Best Online Beauty Supply Reviews 2016
Globally, total sales for cosmetics, skin care and other beauty supplies surpass $426 billion annually. That figure reflects the sale of make-up, hair care, facial products and other toiletries for both men and women.
While drugstores and other outlets may sell the merchandise consumers use on a regular basis, it's often more cost effective and convenient to purchase these products from an online beauty supply store.
We've taken a close look at the most reputable beauty supply stores on the web and ranked them based on product offerings, shipping, return policies, and more.
Beauty Supply Store: What to Consider
Choosing the right beauty supply store has a great deal to do with your shopping preferences and personal needs. Take a look at these factors before making your pick:
Selection of Products- How expansive is the site's offerings? Do they cater predominantly to women or do they also have products that would be suitable for men and children? Are they stocked with your favorite brands at a reasonable price? We ranked sites that supply a full suite of products for both genders including hair and skin care, makeup, and fragrances.
Sales and Promotions-We're always on the lookout for sites that run promotions and sales. Free shipping is typically available for orders over a certain dollar amount. Also, if you sign up for email alerts or enroll as a member you'll automatically receive savings by email or at checkout.
Store Locations- In store locations are a great addition to the website's offerings. Some locations offer salon services and demonstrations for new products. What's more, it can be a great help to speak to a representative in person when you're unsure about a particular item. Having the option to visit a brick-and-mortar store is always a bonus!
Mobile Capabilities-Does the website offer a mobile application so you can take your shopping on-the-go? Using your tablet or smartphone is a convenient way to take advantage of last minute deals and sales before they expire.
- Search by brand or sale items
- Email signup
- Store locations
- Beauty consultation
- Range of products for men and women
- Can't browse by condition
- No refills program
ULTA Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc. was founded in 1990 and to date employs over 19,000 associates in their stores and online. As one of the largest beauty retailers in the country, ULTA stocks over 20,000 products in categories ranging from cosmetics to salon styling tools.
The company's website is designed with simplicity and ease in mind. The left side of the homepage is broken down into the following departments:
- Bath & Body
- ULTA Collection
- What's New
From there you can search for your desired product by brand name as well as filter the results based on price and special offers. If your order surpasses $50 you automatically receive free shipping which will immediately save you anywhere from $6-$17 (based on shipping rates). In your shipment you'll also be pleased to find free samples of popular and new products.
It pays to sign up with ULTA's Beauty program. It's free to enroll and each month you receive exclusive discounts that can be applied to your future purchases.
If you've seen a product you're interested in online but are hesitant to click order, you can always visit one of ULTA's store locations or chat with a representative online. Customers also write reviews on the products they purchase which can be viewed under the details of each item.
Verdict - Superb
We really admire the time and attention ULTA puts into each customer's shopping experience. As a benefit to shoppers, ULTA even posts hair and makeup advice on their tips and tutorial section. Overall we can't find anything negative to say about this provider except that you don't have the ability to browse through products by your condition. For example, if you wanted a product specifically for acne you wouldn't be able to search by that alone. They are generous with their offerings, including free shipping and samples. Their return policy is the standard 60 days and they frequently host promotions to save you money at checkout.
- Easy to navigate interface
- Range of brands and products
- Superior filter options
- "My Refills" program
- Choose your free samples
- Fewer total products and brands
- 30-day return policy
SkinStore has been providing customers with quality products for over 17 years. As one of the first online retailers to sell dermatologist recommended products, this store has expanded its offerings to also include hair care, fragrances, tools, and cosmetics. To date, the site stocks over 9,000 products from over 300 brands. While this isn't nearly as many as ULTA's product range (20,000), it's still worth reviewing for their other features.
To browse the site you can either type in a specific brand, brand, concern, department or concern. This makes it simple for first time shoppers to find what they need. For example, if you have wrinkles but aren't sure which products may be suitable for your skin simply consult the 'skin concern guide'.
The guide is alphabetized into 30 different categories beginning with acne and ending with wrinkles. Some of the other concerns include age spots, anti-aging, atopic dermatitis, bruises, calluses, cellulite, and chapped lips.
One unique feature this site offers is a "my refills" program which is designed for products you intend to purchase month after month. On your first purchase after enrolling in the program you'll receive 10% off your order followed by 20% on subsequent purchases.
If you have questions regarding a certain skin care regimen you will most likely find your answer on the beauty center resource page where experts share tips and tricks on the best products for your particular needs. You can also receive one-on-one advice through their live chat feature.
Verdict - Great
While shipping is free for orders exceeding $49, the return policy is considerably shorter at only 30 days. Apart from those few drawbacks, SkinStore.com excels in their product offerings and general customer service etiquette.
- Renowned brand with diverse clientele
- Free samples with every purchase
- 1300 stores in 27 countries worldwide
- Beauty Insider loyalty program
- Frequent sales and promotions
- No refills program
- Specialize in luxury brands
Sephora is known worldwide for their private label as well as their wide array of fragrance, skin, body, and haircare products in-store and online. This beauty retailer was founded over 40 years ago in France and is still the first name many women think of when it comes to cosmetics. The company's dominant presence within the industry can be attributed to the following factors:
- Dedication to total customer satisfaction
- Broad array of products which meet high standards
- Continuing research in the field of science and areas related to development
- Knowledgeable staff with the ability to connect with clientele
These are just a few of the many aspects that contribute to Sephora's worldwide success.
The website is another reason for Sephora's popularity and appeal. It is not only simple to search for the products you want but along the way you're bound to discover new items for your wishlist. The homepage features Sephora's Editors' Picks and the sidebar has quick links to bestselling items, weekly specials and products just in. Main categories are presented under the search bar for quick reference.
Men and women will appreciate how detailed each product description is. The site not only specifies the price and quantity but also customer reviews, information about the brand and articles relating to it.
Verdict - Great
The more you spend, the more you earn with the Beauty Insider loyalty program. Since it's free to join there's no reason not to become a member. You'll receive product rewards, seasonal promotions, birthday gifts, and more. Returns are accepted up to 90 days from the date of purchase which is a convenient time frame. The biggest drawback with Sephora is that they specialize in luxury brands which means the average cost per item will be somewhat higher than other online retailers like ULTA. Apart from that, Sephora receives high marks in all categories!
- Free shipping over $49
- Daily deals
- Choose your free samples
- BBVIP rewards program
- One spa location in New Jersey
- 30-day return policy
- Some complaints regarding customer service agents
Beauty Bridge carries over 10,000 products from over 150 respectable brands. Considering they originally stocked only 100 items, they've come quite a long way to expand their offerings beyond the basics. Whether you're shopping for an item based on your condition, the brand name or category, the search filter tools will help you find exactly the right product. In order to best serve its customers, Beauty Bridge stays informed on the latest innovations in makeup, anti-aging, as well as releases in new products.
The Beauty Bridge VIP Rewards Program puts the power in your hands to not only save money on your order but earn free extras. The program works by rewarding you points for doing certain things on the site, which can then be applied to your purchase at checkout. The first opportunity to earn points is when you sign up. Just for registering you get 50 reward points!
Other ways to earn points include:
- Purchase products-For each dollar you spend, you earn 1 point.
- Refer a friend-When you refer a friend and they register to be a VIP member and/or make a purchase on the site, you'll earn points.
- Put pen to paper-Tried a product you absolutely love? Why not share your experience with the Beauty Bridge community! For each product review you write you'll earn 5 points.
There are more ways to earn points all of which can be found on the sites rewards program tab.
Apart from the great rewards program, Beauty Bridge also updates its site with daily deals which are often discounted up to 60 percent.
In terms of products, we already mentioned that they stock over 10,000 unique items. These fall in the categories of makeup, skin, hair, bath & body, fragrances, men's, gifts, and specials. What's more, when you place an order you'll be able to choose the samples you want.
Verdict - Very Good
Men and women alike will enjoy shopping on Beauty Bridge. This site is relatively easy to navigate, they have an eclectic array of products from reputable brands, and they have a proven track record of satisfied customers. One of the few negative points that can be made regarding Beauty Bridge is the temperament of customer service agents. There's a few reviews floating around indicating that representatives were rude and not helpful.
- Huge selection of makeup products
- Never animal tested
- Video reviews and tutorials
- Coupon codes and promotions
- Search by category, color or price range
- 30-day return policy
- Primarily makeup products
Makeup buffs will have likely heard of BH Cosmetics. With a nearly endless array of makeup palettes for eyes, face, and lips, BH is quite frequently where make-up artists shop to find quality products at a great value.
With that being said, nearly all of their products are makeup or makeup related accessories. They have some nail accessories but don't specialize in skin care creams, cleansers or body care. For those products you'd be better off checking SkinCareRx.com or one of the previous two providers.
Verdict - Good
While their offerings are minimal in certain areas, you'll be happy to know that none of their items are animal tested and customers frequently post video reviews and tutorials to aid in your search. In terms of filters you can narrow down results based on category, color or price range.
If you are shopping mainly for makeup then you'll definitely want to browse this site's offerings. However, if you want a more comprehensive retailer you may be better off with one of the other retailers on our list.
It may be difficult to narrow down your options if you're looking for a retailer that stocks your favorite cosmetics, skin and hair products. The five beauty supply store websites are a good place to begin the search. As a general rule, always check the provider's rewards program since they usually offer introductory discounts and deals.
Beauty Supplies FAQs
What types of offers do I get as a rewards member?
Having thoroughly researched the cosmetics industry, we can say that it seriously pays to sign up for a rewards program from a prominent beauty supply store. On the whole, they're typically free to join and grant you access to special offers applicable on services, products, and events. Plus you can usually rack up points, which equate to dollars off merchandise. ULTA has what it calls an ULTAmate REWARDS membership program, which operates in tiers. The only condition is that you have to be at least 13 years of age to join and cannot combine benefits with family members.
When your spending totals $400 you get upgraded to a Platinum membership, which allows you to earn points nearly 25% faster and receive bonus offerings. Other sites have similar incentive programs. The details of which can be found on their individual program. As you can see, it's really worth the time to sign up for a rewards program-especially if you make frequent purchases.
What is a 'price match'?
You may have seen the term 'price match' floating around a cosmetic website or on the satisfaction guarantee page, and not known exactly what it was. A price match or price-matching guarantee is a tool used by stores to entice and attract shoppers. As the customer you have to show the store representative that a competitor is offering the identical product (same weight, size, brand, etc.) at a lower advertised price. That means either bringing in a competitor's flyer or other advertisement.
When proof is presented, the store will then match the price. Sometimes, this term is broadly misinterpreted. Just because a store honors a price-match guarantee doesn't mean that all the products on the shelf are the lowest price across the board. It's your responsibility to approach a representative or sales person in order to receive the promotional price. If you're still unsure about the terms of a price-match guarantee, consult the site's webpage or contact customer service.