10 best online beauty retailers

No more trawling the high street to get your beauty fix. These websites offer carefully curated collections and expert advice that will help re-vamp your make-up bag

So many beauty e-tailers have sprung up in the last 10 years that it's hard to know where to start if you're looking to buy cosmetics online. We've scoured the web to find the best sites to buy beauty products. You'll find inspirational stories behind the brands at My Showcase, organic beauty at LoveLula, niche natural skincare at Being Content and make-up artist must-haves at Cult Beauty.

1. Get The Gloss

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Two former beauty editors – Vogue’s Susannah Taylor and The Times’ Sarah Vine – launched Get The Gloss just over a year ago and although it's not a direct retailer (they don't hold stock), they partner up each month with a top beauty e-tailer. Susannah explains 'We provide a daily edit and links to the best beauty products we can find and every week we showcase an exclusive edit of products in the Go Shop! section.” What I love about this slick site, is they're not bound to certain brands, so can pick and choose across thousands of products available on lots of different beauty sites. Alongside the products there’s beauty and health advice and helpful how-to videos featuring industry makeup artists and top hair stylist legends.

2. My Showcase

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Handbag.com creator Nancy Cruickshank and Kate Shapland Beauty Editor at The Telegraph for over 10 years, have created a new concept in online beauty retail. “Think Avon meets SpaceNK, but with a passion for supporting female entrepreneurs in building or expanding their businesses – be it a brand or as a stylist,” says Nancy. Each brand, curated by Kate, has an inspiring person at the helm and an original story, and is generally not easily available on the high-street. And just like the Avon lady, you can become a stylist – you pay a start-up cost for training and get products to sell as part of your own business. 

3. Being Content

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Handbag.com creator Nancy Cruickshank and Kate Shapland Beauty Editor at The Telegraph for over 10 years, have created a new concept in online beauty retail. “Think Avon meets SpaceNK, but with a passion for supporting female entrepreneurs in building or expanding their businesses – be it a brand or as a stylist,” says Nancy. Each brand, curated by Kate, has an inspiring person at the helm and an original story, and is generally not easily available on the high-street. And just like the Avon lady, you can become a stylist – you pay a start-up cost for training and get products to sell as part of your own business. 

4. Look Fantastic

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Victoria Health is a great go-to site for expert health and beauty advice as well as a source of some more niche beauty and natural health brands. Full of up to date info on complementary health thanks to one of their founders being pharmacist Shabir Daya, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of natural health products puts him on speed-dial for most health journalists. His co-founder Gill Sinclair explains: “We always put the health and wellbeing of our customers first and having that expert knowledge from Shabir helps guide our customers through the minefield of health and beauty.

5. Victoria Health

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Victoria Health is a great go-to site for expert health and beauty advice as well as a source of some more niche beauty and natural health brands. Full of up to date info on complementary health thanks to one of their founders being pharmacist Shabir Daya, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of natural health products puts him on speed-dial for most health journalists. His co-founder Gill Sinclair explains: “We always put the health and wellbeing of our customers first and having that expert knowledge from Shabir helps guide our customers through the minefield of health and beauty.

6. SpaceNK Apothecary

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SpaceNK's Nicky Kinnaird started it all in 1993 with a little shop in Covent Garden where she introduced us to the world of niche high performance beauty brands like Laura Mercier, Chantecaille, Eve Lom, Nars and Shu Uemura. Now with over 100 brands online, this is a one-stop-shop for serious luxury and glamour and an edited selection of the world's best beauty products. Nicky still travels the globe searching out great products, “I look for the unusual, exciting and special wherever I am,” she says. I love the fact this site not only sorts by brand and price bracket, but also by results – so it's easy to find what you're looking for.

7. Beauty Mart

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Former Vogue beauty director Anna-Marie Solowij and Millie Kendall of Ruby & Millie cosmetics joined forces to create Beauty Mart . Their USP is that unlike other retailers, they don't stock entire product ranges. Instead, BeautyMART is like a magazine where it's all about the edit. Using their extensive product knowledge and industry expertise, they choose specific products from hundreds of brands, selecting only the ones that work and that they think are worth buying.

8. Love Lula

With more rosettes for organic, soil association, natural health and green parenting than you can shake a muddy stick at, this is the place to go for natural beauty. Fifteen years ago it was hard work to get hold of natural organic products, you had to really know your stuff and know where to look. Now we have Love Lula that only sells natural and organic. Now that is progress! They insist on “no sodium lauryl sulfates, no parabens, no animal testing”, but they “must be effective, luxurious and guilt-free.” LoveLula also say they “seek out the most innovative companies and strive to support morally run and environmentally driven businesses”. 

9. Cult Beauty

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'Top Rated', 'Best Beauty Buys' and 'New In' are just some of the ways you can filter the cherry-picked beauty products from over 130 brands on Cult Beauty. “Our mission is to demystify the beauty industry, combining consumer trials with the vast knowledge of our expert panel to filter out the blaggers and braggers from the gems that do what they say on the tin. The result is a beauty hall of fame – you can shop in the knowledge that anything you buy will be outstanding.” Big claims, but having sifted through their site, there are some real beauty corkers for sale here.

10. Beauty Bay

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More than a retailer, Beauty Bay is packed with make-up tutorials, colour trend reports, vintage get the make-up look tips with product recommendations, and tried and tested reviews. In all my years as a beauty journalist, the What's Your Eye Shape? piece is the best I've seen on eyes – simple line drawing, celeb with that sort of eye and the holy grail product for that eye type. Genius!

​Verdict:

For over 20 years SpaceNK have relentlessly introduced incredible high-performance luxury brands to the UK market and for that us beauty junkies will forever be grateful. But newcomer Get The Gloss is an unbeatable goldmine of beauty expertise and information, combined with a brilliant edit of best beauty buys available across the web.

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