Do you remember how you used to buy beauty products before the internet? It went something like this: You'd see an ad on television, a sample in a magazine, or a great new shade on your friend's face, and then go off to the store to try it out and pick it up. It was quaint. Civilized. Predictable. But now, thanks to a pretty intense mix of online shopping and social media, the game has changed. Buzzy products (ahem, the
Kylie Lip Kit) are teased on Instagram and Twitter, and then sell out in seconds. Most of us make a play for them, but are left empty-handed, tweeting our frustration. The people who are able to scoop up these goodies are like modern-day gunslingers, or Olympic sprinters. They train for these moments, and have a set of techniques that help them score every time. How do they do it? I (sort of creepily) messaged a handful of them on Twitter to pick their brains. Pro tip: Clear your schedule and charge that laptop. This could qualify as a part-time gig.
1. Follow the right Instagram accounts.
All of the people we interviewed made sure they were in the know about restocks. This means following everyone, everywhere. All the time. Not just the brands, but makeup-focused social media accounts like
. These accounts keep followers updated on restocks, so you can mark your calendars and be ready when the next wave of inventory hits. There's even
account that collects all of Kylie Jenner's Snapchats, which is super-useful because she tends to send snaps to announce the arrival of new stock.
2. Log on early. Once you know when the restock is happening, make sure you get online ahead of time. One Twitter user said that for the most recent restock of Kylie's Lip Kits, she logged on a whole 20 minutes early. That's what we call commitment. And, while you're waiting for the restock to hit, make sure your credit card is on hand. The same user says she actually has her card information (including the code on the back) memorized so she can punch it in quickly.
3. Open multiple tabs — and multiple browsers. Repeat after me: Quantity is everything. This is a numbers game. So open every single browser you have on your computer. (Yes, even Firefox.) Then, open multiple tabs on each — as many as you can reasonably manage. "I usually average three browsers, and four tabs per browser," says Allison, a Twitter user who scored all three Lip Kits when they first dropped. If you want more than one shade, make sure that each shade has its own tab. You don't want to waste time clicking around the site.
4. Recruit your pals. Have a friend who is equally committed to picking up swag (or who's just crazy-competitive)? Great. Go at it together. Two computers with multiple open tabs are better than one. This works for a few reasons. Firstly, you'll be able to alert each other when the stock hits. And, if one of you breaks through while the other can't, that person can order for both of you. People helping people, you know? Just be ready to share the wealth.
5. Never stop refreshing. Once your tabs are open, start refreshing the page. Like, continuously. This isn't the same as pressing an elevator button a dozen times in hopes that it will arrive quicker. It serves a purpose. The more you refresh, the faster you'll receive urgent updates and see when the stock hits. Not to mention, it's kinda cathartic. "I just keep refreshing," says Ashley, another Twitter user. "That's basically it." So keep clicking, sister.
6. Don't dillydally. Remember, this isn't a laid-back window-shopping experience. Go into the process knowing exactly which shades, and how many of each, you want to score (wondering whether you should "Add to Cart" could result in a sad, empty one). Once the stock hits and you can dump products into your bag, do so quickly, adding each shade in its own tab. After you add the last one, go to your bag in that tab to make sure everything's there. "The bag should show all of your shades," says Twitter pro Ash. Type in your billing info, check out, and you should be all set. Just make sure to keep an eye out for that confirmation email. If you don't get one, the stock may have sold out before your order had a chance to process. But if all goes well, you should be the proud owner of some major beauty swag in a few days or weeks. Pat yourself on the back. Drink a Gatorade, and relax — until next time.