Confession: we do enough online beauty shopping to qualify for a makeup addicts anonymous group. Not the best thing for our wallets, but the upside is this: we know the best websites for snagging cult brands, free shipping, and freebies with the click of a mouse.
If you're in need of a little retail therapy, click through for the scoop on the BEST sites for online beauty shopping. You can thank us later!
Natural beauty fanatics will fall in love with Beauty Counter, an L.A.-based makeup and skincare line that abides by an extensive "Never List"—swearing off the use of parabens, phthalates, sulfates and over 1500 other chemicals, preservatives, and synthetic ingredients commonly used in cosmetics. Their e-commerce experience blends social awareness with shopping, so consumers can feel empowered by transparency about what is and isn't in the products they're purchasing, and learn ways to make their environment a healthier and safer place. If the brand mission doesn't sell you, the stunning packaging definitely will.
For binging on new beauty products, Beauty.com is the place to go. With brands like Tarte, Stila, Nars, Bare Minerals, Smashbox, Elizabeth Arden, St. Tropez, and Urban Decay—and virtually every drugstore brand, ever—you'd be hard-pressed not to meet the $35 minimum for free shipping.
Two words for this website: Asian skincare. Since venturing into the niche market can be intimidating and limiting, this Korean and Japanese beauty e-commerce business brings hard-to-come-by Asian products to U.S. consumers. Many of the lines sold on the site are exclusive in the U.S. (read: the only place you can get your hands on them without a plane ticket to Asia), and perusing the merchandise isn’t overwhelming, thanks to a carefully curated collection from the site’s knowledgeable co-founders, Alicia Yoon and Cindy Kim. The selection may be smaller than some of the other Asian beauty sites out there, but Peach And Lily takes the guesswork out of the process (which is exactly why we tapped the co-founders to be our go-to gurus for all things Asian beauty-related).
This international beauty site is like a global bazaar of some of the world’s best brands. A favorite of the it-crowd in London, the online version of the brick-and-mortar retailer carries both luxury body and beauty goods along with apothecary concoctions like aromatherapy and bath oils. You can even stock up on detoxes, cleanses, and supplements for your wellness needs.
Free shipping with no minimum? These days, that's a hard-to-find luxury. It's what makes Nordstrom a no-brainer for restocking favorites from MAC and Laura Mercier, to Essie, Estée Lauder, Lancôme, Dior, and more. Their free return policy also makes it easy to try new items, sans regret.
This U.K.-based online shop stocks brands beloved by makeup artists and beauty bloggers, such as Jouer, Kevyn Aucoin, Anastasia, and RMS Beauty. Filter products based on "must-haves," "expert picks," "best-sellers," and "new-in."
What began as an exclusive dressing studio for A-listers like Victoria Beckham, Violet Grey expanded to an online beauty zine with a shoppable component called "The Shelves." The shelves, so to speak, are the place to go for insider products used by industry experts on A-List celebrities. Founder Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey wanted the e-commerce experience to provide an authentic portal to Hollywood beauty—showcasing the real products loved and used by leading makeup artists from the red carpet to the big screen. She carefully vets each product sold on the site to ensure they meet "The Violet Code" and are worthy of being deemed a "Hollywood hero" product. When you want a true taste of L.A. glamor, this is your destination.
Reasons to love Sephora: three free samples per order that you get to choose (we've discovered amazing new mascaras and primers this way); hair, nails, skin, makeup, and fragrance in one place; and extensive user reviews that lend a welcome hand when deciding between two products or wondering if an item really does what it promises. Plus, the Beauty Insider program lets you rack up points for more freebies and special gifts.
Ulta is similar to Sephora with its selection and freebies, but is distinguished by its coupons, sales, and variety of drugstore products. At almost any given time you can expect to take advantage of 20 percent off one item, or similar discounts. We also like the shop's eponymous line, which boasts budget-friendly makeup, body, and hair products.
Did you know Net-A-Porter had a beauty section? Since it's already a favorite destination for online shopping, it's a happy bonus to be able to add quality beauty brands like Chantecaille, SK-II, and Aesop to your cart.
The founders of Shen Beauty, Jessica Richards and Jules Stringer, are all about bringing under-the-radar and hard-to-find product lines to customers seeking quality and results. Rather than serve up "predictable beauty", they strive to source lesser known brands with a more natural and small-batch focus, like Kate Logan and Mrs. Whites, who hand pick their ingredients and hand make every product. We love that perusing the product catalogue means discovering tens of new-to-us brands, versus the same old usual suspects.