Online Cosmetic Shopping Guide Lesson One: Finding the Best Price


PHILOSOPHY PURITY MADE SIMPLEOnline shopping has given consumers a pressure-free environment to find the best deals on their favorite products. Companies have to be competitive in their pricing, shipping and perks in order to harness repeat customers. So how much do prices, shipping and perks vary? Let’s find out!

We’ll start the search by looking for a basic product – Philosophy Purity Made Simple (8oz) that has a MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of $22. With established brands like Philosophy, the price set by 3rd party retailers (Dermstore, Sephora, etc.) will normally be consistent. However, these retailers may offer perks such as free shipping, discounts and free gifts to entice customers.

When shopping online, the biggest variant is shipping price. For those of you in the continental US, this will likely not be an issue, but those of us in Hawaii (Alaska, etc.) normally face substantially higher shipping prices. Luckily, some retailers (like Dermstore) offer truly FREE SHIPPING which becomes a main factor in determining who to buy from.



Purchasing from the company website may give you early access to new products, product samples and giveaways. Some companies also offer free shipping (normally with a minimum purchase). You may also be able to find discontinued (last-chance) items and sales not offered on other sites.

PRICE: $22
SHIPPING: $5.95 (Continental US) | $9.95 (Hawaii)
PERKS: 2 free samples, free shipping (Continental US only) for orders $50 or more. Philosophy also offers regular discounts, specials and giveaways.

RETURN POLICY: Full refund on qualifying returns within 60 days of purchase.

FINAL PRICE: $27.95/$31.95 (Hawaii)



Nordstrom has an excellent selection of cosmetic standards, prestige brands, dermatologist lines and artist favorites. Free shipping and returns on all orders (including to Hawaii) plus liberal return policy give you department store benefits without going to the mall. Shopping in-store if you have questions or need to be color matched is recommended.

PRICE: $22
SHIPPING: Free Standard Shipping. You can also order online and pick up in-store.
PERKS: (3) Free samples. They have seasonal gifts with purchases and online exclusive offers.

RETURN POLICY: Easy returns/exchange with included return label. Returns and exchanges can also be processed in-store with packing slip or credit card used.


DERMSTORE.COM (Monster Favorite)


Dermstore is one of my favorite websites to buy cosmetics. Their huge catalog of products, great customer service, Beauty Fix program (, Favorites discount, free shipping on all orders and other perks make it consistently the best website to buy beauty. You can also enter to win giveaways on their Facebook page (I’ve won about 4 of them!).

PRICE: $19.80 (Get 10% off by adding the product to your FAVORITES – add it to cart from your Favorites page).
SHIPPING: Free USPS Priority Mail on all orders.
PERKS: Free mystery gift with purchase (usually its a Dermstore Lip Balm), 10% off favorites, auto-refill feature (get 5th refill free), frequent promotions and weekly deals.

RETURN POLICY: Items can be returned within 30 days for a refund, exchange or store credit. Free return shipping on exchange and store credit items only.

FINAL PRICE: $19.80 (still cheaper than eBay!)



I don’t order from Sephora online too often since I’d rather go in-store to shop (we have 3 stores on Oahu). However, you can find a bigger selection of Reward Point products and 500-point offerings, so its a good idea to check out the selection periodically.

PRICE: $22 + $1.30 tax (for delivery to select locations)
PERKS: 3 free samples, Beauty Insider Rewards (points), V.I.B. discounts and promotions, free shipping with purchases of $50 or more.

RETURN POLICY: If you are not completely satisfied with a purchase or gift for any reason, please return it for a full refund. Return shipping and handling fees are free when you use the Merchandise Return label included in your order.We regret that we are unable to refund your original shipping charges unless the return was a result of our error.




PRICE: $17.60 (with 20% off sale)
SHIPPING: $9.99 (free shipping with $25 purchase – even to Hawaii)
PERKS: Discounts, free shipping with $25 purchase

RETURN POLICY: You should return the item to us within 30 days of receipt. We do not accept items back that have been opened or used unless the product is damaged or defective or falls under our 100% color guarantee for makeup.




eBay is best used to find hard-to-find or discontinued items. On occasion you may also find items that haven’t been released yet – but normally at an inflated price. There is really no reason to buy a mainstream item at regular price on eBay. Popular items (like Philosophy Purity Made Simple) will rarely be sold at a steep enough discount to warrant the risk of receiving an old, damaged or fake product.

PRICE: $19.95
SHIPPING: Free USPS Priority Mail

RETURN POLICY: Will vary by Seller.




I would always check Amazon for what you’re looking for since multiple retailer offers are available. Keep in mind that you will not receive the same perks as you would if you buy it directly from the retailer’s website. However, I have been able to find some of my favorite less popular brands (like Philip B. hair products) for far below MSRP. Amazon also has

PRICE: $18.70
PERKS: Free shipping on items shipped from Amazon.

RETURN POLICY: You may return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by within 30 days of delivery for a full refund.



THE FINAL ROARSo who would I buy from? DERMSTORE – no doubt. Standard 10% off Favorites (some brands excluded – like Jane Iredale…bummer), auto-refill offer (which is great if you’re one of those people who use the same product over and over) and free gifts/samples make them a Cosmetic Monster favorite. However, if I can get something in-store, I’ll likely just get it there. What can I say – I’m impatient when it comes to my product lemmings!


IHAUTELOOK LOGO do a lot of shopping at HAUTELOOK.COM and have found incredible deals on my favorite beauty brands and even discovered exciting new ones! Its a great place to find discontinued or repackaged blowout items. Hautelook also offers clothing for the whole family, shoes, handbags (scream!), men’s wear, home items and more! Click HERE to sign up! Beware – its addicting! FYI – Hautelook is a Nordstrom company.

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