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Cosmetics are expensive, whether you shop at Mecca Cosmetica or Priceline ($45 just for two lipglosses on my last trip there!). For the sake of my wallet, I have had to search for cheaper means to feed my addiction. This either means going online or occasionally buying duty free when I fly overseas. I also pick up make up in other countries the way people pick up souvenirs.

However, I know there are some of you who are hesitant about shelling out for a luxury make up item without actually seeing it first. Here are a few ways to take advantage of online shopping without being totally in the dark about your purchases:

1. Go fantasy shopping. All this means is going to your local department store/make up store and trying out the oh-so-expensive make up you want to buy. Make sure you write down the brand, name and shade of the product you want. This is especially important for brands like Shu Uemura and Lancome, where shades are assigned numbers rather than names.

2. See the swatch. If you’re lusting after something, chances are that someone else has too and they’ve kindly posted a picture of it on the Internet. Usually typing your product name followed by the word ‘swatch’ into Google should be enough to get you some photos. If you want some high-quality photos plus reviews, then check out Temptalia (especially her extensive swatch gallery for comparisons with similar products), and KarlaSugar, who’s byline says it all – ‘The Next Best Thing To Going Shopping!’ Seeing swatches is especially useful when you’re considering buying a product that isn’t sold locally.

3. Read the reviews. Almost every cosmetic item in the world has been reviewed by someone. Some reviews are harder to find than others (depending on how local/obscure the product is). Many online sellers offer customer reviews, but I usually take these with a pinch of salt. It’s rare to see a negative comment on the site that’s trying to sell the product. Try a third party site for a more accurate review. I highly recommend Makeup Alley and the Vogue Australia Forums.

(all purchased online!)

I hope these tips help some of you more hesitant make up junkies to take the online shopping plunge with confidence!