Saturday, March 20, 2010

Part 2: So, you'd like to swap, aye? Here are some tips! (LONG Post!)

I get loads of questions from bloggers asking about "swapping". Some of you may know what swapping is, and some of you may not. I'm hoping this post will give you a better understanding of swapping and what to look out for when you're swapping.


What is swapping? Swapping (in the makeup community) refers to an exchange of some sort. Typically, it will be a beauty product for a beauty product (new or used). It doesn't strictly have to be a beauty product. You have the option of swapping clothing, accessories and more.

How exactly does it work? The two main sites I'm familiar with are http://www.makeupalley.com and http://specktra.net. I'll explain how it works with both sites. (So far, Ive only explained makeupalley. I will update it later with Specktra.)

Swapping on Makeupalley:
Step 1:
First you need to create an account if you don't have one already. (See my part 1 for info about getting started with makeupalley) If you don't have an account, create one here.

Step 2: Go through your beauty products and pick out the items you want to part with. Gently used items are preferred. Although, many users like to give products a try without having to purchase the full size.. so putting up items for swap that are only good for a few uses would be acceptable as long as the products aren't very old. (Nobody wants your foundation that has been sitting in your bathroom settling for 5 years with 20% left or your Chanel lipstick you've had for 10 years. But hey! I'm just speaking for myself. You never know.)

Step 3: (Optional but recommended) Take a wipe or a dampened towel and clean the products casing. I always keep antibacterial towelettes on hand and clean off any tubes, compacts, etc that I'm swapping. Sending cosmetics that look like they have rolling around your makeup bag for ages is tacky in my opinion. If it is a lipstick for example, wipe off the top where the product has touched your lips. (Again, optional) There are people out there that prefer to wipe if themselves. It is always nice to ask the other person if they would like you to wipe it off. Keep all of your swap items in a convenient place so you won't have to go on a eyeliner hunt through your room after you've agreed to swap with someone. I keep all of my items together in a small box.

Step 4: Log on to makeupalley.com and click "Swap" at the top of the page. On the left sidebar under My Swap Info, click "Swap Items". Then, click "Add a new Item".



Fill out the information for each swap item. Choose the Category, Brand, Title and Description of your item/s. You can use HTML in the description box if you'd like.

Your description should include:
How much product remains
. State if it was used 1x, used 2x, used a handful of times, used a dozen times. If you don't remember how many times you've used it, take a close look at it. If it's a lipstick, try comparing it to a new one (if you have one on hand) perhaps there is 3/4 remaining, or maybe 90% remaining. If it is a blush, eye shadow, powder or etc, look at it from the side and see if the product is starting to dip. Mention that there is a small dip or a large dip forming. Mention if the products hetchmarks are still visible (indentations on powder products when they are new and untouched). BE HONEST AND USE YOUR BEST JUDGEMENT! When I am unsure, I usually round down to be on the safe side. If I think there is 95% left, but I am unsure, I will say 90%+. If it's really hard to tell, your best bet it to take a picture of the product and post it in your description.

The Functionality/Condition of your item. Is it in perfect working condition? Does your lipstick slightly slant and rub against the tube? Have the letters and numbers faded off your MAC brush? Does your compact close properly? Again, BE HONEST. Don't be embarrassed to write the true condition of your product if the packaging has seen better days. If your blush compact has a million of scratches on it, there will be some people that don't mind and there would be some people that would mind. Don't risk not mentioning it and end up swapping with someone that would of minded. There is nothing worse than being excited and opening up a disappointment!

What you'd like to swap it for. State if you are strictly wish list (We are getting to this next!), if you are only interested in swapping it for a certain item or if you are open to all swap requests.
A Picture. (*optional*) I prefer to take pictures of my items so the other person knows exactly what they are getting. I think many people prefer to have a visual. If you have tons of items on your swap list of unfamiliar brands, how is anyone supposed to know what they look like? Many people don't like to be troubled with having to google all of your items to see what they look like. If you don't want to add a picture, its always nice to add a short description. Say its a random eyeshadow. State that your random eyeshadow is a frosted medium brown. A lot of items don't require photos.. such as familiar brands (MAC, NARS, Bobbi Brown, Dior, Stila, etc). If you have MAC Freshwater Eyeshadow up for swap, it will be easy to find a picture of. Your eyeshadow they don't sell in stores that you purchased from a discount store that is now discontinued won't be as easy. You can either upload your picture to a image hosting site and put the link in your description, or you can add a picture to your profile pictures and put the link in your description. OR state that the picture of the product is in your profile photos.


This is an example. Make it short and simple. Don't put anything that is not necessary. You don't have to write complete sentences. It makes it much faster for the other person going through all of your items this way.

Create Your Wish list
Creating a wish list is fun! On the left sidebar, under My Swap Info, click "My Wishlist". Its the exact same format as your swap list. Click "Add a New Item". One by One add items you want and would like to potentially swap for. You don't have to write anything in the descriptions unless you have a preference about an item. For example, If you don't want any depotted products or if you prefer that the item is new/gently used/tested.

Create your Swap Notepad (optional) What a notepad is basically, is your own little page where you can design and add any extra information you want others to know. It is technically your swap notepad, but you don't have to use your notepad for swapping purposes if you don't want to. If you have lots of items for swap though, I recommend you to add additional information on your notepad to clarify some things you want others to know. When someone clicks on one of your swap items, your notepad will show up on the same page (directly under your swap listing) all they have to do it scroll down.

Things you can write on your notepad: # It's always nice to write a couple of short sentences about yourself so the swap is more personal and you won't feel like you're swapping with a complete stranger.If you aren't wish list only, write a few sentences of the kinds of items you're interested in swapping for. Also include the types of items you do NOT want to swap for.

Here's a couple quick examples: "Currently, I'm only interested in swapping for high end eye shadows and lipsticks. My favorite eyeshadow shades are browns and purples. My favorite lipsticks are non-frosty, neutral pinks and corals. I am not interested in swapping for any drugstore items. "
"I'm open to all requests. I'm mainly looking to swap for makeup and hair products. I love bright colors & anything pink. I am not interested in swapping for clothing. Please do not send me a swap request if you only have clothing listed on your swap list."

* Some other things to consider including in your notepad are: Do you swap internationally? How flexible your schedule is. Do you visit the post office once a week? Twice? Do you typically ship the following day? Will you be using First class? Parcel post? Will you offer Delivery Confirmation? Do you prefer the other person to ship your package with Delivery confirmation? Adding all of these factors will make the other person feel more at ease because they know what they are getting.

Extras! Extras is a very fun part of swapping. It's completely optional and mainly depends on how much a person has on hand. Extras are goodies people like to include as a little bonus with swaps. Not everyone sends extras, so don't get your hopes up for receiving any. Extras typically consist of product samples and testers & lightly used makeup items. If you're lucky, you may get some awesome extras if the person you're swapping with is generous. I have been lucky enough to get some really wonderful extras.. such as high end items that the other person didn't have any attachment to and didn't want anything in return for it. A lot of times, people will add extras if their item was worth less than the other for compensation. Again, this is all optional. Don't get stressed about it. Some people keep millions of samples & have huge makeup collections and others (like me) use all of their samples and don't have extra makeup on hand they don't use. I try to pick up goodies as I see them if I see a good deal. Lots of times I'll see good stuff on the ULTA clearance rack. ;) It is always nice to state in your notepad, if you were to be sent extras, what kind of extras you like. I don't think it sounds greedy.. I appreciate notepads that list what they like. It makes it so much easier! Some people may say they like tea bags, empty jars, nail polish, glitter, pigment samples, skincare samples, fragrance samples.. etc!

Search! Now its time to search for the items you'd like to swap for! Click "Swap" at the top of the page. A list of the latest added swap items will appear. If an item interests you, click on it to view their description of the item. If they are wish list only, view their wish list and see if you have anything they want. If they aren't wish list only, send them a message! It can be very brief. For example:

"Hi! I'm interested in swapping for this blush. Please take a look at my swap list to see if there is anything you would like to swap for! Let me know either way. Thanks! Signed, Your Name."

You can also click "Product Search" under "Swap" on the left sidebar and specifically type in the item you are looking for. You can do a wish list search as well. For a wish list search, you would type in an item you have up for swap to see if its an item on someones wish list. If you do end up having an item that is on someones wish list, you can view their swap list and see if there is anything you'd like to trade that item for and then contact them.

Be Courteous If someone sends you a request, it is polite to respond. Even if there is nothing on their list that you want, it's nice to say "Thank you, but I didn't see anything on your list I'm looking for right now." You may end up contacting them in the future because they have an item you really want. It's not fun waiting for a response you'll never receive. Let them know so they can continue contacting others.

Be Responsible Do not disappear half way through the swap. Wrap the item your sending very well so it won't break or shatter in transit. I have received broken powders and blushes before that could of been avoided by being wrapped better. If it's a blush or a fragile item.. write FRAGILE on the mailer. Wrap the item in bubble wrap. Keep up with good communication through the swap. You want a good reputation and for the other person to give you a positive token so others will swap with you (Just like ebay!).

Be Cautious. AVOID BEING SWAPLIFTED! Always view the other persons profile. Is it empty? Are they a new member? Do they have any swap tokens? Is any information filled out?

* Read their swap token comments. Previous swappers may of given them a positive token, but wrote that their communication could of been better.. or that it took a long time to receive. Determine if they seem responsible. When was the last token received? If their last swap was months ago and they have under 30 tokens, there is a chance they were a trusted swapper at one point to gain tokens and trust and then return to MUA and send many users swap requests and let them send first and never send anything in return. See if their last tokens are recent. Do they have 100% feedback?

* Is their profile blank? An established user or a reputable user will most likely have their profile filled out along with a wish list and a notepad. Do they have lots of reviews? Do they post in the boards? If it looks like they do not use the site for anything but swapping, be more cautious. Many swap lifters only use the website to steal from others.. they typically don't post in forums, give advice, ask questions, write reviews, post photos, etc. Many swap lifters like to remain anonymous & don't establish an identity.

* If it seems like they are in a hurry and are rushing you to send, don't get overwhelmed. Do the swap at the comfortable pace for you. If they are rushing, ask additional questions.

* If you feel skeptical, tell them makeupalley is taking a long time to load and ask them if they have an email you can reach them at so they can respond to you faster. Having their real email is a good tool. You may be able to track them down on other sites.

* ALWAYS, if a person has less tokens than you (or no tokens), let them send first. Have them take a picture of what they are suppose to be sending you. If they make excuses, use your best judgment. You can ask them to write their username on a piece of paper and put it next to the product they are taking a picture of, so you can make sure they do have the product they claim and in the condition stated. After they sent you a picture, have them ship with delivery confirmation and have them notify you of the # after they have shipped. If you feel at ease at this point and are in a hurry to ship, you may do so. If you're in no hurry, it's not really necessary to ask for confirmation unless you really want to track it.. just wait for the package to arrive. Because even if they take a picture of an item, it's not guaranteed that's what you'll be receiving. There are always people out there looking for new ways to scam.

* If you do happen to send out first, and communication seems to stop and you haven't received your end yet, print out the conversation between you and the swapper in case they delete their account so you'll have proof there was an agreement.

What you should do if you've been swaplifted

* Do some research on the person. Google their username to see if they have accounts on other sites with the same username. Also, google their actual name. See if you find anything useful.

* Go to http://whitepages.com and type in their last name and city, state. If you're lucky, you may find a result for their exact address and there will be listings for each adult that lives in the household. It states the age range of the individuals and it includes their home telephone number. (With my experience, the girl's family was listed. I determined by the age of her parents that she was definitely under 18 years old. Her phone number was listed and I was planning on calling her parents since I knew their name and explain that their daughter robbed me.. or I had planned to write letters to her house addressed with her parents names on them. Everything ended up getting resolved though before I had to take any action. So all was well).

* If they are not listed in the whitepages, you can try writing a letter to their address. Have the envelope typed (not in your handwriting) and have it titled "Mr ____" or "Mrs ___" or homeowner, etc. Include your telephone number so they can contact you. Let them know its a serious matter and you plan to report it to their local police department if you don't receive a response in however many days. Not only that, but you also plan to file mail fraud and internet fraud charges. Some parents don't know what their kids are up to.. so it's worth a try. I would think any parent would get pissed at their kid and send your item back. (I've read a few instances of this)

* If you received no response, take the next action. Call their local police department. You may receive positive feedback, but you may not. I have read a few cases where swaplifters have gotten in big trouble from being reported to their local police. (Hooray!)
* File mail fraud and Internet fraud charges.

* Report them to the swaplifters page so their name and address will be added.

Mail fraud link: https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/

Internet fraud link: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

I hope this article helped a little! Always be careful & Happy Swapping! :)

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post Nat - very informative!! :)
    I love your blog!!
    I just discovered the whole swappping thing, think its such a cool idea and definitely want to start getting into it. :)
    I was wondering, what is your username on MUA? If I can ask of course! :)

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  2. Super informative! Thanks girl!

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  3. I have found this extremely informative and useful!! Thanks so much, I should print this entry and have it at hand. I have just opened my swapping page on makeupalley and I want to thank you!
    XOXO

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  4. HI, I joined Makeupalley a while ago because I wanted to swap stuff, as I have a lot of things that I just don't like that much. However, it didn't work for me. I got a lot of interest in my products, but most ppl on makeupalley are from the States and don't want to swap internationally (I live in Ireland). A lot of the time I got a message and then a message a little later into the conversation, oh, I didn't realise you live in Ireland, sorry I only swap in the States.
    It just didn't work for me.
    Good luck to everyone who's interested in swapping.

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  5. This is a really great post. I have thought about swapping on MUA but am a little leary and you really cleared up some concerns for me. Thanks! ;)

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  6. thanks for this post! ive been wanting to swap. made an account yesterday, and some people were interested in my items. but MUA wont let me mail anymore since its my first week =( so im just leaving them hanging

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  7. This is such a thorough post with great tips! Thanks!!

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  8. This a great post and contains so much useful information. I have lots of products that I should perhaps think about swapping :)

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  9. Another post I will read over and over again!!!! <3

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  10. 若對自己誠實,日積月累,就無法對別人不忠了。........................................

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  11. I wish i would have read this a little sooner.. I almost got swap lifted for about 200 dollars worth of stuff. i sent an email telling the person i sent my end and i noticed an hour or two later that they deleted their profile. i was able to go to the post office and retrieve my package before it left. I found her address on the site that you listed and even entered her sn into makeupalley and saw that she had swap lifted other people under the same sn!

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  12. Thanks for all your great posts Natalie! I nominated you for a blog award on my blog :)

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  13. I love that you put so much work into your posts. This was so helpful.Amy x

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  14. I am so sad... I typed up a big long response, only to have it error out! Boo!

    Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to write this all out. I've always been scared to swap online because I'm a germaphobe (lol) and I was scared I'd get swaplifted. I feel a little better about it now; I have a couple items I wouldn't mind giving away!

    Great post!

    xoxo

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  15. this was a great post! =) The last few months I have really gotten into MakeupAlley but I am still iffy about the whole swapping idea...I have heard many horror stories...plus, starting up for points is tough :s

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  16. ps I am doing a makeup give-away on my blog..check it out!

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  17. Wow! Great post and as you've heard a million times before, very informative! I appreciate anyone who takes the time out to write things such as this for us inexperienced ones. Right before I stumbled upon this post I was like: "I wonder what swapping is and how it works? Do you mail it the next day or-or what if they just take it and run without sending you anything? GAH!!" So yeah, as you can see, this post has helped me out TREMENDOUSLY! Thank You!

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  18. hey, love your blog!! thanks for this helpful info!

    quick question:
    I dont have any tokens and neither does this girl trying to swap with me! What do we do, who sends first, I dont wana get ripped off!!

    Thanks!! :)

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