Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Buying Skincare Online – Yes or No? March 29, 2012

Filed under: Skincare products — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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Is it ok to buy skincare products online? Is it even safe to buy skincare products online? I don’t mean safe as in will your credit card number be stolen, I mean safe for your skin.

There are numerous, numerous websites that sell a multitude of skincare products from drugstore to high-end to physician brands. There are numerous reasons to be wary of websites that claim to sell authorized products from different brands. Be very careful before purchasing both skincare and make-up products online. Ask yourself the following questions before purchasing online and keep the following tips in mind as well:

  • Does the brand I want to buy actually authorize online sales? I’ll give an example. Where I work we sell the physician dispensed skincare line Obagi Medical. Obagi can only be sold through an authorized reseller and is never sold online through a third party no matter what some other website may lead you to believe. Some of Obagi’s products are prescription only like Retin-A and 4% hydroquinone and in no way shape or form can those products be legally sold online. They can only be sold through a physician’s office.
  • You could easily be buying fake products when you buy online. Unless you purchase from a reliable source or authorized reseller you could be receiving fake products. I’ve heard stories of people receiving broken and defective products bought over the internet. Additionally, unless you are a cosmetic chemist how do you know what is in your product is actually what you thought you were buying? I’ve heard of products being switched for something else entirely and the consumer pays the price.
  • Read consumer reviews of websites before purchasing through them. It is easy to find purchaser feedback on online sellers. Sites like amazon and ebay make getting feedback on sellers a priority. If you don’t like what you read move on. There is no reason to purchase from someone who has a low rating.
  • The bigger the better. Sites like Sephora and Ulta sell a large volume of numerous skincare lines so you can trust that what you see is what you’ll get. The fact that these sites have a large volume of sales also means that products have not been sitting around in a warehouse indefinitely leading them to go bad, get contaminated, or expire.
  • Read return policies carefully. Make sure the site you are purchasing from will take back skincare and make-up products (used or unused). I recently made an online make-up purchase from both a site and brand that I know well only to discover when the product arrived that I had completely misunderstood what products I was buying (goes to show that you really have to read through a product description before purchasing instead of relying on the photo as your guide) and that the site did not let you return make-up (even if you never opened it). So I got stuck with my mistake purchase which wasn’t so bad in the end, but it wasn’t what I really wanted in the first place.
  • Never, ever buy prescription products online! This is both dangerous and illegal. You are putting your safety at risk when you do this.


Further Reading:

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5 Responses to “Buying Skincare Online – Yes or No?”

  1. Rae Says:

    I’m going to pass off buying skin care online. Ulta, Sephora, etc don’t ship to the Philippines. If I buy from, I won’t be able to see expiration dates or examine the actual item for authenticity.

  2. […] Ask An Esthetician shares some tips on buying skincare products online. […]

  3. sheridan Says:

    This is good to know. I have tried everything from Burt’s Bees but way to oily. I’ve tried every product too at Wholefoods almost. I do the at home facial with the Riiviva Microdermabrasion tool for my acne scarring and it’s terrific. It is here at
    Do you have any recommendations as to what avenue to take for moisture without all the oily residue that happens when I use oils. Thanks

    • Thanks for your comments. Try to find a moisturizer that is labeled for “oily skin” or “normal to oily skin”. Look for moisturizers that are serums, gels, or lotions as opposed to creams.

  4. BeauteMD Says:

    Very good information. Lucky me I ran across your blog
    by chance (stumbleupon). I’ve bookmarked it for later!

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