Say hello to a little-known crop of beauty entrepreneurs: eBay makeup resellers. They've taken to the online marketplace to peddle everything from run-of-the-mill drugstore cosmetics to hard-to-find shades and pieces from limited-edition collections, often scoring some serious dough in the process. In fact, for certain It Items, enterprising eBay-ers could be looking at a payday of nearly 20 times the product’s retail cost: Chanel’s Jade nail polish, which sold at counters for the relatively modest price of $25, goes for upwards of $400 during resell.
With such mega-markups in mind, to say these online entrepreneurs have a corner on the market is a definite understatement. And, despite questions of legality (not to mention morality), it's been fairly earned. A perusal of eBay’s policies reveals that resellers aren’t doing anything against the rules — the site does in fact permit the sale of unused cosmetics. But, the question remains: Are these eBay-ers taking advantage of the gotta-have-it nature of specialty makeup? Or, is it a simple case of supply and demand? Several resellers agree with the latter, running their eBay shops like businesses.
"I found myself without a full-time job, and I needed to figure it out fast," says Lilly, the woman behind macbabyscloset. "I chose makeup because it’s what I love, and selling what you love never feels like a job; it’s a passion instead."
That said, it's not all lip gloss and lollipops for online resellers. Competition for limited-edition items is fierce, with the pool of potential buyers growing rapidly. “It’s hard to balance all of the different types of buyers," said Lisa of thecosmeticfiend. "You have people who just love using makeup, you have makeup artists who purchase items for their job, you have collectors who get an item and hold onto it for a while and hope that it increases in value. And then you have those people who just buy and sell to make money."
Add to this a slew of real-world entrepreneurial issues like keeping units in stock and managing everything from customer service to shipping, and you've got yourself a retail environment that, while tumultuous, can be highly profitable for those able to navigate its complexities.
Ahead, one such online reseller, who preferred to remain anonymous, candidly discusses her methods, motivations, and just how she knows that limited-edition shade of lipstick will be a home run — before it hits stores.