Welcome to the new Project Swatch Online Shopping Guide for makeup, nail polish, skincare, and other cosmetics. First – be sure to use either Ebates or Mr. Rebates if available; using these sites gives you about 3% to 10% cash back on your purchases. They are both completely safe, and absolutely worth using!
High End Cosmetics / Skincare
Everybody knows about Sephora, so I won’t go in to details. I tend to order from Sephora when there’s a good promotion, which happens quite frequently.
The best thing about Nordstrom is free shipping (and free return shipping) every day – so, if you just want one item, they’re my go-to. I buy most of my MAC from Nordstrom because they have a much better return policy than the MAC website. Nordstrom also carries several lines that Sephora online doesn’t, like Armani and Chanel.
The only MAC I buy from MAC online are the exclusive items they have – such as pro pans, or exclusive collections. It really bugs me that they don’t let you return online purchases in store – there’s no reason for that!
Another one of my go-tos is Beauty.com; not only do they carry several hard to find lines like OCC (the full line – Sephora currently just has the lip tars), Lipstick Queen, and Kevyn Aucoin, they also offer $10 off a $50 purchase all the time. Click the following banner to redeem that deal:
Another option is Dermstore. The best thing about Dermstore is that you can put things on your favorites list, and then get 10% off – starting immediately. I have purchased from them before, and my order arrived quicky. They are associated with Blush.com, who I have not ordered from – I’m not quite sure of the difference, though – I think it’s just different brands being sold.
Drugstore Cosmetics / Skincare
Drugstore.com has good prices (and free shipping over $25). Unfortunately, the selection is hit-or-miss; they only have what I’m looking for about half the time. They do have some good promotions, though.
Target.com has a high free ship minimum ($50), but tends to get new drugstore products first – so, if you can’t find something in your area, check Target online!
Cherryculture is one of the best places to buy NYX online – better prices than Ulta, and a lower free ship minimum. They also carry Milani, Jordana, and lots of other brands. Be warned that shipping tends to be slow, especially during sales.
Amazon.com is another good place to look for cosmetic items. I’ve heard that they have some fake MAC and other fake high-end items, so I only buy drugstore items from them. The prices are sometimes awesome, and sometimes high. The selection is great – they almost always have what I’m looking for, including Asian cosmetics.
There is, of course, Ulta – not much to say there. Be sure to use a coupon, and check out the sale section.
Asian Cosmetics / Skincare
Two sites to try are Adambeauty and Sasa. I have not personally ordered from either of them, but some friends have, and I have heard nothing but good things. I would not hesitate to order from either. I tend to order my Asian cosmetics from Ebay, because shipping is cheapest from Ebay if you’re just ordering one item.
Shu Uemura stopped selling in stores in the US a while ago, but their products are still available online. Make sure to sign up for their mailing list and friend them on Facebook – they frequently have excellent promotions!
I haven’t ordered from EChemist myself, but Lise suggested that I add it to the list. It has brands you can’t find in the US, including Bourjois and Max Factor, and free worldwide delivery. I sense an order coming up!
MUA, a UK super-discount brand, ships internationally from its website.
I have not ordered from the MUA website myself. I ordered from the MUA website during a major promotion; it took about a month to receive my items, but everything was packaged well and in perfect condition. I’ve heard that long wait times and poor communication are typical, but people do receive their items!
Barry M, a UK drugstore brand, also ships internationally from its website. I have not ordered from the Barry M website myself.
Sleek Makeup – yet another UK drugstore brand – ships internationally, and they recently revamped their shipping costs. The shipping costs vary based on how much you buy, and start at only around $3. I’ve ordered from them twice. You can read my reviews of Sleek products here.
Strawberrynet is known for having genuine, but old, product. So, I would stick to powder product, and avoid buying things like lipstick or lipgloss from them.
All Cosmetics Wholesale is another legitimate discount cosmetics retailer. Again, you’re probably safer buying powder products, or at least paying attention to when the items were discontinued.
It’s not a discount site, but Urban Decay online has an AWESOME sale section. You probably already knew about it, but if you didn’t – check it out!
My absolute favorite website for non-mainstream brands is Beautyhabit. They have fantastic customer service, include lots of free samples with your order (you can even request specific samples), and are just all around fabulous. They carry one of my favorite brands of all time, Rouge Bunny Rouge, along with more brands than I can count! I believe they only ship to the US. I’ve ordered from them twice, and will definitely order from them again.
UK-based Zuneta also carries Rouge Bunny Rouge, and ships internationally. I haven’t ordered from them yet, but have heard only good things. They carry more shades than Beautyhabit, and also carry several other fantastic brands like Lanolips, Le Metier de Beaute, Konjac Sponge, and many more. Prices seem high initially because they include the VAT, but it will not be charged at checkout if you are outside the EU.
Beauty Supply / Theater Brands
I frequently shop in person at Sally Beauty, though I’ve never ordered from their website. They have tons of manicure and hair supplies, and a great clearance section.
Nigel Beauty is my favorite beauty supply store. Since they’re local to me, I’ve never ordered online from them, but they have great customer service so I wouldn’t hesitate to do so. They have a huge range of brands – check it out here!
Another great beauty supply store in Los Angeles which ships nationwide (I’m not sure about internationally) is Naimies Beauty Center. Again, I’ve only shopped there in person, but I’ve had positive experiences and would recommend them.
I’ve heard great things about Camera Ready Cosmetics, but I haven’t personally ordered from them. They carry lots of theater brands.
Discount Nail Supply
The two main discount nail supply online stores I am aware of are Transdesign and Head2Toe. Both sell China Glaze for around $3.25 – $3.50; they have other brands too, but that gives you an idea of pricing. I haven’t purchased from either, since I have local beauty supply stores with similar pricing, but I’ve only heard good things about them. Shipping is expensive enough at each store that you have to buy several polishes to make it worth your while.
I would love to hear your suggestions for how I can expand this list! Please leave any suggestions or questions in the comments!
You can also check out my Los Angeles makeup / cosmetics / nail polish shopping guide here.
This post contains a mixture of affiliate and non-affiliate links.