Smashbox's, when you shop at Ulta, your points convert to cash. Every dollar spent at Ulta equals one point. Once you hit diamond status, it bumps to 1.25 points per dollar, and platinum members get 1.5 points per dollar. All those points convert into direct discounts with no minimum purchase required, and yes, you can bank them up to 2,000 points which would get you a whopping $125 discount.
But Ulta's birthday gifts aren't too shabby, either. Members automatically qualify for a surprise birthday gift and their points double on purchases made during their birth month. Plus, you'll also get a $10 off coupon if you're a Platinum or Diamond member.
When you sign up for Urban Decay's Beauty Junkies reward program, you'll receive a surprise product for your birthday, although the brand is mum on what exactly everyone gets. What it's not so silent on, though, are the other features you get when you sign up.
In addition to the birthday gift, Beauty Junkies also receive first dibs on sales and new releases, and they get access to special website features like virtual try-ons, a foundation shade finder, the ability to sign up for a one-on-one consultation with an artist, and 15% off any item you put on auto-refill.
Then there's the points system. Under Urban Decay Kickbacks, you get a $10 kickback once you earn 100 points. After you hit that milestone, you'll get an additional $20 discount when you gain 200 points within the same calendar year. As long as you earn your points within the same year, you can keep earning those $20 kickbacks with no limit.
Beauty Bakerie's Baked Rewards program focuses on racking up points that eventually convert into discounts. When your birthday comes around, as a gift, you get an automatic 250 point upgrade which translates to $2.50 off your purchase.
The brand's program features other simple ways to earn points, too. Although most require purchases to rack up discounts, at Beauty Bakerie, you can also take a few simple steps like liking the brand on Facebook, following it on Instagram, referring a friend, and writing a review in exchange for points. Every 100 points equals a $1 discount.
When you become a Lancôme Elite Rewards member, you get a surprise gift on your birthday each year, no matter which of the three membership levels you fall under, but you can also score other perks.
For those on the brand's first level of reward members, shipping is free on orders of $49 or more, and there is early access on promotions and sales. Once you begin moving up, the perks expand to free shipping on all orders, a second gift for your anniversary sign-up date, free gift wrapping, and invitations to exclusive Lancôme events. The biggest difference between Lancôme and other brands is that there's no option to redeem points for cash discounts.
Skincare lovers aren't left out of the birthday love. When you sign up for Fresh Rewards, you get a birthday gift every year as well as double points during your birth month to convert to rewards. But unlike other brands, you also get a welcome gift when you sign up, so you don't have to wait until your big day to score something from Fresh. Other perks include exclusive access to sales and events and the conversion of points into cash discounts.