beauty tips

How To Shop Beauty Online, Without Trying

Naaila Khan

Recently, a cousin who lives abroad sent me a picture of a face serum she bought – it was a brand I’d never heard of and it was accompanied with the message, “My beautician recommended it, so I went and bought it online. $200 dollars! * insert regret emoji *.

It happens to the best of us. The age of online shopping has made us such impulsive buyers, it’s hard to think twice when there’s a whole world of beauty on the internet, ripe for the picking.

Except, there’s a bunch of trouble you could get into while getting click-happy – let’s take my cousin as an (unfortunate) example: a) she bought skincare online without knowing anything about it, on the recommendation of her beautician, who could be getting compensated for her word-of-mouth, b) it’s a face serum for God’s sake – a little research and a consultation with a dermat should’ve been first on the agenda, c) she’ll either end up liking it, not liking it and stuck with the tiring prospect of returning it, or d) worst case scenario: being allergic to an ingredient that wreaks havoc on her skin.

Long story short, there’s a lot that could go wrong. Which is why we want you to be savvy shoppers who know their way around shopping skincare and makeup online – it’s a skill worth putting on your resumé, if you ask me!

Here’s your mini guide to be a winner at online beauty retailing:


First things first, to be a smart shopper, you need to know your stuff and know it well! Enter reviews, also known as feedback about any product under the sun by beauty-loving people just like you that you can simply find by googling. It doesn’t take much to stay updated on recommendations or vetoes, but just know where to look.

Besides yours truly (Jossbox = BS-free beauty, always), keep your eyes peeled for some great beauty sites for honest reviews: Refinery29, Into The Gloss, Paula’s Choice, Makeup Alley (though use your discretion here, or a majority vote), Sephora (same), Total Beauty, Jen Atkin (Mane Addicts), Robin Black (Beauty Is Boring), and Violet Grey are some cool places to start.

Pro tip: If you’re a next-level beauty bounty hunter, get deep into the nooks and crannies of Reddit - subreddits like Makeup Addiction, Skincare Addiction, Asian Beauty, Haircare Science, Acne are gold fields of real people reviews. It’s basically an old school trove of information, so filtering through will take some time and getting used to, but it’s so worth it – here’s more details on the topic.


When you aren’t trying and buying, it only makes sense to know exactly what you’re getting in that tube or jar you’re paying for, so start getting to know your ingredients better! This is especially helpful when it comes to skincare.

Glycolic acid is great as a leave-on exfoliant, salicylic acid is synonymous with acne, vitamin C is for brighter skin, retinol is the anti-aging fighter that should always comes in a dark bottle to avoid light and air. Here’s a start!


There’s a reason beauty blogging is a multimillion dollar business. There’s a ton of stuff out there, and it definitely helps to have it curated by experts in the know, especially when it comes to makeup. So start following, subscribing and double tapping, because legit beauty bloggers are pretty much human versions of magazines – they’ll try everything and then tell you about their favourite finds. And who doesn’t love watching makeup videos? Plus, where else do you think you can learn to highlight

These are some bloggers/makeup artists/beauty pros worth their salt: Lisa Eldridge, Wayne Goss, Huda Kattan, Nikkie Tutorials, and Michelle Phan.


Once you’re sufficiently educated (though beauty is an ever-growing minefield), it’s time to get well versed in the business of ecommerce. Though nothing beats trying and buying, shopping online has its perks too.

Exhibit A: beauty subscription boxes! Little boxes of joy you can subscribe to because why not gift yourself a bunch of surprise beauty products every month when you’re this awesome? They’re great to discover and explore new brands and products in the market, so you can first sample and then buy full sized versions (with great deals) of stuff you actually love. You can also customize your box depending on your skin type and brand preferences. Here are 4 beauty boxes in India you’ll want to subscribe to right away!

Bonus tip: Beauty boxes aside, most beauty ecommerce sites let you pick a bunch of free samples while checking out, and missing out on those would be blasphemy. 


Not role play, you guys. Return policy and rewards programs are your new catchphrases. Before you buy beauty from any site, and once you’re done checking their delivery policy, glean over their returns and rewards policies – there’s a lot to benefit from them.

Knowing the return policy of your ecommerce sites helps so you never have to just stash away something that broke you out – you can actually send it back and buy something you like. Rewards programs could land you opportunities not just to save big on your splurges, but also earn points on buying certain products, get free birthday gifts (!), exclusive offers, and invitations to cool events and launches in your city.


How not to fall for fake beauty 101: a) when purchasing skincare products – anything with highly active ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids or vitamins A or C, et cetera, always try at least a sample, then buy. However great the reviews may sound, your skin decides whether it likes the product, not you, b) if you do decide to invest in skincare, purchasing from the brand's official site is ideal, c) if the official website isn’t available in your country, search for an authorized stockist. Retail sites with an umbrella of brands are also good places to search, as long as they’re legit – we drew up legit Korean beauty sites to shop from.

If you’re buying from online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay, be completely sure it’s from an authorized seller with good ratings and is either verified or on Amazon Prime (free & fast shipping too), or you run the risk of landing with a knock-off that could potentially be laced with arsenic, lead – rat droppings!, be well past its expiry date or be a complete counterfeit.

Some telltale signs to spot a fake: exorbitant pricing or a fraction of the actual price, web glitches, Craiglist-like shabby presentation of images and information, and no return policy. 



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