4 steps I always take before I buy a beauty product online

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A Low Halo Braid

STEPS

Between my husband and I, he is more of the researcher than I am. I can get easily excited about something simply after one review, but Justin will exhaust all reviews and recommendations if he is shopping for something.

If I read about a beauty product that looks interesting, I will pretty much always follow the same system to gather a bit more information about it!

Let’s use this Jouer Long-Wear lip creme for example. The Birchbox website didn’t have any photos of the product on a human, and while my skin tone/natural lip colorย may not match that of a model wearing a makeup product, for some reason I like to see it on a human!

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The first step is toย search for images of the product by searching the entire name. This is when I can usually tell the different between brand photos versus photos taken by bloggers reviewing a product. I’ll click through photos that look less like stock images and more like blog photos to read reviews.

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The second step, If I’m looking for a swatch of a specific color, is to add that name to the end of the full name of the product in the search box.

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The third step,ย if I am really unsure about a product, I’ll search the full name under “video” and watch a review or two on it.

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I’ll also occasionally check Temptalia and search for that specific brand, and that site is probably the most straight forward and detailed about makeup reviews. Another great place to search is Pinterest, of course, but I have found that it’s easier to find reviews simply through a search engine.

The final step, before I order, is to check the return policy of the retailer I’m buying from. Nordstrom has free shipping and free returns, always. I’m a VIB Rouge with Sephora, so that earns me free shipping and returns as well. I rarely order online from Ulta, as there is one very near to me, but I’ve never had a problem returning a product I didn’t like in stores.

It baffles me that so many women I know have hoards of makeup they don’t like and just didn’t know they could return it. I totally get that it’s a sort of weird thing to return, but I strongly recommend asking the retailer what their policy is regarding returning cosmetics when you buy something! It could save you money and space in your bathroom too!

Are there certain sites that you check for reviews of beauty products? Share in the comments below!ย 

Speaking of beauty products, read my post on how to layer hair products & what hair products I recommend investing in!

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Sarah Dale says · 04.27.16

Great post I always research new beauty products before buying but I like your more methodical approach. I feel I may have to apply it from now on! X

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Sherry says · 04.27.16

What a great idea to enter the product in a search engine. I buy a lot of products from Ulta and will read lots of reviews on their site, but I also like your idea of doing a search online and see what bloggers and other users have to say. I also tend to take a lot of your advice/reviews on products as well. Recently tried the Burts Bees lipstick based on your reviews, really enjoying it.

Have a great day and glad your boys are feeling better ๐Ÿ™‚

Sherry

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Becca G says · 04.27.16

I do similar steps that you do above and try and find blog or YouTube reviews. If I am simply checking a nail polish color to see what it looks like on vs. the bottle I will usually go straight to Pintrest.

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Mallory says · 04.27.16

I’m definitely a researcher and returner! I’ll research for weeks before taking the plunge ๐Ÿ™‚ I go to Paula’s Choice website and use their “beautypedia” which has SOOOOOOOO many makeup and skincare reviews. Definitely checking out the one you mentioned as well!

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Rachel says · 04.28.16

YES to Beautypedia! I love that that site cuts through all the marketing crap and gives facts. It’s so helpful!

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Chelsea says · 04.27.16

This comment is supposed to be on the Mother’s Day post but my browser wouldn’t let me leave it there, sorry :/ but I did enter the giveaway be used this will be very first Mother’s Day I get to celebrate since getting married 7 years ago. However, I am becoming a mother in a little less traditional way; my husband and I are now foster parents and have our first placement of a sweet little toddler who love deeply. I love motherhood and can’t wait for so many more foster and adoptive kiddos ๐Ÿ™‚

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Kate says · 04.27.16

How cool! My husband and I were just talking about fostering the other night at dinner. Congrats on your toddler!

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Adrienne says · 04.27.16

Another great site for reviews: http://www.paulaschoice.com/beautypedia

Saved me from many *almost* bad purchases!

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Shannon bono says · 04.27.16

I also am a Beautypedia devotee…there are tons of reviews on thousands of products. I always check there first if I am interested in a new product.

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Kate says · 04.27.16

I need to check that out!

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Aurore says · 04.27.16

I do lots of research too, and very often I’ll come to your blog and see if you’ve used it before ๐Ÿ™‚
I love that in the US, we can return makeup. In France (where I’m from), unless you’ve had an allergic reaction, you can’t (for sanitary reasons?). If you’ve had a reaction, they’re obligated to report it to the company.

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Kate says · 04.27.16

Interesting!

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Kris says · 04.27.16

I use Temptalia too! Christine does a fantastic job on the swatches and reviews. I have returned items to Sephora easily. It’s the drug or grocery store that give me pause. I don’t know why.

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Karen Agreda says · 04.27.16

I love to look at the Instagram hashtag because it’s mostly users posting selfies of themselves wearing the product.

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Kate says · 04.27.16

That’s a good tip!

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Jillian says · 04.27.16

This is what I do as well!

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Jennifer says · 04.27.16

I check Paula’s Choice at http://www.paulaschoice.com . Love her skincare products. She gives great advice on skincare and makeup!

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Brandi says · 04.27.16

I just buy what you recommend. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Kiran says · 04.27.16

A lot of UK stores that sell cosmetics won’t let you return used items. It has to be unopened and unused for you to be able to return it, I wish we had a Sephora here x

ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

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Lisa says · 04.27.16

Just curious… what do the stores do with returned products? Does it somehow get recycled, or just thrown out? I hate waste… (Tangent story: I recently bought some blueberry Eggo waffles but when I opened the box they were all plain. I didn’t return them simply because I knew the store couldn’t re-shelf them, so we just ate them anyway.)

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Kate says · 04.27.16

Honestly, I’m not sure!

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Emma says · 04.27.16

I asked this once at Sephora! If the product is clearly unopened (plastic wrap still on, box still sealed, etc.) then it will get put back on the shelves. If it has been used, it gets sent back to the company so they can recycle the parts/packaging! Not sure what others stores do, but I imagine something similar.

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Angela says · 04.27.16

I don’t know if it differs from state to state, but I tried to return eye shadow to Target because I didn’t like it. They said I couldn’t return it because it had been used. They only way they can accept makeup used is if it cause me some sort of medical or physical reaction, like a rash or something.

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Kate says · 04.27.16

huh-I’ve never been questioned when I returned something to Target. Perhaps it does very from state to state?

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Holly says · 04.27.16

I tried to return a mascara there once and they told me the same thing! Makes me more hesitant to buy makeup from Target unless I already know I love it. p.s. I’m a Minnesota girl. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Becky says · 04.27.16

My steps… Kate from the small things blog likes it. Look on a few sites for the cheapest one and buy it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Cory says · 04.27.16

Another great website for reviews is makeup alley. I love being able to read reviews by a lot of different people all in one place!

I’d also like to say that while I appreciate you deleting that #uberfear tweet, I must say that as a follower and a fan of yours for years, I’m a little disappointed. I sincerely hope that man didn’t realize your husband was taking a picture of him and pointing out his disability for you to post online for thousands of people to see. I can’t imagine he would’ve felt very good about that.

Please know that I do not mean this as an attack. I’ve enjoyed your blog for a while and will continue to read, but I really felt that I needed to express my feeling about it to you.

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Kate says · 04.27.16

It was a bad decision on my part (I don’t actually know what I was thinking) and removed it as soon as I could. The point was not at all about the eye patch, I sort of glossed over that part of the text, but just a continuation of past tweets about Uber. But, I can completely see how it was insensitive, and that’s why I removed it.

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Jami says · 04.27.16

So what’s your take on this “example” product because I’m a lip product addict ๐Ÿ™‚

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Kris says · 04.27.16

Hi Kate. Great tips. I was wondering if you may be comfortable sharing your process for budgeting clothing, shoes, and beauty items. I am a Mom of a four year old and a second on the way and am feeling the pinch, even as a working Mom. I tend to use the rule of “do I need it or want it (and if I want it do I have a coupon or have done research on pricing).

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Nichelle says · 04.27.16

I also use Beautypedia (and Paula’s Choice skincare). I really appreciate that they try to be objective. They rate the products that they review and will update their reviews based on feedback they receive about products too! The Paula’s Choice website also has an exhaustive ingredient dictionary in case you ever want to find out more about a specific ingredient.

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Sara says · 04.27.16

Try Google instead of Yahoo for your search engine : )
Just an IT girl’s opinion…

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Megan says · 04.27.16

I was going to say that too!

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Grete says · 04.27.16

Wow – that Kendal Langer must have some issue she’s working through – I don’t know anyone who’d say something so terrible to another REAL person unless they were having major issues of their own. Hope you’re able to brush past her comment quickly, Kate!

Related to this blog post, do you ever use the Environmental Working Group site (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/) to see the risk/health grades of different cosmetics? I’ve recently started to use it, and it’s really changed which products I put on my skin! I’ve been steering more towards Honest Co., Burt’s Bees, Yes2Carrots, and BeautyCounter (though that last one is SO pricey – they’ve mostly been gifts!). I was curious is you’ve reviewed any of those products?

Thanks for your thoughtful blog!

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Caroline says · 04.28.16

She reviewed something from BC a few weeks ago and didn’t like it. I also like ewg and use it to help my decision with purchasing products. I’ve read this blog for a long time and have come to the conclusion that she isn’t too worried about chemicals in products. While I love many products she uses, I do extensive “ingredient” research before purchasing ๐Ÿ™‚

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Evelyn says · 04.27.16

Why do you use Yahoo?!! LOL

JK, that’s a good tip! Did you buy that lipstick? I have been back and forth on that one.

Best,

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Sarah Chavis says · 04.27.16

Ah I am absolutely the same way! I get really excited about something after like one positive review! I came across your blog over a year ago when I was pregnant with my daughter, you were doing a review on something and ever since then I have been hooked. I always tell my friends about your blog, because all of the items that you have recommended.. I have tried a bunch of and never been disappointed. So, before I buy a makeup product I always see if you did a review on it. You are better than google! I will refer to youtube if you have not done a review on something! You’re awesome Kate! Thank you!

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Carrie Ford says · 04.27.16

Hi, I follow your snaps and really liked your sunglasses you were wearing while showing us your garden. Would you mind sharing what brand the are and where you got them? Thank you. Carrie

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Tracy says · 04.28.16

I also research the heck out of a product before ordering online. Most of the time I’ll try to see it in store and if there’s a great gift with purchase or point perk then I’ll order it online. I have no problem returning a product whether even if it was what I was expecting but just didn’t work out for me personally. I definitely rely more on video over photos because photos can be so filtered nowadays.

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Jenni says · 04.28.16

My process is pretty similar, and especially when it comes to lipsticks I really want to see it on someone! (Although I’m still terrified of buying without swatching, but sometimes you just have to). I also try to find a photo of someone with similar skin tone/hair colour etc. wearing the product so that I can get an idea of what it would look like on me. xx

http://shakespeareandsparkle.com/

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Michelle N. says · 04.28.16

I absolutely return makeup products that don’t work. It’s a waste of my money to keep it. I’ve never had a problem doing so either. They’d rather you be happy with it and associate that happiness with their store and buy from them again.

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elizabeth ashley says · 04.30.16

I LOVE reading beauty product reviews! And it’s especially helpful when the reviewer mentions the kind of skin/hair that they have, so that I can see how the review may/may not be as relevant to me.

I like to visit sites I know have lots of in-the-know reviewers and writers who discuss the item fairly extensively, then search in their search bar for products. I particularly visit your blog, Into the Gloss, and the blog The Stripe. And then Sephora if I’m feeling especially research-y ๐Ÿ™‚

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Shirley says · 05.01.16

I wish that I had this info a few weeks ago- I purchased two totally different products from RMS beauty and they do not have any return or customer satisfaction policy. I would request/purchase samples if I was seriously interested in anything so that there is not as much risk. I had read a blog recommendation for both products but apparently not everything works for everyone. In the future, I will buy only from companies where my satisfaction is valued.

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Rachel says · 09.20.16

Temptalia is such a great resource for makeup reviews, and you can tell that she’s being honest about the quality of the makeup she’s reviewing. Thanks for sharing the tips.

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