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Why You're Buying All Your Beauty Products Online Now

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When online shopping really started to take off, beauty retailers and brands figured that nothing could take the place of shopping in real life for beauty products. It makes sense, right? Would people really want to buy makeup and skincare without trying it first?

The answer has been a resounding YES.

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Online communities like Makeup Alley, the Makeup Addiction subreddit, and Beautylish popped up and became places where women could frankly discuss and review products. And anyone with internet access could go to their local drugstore, buy a new Maybelline collection, review it online, and call themselves a beauty blogger. Michelle Phan inspired a generation of young women — and now, increasingly, young men — to become self-taught makeup artists on YouTube.

This more democratic review process meant that women started getting suspicious of beauty stories in magazines, where advertisers’ products are often featured prominently and models are usually young and white (though model casting has become a bit more diverse in recent years). Seeing how a lipstick looks on someone who has a similar skin tone or facial features makes it much easier to purchase that lipstick online without trying it first.

Then came Instagram, which arguably took everything up a notch. Makeup is a visual medium and Instagram gave people the platform to showcase this perfectly. It also gave small, indie makeup brands a place to flourish. ColourPop, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, and Anastasia Beverly Hills got hundreds of thousands of followers before magazines and mainstream websites ever knew they existed. Instagram personalities sold the shit out of these sold-online-only brands, just by wearing them and talking about them.

Mainstream brands like MAC, which never worked with Instagram influencers much, have gone all-in on Instagram now. Instagrammer Jaclyn Hill put Becca Cosmetics on the map after a highlighter collaboration with the brand, and Too Faced causes a social media frenzy with every cutesy food-themed palette it releases. Coincidence that Esteé Lauder just acquired these two brands? Nope.  

People make fun of Instagram makeup for its tackiness and the fact that, at first glance, everyone looks the same: “Instagram eyebrows,” contouring, strobing, matte lipstick. But I’ve spent a lot of time this past year at events like Generation Beauty and Beautycon, and attendees have told me over and over that they love Instagrammers because they’re all so different. They find young women and men who look like them, who have their same hair type or skin tone, and they trust them to take their beauty advice.

Following beauty online is also just fun. I love that we live in a time where people are willing to be on a waiting list for seven months for a rainbow highlighter we all saw online once — with no need to try it on first. Cheryl Wischhover, senior beauty reporter

The Essential Online Beauty Shopping Guide

Thanks to an increase in niche beauty brands, the rise of the natural beauty industry, and insatiable enthusiasm for Korean beauty products, we are at a golden age of beauty shopping right now. And there have never been more ways to get your hands on all of these products thanks to online beauty shopping.

We’ve rounded up 21 sites that are killing the beauty retail game, whether you’re looking for products for curly hair, hard-to-find sheet masks, or vegan lipstick.

While there are a multitude of clothing sites that also have great beauty departments, like Anthropologie and Net-a-Porter, we’ve kept this list to those retailers that do nothing but beauty — and do it well. We’ve also opted to feature only retailers that carry multiple brands so you get more bang for your buck, even though are plenty of single-brand sites (hey Beautycounter and Julep!) that we love. (Stay tuned for more on these.)

Now grab your phone and go shop.

Keep reading this story here >>
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Today's Non-Gift Guide Pick
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Who: Erin Gibson
What they do: Writer, Funny or Die | Co-Host, Throwing Shade
What they want: Le Labo Rose 31 Liquid Balm, $90

Maybe you're not rich. Maybe you're like me and are still using the down comforter your mom bought you at Marshall's ten years ago, a comforter so old that when you make your bed, feathers burst out of it like a duck being murdered by a jet engine. Just because you're not rich, like me, doesn't mean you can't smell rich, like me.

That's why you need Le Labo Rose 31, or as I fondly call it, "Classic Wealthy Stank." It's the smell of a rich grandma sitting at a mahogany study smoking a cigar reading legal briefs. Woodsy and floral, it's the perfect mix of hyper-masculine and hyper-feminine, warning people olfactorily that confidence and boldness is approaching. If you use it liberally, the $90 roller bottle will last you nine months. That's only $10 a month to smell like another tax bracket. What a bargain!

Check out the rest of our non-gift guide picks here. Want to make donations your gift of choice instead? We've got you covered on that front too.

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