This week I have gotten back to a lost art of mine- cosmetics shopping on ebay.com. I refer to it as a “lost art” because I haven’t done it in a long time, and kind of forgot about it, but it’s very tricky and requires a lot of knowledge. Here are a few of my top tips when it comes to buying makeup on the internet through sites like Ebay.
-Check seller ratings. If a person is selling an item, and has great ratings (90% and above are positive), you will probably be fine. If it’s their first sale and they have no ratings, or if their ratings are in the 80s and lower, know that you are taking a risk purchasing from them, since others have had bad luck with them in the past.
-Check the amount they are charging for shipping before you bid. Some people will price an item really low, but put exorbitantly high shipping on something. Most makeup palettes or items can ship for around $5 or less. If they are charging a lot more than that, they are likely trying to make more money off of you.
-Ask any questions you might have before placing a bid. I’ve been in the market for a Naked 2 palette, which I know comes with a brush inside the palette, and a lip gloss. Almost all the palettes on Ebay right now come with the brush, but most of them aren’t inclusive of the lip gloss. Just because Urban Decay and Sephora sell them with extra accessories doesn’t mean that Ebay-ers will.
-I try to only order from U.S. sellers when it comes to cosmetics. You can get a great deal through China or Hong Kong manufacturers, but they’re often counterfeit and not original. Even ordering through a U.S. seller you are taking a risk that it may not be authentic, but as long as it says “authentic” on the description, they should stick to their word.
-Check the item description very closely before bidding. Is it travel size or full size? Is it a set of liners, or just one from a set that someone split up? Sometimes the picture that is used to advertise the sale product doesn’t reflect reality because it’s been lifted from the site. I always check how many ounces a product is on the retailers’ website and make sure that it matches what I’m bidding.
-Scour the web- QVC, Sephora, HSN, etc, before biding. Many sellers will buy a bunch of makeup on QVC and split up the set. Let’s say I only want 2 items out of the 5 piece set I’m buying- why not sell the other 3 items to make my money back? It’s a great idea, but if you knew you could get a Laura Geller baked bronzer on Ebay for $30 (originally $45) OR spend $45 and get the bronzer, a highlighting palette, lipstick, and powder on HSN, you might want to go that route instead. So to sum up, make sure other people didn’t take advantage of a great deal that’s floating around that you would rather have!
-If after shipping, you’re only saving $5 or so, it may not be worth the risk. Any time I put a bid through on Ebay, I know I’m taking a risk that the item won’t be exactly how I pictured it, arrive to me damaged, I will have gotten a counterfeit product, etc. If you’re saving 40-50% or more, it can be worth the risk. But if I’m going to spend $39 on an eyeshadow palette that I could buy in store for $45 brand new and no risk included, I’d much rather go that route. Try to make your highest bid what the item would cost you at at least 40% off- that’s my rule!
-Paypal is a beautiful thing. I’ve had it come to my aid once, and I was so thankful that I used that method to pay. Basically, if the seller doesn’t deliver the item within a reasonable time, you file a claim, and Paypal gets on their butt about it. If they don’t make it right by sending the product or issuing a full refund, after a certain period of time, Paypal will give you your money back. Hopefully, a situation like that doesn’t happen to you, but like I’ve said, if you’re bidding for a good deal, sometimes you get burned, and it’s good to have that protection there for you!
-If you are looking for Mary Kay or Avon, and don’t want to buy through a rep, Ebay can be your best friend. People trying to clear out their inventories often stuck up their Ebay shops. Just be careful that they’re not selling you an old formula. Mary Kay reformulates their lip glosses every couple years and I want to make sure I’m getting the nicest, newest formula, not what everyone was using in 2011!
-I’ve found great deals on a Kat Von D palette, and consistently find great deals on Lancome eyeliners and eyeshadow singles.
-Some people won’t buy cosmetics on Ebay, because they think the cosmetics have been stolen. In some cases, that’s probably true. In other cases, it’s not true. If you’re bidding on a perfume bottle that’s brand new (or used) and doesn’t come in a box, your chances are just as good that you’re bidding on a perfume tester that’s been shoplifted from a department store, or that someone kindly took their gift of perfume out of the box to smell it when Aunt Darla bought it for their birthday. While a palette could have been shoplifted, or a makeup counter salesperson could have stolen it, the odds are just as likely that the makeup counter salesperson gets a discount or got a few palettes with her bonus that she already had, and decided to make a quick buck on Ebay. Don’t be too quick to judge, and if you are, you’re better off staying away from Ebay and buying it on Sephora full price. Even foundation testers can be purchased full sized by professional makeup artists, so they’re not necessarily shoplifted either.
Now that I’ve gone over my rules, I’ll tell you a couple times that I’ve had less than desirable situations happen to me. I’ve had 26 transactions on Ebay over the years according to their site, and I would say I’ve had about a 90% success rate. That 10% was mostly my fault, and I’ve learned a lot through using the site. Here are some of my woopsies:
-Last fall, when Tarte had a Smoldereyes eyeliner set come out, I freaked out and knew I had to have it. But of course, it was limited edition and only Sephora carried it, so while I was “thinking about it” they sold out. It was a super phenomenal deal, like $35 or something for 5. I missed out so I went on Ebay. Everyone had pictures up from the Sephora website, and many people were selling the set for $50-60. I clicked on a picture that depicted all of eyeliners and the description made it seem like it was all of them for $17. I thought I struck it rich! I bidded, and low and behold, it was one eyeliner pencil, and it was the least exciting of the whole set. I was really mad and checked out the description for a second time, and realized that at the end of their 4 lines of description, it did state “1 eyeliner” so it was my own fault. Lesson learned, and never again!
-A few winters ago, I was obsessed with Burberry Brit perfume. I stupidly bid on one from a seller that had very negative feedback. I never received it, and quite frankly I forgot about it! I ended up getting my money back from Paypal. Now, I always check at TJ Maxx or Ross before purchasing a perfume, because they have consistently great deals there as well.
-Last fall, I really wanted one of theBalm’s palettes that I could never get my hands on. They would have them at TJ Maxx one day and be out the next. I found one online for $24 including shipping, which I thought was a steal. I know TJ Maxx sells them in the $12 range, but if you always obsess about driving over there to get one and you’re dying for it, $24 is not a bad deal for that many shadows, PLUS they retail at around $35 other places on the internet. Anyhow, when I received it in the mail, it was in nearly perfect condition, but when I held it up in the light, I could see from the side that someone had very lightly stuck their finger on each color. Not swatched, but still, touched by someone else. I was annoyed, and I could have reported it since it was advertised as BNIB (brand new in box).