Tuesday, July 27, 2010

All about Makeupalley.com

Long time no...type? Sorry for being MIA! I've just been so busy this summer! But, I'm back now with a new post, all about the wonderful world of swapping makeup. I'm sure there are a TON of other sites out there that serve the same purpose, but the one I'm most familiar (and probably everyone else) is Makeupalley.com.

I've been using makeupalley for a little over a year now, and for the most part, I'm glad I stumbled across this site. It provides us makeup addicts with great reviews, an opportunity to obtain those hard to find discontinued products, (without paying crazy prices on ebay) and a chance to talk to people who share our love for makeup.

Swapping on makeupalley:

Step 1: First you need to create an account if you don't have one already.

Step 2: Go through your beauty products and pick out the items you'd like to get rid of. Gently used items are preferred. Although, many users like to give products a try without having to purchase the full size...so putting up items for swap that only have a few more uses is fine, as long as the products aren't old and gross. (Nobody wants that dried up tube of Diorshow, or a lipglass that's been sitting around for five years.)

Step 3: Take a wipe or a damp towel and clean the packaging. I always keep clorox wipes on hand to clean off any tubes, compacts, etc. that I'm putting up for swap. Sending cosmetics that look like they have rolling around your makeup bag for ages is nasty in my opinion. Although, there are some people out there that prefer to clean their products themselves. It is always nice to ask the other person if they would like you to wipe it off. Keep all of your swap items in a convenient place so you won't have to search for the product after you've agreed to swap with someone. I keep all of my items together in a drawer specifically for swap items.

Step 4: Log on to makeupalley.com and click "Swap" at the top of the page. (the bar that says Mail, Swap, My MUA, etc.) On the left sidebar under My Swap Info, click "Swap Items". Then, click "Add a new Item".

Fill out the information for each swap item. Choose the category, brand, name and description of the product.

Your description should include:

The usage of the product.

If it was used 1x, used 2x, 5x, or even a dozen times, you need to include it in the description. If you don't remember how many times you've used it, take a close look at it. If it's a lipstick, try comparing it to a new one. Perhaps there is 90% remaining. If it is a blush, eye shadow, or any other type of powder product, look at it from the side to determine if the product is starting to form a dip. Mention that there is a small dip or a large dip in the product. Mention if the product's hetchmarks are still visible (indentations on powder products when they are new and untouched). BE HONEST! When I am unsure of the usage of a product, I usually round down just to be safe. If it's really hard to tell, your best bet is to include a picture of the product and post it in the description. (which I will mention later)

The Condition of your item.

Is it in perfect working condition? Does your lipstick slightly slant and rub against the tube? Have the letters and numbers faded off your MAC brush? Does your compact close properly? Again, BE HONEST. Don't be embarrassed to write the true condition of your product if it's not in good condition. There are some people who could care less what condition the packaging is in, and there are some people that do care. Don't risk not mentioning it and end up having to deal with an angry swapper.

What you'd like to swap it for.

State if you are strictly wish list (We are getting to this next!), if you are only interested in swapping it for a specific item or if you are open to all swap requests.

A Picture.

I prefer to take pictures of my items so the other person knows exactly what they are getting. If you don't want to add a picture, its always nice to add a short description. Say its a blush. State that your blush is a baby pink with fine silver shimmer. Some items don't require photos, such as familiar brands (MAC, NARS, Stila, etc). You can either upload your picture to an image hosting site and copy&paste the link in your description. You can also add a picture to your profile and put the link in your description, or simply state that the picture of the product is in your profile photos. Make sure the picture is clear, and try to provide multiple shots of the product. If you can, take the picture in natural lighting, so the true color of the product shows up in the picture.

Creating Your Wish list:

On the left sidebar, under My Swap Info, click on "My Wishlist". It looks the exact same as your swap list. Click "Add a New Item". Here, you can add items you want and are interested in swapping for. You don't have to write anything in the descriptions unless you have a specific preference about an item. For example, If you add a foundation to your wishlist, be sure to include the shade that will match your skintone. Also include the usage preferences. (i.e brand new/gently used)

Create your Swap Notepad:

Basically, a notepad is your own little page where you can design and add any extra information you want other swappers to be aware of. You can add HTML and fun stuff like music players, pictures, etc. Some people choose to include helpful information for other swappers.

Things you can write on your notepad:

It's always good to write a couple of short sentences about yourself. If you aren't wish list only, write a few sentences about the kinds of items you're interested in swapping for. Also include the types of items you do NOT want to swap for. This will help thin out the unwanted swap requests.

You might want to include things like, whether you swap internationally (swapping to other countries besides your own), how often you typically go to the post office, if you ship using first class, or if you use delivery conformation. Be sure to state whether or not you prefer the other swapper to ship your package with delivery confirmation. It's always good to know what someone expects in a swap beforehand, to avoid any confusion.

Extras/Throw ins:
Receiving extras is a very exciting part of swapping. It's completely optional and really depends on how any extras a person has on hand. Extras are little things people like to include as a little bonus in with your package. Not everyone includes extras, so don't get your hopes up for receiving any. Extras are usually product samples and lightly used makeup items. A lot of times, people will add extras if their item was worth less than the other for compensation. Again, this is all optional. Don't get stressed about it. Some people keep millions of samples & have huge makeup collections and others (like me) use all of their samples and don't have extra makeup on hand they don't use. I try to pick up goodies as I see them if I see a good deal. Lots of times I'll see good stuff on the ULTA clearance rack. ;) It is always nice to state in your notepad, if you were to be sent extras, what kind of extras you like. I don't think it sounds greedy.. I appreciate notepads that list what they like. It makes it so much easier! Some people may say they like tea bags, empty jars, nail polish, glitter, pigment samples, skincare samples, fragrance samples.. etc!

Now its time to search for the items you'd like to swap for! Click "Swap" at the top of the page. A list of the latest added swap items will appear. If an item interests you, click on it to view their description of the item. If they are wish list only, view their wish list and see if you have anything they want. If they aren't wish list only, send them a message! It can be very brief. For example:

"Hi! I'm interested in swapping for this blush. Please take a look at my swap list to see if there is anything you would like to swap for! Let me know either way. Thanks! Signed, Your Name."

You can also click "Product Search" under "Swap" on the left sidebar and specifically type in the item you are looking for. You can do a wish list search as well. For a wish list search, you would type in an item you have up for swap to see if its an item on someones wish list. If you do end up having an item that is on someones wish list, you can view their swap list and see if there is anything you'd like to trade that item for and then contact them.

Be courteous
If someone sends you a request, it is polite to respond. Even if there is nothing on their list that you want, it's nice to say "Thank you, but I didn't see anything on your list I'm looking for right now." You may end up contacting them in the future because they have an item you really want. It's not fun waiting for a response you'll never receive. Let them know so they can continue contacting others.

Be Responsible
Do not disappear half way through the swap. Wrap the item your sending very well so it won't break or shatter in transit. I have received broken powders and blushes before that could of been avoided by being wrapped better. If it's a blush or a fragile item.. write FRAGILE on the mailer. Wrap the item in bubble wrap. Keep up with good communication through the swap. You want a good reputation and for the other person to give you a positive token so others will swap with you (Just like ebay!).

Always view the other persons profile. Is it empty? Are they a new member? Do they have any swap tokens? Is any information filled out?

* Read their swap token comments. Previous swappers may of given them a positive token, but wrote that their communication could have been better.. or that it took a long time to receive. Check when their last swap was. If it was more than a few months, and they have more than 30 tokens, be careful. Some people establish themselves as a trusted swapper, only to come back a few months later and swaplift tons of unexpecting swappers.

* Look at their profile. Is it filled out? Do they have pictures, reviews, a wishlist or notepad? If not, you probably shouldn't swap with this person. Reputable swappers are very active on MUA and usually have tons of pictures, reviews, and an extensive wishlist. If a person's page is blank, it might mean that this person is shady, and wants to stay off the radar.

* If you are unsure of the person's motives on MUA, you can always contact the last few swappers that left a token on their page. Ask if there were any problems or complications with their swap. Sometimes, users only give positive tokens, even though the swap was complicated, because they are afraid of getting a retaliatory token. (An undeserved negative or neutral token)

* When you receive an address, ALWAYS check "The Swaplifters Page" located here: http://swaplifters.watson-wilson.ca/. See if their name/username or address appears on the list. Many swaplifters are repeated offenders, and you can catch them before you send your item.

* If they give you an address to a friends house or PO box, be a little skeptical. Look at the swaplifters page and see if the city matches any of the swaplifters addresses that are listed.

* Ask if you can have their email address so you can respond to them quicker. Having their real email is a good tool. You may be able to track them down on other sites.

* If a person has less tokens than you (or no tokens), ALWAYS make them send first. Have them take a picture of what they are going to be sending you. If they make excuses, use your best judgment. You can ask them to write their username on a piece of paper and put it next to the product they are taking a picture of, so you can make sure they do have the product they claim and in the condition stated. After they sent you a picture, have them ship with delivery confirmation and have them notify you of the # after they have shipped. If you feel at ease at this point and are in a hurry to ship, you may do so. If you're in no hurry, it's not really necessary to ask for confirmation unless you really want to track it.. just wait for the package to arrive. Because even if they take a picture of an item, it's not guaranteed that's what you'll be receiving. There are always people out there looking for new ways to scam.

* If you do happen to send out first, and communication seems to stop and you haven't received your end yet, print out the conversation between you and the swapper in case they delete their account so you'll have proof there was an agreement to swap,

What you should do if you've been swaplifted

* Research the person. Google their username to see if they have accounts on other sites with the same username. Also, google their actual name. See if you find anything useful.

* Go to http://whitepages.com and type in their last name and city, state. If you're lucky, you may find a result for their exact address and there will be listings for each adult that lives in the household. It states the age range of the individuals and it includes their home telephone number. (With my experience, the girl's family was listed. I determined by the age of her parents that she was definitely under 18 years old. Her phone number was listed and I was planning on calling her parents since I knew their name and explain that their daughter robbed me.. or I had planned to write letters to her house addressed with her parents names on them. Everything ended up getting resolved though before I had to take any action. So all was well).

* If they are not listed in the whitepages, you can try writing a letter to their address. Have the envelope typed (not in your handwriting) and have it titled "Mr ____" or "Mrs ___" or homeowner, etc. Include your telephone number so they can contact you. Let them know its a serious matter and you plan to report it to their local police department if you don't receive a response in however many days. Not only that, but you also plan to file mail fraud and internet fraud charges. Some parents don't know what their kids are up to.. so it's worth a try. I would think any parent would get pissed at their kid and send your item back. (I've read a few instances of this)

* If you received no response, take the next action. Call their local police department. You may receive positive feedback, but you may not. I have read a few cases where swaplifters have gotten in big trouble from being reported to their local police. (Hooray!)
* File mail fraud and Internet fraud charges.

* Report them to the swaplifters page so their name and address will be added.

Mail fraud link: https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/

Internet fraud link: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

Hopefully this article shed some light on the world of makeupalley.

Have fun, and always swap safely! :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

How NOT to impulse buy!

Last night, I was on the Makeup board on Makeupalley.com, and I came across a topic about tips for how not to buy makeup products on impulse. I can really relate to this, because I catch myself lemming for new products all the time. So, here's how I stop myself from making pointless purchaces! :)
DO: Research your products.
Try to find swatches, reviews, pictures, etc. online. (I recommend Temptalia.com for swatches, Christine is amazing!) It really helps to look at a picture or swatch, to see if you like the color. I always search products I want on Makeupalley product reviews before I buy. This is expecially helpful when shopping online, because we all know the swatches on the websites do no justice! If you're not buying online, check it out in person first, and if you're not feeling it, just walk away. If you have a change of heart, you can always go back.
Don't: Cave on overly-hyped products.
Even if it gets lots of hype from the beauty industry, still do your research. MAC Stereo Rose is a prime example. I saw countless SR MSFS up for swap on makeupalley, and almost every single one said that they bought it and found out the color doesn't suit them. One even said she doesn't even care for MSFS! It just goes to show, that products work differently for everyone, and although it may be HG status for some, you might hate it.
What do you do if you've already bought a product on impulse?
Check the store/website's return policies. I know in Sephora and MAC, you can return products within the first week you have them.
If you can't return it, you can always swap it on Makeupalley. (I'll be doing a post on Makeupalley soon, so look out for that!) Like the saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure" someone, somewhere, will put the product to good use. It's great, because you can get something you can use for it, whether it be a product on your wishlist, or a gift card to sephora.
Hopefully this will help you resist the temptation to buy without researching!
Have a great day, and happy (and responsibly) hauling! :)
Websites mentioned:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What I think about: Coastal Scents

First post! Yay! This post will be all about the popular online makeup company, Coastal Scents. Just about every makeup addict has heard about this company, the makers of the ever-hyped 88 matte, shimmer, and warm eyeshadow palettes, and affordable makeup brushes
Customer service:
I've never had an issue with Coastal Scents, so I really can't say anything bad about their customer service. I know a few people that refuse to buy from this company because of their customer service policies, (aka, Pinkiecharm on youtube) but like I said, I've never had a problem with them.
It usually takes anywhere from 3-5 days for my order to arrive. Mind you, I live in southern PA, and Coastal Scents is based in Naples, Florida. The farther you are from the company, the longer it will take to get there. Unless of course you pay for something crazy like overnight shipping, which is extremely expensive, and I wouldn't recommend it.
Ultimate Badger Kabuki brush:
This thing is awesome. Very dense and soft, gets the job done without shedding.
Perfect for suiting all your powder makeup needs!
Large foundation brush:
Another good brush. The bristles are soft, but not as dense as I think a foundation
brush should be. Again, it gets the job done and is very affordable.
Stippling brush:
Probably the worst brush I've tried. EVER. This thing sheds like CRAZY! When you wash it, it sheds. When you use it, you look like you're turning into a werewolf. (Team Jacob! lol) Heck, it even sheds when you aren't using it! You cannot use it for liquid foundation, it's nowhere near dense enough, and unless you like the furry look, it's not practical. I only kept it for this review, and it's going in the trash! Instead, I would recommend the Sonia Kashuk higlighting brush.

28 Neutral Palette:
This is an okay palette. Not great, but okay. It's more for younger girls and beginners. The colors are very sheer and unpigmented, with the exeption of about 2 or 3 shades. I wouldn't recommend it, unless you are a big fan of sheer, neutral eyeshadows. I'm actually swapping it on makeupalley, because I never use it.

88 Warm Palette:

The big poppa of all neutral eyeshadow palettes. I love this thing to death, it's on a completely different end of the spectrum than the 28 palette. There's a nice mix of smokey grey, brown, green, and taupe/plum shades, pretty higlighters, and all over lid colors. All the colors are decently pigmented, and this palette has not one, but three black eyeshadows. Everything a neutral-loving girl could ask for. I highly recommend this palette!

In conclusion, Coastal Scents products are kind of hit or miss. Either they're amazing, or they suck. One good thing is, most of the products they sell aren't terribly expensive, so if you come across something you don't like, you haven't bankrupted yourself and you can swap it on makeupalley for something you can use.
Hopefully this helped if you are planning on placing an order! :)