Makeup is fun, creative and – believe it or not – recession-proof. This is especially true for lipstick.

According to professionals like Mary Kay CEO David Holl, while people may not buy as many skincare items during the throes of a recession, they’re still stocking up on their favorite lip shade.

When the recession hit in 2009, Mary Kay hardly saw an impact in sales. Retailers like Estee Lauder and Essie Weingarten actually saw an increase in sales during the recent economic downturn.

Selling makeup online via Shopify or another platform is a smart business move for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. It’s estimated that someone buys a bottle of Chanel’s famous No. 5 perfume every 30 seconds, and online-only retailers like ColourPop and Jeffree Star Cosmetics have seen massive cult followings. So, how do you get started?

Develop Your Branding & Customer Personas

To start an online business on the right track, it’s vital to determine your brand image. Consumers are much more likely to buy from a brand that reflects them, than from a blasé website.

To do this, think about who your average customer is – are they a busy mom on a budget, a professional makeup artist or a creative 20-something who likes to mix and match styles? Decide who your ideal customer is and create an inventory of cosmetics around that consumer.

This strategy requires a whole lot of research. But it is well worth it, so don’t cut corners or make assumptions. Otherwise, you risk thwarting your own efforts.

Remember to create a logo and active social media accounts that reflect your newly minted brand identity. These methods will help you stay top of mind when attracting would-be customers.


Makeup is fun, creative and – believe it or not – recession-proof. This is especially true for lipstick. Here's your quickie guide to selling makeup online.

Don’t Forget Your Permits

Just because you sell cosmetics online, doesn’t mean you won’t need a permit.

While smaller businesses who are selling through third parties like Etsy or eBay may be able to skirt around the law undetected, you probably need a resale permit, sales permit, and tax permit.

Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS using your business name. Use this to fill out the paperwork and get your business license.

Makeup is fun, creative and – believe it or not – recession-proof. This is especially true for lipstick. Here's your quickie guide to selling makeup online. #makingmoneyonline #wahm #sharinglifesmoments #makingmoney Click To Tweet

Explore Your Web Hosting Options

Selling makeup online requires – what else – a website!

Services like Shopify make selling makeup online easy because entrepreneurs can create branded websites in less than an hour. These platform providers bake in all the necessary features including payment processing, customizable themes, and a variety of business tools.

Then again, some fledgling eCommerce vendors prefer to build their own sites from scratch. Admittedly, this takes a lot more time (and money) to get the website up and running. But for those who want to control every part of the process, it’s a reasonable idea. Still, others choose to use an online marketplace like Etsy, Storenvy or eBay. Each has their benefits. A branded eCommerce website is more professional than an eBay store, but services like Etsy offer more visibility to beginners and veterans alike.

Get Your Products Wholesale

Of course, you need something to sell once you have an eCommerce shop. The inventory is the heart and soul of your business. To get your inventory and turn a profit, you’re going to have to buy cosmetics at wholesale prices and sell them to consumers.

Some of your favorite indie makeup brands may offer wholesale pricing; while other wholesale-only makeup brands are specifically sold to retailers and don’t have their own brick and mortar or online stores. Beware of counterfeit makeup on sites like DHGate and Alibaba, which frequently market counterfeits as high-end brands at wholesale prices.

Marketing Your Goods

Once you’ve got your products in an online store, you’re going to have to market them.

A lot of cosmetics companies have found great success using Pinterest and Instagram to show off makeup looks. You may even want to consider posting video tutorials to YouTube or spending a modest budget on influencer marketing. Influencer marketing puts your products in the hands of the internet’s most influential users. Thus, spreading your brand’s reach to potential customers who follow the influencer in question.

What’s better than someone with a massive following touting your online store? Affiliate programs – which give influencers a small commission for each sale they send to your business – are a great way to create real conversions and raise brand awareness.

Above all, don’t forget to use social media to do everything from promoting new products and sales to thanking customers and showing off their creative looks.

Creating a community around your brand also inspires customer loyalty. Selling makeup in the eCommerce market can be very profitable, all it takes is knowing what you need to do to put yourself in a position to succeed, which is why this list will come in handy!