Sure, everyone knows all the big players when it comes to online beauty shopping, but that barely skims the surface of what’s available. You can now get your fix from a wide range of brands, with new and familiar names from skincare, makeup, devices, fragrances and even personal care.
These beauty e-commerce sites have character and purpose. A few were started to fulfil a personal need for alternative brands; others, to fill a gap in the market. All have seen more traction in recent times due to the pandemic, with purchasing shifting from brick-and-mortar stores to online.
Savina Chow, founder of Beaubit, says: “Previously, we relied on friends and family to share their experiences before a purchase happens at the store. Today’s landscape means we look to digital content creators for product recommendations and, through that, brands can speak directly to us. The rise of online marketplaces and accessible e-commerce tools makes it easier to sell beauty brands.”
There are caveats to this, of course. Lee Yi Hui, co- founder of Hush Cosmetics, says product authenticity is an important tenet of online shopping, and smaller players need extra time and effort to procure those supply chains. Natassia Siu, who started Sknedit in 2020, agrees. As a new entrant to the market, she says many brands “ghosted” her with no replies. “If they did reply, we would need to hit minimum order quantities to bring those brands in,” she adds.
Savina notes: “Like every small business, our challenges include increasing awareness and ensuring that our storytelling stays compelling and exciting.”
Despite the challenges, each founder’s belief in their business philosophy is what keeps them going. Here’s our pick of the best beauty e-commerce sites you should shop at now:
Driven by content: Beaubit
Founded by fashion influencer Savina Chow, the site brings together local names like Heure and Rooki Beauty, with global cult brands like Tamburins and Sunnies Face. Savina started this when she had a persistent acne outbreak.
After months of seeing dermatologists, trying different products and treatments, plus a lot of Google search, she realised that many women like herself wanted expert advice, relatable, relevant information, and the convenience of an e-commerce site that catered for those solutions.
On Beaubit, you’ll find everything from wellness to makeup products for the face, body and hair, and they are sub- categorised by their speciality such as Conscious Beauty, Halal Beauty, Traditional Chinese Medicine and even Mom Care. Within each key category, they are further split by common skin concerns such as anti-ageing and acne.
Linked to the site is the brand’s blog Beaubit Daily, or what Savina calls the Beaubit content engine. It shares interviews with creators and celebrities, as well as their beauty favourites. Says Savina: “Beaubit is driven by on-demand industry expert advice, real user feedback and data analytics to create a unique experience for the Asian woman.”
From $8 to $450. The site ships worldwide.
Rose All Day Don’t Forget Sunscreen, $22.50
A SPF50 lightweight, non-comedogenic liquid sunscreen that’s non-greasy and even hydrates the skin.
Dew It Body Silk, $22
This rich body cream has sweet almond oil with avocado oil and rice bran oil to combat wrinkles.
Personalised beauty picks: Sknedit
Sknedit was created in July 2020 by Natassia Siu and Emily Yiu, based on their belief in self-care. “Skincare should be fun and enjoyable. You should want to set aside those five to 10 minutes a day for yourself,” says Natassia.
Currently, Sknedit has a tight range of skincare, body care and home fragrance. What’s interesting is that the Sknedit team tests every single product that’s available on the site and they only carry products that have proved to be effective for them.
It’s also an Instagrammer’s dream: Packaging comes in the form of eco-friendly cardboard boxes with “unboxing” as the key driving factor. Says Natassia: “We try to give our customers the best experience of unboxing our products because that’s the way we are seen and heard.”
The team provides personalised gift messages and gift wrapping too. It also caters for bridesmaid and postnatal gift boxes.
From $16 for a lip treatment to $120 for ampoules and serums
Solyph Face The Wild SPF50/PA++ Sun Shield Cream, $48
This mineral-based physical sunscreen protects against UV, blue light and micropollutants with Korean pine leaf extract and camomile.
Hollow Tree Candle, $68
Inspired by Whistler’s natural backcountry, these hand-poured coconut wax candles are available in six scents.
THE OG K-BEAUTY STORE: Hush Cosmetics
Co-founded by Lee Yi Hui and Christine Quah in 2014, Hush was one of the first few sites to bring in Korean brands like CosRX, Innisfree and, at one stage, the only local e-tailer for cult skincare brand The Ordinary. It has since expanded to include brands like Cerave and Hylamide. Recently, the site has also added beauty tools, accessories, personal care and even sexual wellness items.
“One of the perils of online shopping is that you can end up with knock-offs. Hush places an emphasis on ensuring that the products we procure are authentic. We’re an authorised retailer for some of the brands we carry. For the rest, we get them from other authorised retailers or distributors,” Yi Hui shares.
What’s more, after the purchase is fulfilled with delivery, the customer receives no other marketing or advertising. Yi Hui attributes this to one simple reason – consumers are increasingly savvy.
“They are able to discern objective reviews from advertisements. Not reaching out after has come at a cost to our revenue, but we are happy with our approach.”
From $1 to over $200
Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser, $26.40
A gentle gel cleanser that leaves skin feeling soft and comfortable.
The Inkey List Alpha Hydroxy Acid, $17.40
This AHA serum sloughs off dead skin, promoting cell renewal and tightening pores as it smooths rough skin.
All the devices you'll ever need: Currentbody
The UK-based brand has been around since 2009 and was founded by Laurence Newman, who has a background in medical devices, and Andrew Showman, whose experience was in e-commerce. The site now carries well over 1,000 products from over 50 device brands – ranging from cleansing and hair removal to anti-ageing and facial toning.
Currentbody recently expanded its footprint to cover Singapore, which means we now have access to international brands such as Nuface and Tripollar for the face, and Jovs for hair removal. The brand even has its own line of LED Light Therapy mask devices, as well as an accompanying skincare range.
The website prides itself on its customer service teams, which are trained by the device manufacturers themselves. It also offers free returns for all products within 90 days, plus a two- year warranty on everything.
From $10 for skin/body care to $4,000 for a device
Currentbody LED Complete Kit for Face and Neck, $802
This device uses red LED and near- infrared light to improve your skin. All it takes is 10 minutes, three to five times a week. It’s clinically proven to reduce wrinkles in four weeks.
Nuface Mini Device for Face, $210
The super cute device uses microcurrents to stimulate facial muscles for a lifted appearance.
Bargains and discounts galore: BeautyFresh
Started in 2011, Beautyfresh is the place to get luxury skincare, scents and even home fragrances for less. The site carries established brands like Aveda, Glamglow, Jo Malone and La Mer, cult names such as Eve Lom and Grown Alchemist, plus salon favourites like Darphin and the super luxe Valmont.
Annie Ong, the brand’s head of marketing, says: “When we first started, there wasn’t a big online presence from marketplaces like Lazada or Shopee. Our premise was simple: high-end beauty products at a discounted pricing, available locally. As we operate completely online, our overheads are lower and those savings are passed on to our customers.”
Expect to pay between 5 and 30 per cent off retail price, but do note that entire collections and the full range of colours may not be available for some products.
From $25 to $720
Grown Alchemist Instant Smoothing Serum Tri-Hyaluronan Complex, $119
This serum has different molecule weights to hydrate all layers of the skin, smoothing and leaving it soft and supple.
Diptyque Philosykos Eau de Parfum, $233
The green and woody scent is a blend of fig leaves, wood and white cedar, leaving a warm and luxurious trail.
This article was first published in Her World Online.