Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ShopSmart's List of the Best Beauty Sites!

If you are like me, you’re willing to sacrifice some things to save money, but not your makeup. So how can you save without giving up your favorite brands? Go online. Whenever my parents (the smartest shoppers I know) make any big purchases, they consult Consumer Reports. It is the best resource out there for any purchasing decisions, including beauty!

ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, checked out more than two dozen beauty sites to find the best ones, screening out sites with bad Better Business Bureau records, no contact information, poor return policies, or high shipping fees and ones where items were bundled (Amazon’s best cosmetic deals were in multipacks). Here are the results:

Best Overall Selection:

  • Shipping Free if you spend $49 or more.
  • Return policy 30 days on unopened products or, for certain items, if you don’t like the color. Returns cost $4.99 unless a product is damaged or incorrect or the color is wrong
Great for Hard-to-Find Products:
  • Shipping Free on orders of $100 or more; otherwise $5.95.
  • Return policy 14 days on most items. No returns on opened or used products.
Great for Trendy Brands:
  • Shipping Free on orders over $75; otherwise $5.95 to $8.95.
  • Return policy 30 days. You pay for return shipping unless the product was damaged. All returns are for exchange or store credit only. There are no refunds or returns on color cosmetics.
Best Prices:
  • Shipping Free on orders of $35 or more; $4.95 on orders of less than $35.
  • Return policy 30 days. Products must be unused and unopened, unless they are defective. You have to call or e-mail before returning products; you will also have to pay the costs of return shipping.
Great Return Policy:
  • Shipping $5.95 plus 93 cents per pound.
  • Return policy 30 days. You can return most products for any reason, even after they’re opened.
Great Drugstore Makeup Section:
  • Shipping Free on your first nonprescription order of $25 or more; free on orders of $49 or more after that.
  • Return policy 30 days. Returns are free if a product is damaged, defective, or incorrect. Returns are free on certain products if you don’t like the color. Otherwise, products must be unopened and unused.
Great for Freebies:
  • Shipping Free on orders over $50; otherwise $5.95.
  • Return policy 60 days. Free return shipping. Store credit after 60 days.
Great for Organic Products:
  • Shipping Free on orders over $49; otherwise $5.95.
  • Return policy 60 days.
Best Shipping Deal:
  • Shipping Free.
  • Return policy 30 days. Product must be at least 75 percent full. You have to pay return shipping fees, and no returns are allowed of an opened product if you received a sample of it with your order.
Best Online Version of a Walk-In Store:
  • Shipping Many items qualify for free shipping of purchases of $50 or more; otherwise $5.49 for 10 pounds or less.
  • Return policy 30 days.
Sad Site:
  • This site didn’t have a wide selection of products. You have to buy $99 worth of stuff to get free shipping; otherwise you could end up paying $7.95 or more for UPS ground. Cosmetics (and many other products) were not returnable, and there’s no toll-free customer-service number.
All results are from the November 2008 issue of ShopSmart.

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