6 Retailers That Take the Sting Out of Cosmetics Shopping

Photo (cc) by pumpkincat210

For the millions of Americans who regularly buy cosmetics, it pays to know a store’s return policy for beauty products.

If the shade of your new lipstick or foundation turns out to be too orange for your skin, some stores won’t take it back because it has been opened. Other stores might — their cosmetics return policies are vague or leave it to the discretion of each store.

Fortunately, some retailers value your satisfaction enough to write it into their return policies. So we’ve rounded up the retailers that have the best policies and are among the cheapest places to buy makeup.

Bath & Body Works

“If at any time you’re not completely satisfied with the quality of our products, you may return them to any of our Bath & Body Works stores,” according to the company’s 100 percent guarantee.

A receipt is required for a refund. In some stores, a government-issued ID is also required — “Bath & Body Works will electronically scan this ID for the sole purpose of preventing return abuse,” the company’s website states.

Online purchases can also be returned by mail. The return form is required, and packages must be mailed through a traceable and insurable method.

Original shipping charges are not refunded, and return shipping costs are on you.

Body Shop

Return items “not meeting your expectations” to a store or by mail for a refund.

When returning in a store or by mail, the receipt or original invoice is required. By mail, a return form is also required.

Original shipping charges are not refunded unless a mistake was made on Body Shop’s part or a product was damaged upon receipt. (In the latter case, the carrier’s invoice showing the amount paid for shipping is required.) Return shipping costs are on you.

CVS

Return items “you aren’t completely satisfied” with within 60 days for a refund. CVS’ money-back beauty guarantee applies to cosmetics, skin care, nails, healthy skin care, sun care, hair care, hair accessories, hair color, ethnic hair care and fragrance.

In-store and online purchases can be returned to stores. The receipt or invoice is required.

Online purchases can also be returned by mail, but the process requires a call to CVS customer care, which will “work to ensure that both your return and credit refund are processed accurately.”

Rite Aid

“You can always return beauty items for a full refund,” according to Rite Aid’s money-back beauty guarantee, which requires a receipt. The policy applies to skin care/depilatories, sun care, bath/soap, hair care (shampoo, conditioner, styling and professional), hair color, cosmetics, ethnic beauty aids, fragrances, cosmetic organizers and personal care appliances.

While the beauty guarantee does not specify how items can be returned, Rite Aid’s online return policy states that online purchases can only be returned by mail. When returning by mail, the packing slip is also required.

Original shipping charges are not refunded unless a product arrives damaged or the incorrect product was shipped.

Sephora

Return items “you are not completely satisfied with … for any reason” within 60 days for a refund.

In-store purchases can be returned to stores.

Online purchases can be returned by mail or to a store. When returning them by mail, the order summary, return form and manufacturer’s product box and Sephora packaging are required. When returning them to a store, the order summary, return form and credit card used to place the order are required.

Original shipping charges are not refunded unless the return was a result of Sephora’s error. Return shipping costs are free if you use the merchandise return label included in your order.

ULTA Beauty

Return items “you are not completely satisfied with … for any reason” within 60 days for a refund.

In-store purchases can be returned to stores.

Online purchases can be returned by mail or to a store. When returning them by mail, the original email order confirmation, packing slip and all original packaging materials are required, and the return mailing label must be applied to the outside of the package. When returning them to a store, the original email order confirmation, packing slip and any free gifts are required.

Original shipping charges are not refunded unless the product is defective or incorrectly shipped by ULTA. Return shipping costs are on you.

Tips for returning your cosmetics

If you lose something required for a refund — like the receipt — try returning the product anyway. Some stores offer merchandise credit. The same goes if the return window has passed.

While it never hurts to ask, you should return unwanted products as soon as possible for best results. If you wait to return an item that didn’t suit you, or use up a lot of it before returning it, the retailer will be more likely to give you a hard time about the return.

To ensure a full refund, shop in stores rather than online or via mail whenever possible. None of these stores refunds original shipping costs, and only one (Sephora) pays for return shipping.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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