As many internet-savvy folk know, Amazon is the go-to site for cheaper products; albeit books, electronics or workout equipment. More recently, grocery items and skin care products have gained popularity; as Amazon’s totally digital, ease-of-access shopping is great for being able to leisurely purchase while saving a few bucks. However, Amazon and its dotcom doppelgängers are putting the exclusive cosmeceutical companies and talented niche boutiques, alike, in awkward financial positions while causing alarm for product safety and efficacy. The free enterprise economy and unregulated internet sales leave little room for debate, as dollar signs take precedence over quality control while debilitating the credibility of the very brands being sold.
Most professional, clinical-grade skin care companies require licensing and/or hands-on training to merely purchase and utilize their products in the spa and salon setting, while not authorizing certain websites to retail. Lists of these unauthorized retailers/distributors are clearly posted on most private sites, yet, the warnings are ignored. Why? Some might automatically assume, “They’re not authorized because the original company doesn’t want to lose money”. Well… duh. But, it may be that these companies actually take pride in their products, entrust doctors and med spas to educate while selling and don’t want to lose the respect of their loyal customers just because some corporate conglomerate decided to divert sales without the proper education and/or training. Or let’s chat about the boutique owner who works tirelessly to build rapport and confidence with a company. They invest in training sessions and pricey opening orders just to have their shiny, new line sit on the shelf. Their hard work, expertise, suggestions and complimentary trial sizes were gobbled up by clients so that the client can turn around and purchase the full-size retail product from websites such as Amazon. Yes, audacity is the new black.
All disrespect aside, sometimes, the price at which a product is being sold on Amazon isn’t even “at-cost”. This means, it is being sold at a lower price than the professional or retailer is actually charged, before the required markup. These astonishingly low prices could be due to a variety of factors. Buyer beware with these questions:
- Where is this product coming from? How did this seller acquire so much inventory?
- Is the expiration date approaching or has it passed? Shelf life may determine cost.
- Is this distributor going out of business and/or selling for cheap in a last ditch effort to make a buck? No one wants to eat their inventory.
- Are you guaranteed the latest formulation or are you unknowingly buying leftovers? Less-than-perfected formulations may circulate for quite some time unless you’re purchasing straight from the source.
- Where are these products being stored? Vitamin C needs to be stored in somewhat cool conditions and away from sunlight or else the product will oxidize and lose it’s efficiency. Cream-based moisturizers can easily spoil if not kept at room temperature.
- Do I have my priorities so mixed up that I’d risk my complexion because of free $8 shipping? Even though I’ll spend that $8 on a grande, vanilla, no foam, double shot, soy milk latte without hesitation? Hashtag hypocrite.
That last question can be both literal and rhetorical. Just do your research and think about who and what you’re supporting with your purchases. Best Buy and Barnes and Noble are just two examples of big-name stores suffering at the hands of delivery drones and online competition. Not only are the legs of licensed, trusted professionals and business owners being cut from under them, but skin care companies are scrounging to maintain their hard-earned image and quality because websites like Amazon may or may not be selling a product that doesn’t meet strict standards. Undermining professionals to take an uneducated blogger’s advice or choosing dotcom purchasing over buying local may be convenient and/or save a buck, but these bad habits are turning America into one gigantic Walmart… with Prime shipping.