Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Beauty of Second Hand Beauty


Today I want to talk about second hand beauty shopping. I know for some people this will be a regular thing, others it will be a no go area and for some it will be a whole new venture entirely. I know second hand beauty doesn't sound that appealing but with the right knowledge you can find lusted after products, bargains, samples for testing and many other desirable things. At a time where the internet is pretty much ruling the world and with so many people using it daily it was only a matter of time until girls (and guys!) realised they could sell there unwanted beauty products off to other people. People  who could give those neglected and unwanted items a far greater and loving home. 

I have been shopping for second hand beauty products for years, far longer then I can remember and I wouldn’t turn my back on it now, especially when the economy is so tragic (that is another long and very boring story we will avoid) and with my taste getting more and more expensive (Although this is largely for skincare and not makeup) I needed to find ways to make my obsession more affordable.

I wouldn't say I was an expert in second hand beauty shopping (If there is a such a thing) but I think with years of doing something comes experience and knowledge. I want to help you break into this world and also avoid making those "rookie" mistakes to make your journey more enjoyable. 

So what is it all about?

There are Communities on the internet dedicated to selling on second hand used and often unused goods, this has often involved beauty but I would say this has definitely increased since the appearance of Beauty Boxes. Products range from drugstore / highstreet to high end and designer beauty. There is even a group on Facebook dedicated to swapping your products with other peoples, which is a brilliant way to try new things. 

What I Avoid:

What you choose to buy is at your own discretion but there are certain items I personally choose to avoid. These are largely due to hygiene reasons and the potential bacteria buildup on products. I will happily buy eyeshadows, pigments, lipsticks, pencil eye liners, blushes and powders (and a few other items) lightly used because there are easy ways to clean them (see below). I may also buy foundations and concealers if they are in pump or a squeezable tube as they are generally quite sanitary (However the length of time they have been open is important). I will however actively avoid used products such as creams, liquid eye liners, mascara, and foundations that involve "double dipping", foundations with brush tips, concealers and lip glosses. However unused products is a different story and it's pretty much anything goes. 

Other Products that are fine to buy or that can be easily clean include: Makeup Brushes, Perfume, Hair Brushes like the Tangle Teezer, Tweezers, Eyelash Curlers (I would advise picking one with spare rubber pads), Nail Polish etc. 

At the end of the day it's all down to what you feel comfortable with, if you hate the idea of using makeup someone else has used then just look out for the unopened items, if you're happy to use liquid eyeliners, cream, foundations etc then go for it! These are just my personal preferences. Although when asking on BBS what items they would suggest avoiding they common consensus was "Avoid used mascara! Whether selling or buying."


When it comes to cleaning make-up there are lots of ways to do it. For brushes you can use baby shampoo or purpose built brush cleansers. For makeup you can use surgical spirit / rubbing alcohol and for eyeliners you can simply sharpen them.

For a better insight into cleaning products I suggest the following links:

How to Properly Clean Your Makeup Brushes by TheBeautyDepartment

You can also find more links and other help by googling :)

I think it's important to remember that although products may have been used by other people you can safely clean them. Makeup artists use the same shadows and powers on people everyday, this isn't a problem as long as they clean and look after their products correctly. This means that you to for little money can take advantage of previously used makeup. 


Theres a well known saying in the car world that once you drive a car off of the sellers tarmac it instantly starts losing value, the same goes for most makeup, Once you purchase an item that people can still get in store it's unlikely you'll manage to get full value for it, especially if the postage they pay will be more then if they went and bought the item in store themselves. For rare and hard to find items you can sometimes get more then it's originally worth but don't "take the piss" because people aren't stupid. If you get a lot of items for free and start selling them at high prices it may give you a bad reputation if you're blogging or bragging out a freebie and then asking for a tenner. This isn't however to say you can't sell off gifts, everyone does it, but if someone tries to haggle don't get offended. Try to price your items fairly and reasonably (If you want them to sell!) and always be polite. That goes even if someone is annoying you.

Where can you do it?

There are lots of ways to shops for second hand beauty products but I’m just going to list a few for you!

TSUK is a Live Journal community where people sell everything from clothes to makeup to books to trinkets. You can easily find high-end makeup for sale and people are often happy to combine the price on multiple items. You will need to of been a member of Live Journal for at least 6 months before you can become a member of this community. This can be a bit of a hassle but I advice signing up and forgetting about it for 6 months and when you remember you can simply send a request to be accepted to the community

 Beauty Box Swappers

BBS is a Facebook group that (I assume) came about after the Beauty Box boom, giving girls a place to swap there unwanted beauty box items. It's a great place to swap and buy makeup, it's especially great for picking up a high-end full or sample size products cheaply. BBS is a great place to find offers for beauty sites (I managed to get a Rodial Hand Cream for £7.25 that was worth £39.00 because of an offer a girl had poster). It's also a great place to make friends. Remember: don't be afraid to ask for advice! 

Nice Boots

Nice Boots is similar to TSUK, it's a Live Journal Community where you can often find beauty products for sale, I think it's easier to find products on TSUK but I believe Nice Boots have a less intense set of "joining regulations"

Blog Sales
Another great way to find second hand beauty products is Blog Sales. If you follow a lot of blogs eventually you'll find a sale or two on a few of them, another good way to find them is google, but make sure you choose ones in the UK to save on postage, I would also check out the blog / any links just to make sure they're reputable.  

Selling / Swapping

If you want to start selling and swapping your goods I have a few tips for you (again these are from my experience, I don't want to generalise people or offend anyone!)

  • A good, in focus photograph will probably grab more attention, I prefer to see a few items in a photo then 20, but that's just so I can see the real detail of a product. If you only have a camera phone don't let that stop you, just make sure you give good information about the contents of the image. This will make it easier for shoppers.
  • Where possible always give information of shipping (cost, type, etc), products details, usage, and price. Often unless people REALLY want a product they wont go to the effort of asking for all the details, a good deal /  bargain is always a good buying enticement.
  • BE POLITE, I cannot stress enough how important this is. If someone asks you to combine postage or drop the price don't be rude with your reply. People are often trying to find ways to save money and pinch pennies. Don't take it personally, just politely decline if you're not interested. 
  • Have a little patience. It's a virtue. Sometimes items wont sell straight away, if you're selling £11 nail polish for £5 and it doesn't get snapped up instantly just wait. Don't keep dropping the price as this will serve no benefit to you and can leave you out of pocket. 
  • Every site will have it's own rules and regulations on reposting or "bumping" your sales. Make sure you read these rules before making a sales post. I would say once a week or more is a safe. No one wants to be hounded with the same sale post 5 times a day!

Now for a few pro's and con's of second hand beauty shopping. 


  • You get a chance to try products you might not be able to afford on a whim
  • If you can pick up samples or travel size products these are really great to "test drive" high end products before forking out for them, sometimes you can even get full sizes of the products at a cheaper price then in store. 
  • It can be a great way to make friends and meet new people 
  • If you're a monthly subscriber to Beauty Boxes you will often get products you don't want or need, this is a great way to pass on those items and a great way to find the items you missed out on
  • A good way to get ahold of discounts, coupon codes and offers.
  • A great way to get makeup at cheaper prices, single items from ktis / multi packs, or Limited Edition items. 


  • It's important to be careful with the type of items you've buying, be aware of hygiene and dates. If a product like a cream or a foundation is from a collection 5 years ago it may be alright if it's completely unopened but it may also cause more problems for your skin then good. This is particularly relevant with LUSH or any natural / paraben free products, always check the dates! 
  • You may have to commit extra time to cleaning a product 
  • Sometimes items can get lost in the post and sometimes you will come across bad sellers or scammers, this is why I suggest getting postal insurance where you can and if you can always use Paypal. Don't send money as a gift unless you're 100% sure that the seller is legit. 

Hints and Tips
  • Be friendly, if you're interested in something be polite and friendly
  • Don't enquire about items if you know you can't afford it
  • It's okay to haggle, but don't be cheeky. People are often pricing items at a great loss and if you ask them to half that price again it can come across as rude. 
  • When swapping try to swap items of equal or similar value, don't ask to swap a rimmel eye liner for a MAC one. I promise you it wont go down well. 
  • Don't undersell yourself on postage. Postage rates in the UK are quite high these days so don't undersell yourself. If you're selling a nail polish for £2.00 don't charge less then it will cost because at £2.60 to send a second class packet you're actually losing that polish and 60p! It's better to wait a little longer for someone who will pay the £2.00 + £2.60 postage then to try and flog it quickly and realise you're actually losing money. 
  • Also take advantage of samples of expensive products that catch your eye, you can often pick up sample / mini's for a few quid. If you're interested in a MURAD product that retails for £50 you can hunt down a sample / mini size to test out before making that big spending leap. 
    Just don't blame me if you fall in love with a clinique moisturiser only to find out it retails at £40 (We've all been there!) 
  • This last one is the most valuable piece of advice I can give anyone when shopping online for beauty. If you've never seen it in real life. GOOGLE IT. Google for reviews, swatches, youtube videos. Anything that will help you get a better idea of that product, I suggest looking for at least 4 - 5 different sources. So you can get a good idea.

Thank you for reading! I hope this helped, if you have any questions feel free to email me or comment below! 


  1. Thanks Cassia. Another link about makeup cleaning:

    1. Hello!

      Thank you so much for the link! I shall add it to the post :) xx


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