Shopping for cosmetics online can be a minefield.  Reports of counterfeit products that give you rashes, or worse – burn you! - are terrifying enough. And then there’s the painful inconvenience of being lumped with a too-dark foundation or a cream that makes you break out. In a bid to demystify the world of beauty e-tail, we chatted to Kate Morris, founder of beauty e-tailer Adore Beauty.

When it comes to online beauty shopping, Kate certainly knows her stuff. She launched Adore from her garage in the year 2000, when online shopping was virtually non-existent and the internet was still over the phone line “You had to choose if you wanted to use the phone or the web,” she laughs.


Zip forward 15 years and the company has been listed in the SmartCompany Smart 50 List and Deloitte’s Tech Fast 50 Australia list, and Kate herself was named Telstra’s Victorian Young Business Woman of the year in 2010.  The site has just undergone an overhaul, offers free domestic shipping and they also gift shoppers with two free samples on purchases over $30 and a deluxe sample with orders over $69.

“I’ve been a beauty junkie all my life,” admits Kate. “I grew up in Tasmania and most of the products in magazines were just not available there, it was so frustrating.  Later on, I moved to Melbourne to study business at uni, and worked part-time at a department store cosmetics counter. I realised that most women didn’t like the department store experience, they found sales assistants pushy and intimidating. Online retail seemed the obvious answer,” she explains. Here, her 8 tips to nailing that next online purchase.


“Unfortunately there are many counterfeit or old/expired products available online. Check with the brand itself. If it isn’t listed as an official stockist, the product may not be genuine, may not be current stock, or may even be expired.   A good tip is to also check that the site you’re thinking of buying from displays the brand’s logo – this usually means they have permission to use the brand’s copyright.”


“Sign up to the business’ newsletter or social media feeds, not only to receive exclusive deals, but also learn about new product launches or get beauty advice and tips. The more educated you are, the more you’ll get out of your products and the online shopping experience.  And don’t be afraid to call or use live chat to ask for advice, a good retailer will have trained staff there ready to help, so you don’t have to feel like you’re without help.”


“Foundation in particular is hard to shop for online, which is why I decided to create www.findation.com. A world first, it will accurately match you to your shade in a variety of brands, based on previous products you’ve used. Just type in the brand and shade you normally use and it will match it to other brands. For any other make-up queries, Adore customer service staff are always happy to provide advice!”


“Find out all that you can about your own skin. Is it dry? Then something creamy and moisturising is best for you. Oily or combination complexion? Try a gel or mattifying formula.  I also recommend buying a skin routine in a travel set first, that way you can try the whole range in mini sizes before committing.


“If you want to buy a new scent online, narrow your choices down to scent groups that you like – be it fruity, woody, or floral. Within each of these categories, there are perfumes that have stood the test of time so if you’re feeling a little wary of purchasing without having experienced it yourself, you can’t go wrong with these stalwarts.”


“Shop around (but always make sure that you’re buying genuine stock as there are plenty of bargains on fakes!). If you do find a good price on something authentic, don’t be afraid to ask a retailer to better it. Adore Beauty has a price match policy, for example. Many businesses also offer exclusive deals if you sign up to their newsletter or social media feeds. Additionally, it’s worth finding out if they offer free delivery, samples or gifts, as that can make the deal all the sweeter!”


“I also always make sure that the site displays a phone number and a street address. You can also check sites like Reseller Ratings to see what the reviews are like for a particular e-tailer.  Another good sign is whether the site displays the Google Trusted Store badge, sites with this badge have to prove that they consistently offer a good experience.”


“All Australian beauty e-tailers must abide by Australian consumer laws, so that means they have to offer a refund for faulty products or misleading advertising (and is another good reason to shop locally). With regard to change-of-mind, most businesses will be happy to offer an exchange, but obviously for hygiene reasons the product must be completely unused and intact.”

Kate’s Edit:

There are over 5000 products on Adore Beauty – and these are Kate’s nine favourite.

“Once you’ve cleansed with a Clarisonic, you can’t go back. I use my Mia 2 every morning and it’s made a world of difference to the texture and clarity of my skin.”

“This cult moisturiser can be found in the kit of just about every pro makeup artist, as somehow it seems to work for almost every skin type. And it’s only $35.”

“This is our best selling cleanser and I am a big fan. Removes even heavy makeup but doesn’t dry out my skin.”

“If you’re going to bother doing a mask then you want it to DO something, right?  This mask is the next best thing to having a facial (and better than some facials I’ve had, to be honest).  It somehow manages to deep-cleanse AND hydrate my skin, while most masks only manage one or the other.”

“I’ve never managed to get the hang of blow-drying, but it only takes me about 5 minutes to get a just-had-a-blowdry effect with the Cloud Nine.”

“Love this to sprinkle in my roots to put the volume into limp hair. I prefer it to dry shampoo as it gives more lift.”

“A foundation that makes you look like you have great skin, not great makeup. It’s luminous without looking greasy. I’ve got my mum onto it too now, it’s great for mature skin as it’s light-reflective so doesn’t highlight fine lines.”

“I’m completely booked on this brow mascara. I have pathetic, sparse brows and previously I’d used a combo of brow powder plus gel…now I just use Gimme Brow, as it does both in a single step.”

Yves Saint Laurent Vernis a Lèvres Glossy Stain

“I am obsessed with these and have about seven different colours. #9 is my all time favourite red – it’s a proper true red that suits literally everyone, and it DOES NOT BUDGE. Not cheap but totally worth it.”

Story by Sigourney.

What are your experiences with online beauty shopping?

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