6 Genius Tips for Successful Online Beauty Shopping

Written by: Susan Hang

I know several of you refrain from buying makeup or trying new products outright because 1. beauty storefronts and sales reps make it too intimidating to gallivant, or 2. you don’t want to risk picking the wrong product (be it color or a bad reaction). I get the fear, the risks, etc, but it still sounds silly to me (just as I thought anyone afraid of online shopping 10 years ago was silly). We’ve advanced too much to let those phobias get the best of us… And sometimes, you have no choice but to make a purchase online because it isn’t sold in stores or available at your local mall.

You might be surprised to hear that I do 90% of my beauty shopping on the web…without ever walking into a store…

And I consider 90% of my virtual trips a success, which is probably tantamount to anyone else making physical bouts. How many of you have ever gotten color matched incorrectly? Was recommended a product that flopped? I almost feel like you can avoid these bloopers better by taking the online route. Still not convinced?

Here are my top tips for successful online beauty shopping:

tips for online beauty shopping– Don’t listen to reviews on Sephora & Ulta, but watch the Q&A.

In my early days of, I’d read through several reviews (which are mostly positive especially when a product contains THOUSANDS of reviews) and make a decision solely based on that. Major no-no! I find that product reviews on big retailers like Sephora and Ulta aren’t exactly reliable sources. However, DO take advantage of the Product Q&A section if your concern is picking the right color – it gives you a really good idea of anyone who may be in the same color family as you, and then guides you from there. The color descriptions are also a really good place to start. is Your BFF.

MakeUpAlley has been my trusted resource for years – this is the best place to get bona fide, unbiased reviews! People often include similar products, alternatives, and background info regarding their skin type and previous experiences in their comments. These detailed anecdotes help you relate even further. When I’m overly concerned about picking the right foundation color, I filter through several reviews, seeking anyone who might match me… The safest bet here is knowing your MAC foundation shade – that seems to be a universal indicator on MakeUpAlley.

– Beware of the return policy.

I’d recommend purchasing from providers with a really good return policy that way you know you’ll get what you love. Anyone I’ve mentioned here is 100% safe!

– Utilize bloggers & YouTubers.

online beauty shopping
Bloggers and YouTubers often provide swatches and demonstrations, which is a HUGE WIN – you get to see it live! When you feel like you’re not being lured into a sale, it’s much easier to trust the source. It’s also easier to go off of someone’s opinion when you trust them and have purchased products according to their recommendations before.

– Ask the experts.

Nordstrom and Peach & Lily have experts that provide excellent advice and product recommendations (YES, EVEN ONLINE). Take advantage of those free services. I’ve had a lot of luck and success with them! The best part is they’re usually not pushing to make a sale, but instead, giving honest advice based on your criteria.

– Be watchful of discounts and deals.

If you’re on a budget or looking to save a little bit of money, online is the obvious way to go (that’s one of the biggest reasons why I do it). This is probably the best way to go if you already know exactly what you like and what you’re trying to buy!



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