What Are the Pros and Cons of Buying Makeup at a Cosmetics Outlet?

Lainie Petersen

There are advantages and disadvantages to buying makeup at a cosmetics outlet, and it is important for consumers to be vigilant about reading expiration dates and examining product containers before making a purchase. The advantages of cosmetic outlet shopping include low prices and being able to purchase discontinued cosmetic brands and colors. On the other hand, there is the risk of inadvertently purchasing spoiled cosmetics that, at best, can't be used and at worst may irritate or infect a user's skin and eyes. Purchasers should be aware that the cosmetics available at a cosmetics outlet may not be in the latest or most fashionable colors, and it may be difficult to find specific products or colors at an outlet store.

A cosmetician applies makeup to a woman's face.
A cosmetician applies makeup to a woman's face.

A cosmetics outlet is typically a retail store that operates either online or at a brick and mortar location. The outlet's buyers purchase cosmetics from various sources at a significant discount and then sell these discounted cosmetics to the general public. There are several reasons why these cosmetics may be available for purchase. The first is that a store or cosmetics manufacturer may be getting rid of old stock. The second is that a retail store has gone out of business and its entire stock must be liquidated.

Makeup, like blush, can be purchased at cosmetics outlets.
Makeup, like blush, can be purchased at cosmetics outlets.

By the time a cosmetic arrives at a cosmetics outlet, it may have changed hands several times. It may also be several years old or damaged, and it can be difficult to know the types of conditions under which the cosmetic is stored. In some countries, a cosmetic product is not required to be labeled with an expiration date, though some cosmetic companies may label its products voluntarily. If a product is not labeled, a consumer may have no way of knowing its true age. In such cases, consumers may risk purchasing a contaminated product and will have to rely on other signs, such as discoloration, product separation, or an unpleasant odor to determine whether the product is still safe to use. Savvy consumers should find out whether a cosmetics outlet has a return policy so that they can get a refund on unusable products.

Outdated mascara from a cosmetics outlet could cause an eye infection.
Outdated mascara from a cosmetics outlet could cause an eye infection.

Another problem with shopping at a cosmetics outlet is that it can be difficult to find up-to-date colors and products. On the other hand, if an individual's favorite product has been discontinued, he or she may be able to purchase it at a cosmetics outlet even when it is no longer available in regular stores. In addition, a cosmetics outlet can sometimes offer significant discounts on high-end items that would normally be unaffordable for many consumers. If these consumers are willing and able to inspect products, they can often walk away from an outlet with some good deals on brand-name cosmetics.

A cosmetics outlet may carry a greater array of makeup than a retail store.
A cosmetics outlet may carry a greater array of makeup than a retail store.

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Discussion Comments

Rotergirl

I've never had a problem with buying expired cosmetics, or outdated makeup at an outlet. My problem has been buying something that I think I'm getting for a great discount, but then find cheaper somewhere else -- and it's not on sale. That irks me and I think it’s just a little deceptive.

But I've found that's often the case with outlet stores, whether they sell clothing, luggage or cosmetics. You have to know your prices before you go in there, or you may end up thinking you got a great deal, when it's not such a deal, after all.

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