Shopping for makeup is hard. It’s hard enough when there’s a brick and mortar location with plenty of samples to try out and makeup artists on hand to help color-match, apply, and evaluate your choices before selecting a purchase. There’s really no way to know if a product will truly work in real life until it’s been worn at least a week, so imagine the intimidation I felt when I decided to try online makeup marketplaces.
I have serious commitment issues when it comes to makeup, and in spite of the millions of YouTube reviews on any given product, it’s hard for me to make choices without experience with a product. I know that the best of the best makeup stores that ship internationally are YesStyle (for Eastern brands) and Sephora (for Western brands), so it was easy to narrow down which online marketplaces would have the best options. I ordered products from both Sephora and YesStyle and I kept aware of the ordering/shipping experience so I can report which is ultimately the best. But because I ordered no Sephora brand or YesStyle brand products, I won’t go into detail about the specific products I ordered. I hold neither Sephora nor YesStyle liable for excellently-produced or disappointing products, because they’re mainly just a marketplace or middle-man for these items.
YesStyle and Sephora don’t carry many of the same products, and some brands are exclusive to either or the other. And if you live in the United States like I do, just about everything from YesStyle will be something super unique to anything you’ve seen at Sephora. One of my favorite things about ordering product from the other side of the world is getting to experience something I would never find in stores where I live, because beauty is completely different in each culture. I’ve noticed that many Asian cultures value youthful, glowing skin (as opposed to the high-glam look that’s popular in the United States), so I decided to take full advantage of their top-of-the-line youth-preserving capabilities. I ordered a charcoal mask system that promised to tighten my pores and leave me glowing, and a cult favorite Sailor Moon liquid eyeliner. But one thing I don’t like about YesStyle is that reviews are practically non-existent, so I was forced to seek elsewhere on the interweb to find out if products were great or lacking. But I’m not going to complain, because YesStyle has some amazing products that I’d never be able to access stateside.
Concerning my shopping and ordering experience, I will say that I while I was extremely pleased by prices (the Sailor Moon eyeliner was at least 10USD cheaper than any price I’ve found on other websites), I was super disappointed by the months-long wait to receive my order. I would say that if you’re ordering from a closer destination you might have a different experience, but shipping didn’t seem to be the issue. It took weeks for YesStyle to fulfill my order and place the shipment in the first place, which is quite annoying for anyone.
Something about Sephora makes me feel rich, even though I swear I’m the furthest thing from it. The store is sleek, shiny, and posh, and – as it turns out – so is the website. They advertise products on the front page that I could never afford, and they make me want it. Badly. Which is good AND bad. Sure, I’m now aware of all the luxury products Sephora offers, but it’s not like I’ll ever purchase them, which sort of makes me feel inadequate. But a simple click on their menu-bar and I’m right where I want to be looking at products I know I can afford, because their interface is flawless. It’s simple to find things I want, need, and didn’t know I needed, and they have infinite categories to help me narrow my search. Sephora also offers a lot of detailed selections for reviewers, so pros and cons of products are clearly listed and tallied, which makes selecting new products much simpler. I ordered an Anastasia Beverly Hills contour powder (because I already knew I love that product and was in need of a refill), and I ordered a Bite beauty lipstick (which, might I add, is the best, most moisturizing, most long-lasting thing I’ve ever put on my lips).
To evaluate my experience with Sephora, I’d say it’s much better than average. The site is easy to navigate, their rewards program which offers free deluxe sample or full size product instead of cash allows me to try new things, and my standard-shipping shipment arrived in three business days. I must say, I’m impressed, especially after experiencing such a long wait from YesStyle.Sephora has a standard shipment policy that includes same-day shipping if orders are placed by a certain time, so the only variable in wait-time is with international shipping standards. But what would have made the experience much better would have been to have more drug-store priced options. Sephora has all but excluded drug-store brands, so for someone of average income like myself Sephora is almost out of reach.
It’s hard to pick one store over the other when the experience at each is so vastly different. I had a ton of fun trying a completely foreign-to-me facial care system from YesStyle, and I had just as much fun picking from unique products on the site. And because Sephora has high standards with every aspect of a customer’s experience with their website, I feel like queen when I order through their platform. But if you were to make me pick one over the other, Sephora would take the cake. While their products are very western-based, they do have a couple of great Eastern brands to choose from, like Too Cool for School, and their shipping is too dependable to pass up. But if you’re a true beauty aficionado, you can’t go wrong with either one. If you love makeup, you’ll find quality products and a quality experience from Sephora, and the one-of-a-kind products you’ll get from YesStyle will be worth the wait.