Hello to every shopping addict!
Ever since I started writing for IMBB, 95% of my products are online purchases. My job and time scarcity and limited availability of brands in my region provided sufficient fuel to my online shopping addiction. The advantage while purchasing makeup and cosmetics online is that you select a product and you can check its reviews right away to decide if it is worth spending bucks or not. But online shopping comes with its risks and disadvantages along with numerous benefits. Some of you have been asking me in the comments section of my reviews about where I purchase products from, how I select stuff and all such questions. So finally, I am writing a post on “Guide to Online Shopping for Makeup and Accessories.” I will try my best to cover each and every aspect, but I am looking forward to your ideas and knowledge about online shopping to improve my future experiences too.
Category #1: How to Select Makeup and Cosmetic Products:
Most of us fall for drugstore brands and high-end luxurious stuff that’s not available locally and that’s when we look towards online retail stores. Here, I am giving a breakdown of the category. First of all, it depends whether you are a make-up hoarder like most of the IMBBians or restrict yourself to the essentials. If you have any particular product in mind, any particular shade as well, your life is easier than those who are experimenting with new products and shades.
- For skin care products like creams, lotions, eye creams, sunscreens etc, always search for online reviews and look for the skin type of the person who has shared the experience. This will save the trouble after the product has been delivered.
- For primer selection, make sure you are not allergic to silicone as most primers are silicone based. Read reviews to find out whether the primer works for oily, combination, dry or normal skin type.
- Foundation selection is the most difficult task. You might not find the reviews/swatches for all the shades, harmonizing skin tone with the referred blogger, or finding the perfect match is always a trial and error method and you have to live with it.
- If you still want to purchase foundation online, look for guiding wizard on website, sort out the shades by skin tone (light, medium-fair, medium, deep) or refer to your current foundation shade whether you are using from group like an ivory, a porcelain, a sand beige or deep shade (but this isn’t authentic always). And look for foundation according to your skin type and finish (matte, semi-matte, dewy, luminous).
- Selecting lipsticks and lip glosses is fun but comes with a bit of a risk. While looking for online swatches, ensure that the swatch you are looking in Google images is of that particular brand and shade. In case of ambiguity, go to the page directly. I prefer to avoid pale pinks, light peaches, neon shades and light nudes because they wash off Asian skin tones. Remember, the same lipstick shade can look different on a cool-toned European/American lady and entirely different on an Asian beauty.
- Don’t forget to consider the finish of the lipstick (matte, satin, frosty, crème-sheen, amplified crème) and look for shimmers in lip glosses. Most of the brands provide shade and finish description of the lipstick on their official websites. You can settle with a variant shade from the swatch, but accepting an undesired finish is not easy.
- Selection of bronzers, highlighters, eyeliners, lip pencils, eye shadows, brow kits and blushes is rather simpler and choices vary from person to person.
- While ordering mascara, better choose a sealed one to avoid the risk of a dry piece delivered at your door step.
Category #2: Payments, Tracking, Insurance, Customs and Delivery:
1) First of all, let me cover the money matters. All websites accept Visa Credit Cards, Maestro and Master Cards. Half of them allow PayPal and Western Union. Your local websites within the country will accept bank transfers and cash on delivery. What you need to take care of is:
- Prefer to use Visa Debit Cards if accepted over Visa Credit Cards because credit cards always have mark-ups.
- Ensure to keep your Visa Card number secure and log out once you have paid while clearing the saved passwords, forms and cache/history/cookies in the browser.
- In my opinion, PayPal is the most secure method with minimum risks. While a few countries don’t enjoy the PayPal service, why are proxy websites developed for? :P.
- If you are solely relying on PayPal, ensure that the website accepts this method before spending a couple of sleepless nights sorting out swatches and reviews to fill the cart (I did that thrice!!!). A simple trick is to add a random product in cart and hit checkout to see if it gives the “Checkout with PayPal” option. You can also try having a glance at Payment Methods in the help section of website.
2) Coming to the tracking, the official websites/stores of brands give tracking details, but usually, their delivery is limited to the particular country of origin (USA, Canada and UK). If they provide international delivery, the tracking is not fully effective (you can’t track the parcel till it reaches the country of destination). Those websites which sell a multiplicity of brands and deliver internationally, they charge shipping by two methods; either in minimum payment for 2 lbs, 4 lbs and so on or “weight per product.” My personal opinion is that in case of fixed weight/minimum weight payment method; make sure you have ordered sufficient items to justify the shipping cost (which usually ranges from $13-$30 at the moment). When ordering with weight-based shipping method, choose the stuff wisely. It is not prudent to select a brush worth $3 and pay $5 as shipping cost!
3) Such websites selling assortment of different brands give the option of “Order with Tracking” or “Order without Tracking.” The trick is, they ask for 4 x times more payment in the tracking method. What you can do is simply take some time out to add “Insurance” to your order. This will cost you a few bucks more, but less than the tracking method. This indicates that in case a parcel is lost, you would be able to get the refund in the form of store credit (remember only the basic cost of products is refunded, not the entire payment).
4) Some websites give free shipping, some give free standard shipping for orders above a certain amount, but this usually applies to “ground shipping, which means shipping within the country of origin. I will give further details in the last section.
5) Custom duty is paid by the consumer when the parcel is delivered. Custom duties depend upon the weight, size and actual cost of the products you have imported. These rules vary for every country. As an approximate figure, you pay customs as low as 30 cents to $30. This is my personal experience.
6) Ground delivery takes 5-7 working days and international delivery takes 3-6 weeks. What happens is that the courier delivers the parcel to customs, and then it goes to your national postal system. So, make sure that you have given the correct address, a reachable contact number and an address where someone is available to receive the parcel 24/7. Remember you have paid for it already; if it gets lost only, you are going to lose the money.
Category #3: Tips and Tricks for Placing Orders:
- Subscribe to the websites newsletters to receiver offers, discounts and GWP within time.
- Always look for free shipping options, insurance policy and cover for lost and damaged parcels, tracking, estimated delivery time, etc.
- Always look for SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption while paying through Credit Card. Websites with SSL locks show https:// instead of http://.
- Avoid giving additional information like birthday info while you intend to use Credit Card. Such info helps in easy misuse of credit card. The better way is to select a bank with SMS alerts on transactions.
- Try to place orders during Christmas, Green Monday, Thanksgiving etc. Huge discounts are offered during these events; so wait for the right time if feasible.
- Try to utilize the GWP offers which include one or multiple minis/deluxe sizes. The benefit of such deals is that you get worthy products for spending a certain amount at the store. But unfortunately, this is usually restricted to USA-based shipments.
- Ensure to order from an authentic website; be aware of fraudulent sellers. Just don’t be tempted with offers, sales and discounts from less popular/unknown stores. Rather invest in an authentic store that sells genuine products.
- Avoid placing a huge order in the first place (especially your first order). This will keep you peaceful till the first parcel safely reaches you without the fear of losing a huge sum of money.
- Keep the email and contact number of the store handy and save all emails till you receive the parcel as proof for future claims.
- All the parcels are at the risk of being lost. I can’t tell the exact ratio but usually 90% reach the destination safely. If you haven’t received the parcel you placed long ago, contact the seller in the first place. Make them realize they are responsible, keep contacting them till they sort out the matter as store credit/refund. (Only applicable when the parcel is insured).
- Don’t settle with damaged items. Click the images and send to the seller for refund. I do the same and also, I add a comment like, “please dispatch and deliver undamaged items” while placing the order.
- So many delightful brands do not ship internationally and most of these are located in USA. If someone from your extended family, a friend or colleague is travelling to States, ask them to do the favour of bringing the products. I know everybody is reluctant to take responsibility for others. The simple way is to ask for their address and contact number. Select the stuff on your own and get it delivered on the person’s doorstep right away. Just check their availability within the estimated delivery time. Also, you can allow them to throw the box and bring the products in bubble wraps because they might have a concern about allowable weight of luggage.
- Always read the “Buyer Protection” and check “Assurance Plus” option from websites that sell discrete items from various stores/sellers. Stay away from those who don’t provide any such facility.
- Avoid liquid items like makeup removers, toners, etc., because they have a tendency to spill/leak and they cost more shipping and taxes.
Category #4: Apparels, Bags, Foot-wares and Accessories:
Buying accessories online is fun too. Let’s have a look:
- While hauling apparels and outfits, look for size charts and take accurate measurements on your own.
- Take a look at the description section; look for fabric materials and see if the motif, belt or brooch shown in the image comes with the apparel or is to be purchased separately. This is because we are mostly attracted to things as we see them.
- Choose bags wisely because the shipping and customs are subjected to size, weight and cost of a bag. Clearly look for main as well as inner lining material of a bag; this describes its durability.
- While shopping for shoes, select the accurate size and add a note for sending a complete pair instead of two pieces for the same foot. In my case, once two same sandals arrived for my right foot and left were missing! And one other time, two boots arrived with one foot having somewhat different design 😀
- Shopping for hats, scarves, sun shades and jewellery is simple and comes with negligible risks.
Category #5: Guide to Stores and Websites
- Look for Facebook pages/stores that sell in-stock and take pre-orders for branded stuff. Try to ask them for discounts and don’t clear up withdrawing your GWP, offer based deluxe/minis and samples if you are asking for pre-orders.
- Brands that deliver internationally include Sigma Beauty, Makeup academy, BH Cosmetics, Illamasqua, Beauty UK, Sleek Makeup, Berry M, Picture Polish, Benefit Cosmetics, etc.
- Don’t forget to check for insurance policy, free shipping, buyer protection and assurance plus options. Stay clear from the stores which don’t offer these.
- The lucky ones living in US can hoard on anything from drugstore to high-end at justified prices because more than 90% cosmetic companies are located at US and give ground shipping as well as unbelievably amazing offers. I am envious & spiteful!
Lastly, excuse me for such a long article. I am looking forward to hearing your experiences and adding valuable information about online shopping through comments. Special thanks to our dear friend and writer Princy M for the entire motivation behind this article. My shopaholic inspiration was my hubby; who was yours girls?
Take good care, stay happy and happy hauling!
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