Tips from an Online Shopping Queen: Buying Make Up From eBay

Following the earlier post regarding Fake Nars and Benefit make up on eBay, I’ve decide to do a short shopping guide for you ladies.

I love shopping! I love online shopping!

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Using eBay is second nature to me, I forget that a lot of people are still nervous about using it.

Generally speaking I LOVE eBay. There’s no better place for a bargain – it is primarily a buyers market, not a sellers.

I’ve been there on both sides of the coin and there are awful sellers and there are awful buyers. I have to say, there’s probably more nutty buyers than there are sellers.

I’ve had some trouble with a few unreliable sellers lately but nothing I can’t handle. The key is knowing your rights – eBay has changed a lot from what it used to be – a site where we could buy old pants and trinkets to what is pretty much just a large online superstore.

Therefore, eBay has to protect its shoppers in the same way that we would expect to be protected if we shopped on any other shopping site.

Here are a few quick tips for you if you want to buy discounted make up on there.

1. Check Feedback

Look at a sellers feedback to see if they are reliable or not. If a seller has over a thousand feedback, its better than someone who just has a few 100.

I am cautious of buying expensive things from people with 100 or less feedback (yes really) and its been proved to me in the past that a lot of newbies just don’t understand the eBay system (if things go wrong for example).

Here is an example of feedback (I blocked the sellers name out):

New 88 Piece Pro Matte EyeShadow Palette [PE02] on eBay (end time 03-Feb-10 03_51_08 GMT).jpg

100% positive feedback is ideal BUT any seller with over 1000 feedback is going to experience some negativity. Buyers can be just as unreasonable as sellers! So 99.4% is not bad. Anything under 93% positive feedback would make me a little cautious.

This seller is also a POWER SELLER which means they sell quite a lot of goods a month (back when I was a seller it was when you sold over 100 items or make £1,000 a month – very likely this has changed now). This is a good sign!

Someone with say 20 feedback and 80% positive feedback is not a good sign – someone with so few transactions should really have 100% or 95% positive feedback.

2. Check the listing date

A lot of fakes are sold quickly in one day listings so that eBay doesn’t have enough time to spot and remove it. If someone spots the item, buys it and pays for it immediately, eBay can try to intercept but most of the time it will just go under their nose.

Here is that lovely Nars Palette I pulled up yesterday.

Notice on the listing there’s a little sun symbol – this means that its a NEW and recently listed item.

Look at the listing time – even though this is a NEW listing, there’s only 20 hours left, which means this was placed on a ONE day listing.

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Now, why does someone with a high value item like a Nars Palette have to rush the sale through in one day? Why not leave it on for a week or ten days to get maximum exposure and price? Because its a fake! They want you to buy and push through the sale asap before eBay even notice.

Some sellers MAY want to get rid of a product quickly but look out for things like, poor feedback or ridiculously low prices.

3. Check the sellers other sales/listings

Its worth seeing what other things the seller is, well, selling.

A normal person getting rid of some goods, for example, is likely to just have one of the item they are selling, and perhaps some other ordinary things like bags or books on sale.

Someone has say, 30 brand new Nars palettes, is unlikely to be a personal seller. They will either be a registered business seller with high feedback to match, or it could be something dodgy. In the case of the fake Nars Palette, the same one was listed about 10 times how does a ‘normal’ seller acquire so many?

To look at the sellers other items, click on their Shop Logo if they have one or on ‘sellers other items’.

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4. Check the image

Does the seller use their own image or a stock image, or no image at all? Beware of someone who only uses stock images if they aren’t a big business seller (like say, Littlewoods) – they may not be showing the actual item you are getting.

powderflage, Health Beauty items at low prices on

5. Check the price

Is the price the seller is asking realistic?

On an Auction is possible to pick up a REAL bargain.

On Buy It Now people usually want a fair amount for a product they have paid for. If someone has a brand new and boxed item, for 50% or less than 50% of the retail cost, why are they able to do this?

For example I don’t sell on eBay anymore because the fees are too high. When I do a blog sale I don’t have these costs so I can sell cheaper. An eBay seller needs to factor in these fees (and boy do they add up) so how can they afford to sell something that costs £20 in the shops for £6? And why would they lose out on the extra profit?

There are some big eBay sellers (once again look at feedback and the amount of items they have listed in their shop) do offer amazing 50% bargains and they will normally say in their listing that their products are 100% genuine and they will fully refund your money if you aren’t happy.

Also ask yourself – if the seller is selling lots of things, why don’t they have a shop?

Fraudsters have their accounts closed frequently so would never invest in an eBay shop where as people who sell of genuine stock (end of line stuff for example) will use a shop as it saves them fees and is easier for the customer to navigate.

6. Email the Seller

I am not afraid to email a seller if I am in doubt. I just say – Sorry, I have been stung before. Is your item 100% genuine?

Good sellers reply and say yes, they are or your money back.

Dodgy sellers don’t tend to reply. Some will of course lie, but I keep a copy of all my emails and it can help with a claim in the future if you save it as evidence.

Use the My Messages System on eBay NOT personal emails:

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This saves a copy automatically.

You can also tick this box, when you reply to get a copy sent to your inbox:

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Don’t worry about insulting anyones integrity – at the end of the day, eBay is not as tightly regulated as an online store so you have every right to check.

(Obviously, fakes aren’t supposed to be sold on eBay AT ALL. But you will be surprised by how many people will say, ‘This is actually a replica’)

7. Pay by Paypal

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Don’t send cash, don’t wire money, don’t send cheques, don’t meet in person.

You can’t claim back in case of an accident. Always use Paypal because it can be traced back and you can be protected up to £500 in purchases.

I can’t comment on other peoples experiences with the complaints system – my major bugbear is that your right to claim expires after a little while, so if someone is messing you about, out your claim in before the expiry date (I think its 45 days from payment). If things are resolved you can always close the claim later.

Also don’t make off eBay transactions – did it once, and got a faulty item – thus no claims possible. DO NOT DO IT!

7. Take it to a store


Never be afraid to take a cosmetic item to the counter. I bought a Creme De La Mer Cleanser once and took it in store to be verified (Unrelated funny story – I knew a guy who bought a Louis Vuitton bag for very very cheap about £30 and took it into the store to verify thinking it will 100% be fake but it was actually real. The LV guy says to him, “It must be stolen stock.” My friend, “Well you ain’t having it back.”)

You don’t have to ask a snotty sales girl if you don’t want to – you can just take your product in and compare it yourself. Say your friend bought it for you or you got it as a gift if you are embarrassed, and you want to be sure its the real thing.

The other way is to contact the brands HQ. Obviously, high end brands are more likely to help you out and most can do a serial number check to see if your product is real and also to see if its ‘fresh’ or old stock.


As always use caution – its not the end of the world if you get a fake, if you have followed the steps above you can get your money back. If in doubt, save up a little and buy it from an official retailer – better than getting some weird make up concoction you don’t know the origins of.

Hope that has helped you out. Fancy any other shopping guides? Got some questions? Let me know!

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  1. Naz says

    Great guide Rowena, thank you. Although I have to say sometimes sellers do offer genuine items for a really low price compared to RRP, because they get them from outlets and the like.

    Also, I met someone to complete a transaction lately and it was perfect. She allowed me to check out the good before I paid her and I made sure that my family knew where I was going, the name of the person I was meeting, etc. Obviously, meeting someone off the internet in any context is going to have risks, so always be really careful.

    • Row says

      Hi Naz

      I have met someone ONCE for some shu eyeshadows! It was outside a supermarket in the day and I could check everything beforehand. Otherwise I really wouldn’t recommend doing this unless its a pick up only item (like a sink!) and go with someone.

      Yeah some prices are heavily discounted – I would say 50-60% is common for some brands. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel right – for example a product that is popular and always in demand (example – ysl touche eclat) – will always retail even on ebay for a decent price even if the seller got it for cheap because the demand is there.

  2. says

    Thanks for the guide.

    I’ve been ripped off by a store on ebay just a couple of days ago, tho. However, my order was so small and cheap, it doesn’t really make a difference, but of course, it matters anyway. I ordered, and a day after I checked back to the shop, but it disappeared and was nowhere to be found again. I notified paypal about it, but it takes up to 30 days to solve any problems. I am just wondering if you have any experiences about that, or heard about similar stories, and how such things could have been avoided? I am not a big ebay-fan, so I’m quite clueless about such things. Do you know?

    • Row says

      Hi V

      You will get your money back, don’t worry BUT its annoying because you have to wait for it.

      Unfortunately theres nothing you can do if a seller wants to open a shop then close it right away. Just pay using paypal and check feedback – that way at least you can claim your money back.

  3. says

    I’ve only had good experiences on eBay -I love the site to bits, but in the beginning I got a fake Dior t-shirt, I admit I was too naïve to realise that it was too cheap to be authentic…Nevertheless the t-shirt was very cool, and I really liked ir, but in the end I was so ashamed of wearing it (I was afraid people would realise it was a fake) that I ended up giving it to my mom -who loved it too!
    Ahhh, I also remember the time I got Biotherm foundation that had already expired, and the seller’d had the nerve to disguise the date with permanent marker!

    • Row says

      Hi Eli

      When I started on ebay i ended up with SO much crap and was too scared to complain! not any more!

      Thats so bad! I am very anal about things like that. Someone sent me a blush just htis week which had a broken case. She had put ‘sold as seen’ in the listing but DUH! I can’t see its broken from the picture because you arranged it like it was still in one piece!

      Luckily It was for a large palette so I didnt need the case and she refunded 50% . I was happy with that but people really need to watch out!

  4. says

    lol about your guy friend’s LV bag. I have a friend with a pretty much opposite story from yours: She would call herself one of those expert in designer bags and spent a few hundreds dollars on a Dior Bag from UK then she brought it to a boutique to verify/flaunt it…

  5. nia says

    thank u for the great guide, i never bought from ebay and never will, but still this guide is useful as general guideline :)

  6. liloo says

    I am 5 days late reading this post but I really wanted to take the time properly to read & absorb it. Super useful: thank you for taking the time and sharing your tips. I will definitely remember those particular 3 things
    1. buying expensive things from people with 100 or less feedback
    2. under 93% positive feedback sellers and
    3. many fakes are sold quickly in one day listings

    I have been selling things on eBay too but this was before the final value fee jumped from 5.75% to 10% but most importantly before the feedback system changed. You are right “It is primarily a buyers market, not a sellers”.
    I don’t know if they have changed the system again (I hope so) but this business of a buyer, taking a month to pay something, while I have their envelope ready to ship, and that I can’t even leave them a neg feedback for messing me about has totally put me off. Worst, I am now actually petrified of selling, and having my current pristine 100% positive reputation tainted by some loser who leaves neg feedback cos some shoes I’ve sold them might not fit. Not fair.
    In fact, I feel that whatever new thing eBay comes up with, it’s always goes in favour of the buyer and not the seller.
    The thing is they carry on like this, no simple mortal individual (i.e your typical person who accumulates junk & wrong impulsive purchases) is gonna want to sell anything! Is there any other websites, out there by the way, were one could use to sell stuff? Is amazon any good, or is that just for books?

    As a corollary to this post, I would love to know your favourite sellers on eBay, let’s say, I don’t know, a person you trust for buying a particular brand of products. I have just discovered myself a seller where I buy some nyx from, omg, she’s just so reliable!!! I would definitely fancy other shopping guides, for example a checklist of things to consider when buying stuff from a international website (not Ebay) and issues like royal mail handling, customs, the paypal adventures when you bought stuff from (I forgot what it was, and what we need to be careful of).

    • Row says

      Hi Lilloo

      Thanks so much for your comment

      Its true – I am a seasoned ebayer but I am a little scared of selling too. Ebay have made it very expensive to sell anything, with listing fees, final sale fees,paypal fees. It adds up CONSIDERABLY and of course, buyers can leave a negative for the most crazy reasons, like “I didn’t like the texture” – things which are out of our control.

      Ebay sales are falling and I can see why – I bet less people are selling too.

      I will look into doing some more guides too 😀

  7. T says

    This is a very good guide. There’s a lot more fakes these days, especially branded items coming from hong kong. That is definately a sign. Most of the fakes are very realistic and the ones that are obviously fake are actually good products as well so they don’t tend to get negative feedback from the eBay noobs who think they scored a bargin.
    As someone mentioned above, if i purchased a fake item accidently, i too would be embarassed to wear it and have others notice it’s fake-ness lol Of course if you knew it was fake and are not afraid for people to know, sure why not! Just make sure you pay the right price for what you’re getting.