There's a Growing Market For Used Beauty Products, but Is It Safe?
In the beauty community, there's a recent craze around buying and selling used makeup and skin-care products. Consumer-to-consumer resale platforms like eBay, Poshmark, and Japanese-owned Mercari have become avenues for people to sell their preowned cosmetics, but one online retailer is normalizing the practice: Glambot.
Unlike traditional resale websites, Glambot provides a middle man. When Glambot receives a product, its lab members "professionally sanitize" the items. Customers can send in their used makeup — everything from falsies and concealer to eye creams and brushes — and Glambot makes an offer, sanitizes the product, and resells it on its website.
Karen Horiuchi founded Glambot back in 2013 after noticing that she had purchased five different MAC lipsticks in similar shades and wanted to earn some of her money back. Since popular marketplace websites prohibited the sales of used cosmetics and beauty forums where individuals sell products to one another were unreliable, she decided to launch a website that would sanitize lightly used, high-end makeup before resale. "It just kind of took off from there," Horiuchi said. "I made the jump, quit my full-time job, and pursued Glambot."
At its start, Horiuchi reached out to manufacturers with overstock inventory, and she eventually sourced products directly from people within the beauty community. Today, Glambot still gets some of its products from manufacturers, but a majority of its stock comes from consumers who send in their unwanted and used cosmetics.
In a rapidly growing beauty industry, where items like the Conspiracy palette from Jeffree Star's collaboration with Shane Dawson sold out in less than 30 minutes, purchasing products secondhand is sometimes the easiest way to get coveted, limited-edition beauty bundles. While other name-brand, high-end products are available on Glambot, and at a discount. A limited-edition Kylie Cosmetics Gel Liner, for example, is listed for $6 on Glambot — $14 off the original price.
With the issue of proper sanitation now more important than ever and the counterfeit market alive and booming, is selling and buying used cosmetics really safe?
Who's in the Market For Used Beauty Products?
Horiuchi said Glambot's demographic is split evenly between US and international consumers: "International customers really gravitate toward us because they want the brands that we offer, and at the price we offer," she said, adding that American buyers tend to be in the market for sold-out or discontinued products.