Guide to Buying Asian Cosmetics Online Part 1: eBay | Hello Pretty Bird! - A beauty and not-so-glamorous lifestyle blog

12 July, 2013

Guide to Buying Asian Cosmetics Online Part 1: eBay

So, you want to buy some Asian cosmetics. You've read a million blogs and made a massive wishlist of products you want to try, but aren't sure which online vendors are reputable (or the most affordable). If only there was a list of in-depth tips and reviews for some of the most popular sources...

Today's blog post will be the first in an ongoing series about different websites selling Asian cosmetics. I do live in an area with a rather large Chinatown and Koreatown, but I often prefer to buy my stuff online because (a) shopping online is convenient and (b) certain things are cheaper online (yes, even with international shipping!) Rather than just sit on all my knowledge about this stuff, I thought I'd share a few shopping tips and tricks on various merchants. I will only be reviewing websites I've bought from recently, but luckily I'm constantly purchasing stuff like this so I will definitely have some ground to cover in the days to come!

Now, onto the site du jour: eBay. I'll be doing a brief overview of eBay in general, but if you're just looking for a list of reliable sellers, skip to the bottom! For now, let's start with a quick overview:

Various Korean cosmetics samples I've obtained off eBay.

What is unique about eBay and why should I buy Asian cosmetics there?

If you've ever purchased something from eBay before, you know the answer to the first part of that question: eBay is unique because it is not a single merchant with an e-commerce website, rather it's a marketplace of thousands and thousands of individual sellers. That means there's a ton of variety, and even some competition in terms of price since there are often multiple sellers offering the same item.

So what else is there about eBay that makes it a good place to shop for Asian cosmetics?

  • First and foremost, there are a number of foreign sellers on there, making it possible to find brands that are difficult (or impossible!) to find in your home country. Ordering Korean stuff from Korea? How novel!
  • There are a number of merchants selling bundles of samples on there, which is a good way to try out a few things while you're still figuring out what suits your skin. Buying a full-sized product and then discovering you hate it after one use is no fun!
  • Many sellers will offer free shipping (or at least to combine shipping costs on multiple items) to entice buyers and compete with other sellers. This comes in especially handy for products that have heavy packaging (such as foundation/BB creams with glass jars).
  • If you are patient enough to bid on auctions instead of just using Buy It Now, you can score some amazing deals. More on that later though.
  • Most transactions on eBay are processed through PayPal, which means you don't have to expose your credit card/bank info to strangers. Furthermore, PayPal will process the transaction in your local currency so you won't get hit with an extra fee from your bank.
  • Folks shopping on with a registered address in the United States are eligible to earn something called "eBay Bucks". This is basically a rewards program that gives you a percentage of your purchases back as a gift certificate each quarter. For more info, check out the eBay Bucks FAQ.

Some Lioele samples. Exciting!

So how does eBay work exactly?

Well first of all, you have to register an account. Next you'll want to set up a PayPal account, as that's how most payments are processed on eBay. Once you're all set up, start searching for what you want! You can either be general (just search a brand name to see what comes up) or be really specific (search a full product name, maybe even the size too). On the left-hand side of the search results page you can also apply a number of filters... category (such as skincare or makeup), price, location, Buy It Now vs. auctions and so on. The sky's the limit! Once you find something you like, you can bid on it or Buy It Now if that option is available. For more info, check eBay's "New to eBay" page.

What is the difference between auctions and Buy It Now?

Auctions are the "classic" format of eBay that has been around since the very beginning. A seller lists an item to run for a certain number of days, sets a low starting price and then people come and bid on the item. As with any auction, the highest bidder wins! Keep in mind that auction prices do not always include the shipping fees, so check the listing for more info on that. One thing to keep in mind about eBay's auction listing format is that sometimes people will swoop in at the last possible second and outbid you, so if you really desperately want to win an item it's a good idea to keep an eye on the auction for the last couple minutes so you can outbid someone if necessary. And of course know going in what your maximum bid will be... it's not really worth buying items auction-style if you could buy at fixed price for less!

Buy It Now is eBay's term for fixed-price listings, much like a regular online store. You can check out with that item at the indicated price right there and then, and the item price may or may not include shipping (the shipping cost will be indicated elsewhere in the listing if it doesn't). Be aware that some sellers will put multiple items/options in a single listing, so you may be drawn to the listing with a low price but later find out that the specific item you want is one of the more expensive items on that particular listing. So it pays to do a little comparison shopping before committing to "Buy It Now"!

For more general info about buying on eBay, check out their "Buying Basics" page.

Sounds good so far... are there any bad things to watch out for?

Since eBay consists of thousands of members and pretty much anyone can open an account, not every single merchant is guaranteed to be reputable. Thankfully eBay has a buyer feedback/ratings system, so you can at least make an educated guess as to how reputable a seller is. If a seller has a high number of feedback ratings (at least a couple hundred) and a good percentage of those ratings are positive (I would go with at least 98%+), chances are they're reputable. You can also look at a seller's "Detailed Seller Rating" for more in-depth info about their strengths and weaknesses as a merchant.

Another negative aspect of buying items from Asia on eBay is the long shipment times and potential customs charges, though that would be true of any foreign site you order from. Just as an example, it usually takes 10 to 30 days for parcels I've ordered from Korea to reach my doorstep in New York. You should also be aware that some packages can get held up a while by customs for inspection, and depending on the value of your order you may be assessed an extra customs duty (tax) by your government for the goods you've purchased. In my experience I've found that it's incredibly rare to be assessed any sort of duty on small cosmetics orders in the US, but I know that certain countries are much more strict (like the UK) so it pays to check what the threshold is in advance!

Finally, one of the most annoying problems with buying cosmetics on eBay: There are people selling counterfeit products on there. This problem is not unique to Asian brands either, as many popular Western brands are being copied too! In the world of Asian goods, My Beauty Diary masks are a particularly popular item to counterfeit, and if you do a google search on the subject you'll find dozens of blogs explaining how to tell the difference between a real one and a fake. There is no way to 100% guarantee you won't get a counterfeit product off eBay, but there are a few things you can do to minimize the chance:

  • First of all, look at the seller's feedback carefully. If there are negative comments, are they complaining about generic stuff (like shipment damage/delays) or are they claiming they got fakes? This is not a completely foolproof way to tell as sometimes people might be complaining erroneously, but if multiple people are claiming they got fakes from a seller it might be something to think about.
  • Know the characteristics of the item you're trying to purchase. Sellers sometimes use stock photos for eBay listings, but if they're using their own photos it's helpful to be able to recognize something that's "off" or fake.
  • Think about the price of the item being offered. Is it a little bit cheaper than other sources or is it waaaaay cheap, almost too good to be true? The sad fact is that most things that seem too good to be true are, so if something is being offered at an exceptionally low price then proceed with caution. Auctions are an obvious exception to that, as sellers tend to start them at a low price so people will bid them up.
  • Google the name of the seller. People sometimes mention eBay sellers on blogs/forums! So searching their username is a quick way to see if anyone else has had problems with them before.
  • Consider the geographical location of the seller and the origin of the item. For example, a seller in Korea selling Korean brands seems like a more reputable choice than someone in China selling Korean brands. That's not to say that there aren't reliable Chinese merchants selling Korean goods (because there are!) but it's another factor to consider if a seller seems suspicious or there isn't much feedback on them yet.

Wow, now I'm nervous I'll get a fake. Are there any specific sellers you'd recommend?

Why yes! Now, keep in mind that I can't *guarantee* these sellers won't send you an iffy product, but I've ordered from all of them in the past and their wares seemed authentic to me. Also bear in mind that these are all Korean sellers, as Korean stuff is 90% of what I buy. I will try to keep this list updated, but I can't promise that a seller won't decide to close up shop randomly.


cosmeticmarket2012: Sells full-sized products and samples. This seller has a huge amount of feedback! They generally include a couple of free samples with your order. Another super-seller that sells samples and all kinds of everything. They also have a non-eBay website.

rubyruby76: Yet another huge seller with a website (RoseRoseShop). I have talked about them in other posts. They sell samples, full sizes and even some housewares type stuff too.

f2plus1: Also trades on their website (BeautyNetKorea). On eBay, they have a huge selection of products and a huge amount of seller feedback (over 24k ratings at the time of posting).

kevincosmetic: Korea-based, has a lot of hard-to-find/niche products.

love-youl: Korea-based seller of all sorts of stuff.

iamlove-shop: Reputable seller based in Korea. Also known as standalone shop Jolse.

blueprint21: Korea-based seller. They carry lots of unique and harder-to-find items.

AmorePacific-global: Official eBay store for megabrand Amore Pacific. Seems to only carry Laneige right now?

If you know of any other good ones, feel free to mention it in the comments!

So that's it for now on eBay. In summary, eBay can be a great place to get bargains and sample bundles - just make sure to research your seller carefully and order conservatively if you're not sure about them! And stay tuned because I will be posting overviews of other websites in the not-too-distant future. :)

Do you buy cosmetics on eBay? Have you had any exceptionally good or bad experiences?


  1. Great post!! I've just started getting into Asian cosmetics so I will definitely check out these sellers :)

  2. The problem with ebay is that to combat fees and shipping, a $2.50 item is sold for $9.99 by the majority of the sellers...:(

  3. That does happen, yes. Unfortunately there is going to be some markup when you're buying stuff from overseas no matter where you buy it from... the trick is to comparison-shop to find the least ridiculous markup. I find that for large orders it's better to buy from non-eBay reseller sites (like TesterKorea, Roseroseshop etc.) but if you're just getting one or two things those eBay prices often work out to be a better deal.

  4. Yep, most of them calculate based on item weight. The animal testing thing does make it trickier... I've tried doing a bit of research about that, but other than the KARA list the info I've found is sort of vague. BTW if the checkout doesn't work with TesterKorea you can do an order via e-mail - there are instructions for that in their help section somewhere (I had to do that last time). Anyway, good luck!

  5. I ordered some items from They sent me 30 masks less than I ordered (I ordered 60 masks). I asked for a refund of the masks I didn't receive $23.88. Their attitude and response was very lax. They seemed reluctant to make amends for their order/shipping mistake. I don't recommend ordering from Wishtrend. Besides, their items are also available on Memebox. I haven't had problems with Memebox yet. The products are fine but I am not too fond of any merchants' negligence towards their customer. I eventually received the refund but had to email them 4-5 times, reminding them of Paypal Buyer's Rights and their own Shipping /customer service / refund policies. It was very frustrating, begging them to take responsibility for their own mistake

  6. Thanks for this post, very nice review its really
    help me a lot, love using asian products :-)

  7. I've ordered from rubyruby76 y cosmeticmarket2012 and they really good sellers, with both of them I had some products lost in transit and they replaced right away

  8. Glad to hear you had good experiences! Those are two of my favorite sellers as well because their prices are usually pretty good. :)

  9. Thanks for sharing this article. I like your idea for making money on ebay .
    very much.

  10. To add to this, I've placed a few good orders with her as well. The last order got broken in the mail and she is sending a replacement, no questions asked!

  11. Rubyruby76 (roseroseshop) sent me a fake Nature Republic aloe vera gel. I just received it yesterday morning. When I emailed her about it, she said she will refund me if I remove my negative feedback. Maybe it is because I am based in Germany and there are no Nature Republic stores here, so she thought she could get away with it. I am, unfortunately for her, a native Singaporean and I brought a tub of the same aloe vera gel from the Nature Republic store just 2 months ago when I went home for Christmas break. The smell and color gave the counterfeit away immediately. I dont know what happened or why rubyruby76 would deliberately send me a fake product. I paid 9Euros inclusive free shipping for that. Which is way more than retail price, so i wasn't being cheap when i bought from her. I just wanted a new tub because mine is finishing. Now i'm unhappy.

  12. Thank you for your valuable and excellent information which is very specific and interesting

  13. Very well written and very practical

  14. best-in-world send me a fake Missha perfect cover BB cream. I couldnt get my refund because I was out of date when I realised (I used the fake cream for weeks!!) and I already leave a positive feedback, that I couldnt change it u.u