Here at Byrdie, we do enough online beauty shopping to qualify for a makeup lover's anonymous group. Not the best thing for our wallets, we know, but here's the upside: We know the best websites for snagging cult brands, free shipping, and freebies with the click of a mouse.
Whether you're a K-beauty lover, a clean-beauty fanatic, or just tired of hitting up your local Sephora, we've got you covered. These sites make it easier than ever to indulge your inner beauty guru. If you're in need of a little retail therapy, keep reading for the scoop on the best sites for online beauty shopping. You can thank us later!
Peach and Lilly
Two words for this website: Asian skincare. Since venturing into the niche market can be intimidating and limiting, this Korean and Japanese beauty e-commerce business brings hard-to-come-by Asian products to U.S. consumers. Many of the lines sold on the site are exclusive in the U.S. (read: the only place you can get your hands on them without a plane ticket to Asia), and perusing the merchandise isn't overwhelming thanks to a carefully curated collection from the site's knowledgeable cofounders, Alicia Yoon and Cindy Kim.
The selection may be smaller than some of the other Asian beauty sites out there, (and out-of-stock items don't stay that way for long) but Peach and Lily take the guesswork out of the process (which is exactly why we tapped the cofounders to be our go-to gurus for all things Asian beauty–related).
This international beauty site is like a global bazaar of some of the world’s best brands. A favorite of the It crowd in London, the online version of the brick-and-mortar retailer carries both luxury body and beauty goods along with apothecary concoctions like aromatherapy and bath oils. You can even stock up on detoxes, cleanses, and supplements for your wellness needs.
Free shipping with no minimum? These days, that's a hard-to-find luxury. It's what makes Nordstrom a no-brainer for restocking favorites from MAC, Laura Mercier, Essie, Estée Lauder, Lancôme, Dior, and more. Its free return policy also makes it easy to try new items sans regret.
Cult Beauty is a U.K.-based online shop that stocks brands beloved by makeup artists and beauty bloggers, such as Jouer, Kevyn Aucoin, Anastasia, and RMS Beauty. Filter products based on "must-haves," "expert picks," "best sellers," and "new-in."
What began as an exclusive dressing studio for A-listers like Victoria Beckham, Violet Grey expanded to an online beauty editorial space with informative and shoppable articles called The Violet Files. Founder Cassandra Grey wanted the e-commerce experience to provide an authentic portal to Hollywood beauty—showcasing the real products loved and used by leading makeup artists from the red carpet to the big screen. She carefully vets each product sold on the site to ensure it meets The Violet Code and is worthy of being deemed a "Hollywood hero" product. When you want a true taste of L.A. glamour, this is your destination.
Reasons to love Sephora: three free samples per order that you get to choose (we've discovered amazing new mascaras and primers this way); hair, nails, skin, makeup, and fragrance in one place; and extensive user reviews that lend a welcome hand when deciding between two products or wondering if an item really does what it promises. Plus, the Beauty Insider program lets you rack up points for more freebies and special gifts.
Ulta is similar to Sephora with its selection and freebies but is distinguished by its coupons, sales, and variety of drugstore products. At almost any given time, you can expect to take advantage of 20 percent off one item, or similar discounts. We also like the shop's eponymous line, which boasts budget-friendly makeup, body, and hair products.
One of the most well-known beauty subscription boxes, the allure of Birchbox lies within the customer’s experience of trying a multitude of new products and brands with every shipment. (Kinder Beauty Box is another fave, chock full of clean, vegan, and cruelty-free beauty products). The company offers many promo deals for first-time subscribers and for those who are already a part of the loyalty program. Simply select how often you would like to receive your shipment and what exactly you are looking for (hair, makeup, skin, etc.), and five curated samples will be on their way.
The founders of Shen Beauty, Jessica Richards and Jules Stringer, are all about bringing under-the-radar and hard-to-find product lines to customers seeking quality and results. Rather than serve up "predictable beauty," they strive to source lesser-known brands with a more natural and small-batch focus, like Kate Logan and Mrs. Whites, who handpick their ingredients and hand-make every product. We love that perusing the product catalog means discovering tons of new-to-us brands versus the same old usual suspects.
Ah, Target. Here, you'll find brands like Honest Beauty, Pixi, and BareMinerals, in addition to drugstore names like e.l.f. and Benefit Cosmetics. The red giant has also been enjoying a partnership with Ulta Beauty. Just as Sephora lovers can shop through Kohl’s, Ulta Beauty lovers can shop in Target. The beauty brand brings with it makeup from Too Faced, Tarte, and MAC to name a few of the more than 50 prestigious brands. However, you cannot use Ulta gift cards online or in stores for purchases at Ulta Beauty at Target. The benefit to shopping beauty at target is two-fold: with shoppers getting benefits of both Target Rewards and Ultamate rewards. And an extra 5 percent discount for using your Target RedCard, too.
This site was founded by a board-certified dermatologist, so you can be confident that you're getting the best skincare products on the market. Since its founding, Dermstore has expanded into makeup, haircare, and bath and body products, so you can find just about anything you're looking for.
Grown Alchemist, Josie Maran, Stila, and Anastasia Beverly Hills are some of the brands you’ll find online at Anthropologie’s Beauty & Wellness shop. Keep an eye on products in the Freshly Cut Sale tab, where you may even discover a new brand to obsess over. Free shipping for AnthroPerks members.
We all know you can find anything on Amazon. From discontinued products to 1800s-era replica Halloween costumes. So naturally, makeup is a given. It’s a sure bet that you can get anything from almost any brand, sometimes in bulk packaging. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, the allure of free two-day shipping is sometimes quicker than scouring your favorite beauty store for a product in the first place.
This one is for all you clean-beauty lovers out there. All of the products on the site are 100 percent natural, so you can feel good about what you're putting on your skin. Plus, Cap Beauty's founders are always adding new, exciting natural brands, so you'll never feel limited by choosing to shop natural.
Offering the best in luxury beauty, here you’ll find brands like Kosas, Kjaer Weis, RMS Beauty, and Chantecaille, to name a few. The site highlights conscious beauty brands and offers The Founders Series, where visitors can learn more about their favorite beauty brands through a Q&A with brand founders and advice that can help you determine your next cosmetics purchase, which includes complimentary samples. Who doesn’t love that?
Follain has three requirements for all of the products it carries. They have to be safe, effective, and luxurious to experience. To ensure this, every product on the site undergoes a five-step approval process, which involves research and testing. If that doesn't give you enough confidence, Follain's founder, Tara, personally tests every product to ensure it's up to her standards.
Revolve promises free two-to-three day shipping and returns and a 30-day price match guarantee. Not too shabby. Revolve Beauty also offers pre-selected beauty kits and packages for special occasions, such as the French Pharmacy Beauty Bag, Festival Kit, The Doctor’s In Beauty Bag, and several others, all with curated products to suit your needs.
Curated by experts, Thrive Market truly caters to the customer. Whether it’s gluten-free, non-toxic, paraben-free, non-GMO, vegan, fragrance-free, or organic, chances are you’ll find it here. As for beauty, many of Thrive’s products are clean, sustainable, and cruelty-free. A unique feature is Thrive Market’s Beauty blog, where site visitors can obtain more information on clean beauty practices, new products, skin health, and more. Perhaps the biggest draw to consumers is the environmental and social filter, allowing them to search for products under tabs such as women-, LGBTQIA+- and BIPOC-founded.