Amazon Prime has become a saving grace in my household – two day delivery makes it so easy to maintain supply of things without having to fit in extra stops and errands after a busy day at work. For a long time, I was hesitant to purchase personal care products on Amazon. I’ve read horror stories of purchases that ended up being expired or fake. When it comes to putting anything on my skin I am super cautious. Fake ingredients could wreak havoc on your skin and cause irreversible damage. Women tend to invest a large amount of money in quality ingredients and if you receive something that is expired it is not going to work very well.
Patients, friends and family are constantly asking me for product recommendations and I built Vibrant Dermatology as a way to share those recommendations with everyone. I’ve embedded an Amazon Store in this website for convenience after doing my homework about safely purchasing personal care products online. It is safe to order skin care products from Amazon but requires a little attention to some details. Check out the list below for five things to check when purchasing personal care products from Amazon.
1. Check the seller details and manufacturer
When you click onto a product page on Amazon you can learn more about where the product is coming from. Amazon fulfills orders direct from their warehouse or can facilitate a sale with a 3rd party. When there is a 3rd party seller on Amazon it means that Amazon is merely facilitating the transaction between you (as the buyer) and the store (as the seller) but don’t actually ship you the product.
When it comes to personal care products, I steer clear of items that are not fulfilled by Amazon. Introducing a 3rd party makes it more difficult to determine where the product is originating and can make going through a returns process a bit more of a hassle.
Skin care companies designate authorized retailers for their product and this helps to validate that you are purchasing from a valid source. When purchasing something on Amazon, you can see who you are buying the product from right on the product details page. By purchasing something Shipped and Sold By Amazon.com you have validation that they are an authorized retailer for the product. If the Sold By company name is shown, you will have to do a little investigating to determine if this is a valid authorized retailer.
The images below show three different sale options for the same product. The first image is sold and shipped by Amazon. In the middle, the item is sold by Wiki Deals and shipped by Amazon. The third is a 3rd party option.
2. Check the price
If it is too good to be true, it probably is. If you are replacing a product that you have purchased in the past then you should have a pretty good idea of the cost of that item. If not you can compare pricing using other reputable websites that fulfill the same product (I often compare pricing using skincare.com or Nordstrom.com). Luxury skincare products rarely go on sale so if you see an item with a significantly reduced price then it is likely fake, expired, or possibly damaged.
Check out this example where I found Obagi Clenziderm Therapeutic Lotion on Amazon for $36.30. I’ve prescribed this Benzoyl Peroxide based product to many of my patients and I know that it is generally more expensive than this (a quick check at skincarerx.com shows that this product is sold for $81. I trust products from skincarerx.com but don’t tend to order from there because I like my Amazon Prime quick shipping!). Further review on the Obagi website reports that Amazon is not an authorized retailer for their products so I would not purchase this product through Amazon.
Side note: You will always get the best price on HydroPeptide products by purchasing from www.hydropeptide.com and using code ‘Doctor-Ip’ at checkout for a 15% discount.
3. Check the reviews
Amazon is full of product reviews and these reviews can help you determine the validity of a product. To access Amazon reviews simply click on the stars next to the product name and then start reading. If somebody rates a product with only a few starts I want to know why.
Back up to the example of the Obagi Clenziderm Therapeutic Lotion being sold for $36.30. Check out this review: “This is not the real thing! It looks, feels, and smells different”. Utilize Amazon reviews to see what kind of experience other people have had with the product.
4. Check the return policy
Amazon makes it easy to return items within 30 days of purchase so if you receive an item in the mail and aren’t happy with the quality you can get your money back. However, if the item you ordered came from a 3rd party supplier (as I referred to in ‘check the seller’ above) then you will need to check the return policy for that seller. If there is no return policy I would steer clear of making a purchase. Amazon does offer an A-to-Z guarantee on items ordered through a 3rd party but personally I question the authenticity of a personal care product being offered through a 3rd party on Amazon and would source the product elsewhere to save some headaches.
5. Check the product
Once your order arrives there are a few things to check before opening and using the product. First, check the packaging. Is there any damage? Are product seals in place? Next, check the expiration date. The shelf life of personal care products can have a big range of dates depending on the stability of the ingredients in the product, but you should make sure that the product will last long enough for your benefit. Finally, once you open the product is the smell and consistency normal?
Did you end up with a fake, damaged, or expired product? Be sure to return through the Amazon process and then leave a review to make sure others know your experience!