Makeup Alley is a skincare and makeup discussion board similar to the Essential Day Spa Forum, but because I discovered MUA second, I’ve never really participated in their forums.

However, they have a couple of fabulous features that EDS does not — namely, a wishlist function, and a swap function. These two work in conjunction with each other — you place items you’re yearning to try (or just stock up on) on your wishlist, and you also post items you’re happy to get rid of on your swap list. People take a look at your swap list, and offer to trade you for stuff they want and you don’t. And you can search other people’s swap lists for items on your wish list, and try and get them to trade.

Sure, the system has some flaws — many members have complained of “swap-lifters” who receive but never send, and you never know if the item you receive will be in the condition described. But there’s a pretty good system in place for rating users and giving feedback, kind of like eBay. And so far I’ve only had experiences ranging from medium to great — never overtly bad.

A couple times now, I’ve gotten ahold of items I was dying to try, but didn’t want to shell out money for. And my main goal was to pare down my excess surplus of beauty goods, which I’ve definitely been able to do. I’m still getting rid of things all the time, and the shipping cost is usually pretty nominal.

Swaps have been great for me, and I just wish I weren’t so insanely picky — but since certain ingredients always send my skin haywire, I’m fairly conservative about what I’ll swap for. A couple times I’ve just sent users items of mine without asking for anything in exchange, just to put some good swap vibes out there and to see products I never use go to a good home. When you’re as invested in products as I am, it’s nice to see them appreciated!

You do have to create an account to use Makeup Alley for these purposes, but accounts are free and totally private. Nothing but pluses in my book!

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