BEST Beauty Sites
For discovering new products and lots of free samples
These sites carry a well-curated selection of high-end, trendy, and hard-to-find brands of makeup and skin-care products. You can shop by price, brand, what’s new, best sellers, staff picks, award winners, and more. All four sites offer sales and other special deals, as well as free samples with every order.
Don’t miss Bluemercury.com’s “Trends” and Beautyofasite.com’s “Steal the look”, which is loaded with tips on how to copy the look of stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, and Cameron Diaz.
Shipping You can get free shipping if you spend over a set amount – $25 at Bluemercury.com, for example, or $100 at Beautyhabit.com.
Returns Bluemercury.com and Beautysak.com give you 30 days, but you have to cover the original and return shipping costs. Beautyofasite.com gives you 30 days for an exchange or store credit, minus a 5 percent restocking fee. At Beautyhabit.com you get just 14 days. Warning: None of these sites allow you to return opened products.
For a giant selection, freebies, and other perks
You’ll find a huge selection of products at a wide range of prices at these sites. They offer free sample with every order and have rewards programs. Another bonus: You can return opened items.
Don’t miss sale or clearance sections. You can often find coupon cods for extra savings. Beauty.com gives you a 5 percent credit on purchases toward your next order. We also liked Ulta.com’s instructional videos. From the home page, search for “videos”.
Shipping At Beauty.com it’s free if you spend $25 or more; at Ulta.com, spend $50 and get free shipping.
For bargains on drugstore brands
It’s the low-cost leader in cosmetics. It’s owned by Bed Bath & Beyond and has stores in Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, and New York.
Shipping Starts at $4.95
For free advice and reviews
Like Beauty.com and Ulta.com, these six sites have helpful video tutorials, blog, product reviews, and more.
These related sites are run by author Paula Begoun, aka The Cosmetics Cop. They’re loaded with product reviews by Begoun and her team, advice, and more. Also, check out the mobile app.
Don’t miss the “Learn” tab on CosmeticsCop.com. Scroll down to “Makeup tips & tricks” to watch Begoun show you how to put on foundation, lipstick, and the whole shebang. It’s entertaining to watch her to go from barefaced to glam. Just one bummer: The site can be a bit too self-promotional at times, and it pushes Begoun’s own line of cosmetics pretty hard.
This site is run by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. It compiles data on the safety of hundreds of beauty products. As we’ve reported and as the site explains, manufacturers are not required to prove the safety of their products and the ingredients they contain before they’re sold.
Don’t miss the database ratings. Click on “Makeup”, “fragrance”, “Nails”, and more to find out which products carry the lowest risks based on the latest research. Warning: Be prepared to be bummed out. Many of the most popular products get the thumbs-down. (Another good research tool that offers health ratings on makeup and other household products is GoodGuide.com).
A former magazine beauty editor founded this site, which is owned by L’Oreal. It contains an odd but interesting mix of blogs, expert Q&A’s, tweets, and more.
Don’t miss the videos. You can learn from the pros how to apply smoky, winged eyeliner or kiss-proof red lips, or how to shop for foundation at the drugstore. We were mesmerized by a video that showed a pro applying mascara and another one gluing on false eyelashes.
You’ll find articles on trends and tricks of the trade from many top makeup artists.
Don’t miss the “Beauty breakdowns” tab. That’s where makeup artists reveal what gave Beyoncé her glitter glam look for the stage in “Dreamgirls”. Hilary Swank her sleek appearance for the 77th Annual Academy Awards, check her stunning, sultry look in “Burlesque”, and more.
This site is based on dermatologist Leslie Baumann’s skin-typing system, described in “The Skin Type Solution” (Bantam, 2006). It features a detailed questionnaire about your skin type, history of skin conditions, and skin-care practices and preferences. Once you discover your skin type among 16 options, you’ll be guided toward cleansers, moisturizers, serums, eye creams, and other products to address your skin-related concerns (such as oiliness, pimples, pigmentation problems, and wrinkles).
Don’t miss the “Tip of the week” after you register. It covers topics such as the benefits of using caffeine on your skin, how to minimize the risk of ingrown hairs after a bikini wax, and how to spot false claims on skin-care products. Click on the “library” tab for articles on cosmetic procedures and more.