Nothing provides a mix of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment quite like scoring a good bargain. From unexpectedly discounted shoes in your size to massive holiday sales, saving money somehow validates your need to shop (and encourages you to continue). However, when it comes to buying makeup, trying to save a few dollars simply isn’t the way to go. Whether they be used, nearly expired, or very poor quality, discounted beauty products tend to be on sale for a negative reason. Read on to see which places are 100% no-gos for makeup sales.
1. Dollar stores
You should always stick to the motto of quality over quantity when it comes to buying makeup. Yes, $30 will get you much further at a Dollar Tree than it will at Sephora, but the quality of cheap products should be an obvious turn-off.
Listen, this is your face and skin we’re talking about. Just because a cheap lipstick or mascara looks fairly good, does not mean its ingredients are beneficial to your face. In fact, cheaper products are far more likely to contain parabens, sulfates, and even lead. Save yourself a bad breakout or long-term damage by forking over the money for safer, high-quality options.
If you’re new to the world of eBay, let us formally warn you: What you see is most often not what you get. While products may look exactly the same as what you’re after, there’s a high likelihood that they’re knock-offs with not only substandard packaging, but also dangerous ingredients. Rather than subject yourself to disappointment when your order arrives, we recommend buying makeup straight from the company website. This way, you’ll know your purchase is 100% authentic.
Craigslist allows a buyer and seller to meet up face-to-face to exchange goods in person, then decide on the easiest payment method. However, this is where you need to be careful. While the seller may claim a certain identity, you never know who you’ll actually encounter at the exchange. It’s not even that far-fetched to suggest a makeup listing could be used to target women. If you plan to ignore the risks that come with using Craigslist, at least make sure to meet in a public place, in broad daylight. And definitely bring one or two friends along to ensure you feel safe.
Poshmark is an excellent online resource for buying and selling used clothing, accessories, and shoes. Recently, makeup has been making its way onto the platform as well. While you might be able to trust that the beauty products are at least real on Poshmark (based on profile reviews and past sales), users are quite open about the fact they’re used. “I only wore this lipstick once and didn’t like the color,” the seller may say. And though this sounds harmless enough, remember that makeup can house bacteria. Trust us, those nasty germs are not worth it!
Alibaba is an excellent outlet for buying wholesale items in bulk. It has a fantastic reputation for providing office supplies — think boxes, shipping labels, paper, etc. — but when it comes to personal items, Alibaba should be avoided. Their selections are riddled with counterfeits due to difficulty with regulations. So, unless you own a boutique and simply want cute packaging, you should keep your beauty purchases to a minimum.
6. Yard Sales
Whether they’re yard sales, garage sales, or estate sales, your neighbors’ homes are not appropriate places to buy makeup. Not only are the products likely to be used (which, as we’ve discussed, is a major no-no), they could also be long expired. Unless the items come in their original, unopened packaging with valid expiration dates, you should never rummage through a yard sale lipstick bin.
DHgate, like Alibaba, is another Chinese e-commerce website that facilitates the sale of manufactured products. Their concept is buying in bulk means everything will be cheaper. DHGate, interestingly, has an even greater range of makeup and apparel options than Alibaba. Still, do not be tempted by DHGate’s many popular options, for you won’t know what’s really in their various powders, lipsticks, and cream products until after they’ve arrived.
We debated whether or not to put Amazon on this list, as it’s not a terrible place to buy beauty products online. In fact, it can be ideal for people who live in remote areas or have special beauty needs (dry scalp, allergies, etc.). And unlike Craigslist, on Amazon you can track your order’s shipping and read user reviews.
That being said, you should only buy makeup directly from the brand’s official Amazon account. If you see that a product is available through other sellers for a discounted price, avoid those like the plague. The makeup could arrive already opened, used, or at a fraction of the size you wanted.
9. Street vendors
There’s been a growing trend of street vendors selling supposedly authentic, and heavily discounted beauty products when, in fact, they’re dangerous counterfeits. For example, fake Kylie Jenner Lip Kits have been found to contain glue that literally sealed buyers’ lips shut. The fakes look entirely real (down to the cupcake scent and packaging details). Take our advice and fork over the extra dollars to ensure your products are actually what you want.
Much like the more popular Poshmark platform, Tradesy allows users to re-sell and trade used clothing, shoes, accessories, and even makeup. But unless you ask for new photos of the product in its original packaging plus proof of purchase, it’s not worth shopping for makeup here. Tradesy is the worst combination of used products, potential fraud, and very few assurances.