Tricks For Shopping Cosmetics Online

Hey. Hi. Hello!

I hope everyone is having a great holiday szn so far! I’ve been spending as much time as possible locked inside my apartment binge watching things on Netflix, mainly because there are too many tourists in the city and NOT because I have no friends. Last night we spent 15 minutes trying to push through people standing around pretending to watch the Saks windows. It’s like they’ve never heard of the idea of just watching them online?!

Speaking of online, that was a flawless transition into what I wanted to preach at ya’ll about this week! If there’s one thing I spend more of my time doing than anything else, it’s online shopping. Well actually it’s probably working, and then working out, and THEN online shopping, but that’s not the point of this.

I think I’m a pretty seasoned online shopper. It takes me away from the crowds and having retail-induced anxiety about re-folding clothes and putting them back in the right spots. But, it’s not always easy. You don’t get to try clothes on to see how they’ll fit (I mean I never try clothes on anyway, but that’s a personal problem). More importantly, you also can’t get an understanding of things like makeup and whether or not certain products will look good on you.

Now that it’s 2018, there are so many cosmetics brands that are focused on selling through an online platform, rather than in traditional brick and mortar stores. Sure, companies like Dose of Colors, Kylie Cosmetics, and even Colourpop for it’s brief time have started to make appearances in retailers like Ulta and Sephora, there are still so many brands that are online only. Plus, not everyone has an Ulta or Sephora or drugstore near them.

That’s where I come in. I’m here to hit you with my best tips and tricks for shopping cosmetics online to make it almost as easy as shopping in store (I said almost, it’s not foolproof yet).


YouTube is my favorite platform for discovering new products and brands. If you’re into cosmetics, chances are you have a favorite beauty guru. Maybe it’s someone who has similar skin issues/skin type/complexion as you, or maybe they share the same opinions about lipstick formulas or blush shades. Whatever it is, there are literally thousands of people reviewing products online in front of a camera.

9 times out of 10, chances are that at least some of these beauty gurus have been sent PR from brands, especially online brands, to try out. Or, they’ve gone and invested their own money into up-and-coming brands sold only online to better inform their viewers. This means that you can just click onto a 10 minute video and watch their swatches and reviews rather than spending money to realize that a foundation is matte when you HATE matte foundations.

Yes, it’s still through a computer screen and you’re watching something that is based around the opinion of one person, but it’s still super informative. You can learn about color-shifts in eyeshadows that might not show up in still images, and see how a foundation may wear throughout the day. There’s a reason beauty gurus have blown up over the years.

Get Color Matched

If you do have access to a Sephora near you, I recommend going in and getting color matched with their Color IQ machine. I know that I’ve been judgemental about it in the past, but I tried it again recently and it worked much better.

The idea behind this is they use a machine to grab your skintone in a few different places. Once they’ve taken that, the machine builds you a color IQ number, sort of like a Pantone paint swatch, but for your face. You can then link this IQ number to your Beauty Inside account. The best part about doing this? Sephora will then curate a boatload of foundations from their website that match your color IQ.

It completely takes out the guess-work of figuring out what the fuck “Nude Beige” means, and if it’s the same shade as “Havana” in a different brand. It will only populate suggestions for you of foundations that match your IQ number too, so it’s already limited down options for you of the 18 billion face products they sell there.

I’ve used this feature a few times now to try out new foundations, and it’s worked everytime. I’ve had them match me twice too, one with my regular skintone, and once when I had a spray tan, so I wouldn’t have to worry about mismatched face/neck ratio ever again!

Shop Brands You Know/Have Heard Of

This one may suck a little, but it really helps you save a little money. It’s the same thing I do with shipping clothes online. I rarely, if ever, will buy clothes from a company that I’ve never shopped with before, because I don’t need the disappointment of opening a package to get lacklustre clothing.

I’m not telling you to NOT try new brands, because that’s lame. Rather, I’m urging you to be cautious. Trying brands you are already familiar with is great, because you already have a sense of their formulations and what you like or dislike about certain things. However, when you want to dip into new brands, don’t go for one that popped on as an ad on your Instagram but looks really sketchy.

Stick with brands that have been reviewed by third parties, like beauty bloggers or youtubers. This goes back to tip number one. Listen to what other people are saying, and make sure that it’s a credible brand before throwing your money at them.

Read Product Descriptions.

This one is another huge one for me. If you didn’t know, Ulta and Sephora and pretty much any website that sells makeup will give product descriptions. They’ll mention things like whether a blush shade is coral or pink, or if a highlighter has a pink flip to it, or is chalk full of glitter.

I always look at the product descriptions for things I already love, and compare them to products on the website I’m looking to shop on. If I like a nude blush with a hint of glitter, that’s what I’m looking for on another website. Yes, not all similar products are going to use the same words, but you should be able to pick up on what synonyms are used instead. I mean there’s only so many different ways to say something has glitter in it, ya know?

Returning is Always an Option

OBVIOUSLY. If you’re not satisfied with something, fucking return it. I don’t do this because there is something wrong with me, and I just end up donating it to charity, or friends. However, if you buy something that completely did not live up to what you thought it was going to be, return that shit.

I personally think all companies should pay for return shipping, but not all do, so prepare for that. But, companies design products for consumers, which they want to enjoy said product. If you’re not happy, reach out to the company and return that bitch. And then learn from your mistakes and maybe help others along the way, too, by dropping a review.

Use A Money-Back Installation

No, I promise this is not an ad for Honey, but it should be. Online installations like Honey or E-bates (my personal fave), are LIFE CHANGING when it comes to online shopping. The idea is basically that these installations work with thousands of companies to create cashback offers for users, along with compiling all available coupon codes. At checkout, the installation with try all the coupon codes to see if any work, but if not you’ll still get cashback if the platform allows.

I personally use ebates ALL the time. Throughout the year they’ll even have like 10% cashback, which is CRAZY. Every quarter, you get a Big Fat Check sent to you with all the money you’ve earned from your spending. It’s a great way to get back a little money so that I can keep spending it online.

Until Next Time!




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  1. We are not allowed to return cosmetics in France, so I am extremely cautious about buying beauty product online. I am not inclined to trust any review by a person who got the product(s) for free. The decision process just isn’t the same as a paying consumer?

    Youtube has a ton of information for indie brand, but I must admit that I almost never watch full time youtuber for product reference lol. I find them so disingenuous that they’re almost cringy to watch.

    1. That’s so true about the YouTube videos, they’re really hit or miss. I honestly don’t watch a lot of them anymore except for JKissa or Tati because I’ve found them to be the most honest with their reviews.

      Totally crazy you can’t return cosmetics in France, but I get it. I used to work at Ulta and they would have us put any returned product onto the shelf that looked sellable, it was definitely nasty.

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