Every makeup lover I know in the UK seethes with jealousy at the returns policies of the big American beauty retailers. You buy a concealer and it doesn’t cover your dark circles? You can get a 100% refund, your new lipstick doesn’t suit you? Take it back. It’s kind of amazing, you can take back anything for pretty much no reason in the US – but it totally doesn’t work that way here, unfortunately.
However, I’ve returned used makeup that I’ve bought in a UK department store totally legally. So you do have rights, and I’m going to explain it in a way that makes sense (fingers crossed).
Which? paraphrases the law that covers the refunds of goods in the UK as such:
“Under the Consumer Rights Act, all products must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.”
I’m going to put forward a few scenarios and apply your statutory rights to it to see if you can get a refund.
You bought an eyeshadow palette and then found it cheaper elsewhere – the palette is still in its box and you have the receipt.
No, retailers do not have to give you a refund because you’ve essentially “changed your mind”. But in reality pretty much all reputable stores will probably give you your money back on unopened and unused makeup. Check the policy of the shop in question, but most of the time they give you 30 days to take it back.
You picked up a moisturiser and it’s given you a rash.
No, again – this isn’t really covered under the Consumer Rights Act. But you’ve got a good chance of a refund with most brands. It isn’t exactly their fault – you can’t guarantee everyone isn’t going to have an allergic reaction to a product – but they’re likely to be sympathetic about it.
The mascara marketed as waterproof smudges during hayfever season.
You could argue that the product isn’t “as described” or “satisfactory quality” and try and get a refund. You might find it hard to prove though, but legally, you’re in the right.
A highlighter you bought was broken when you first opened it.
Yes, it isn’t fit for purpose, so you’re due a refund!
The pump of a foundation you’ve owned for three months starts leaking and you didn’t break it.
This is exactly what happened to me – I had some issues with both Debenhams (where I bought it) and Urban Decay (the brand it was), trying to find out who exactly I should be talking to. In the end I spoke to the call centre at Urban Decay who had me take pictures of the leak and send them proof of purchase. I’d lost the receipt but a screenshot from online banking was enough. I then sent it back in a prepaid envelope they sent me, and after they saw the fault in person they sent me a brand new product.
If the leak had happened in the first 30 days of me owning the foundation I’d have been due a full refund under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, but as it was after 30 days but still within a “reasonable amount of time” I was only entitled to a replacement.
An eyeshadow brush you’ve owned for 3 years starts shedding hairs.
Sorry! Not many brands will consider that a reasonable amount of time for something to hold up.
So – can you return makeup in the UK?
The short answer is yes, it is possible to return used beauty products in the UK, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Hopefully this post has cleared it up, and if you still think your case is a bit iffy try and find an understanding member of staff and be very nice to them. You could get lucky!
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