This Is How You SHOULD Be Shopping

Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
We can't say we're surprised that beauty buyers have some of the most impressive collections of hair care, skin care, and makeup in the biz. After all, these lucky few literally shop for a living — spending their days scouting for newest, coolest beauty finds to bring to their customers.

Not only do buyers travel the world on the hunt for new products, they're privy to some of the most exclusive and innovative launches in the industry. But when inundated with hundreds — even thousands — of products, how do they cut through the clutter to find the gems? We asked seven beauty buyers from our favorite retailers about their most impressive finds, what makes a best seller, and how they stay on top of emerging trends.

But most importantly, they've spilled their sleuthing secrets to help you become a savvier shopper. Take notes — these are tips you'll want to memorize.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Eric Neher, VP of Merchandising, Birchbox

How do you find new products?

"We are lucky at Birchbox, because there are amazing brands reaching out to us every day. This inbound interest is huge when it comes to finding great products. Our merchants and editors also spend a ton of time online and in independent shops looking for great new products. We even sometimes find out about new brands by way of recommendation from current brand partners."

What do you look for in new products and how do you know when one is right for your store?
"I'm drawn to a product that has a clear and simple statement of benefits — and then delivers on the promise. Birchbox resonates with a casual beauty consumer who is underserved by an industry that caters to beauty lovers. Our customer wants to be clearly told what she's getting, and then the product has to back that up with efficacy. Anything that is immediately transformative or effective is really exciting. I always look for high-quality ingredients and I feel, touch, and smell everything — beauty is about a sensorial experience."

What's the biggest beauty find you've made?
"I'm very proud of the fact that our team discovered Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle, which is the most reviewed beauty product of all time on Birchbox.com. More than 60,000 reviews with an average of 4-and-a-half out of 5 stars."


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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What are your favorites from the site right now?
"I love Sunday Riley — her Juno Face Oil is incredible. The Birchbox exclusive Benefit LASHtastic Mascara Sampler is a great way to try three of the brand's incredible mascaras. Also just tried R+Co Motorcycle Flexible Gel and it's really awesome."

What items have you found that you can't seem to keep in stock?
"Lipstick Queen Frog Prince is a runaway hit. Our customers also love Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream. It's a huge seller, especially now that it's getting cold out."

What are the biggest beauty trends you've seen in the past few years and what do you think we will see next?
"In the past few years, customers have become increasingly aware of what ingredients are being used in products. Products with fewer, more natural ingredients have resonated. It's also important that customers understand why the specific ingredients are included. Korean beauty brands have made a huge splash!

"Also, with the growing trends around extending the length of a hairstyle, there has been huge growth in dry shampoos and texture sprays. I expect we will see further growth in multi-tasking products as customers expect multiple benefits from any given product."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Jessica Richards, Founder, Shen Beauty

How do you find new products?
"To find new products, I scour the internet, Facebook, Instagram, and follow a lot of blogs. I also love to travel, so every time I travel I go on the hunt for cool shops."

What do you look for in new products and how do you know when one is right for your store?
"The first thing I look for in new products is if they have great packaging, as that typically catches the eye. I would be lying if I said any different. The second is if it's a category that I am lacking at Shen; perhaps I’m on the hunt for the best acne product on the market. I look at ingredients, make sure they are up to standard, and if they actually do what they say they do. If I find a product that I love and it competes with one that is similar that I already carry, I usually have the girls in the shop try them both, compare, and make sure no labels are shown, so they don’t know what is what.

What's the biggest beauty find you've made?
"I think the biggest beauty find I have made is Therapie by Roques O'Neil. These products are not only beautiful, but efficacious. The two hero products are the Himalayan Detox Salts and the Aura Spray. [Founder] Michelle Roque is the master of aromatherapy and understands exactly how to create products that can help heal and calm with no chemicals."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What are your favorites from the site right now?
"Favorites from the site right and always are Amanda Lacey Cleansing Pomade, Aura Spray By Roques O'Neil, Beauty Chef Probiotic Toner, David Mallet Hair Mask, [and] Phylia Fuphyl."

What items have you found that you can't seem to keep in stock?
"Amanda Lacey Cleansing Pomade, The Beauty Chef Inner Glow Powder, Aurelia Miracle Cleanser, Pai Rosehip Seed Oil, [and] Therapie's Himalayan Detox Salts."

What are the biggest beauty trends you've seen in the past few years and what do you think we will see next?
"I think the ongoing trend and one that will gain more and more momentum is the entire wellness category and organic beauty as a whole. I think people are getting smarter and the access to material to educate yourself is abundant, thus people have become more inquisitive and want to know more. How to take care of [yourself] inside and out will only gain traction, as we are all starting to realize the problems connected with the Earth and how we treat it and the ramifications [of] global warming. All of this plays into how people shop; they are educated and aware."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Heather Connelly, Head of Merchandising, SpaceNK

How do you find new products?
"In a day and age where technology is prevalent, I regularly look to Instagram, my favorite beauty bloggers, and online magazines to get a feel for emerging trends. One of the highlights of my job is meeting with the most creative brand founders and talented product development teams in the industry. I’m lucky enough to hear early on how these trends translate into the future product launches and how they might complement or expand our [products] in stores.

"During my travels abroad, I never pass up the opportunity to pop into a boutique, spa, or salon. I’m ‘that person’ who tends to ask a million questions...I want to know why a product was chosen for me, how to use it and what results I should expect — questions that our shoppers will ultimately want answered as well. We also get tips on new products from our clients, makeup artists, beauty journalists, and our colleagues in the U.K., and we’ve followed many of those leads to introduce new lines at SpaceNK."

What do you look for in new products and how do you know when one is right for your store?
"I’m in regular contact with our store teams and constantly asking what our customers are looking for. Once I have an idea of where there may be a gap in our assortment, I look for products that have a unique point of view and actually deliver the results they promise. I also can’t resist beautiful packaging. This combination of innovation, efficacy, and experience helps to ensure that our clients will be excited about something new."

What's the "biggest beauty find" you've made?
"About 8 years ago, the hair-care category had hit a rut — the products being offered were dull and uninspiring. Along came an indie brand called Oribe with cutting-edge innovation, salon-quality results, and super-luxe packaging — all this and the expertise of a world-renowned, celebrity and editorial stylist. The product range was edited [and] the customer following was immediate. Today, the brand has grown into a leader of the hair-care category, delivering the highest levels of performance and sophistication. To this day, I can recognize Oribe’s signature jasmine-scented products anywhere."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What are your favorites from the site right now?
"Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask is great pick-me-up after a long day at work or a late night out. Formulated to purify and decongest dull surface skin for a refreshed, revitalized appearance. You’ll notice smooth, glowing skin immediately.

"I carry Kat Burki's Hand Therapy with me everywhere I go, especially in the winter months. Its unique proprietary organic blend of calendula and chamomile work to smooth skin texture and replenish hydration without leaving hands feeling greasy. It works great on dry cuticles and aids in nail growth, too. Kane NY Serum Savant offers a unique delivery system Dr. Kane calls ‘injectible intelligence’ to drive serious anti-aging ingredients deep into the skin...This is truly a one-of-a-kind product and worth the splurge."

What items have you found that you can't seem to keep in stock?
"Some of our bestsellers right now include Eve Lom Cleanser, Kane NY Serum Savant, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit, Chantecaille Faux Cils Longest Lash Mascara, and Miriam Quevedo The Sublime Gold Oil."

What are the biggest beauty trends you've seen in the past few years and what do you think we will see next?
“Over the last year, contouring was ‘the trend’ and it continues to evolve. Strobing has taken over, and though similar, the technique is easier to execute and focuses on drawing light to certain areas of the face. Skin-care ingredients continue to become more prevalent in the hair-care category. This cross-category innovation has led to an increase in sales, as consumers look to treatment-driven solutions.

"Looking forward, I think we’ll see more women investing in anti-aging products at an earlier age as a preventative measure, rather than waiting to combat signs of aging a decade down the road. Whether it’s high-tech, natural formulas, or a hybrid, consumers are focused on achieving healthy, flawless, and effortless-looking skin."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Laura Zaccaria, Senior Buyer For Beauty, Sunglasses, Hair & Accessories, Urban Outfitters

How do you find new products?
"In some shape or form, all new discoveries are inspired by everyday life. I look for beauty and new ideas in everything. It may be as simple as a new balm in a coworker’s makeup bag, an oil from a local apothecary, or a new brand found from travels overseas. UO Beauty is really about completing a lifestyle for our customer, so it’s the lifestyle we’re inspired by."

What do you look for in new products and how do you know when one is right for your store?
"I look for products with a strong point of view. Urban Outfitters is not your average beauty department, which is always important to keep in mind as I look for newness. Our customer is looking for a different beauty experience with us. We’re building a highly curated assortment that is a mix of the well-known cult favorites as well as an array of products from new and undiscovered brands."

What's the "biggest beauty find" you've made?
"Korean beauty! Not only are the products truly amazing, but this innovative new product within our assortment marked us as a destination for new ideas to the customer."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What are your favorites from the site right now?
"Mario Badescu's Multimasker Set is the perfect set for an at-home spa day! OCC's super-pigmented Lip Tar is a long-time cult favorite. Hylamide Photography Transparent Foundation is a next-generation foundation, specifically designed to make skin look better on camera and also blur imperfections in real life...Sounds too good to be true, I know. It’s amazing!

"Since I've tried Anastasia's Contour Kit, I've been hooked on [it] as my multi-purpose makeup staple, [because] it doubles as an eyeshadow option, too. Nudestix Eyebrow Stylus is a perfect combination of pencil and gel that adds just the right amount of color and coverage. [I also like] House Of Intuition Bath Bag. Think of [it] as a parfait for natural and holistic goodness. [And finally,] Aquarian Soul Amethyst Headache Oil [which is] made from 100% pure almond oil and therapeutic-grade, organic essential oils. All it takes is a little rub onto your temples [for instant] relief!"

What items have you found that you can't seem to keep in stock?
"Our Gourmand Fragrances! There’s a perfect scent for every mood and personality...We love a good multi-use product and this rose-infused moisturizing oil treatment [from] Rosebud is a must have. We are even working on some amazing new blends to add to this collection that will be just as coveted!

"Cedar + Stone Face Serum
is one of my personal favorite brands, handmade in Australia! Plantfolk Apothecary x UO Lip Scrub [is an] incredible lip scrub [that] sheds away the skin cells leaving your lips soft and moisturized, perfect for the winter months! Cocooil x UO Coconut & Sea Salt Beach Spray [is] another Australian favorite; this formula adds just the right amount of volume and texture with subtle coconut scent. Moon Juice Full Moon Mini Dust Collection is an UO-exclusive set [that] gives your beauty routine an extra boost. Using organic ingredients, these mini Moon Dusts mix with any hot or cold liquid to create potions for body, spirit, beauty, and overall wellness to help you look and feel your best from the inside out."

What are the biggest beauty trends you've seen in the past few years and what do you think we will see next?
"With a more conscious consumer, there is a stronger emphasis on the use of natural ingredients; this is a trend that I believe will develop in other categories as well."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Charlotte Cho, Aesthetician & Cofounder, Soko Glam

How and where do you find new products?
"Every product on Soko Glam has been tested by me and the Soko Glam team. Every quarter, I travel to Seoul to talk with the top R & D specialists in Korea that are working on the latest innovations in the industry. I meet with beauty influencers in Korea and industry experts to hear about the best beauty products that produce actual results. I also scour blogs, magazines, and forums to pick up the latest trends. You can also find me chatting it up with the locals, because I feel it is important to hear the fresh perspective from consumers who are not involved in the beauty space as well."

What do you look for in new products and how do you know when one is right for your store?
"As an aesthetician, I have been trained to look to the ingredients first before anything else, because no matter what marketing jargon it has splashed on the front of the bottle, it's the ingredients in the fine print that make the product effective. My focus is to curate products that actually provide results and people have come to trust Soko Glam for our tight curation and the best selection of Korean beauty products!

"I often seek out advice from the Soko Glam community and I get their feedback on what they wish I would curate next! Also, if a product is curated on the site and it's getting less than rave reviews, I'll often pull it from the site. What our community says truly matters and will influence the curation."

What's the "biggest beauty find" you've made?
"Being a beauty buyer and curator for Korean beauty products for the past three years on Soko Glam has been very exciting...I've essentially been given the opportunity be at the forefront of cutting-edge beauty innovations straight from Seoul!

"Through Soko Glam, I've been able to introduce products that become holy grail and cult favorites in the K-beauty space: Son and Park Beauty Water, Missha First Treatment Essence, IOPE Air Cushion, Neogen Bio Peel Gauze Peeling Wine, and Banila Co Clean it Zero, just to name a few!"
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What are your favorites from the site right now?
"My top 10 favorites are listed in our annual Soko Glam Best of Beauty Awards, [but I love the] Son and Park Beauty Water. I curated this cleansing water to Soko Glam three months ago and it's consistently been a top seller. I knew this would quickly become a holy grail on our site, because everyone has been curious about cleansing waters, and it's such a great find. This cleansing water removes waterproof makeup gently, while toning and gently exfoliating in one swoop.

"[I also love] Missha's First Treatment Essence. [It's] a cult-classic K-beauty product and my personal holy grail product for years. [It] improves elasticity by promoting skin renewal on a cellular level through its superstar fermented ingredient: saccharomyces ferment filtrate."

What items have you found that you can't seem to keep in stock?
"Beauty Water from Son and Park and the Neogen Green Tea Foaming Cleansers have been our best sellers ever since I introduced them to Soko Glam just a few months ago."

What are the biggest beauty trends you've seen in the past few years and what do you think we will see next?
"Sheet masks and cushion compacts [have been] the biggest beauty trends in the past few years and you'll be seeing more developments for both of them in the near future. You know they are the biggest trends because other global beauty companies are creating similar products for their own lines.

"I believe products with real ingredients suspended in the formula — real rose petals suspended in cleansers, cleansing waters, [or] masks, along with multi-tasking products will be some of the newest trends."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
David Olsen, Vice President Of Global Beauty & Grooming, Net-a-Porter

How do you find new products?
"I read a lot (I can thank law school for my ability to speed read), and definitely hear about new brands via word of mouth. I regularly meet with our team internally (both my immediate team and the wider team of over 2,000 women), and editors both internally and externally. I love meeting with the editors, because the editors are so looped in and have such a discerning eye, which I really appreciate. I also hear about some great finds from my wife, who is also in the beauty business. Quiz me — if there’s a brand out there that I haven’t heard of, I’ll buy you a lunch."

What do you look for in new products and how do you know when one is right for your site?
"We look for efficacy and innovation, both of which contribute to our quintessential beauty edit. I have an incredibly discerning team who tries everything before we make a decision. If it’s not something we are proud to recommend to someone we’re close with, then we don’t bring it on."

What's the "biggest beauty find" you've made?
"Well personally, I met my amazing wife thanks to the beauty business (she’s currently at beautydna.com). And professionally, although I won’t take credit for finding her, I had the fortune of being introduced to Charlotte Tilbury early on when we worked with her as our in-house makeup artist about a year prior to her launching her namesake line...Charlotte’s success to date is unparalleled to any launch I’ve seen and they continue to jump from strength to strength."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What are your favorites from the site right now?
"I really love David Kirsch Energy Bubbles — they’re a great jumpstart for long days. I also love Fornasetti’s Architettura Candle as they’re the perfect holiday gift for the person who has everything. Escentric Molecules Molecule 01, because I find it so unique to each individual person that wears it, and This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, because it’s the holidays and I work in e-tail, so a good night's sleep is key."

What items have you found that you can't seem to keep in stock?
"The Le Labo Discover Set, SK-II Facial Treatment Masks, and the Nurse Jamie Beauty Bear. We [also] cannot keep Christian Louboutin’s lipsticks in stock — we’ve sold thousands!"

What are the biggest beauty trends you've seen in the past few years and what do you think we will see next?
"There has been an incredible shift over the last few years to natural beauty products across all categories. It started off as very niche and now those brands are amongst our most popular and best-selling products...I expect to see continued growth in this category as we look ahead."

(Ed Note: The Le Labo Discover Set, Escentric Molecules fragrance, and SK-II Facial Treatment Masks are currently out of stock. We will update this story when the items are back in stock.)
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Sarah Czuleger, Director Of Brand Development, Violet Grey

How do you find new products?
"Traveling abroad is a great way to discover new products. I always make sure to check out the beauty aisles in French pharmacies and beauty shops in Korea — they’re usually a trend or two ahead of us! Also, I read everything I can get my hands on, from beauty blogs to brand press kits. Following top makeup artists Pat McGrath, Pati Dubroff, and Lauren Anderson on Instagram is also a great resource."

What do you look for in new products and how do you know when one is right for your store?
"I have a mental checklist when analyzing new products that includes the ingredients, brand history, aesthetic, and, of course, efficacy. At Violet Grey, we have a unique point of view, since our community of professional makeup artists tests each and every product we carry — they give us their honest feedback about how the product works and the best way to use it. Only if it passes their muster does the product receive the Violet Code stamp of approval. It’s pretty rigorous, but we can genuinely say we carry only the best of the best!"
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What's the "biggest beauty find" you've made?
"Hands down, the ZIIP Nano Current Device, developed by skin expert Melanie Simon. This tool does it all — and you know I’ve tried them all! No blemish or dark circle is too much for it to handle. Plus, it’s super chic and synchs with your iPhone. The device is a game-changer and I cannot tell enough people about my latest obsession!"

What are your favorites from the site right now?

"Every girl needs these products in her beauty arsenal: Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Aqua Foundation, Hourglass Nº 28 Lip Treatment Oil in Icon, La Prairie Cellular Cream Blush in Rose Glow, Utowa Eyelash Curler, Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base, and African Botanics Marula Firming Botanical Body Oil."

What items have you found that you can't seem to keep in stock?
"Dior Addict Lip Glow in Pink, Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow, Serge Lutens Comb Mascara, RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, The Yves Durif Comb, [and] Koh Gen Do Soft Gommage Gel."

What are the biggest beauty trends you've seen in the past few years and what do you think we will see next?
"Multi-tasking skin care and makeup, beauty oils, and all things brows have been big trends — and none of them seem to be going anywhere. As for what’s next, I think natural skin care will continue to grow, but consumers are going to be more critical about which natural brands they go to, since the claims and ingredients can get tricky."
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