Do You Buy Cosmetics From Discount Beauty Stores Or Pop-Up Booths?

Discount Beauty Stores and Pop-Up Booths

Discount beauty pop-up booths are popular and commonly seen in shopping centres all over Australia. They’re often either in the middle of a wide corridor or in a corner, but either way, they draw quite a crowd of female customers looking for a bargain. Factory outlets like DFO also have brick-and-mortar beauty stores that sell highly-discounted beauty products. Perhaps you’ve seen one or two when you’re at shopping centres too.

It made me wonder … do you buy from these discount beauty stores and/or pop-up booths? Are the cosmetics safe to use if they’re sold so cheaply?

When I first came to Australia, I adored these discount beauty stores and pop-up booths. They sold makeup from brands I’ve only seen in magazines and oh my goodness, they were cheap. I picked up eyeshadows, blushes, lipsticks, foundations for about a fiver each, usually less. They made great gifts too. For the first couple of years, I bought a lot of discounted makeup from pop-up booths as souvenirs for my makeup-loving friends back in Malaysia. These cosmetics weren’t available in Malaysia so they were received with enthusiasm.

Discount Beauty Stores and Pop-Up Booths

However, as time went on, as I delved deeper into the beauty blogging world and the beauty industry, I started learning more and more about the beauty products that were out there. Thanks to the press releases I get, I knew what beauty products brands were launching. I became familiar with product lines.

It was then that I realised, there was a reason why discount beauty stores and pop-up booths sell their cosmetics so cheaply. It’s mostly because they’re either discontinued products or they’re expired. Long expired. Initially I thought they could be factory rejects due to poor packaging but upon close analysis of the packaging, the items looked fine to me. But hey, I could be wrong.

Discount Beauty Stores and Pop-Up Booths

When I revisited the discount beauty stores and pop-up booths I used to frequent, I noticed that most if not all of the products they stocked were discontinued from retail stores. The manufacturing dates were many years ago. They were selling makeup that were most likely expired. Granted, these products are still sealed but even so, I don’t think I’m comfortable using something that has been on the shelf (and then chucked in some forgotten box until much later) for that long. If you’ve had unopened, still sealed lipstick that’s been sitting in your makeup collection for, say 5 years, would you still use it today?

I saw makeup from Revlon that had been discontinued prior to 2010 sold this year in 2016. I discovered Calvin Klein lipsticks that still had its old packaging from many years back. I had to wonder just how long these makeup have been sitting there or in a box somewhere. I asked the staff about these cosmetics and if they were expired or safe to use and most answered me rather indignantly “OF COURSE THEY ARE GOOD TO USE!”.

A couple of weekends ago, I was at DFO South Wharf and checked out the Estee Lauder discount store. They stock products from the Estee Lauder brand and brands under the Estee Lauder umbrella group like MAC, Bobbi Brown and more. A lot of the makeup from MAC and Estee Lauder were from makeup lines launched years ago. I had several of their items which I purchased in early 2010s, and there they were, sold at least 5 years later.

Discount Beauty Stores and Pop-Up Booths

I don’t know whether to thank beauty blogging for educating me in the longevity of cosmetics or to hate it for dragging me out of that bubble where I could buy cosmetics so cheaply. It’s interesting that many of these beauty stores and pop-up booths selling expired cosmetics are legitimate businesses. Are they considered grey market? But what about that Estee Lauder store selling cosmetics from many years ago that may or may not have expired? Surely that’s not grey market?

So many questions still unanswered.

Will I never buy from these discount stores or pop-up booths ever again? While I won’t buy any of the makeup and skincare from these places again, I wouldn’t discount them altogether. Makeup wipes to clean off makeup swatches on my arms are very cheap so I wouldn’t mind getting those. Items like cotton buds and facial cotton pads are sometimes cheaper than supermarkets’ home brands too so those are all right.

Forgive me, my Malaysian friends, if the makeup souvenirs I bought you many years ago didn’t work for you and I hope none of them caused any adverse reactions to your skin. Blame a naive yet very excited Tine at the prospect of buying very cheap and exciting makeup back then. 😛

I’d love your input on this subject. Have you purchased cosmetics from discount beauty stores and/or pop-up booths? What are your thoughts on those? Are you all right buying from them or would you stay away?

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10 comments… add one
  1. sushiroll

    I used to buy cosmetics from discounted cosmetic stores but not anymore. Yes, a lot of them are old stock discontinued years ago. I read a lot of makeup blogs etc so I know what year they were launched. A lot of them buy from overseas from America in bulk. They aren’t necessarily bad, it’s just old discontinued stock. Makeup does last a long time actually, i have tonnes of makeup that’s a few years old and I’m still using it with no problem.

    1. Tine

      I still have a lot of old makeup too. Not using them anymore (I’m quite chickenshit like that :P) but they’re the ones I can’t bear to throw away. Just a few weeks ago, I wanted to use a particular BB cream I used to use years ago but I wasn’t comfortable using the one I had lying around, sitting in my beauty cupboard for ages, so I went out and got another one. 😛

  2. emmabovary

    I’m still using some pretty old makeup and I have to be honest, it doesn’t bother me all that much. I don’t think I would buy lipgloss from stalls like that, or skincare (in fact I think I’ve only ever bought polish?) but from the Cosmetics Warehouse kinda stores they often have some fresh discontinued stock, I remember stocking up on my Rimmel foundation when I found out they’d nixed it (still have one pot left, will be a sad day when it’s done!) You’ve reminded me that I need to throw out heaps of my glosses though…
    I didn’t know there was an EL store at South Wharf, haven’t been there in yonks! Is it worth making a trip there do you think?
    emmabovary recently posted..2016 Empties – Second QuarterMy Profile

    1. Tine

      The beauty products in the EL store at South Wharf range between fairly old and really old. Some of the prices are decent but some are still expensive. Still, it’s worth checking out if you haven’t been there in yonks. Maybe you can ask the staff casually “ahem just how old is this thing?” 😉

  3. BebeTaian

    It really depends for me. Powdered stuff is generally alright with me, but anything liquid or creme-based, I wouldn’t touch. I made the mistake of buying a cute kids-brand glittery clear gloss for $1US, and… it smelled so powerfully of this artificial bubblegum fluoride paste my dentist uses, I was very nearly sick. I threw it out! x.x

    Normally, I throw out older makeup… but I confess, I’m hanging on to one lipstick that was discontinued almost 8 years ago. It is the PERFECT red. Most red lipsticks feather, or smear, or they turn too brown, or neon pink (gag), or orange on me… this one is a deep, brilliant bloody red that doesn’t feather and wears off as a wine-coloured stain. I make it last by using a clean lip brush to get what I need and apply it, never right from the tube. So far, the wear hasn’t changed much. It doesn’t last as long as it used to, but the colour hasn’t changed, and it doesn’t have an ‘off’ smell, so I’ve kept it for now… until I find the next Holy Grail. I would have tried another colour from the same brand, but the entire brand was closed down. -_- The closest I’ve gotten is mixing three other products to get the same effect, and it isn’t perfect.
    BebeTaian recently posted..VINTAGE Kimono Juban – Vibrant Red Silk Kimono Juban – ANTIQUE Red Silk Juban – Taisho Juban Kimono by BebeTaianMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Oh I know what you mean about that one perfect item! I have one that is close to 8 years old too. It’s an old Dior lipstick. The colour wasn’t the reason I kept it all this time. It was the old hexagonal packaging it was still in with the words “Christian Dior” on the side. I can’t bear to throw it away even though the lipstick is way off now.

  4. Asha Eapen

    Oh wow! Thanks for the heads up, Tine, I did not realize! I just figured that at worse they were excess stock from other parts of the world, the fact that they may be years off of expiry didn’t even occur to me.

    1. Tine

      I didn’t think much of the expiry dates either because like you, I thought they were just excess stock. But when I saw the makeup with the old packaging or the makeup that I had myself but had years and years ago, I knew something was wrong.

  5. Lesley Goldberg

    We have one store in New York that I’ve had good luck with but if something has a serious expiration date, like sunscreen, I won’t buy that. I wore a discontinued Calvin Klein foundation for years . If I come across something interesting, I try to research the code on my phone before buying it.

    1. Tine

      Good idea to research the code first to see when it was manufactured but do be careful with items like lipsticks or eye makeup. 🙂

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