Posted on Saturday, at • bought • 336 views
I'd been aware of Silk Naturals since…oh, about 2009, but I hadn't ordered from them until late 2010. I can't remember why, now. I think it might have been because while they had a wide range of colors, I was more interested in Aromaleigh's ultra-bright colors. Or the latest BE offers. Or I was just starting to get seriously into Meow. I honestly can't recall.
The site is on its own domain, not Artfire or Etsy. That does mean that the “old familiar” layout isn't present. Fortunately, the navigation is very straightforward and there's a site search. On the left side of the Silk Naturals' pages are the navigation categories, which expand to subcategories. There's also an easy way to filter your search for products. Maybe not the absolute most elegant solution ever, but it's there, it's not clunky-looking, it's direct and easy to find (or ignore, if you choose.) As someone who likes to be able to filter search results - especially on an inventory as extensive as Silk Naturals' - this is much appreciated!
The initial load time is a tiny bit slower than other sites because of a redirect. Whenever you type in “silknaturals.net” you're then sent to “host.silknaturals.net.” I'm not sure why they use this exact setup, but they do. Once I'm actually on the site, and moving from page to page, load times are about average.
The body of the page is white - meaning that the colors are against a white background, the black text is very easy to read, and I don't feel like the surrounding color is drawing attention away from the photos. The decoration on the site design is minimalist, very straightforward.
Individual product pages have the item name, quantity, description, ingredients, any cautions or extra information (such as vegan or gluten free) and price. Newer products have more details, such as: color family, finish, depth, tone, release date/collection, opacity. I like such information because then everything's broken out, if I know that I love a given color or disliked another, I can compare them with other colors I may be thinking about to see if the finish, the opacity, or the color depth are the same as others that I have already tried. (Those are often the least easy to get out of any given product description.)
Most product pages, old or new, also feature swatch photos of the color. The photos are good, and show enough detail that you can get a good idea of what the color will actually look like when applied to a person's skin. The products also don't appear to be powerloaded, which is something else I appreciate. I know that showcasing is an important part of marketing, and that certain lighting or application techniques can show off facets of a product - especially a color cosmetic - that are otherwise difficult to capture. On the other hand, if something is such a subtle part of a color's appearance that it won't be as noticeable when I use the product at home - I won't see that degree of shimmer, I won't see the color payoff unless I apply more than I usually would - I feel that “showing something in its best light” (literally, in this case!!) can actually backfire. I appreciate that I'm able to see photos that aren't poor quality, but may be a more true-to-life representation of how the product will actually perform when I'm using it at home, as opposed to seeing it attractively showcased on models for photo shoots or strategically presented to amplify the color, the undertones, the sparkle, what have you.
Payment is via Paypal or your own credit / debit card. I've never had any problems when placing an order with Silk Naturals. The site is easy to move through, the prices are clearly marked, and the checkout procedure has always gone smoothly. For whatever reason or series of reasons, the sporadic problems that I've had with Paypal when shopping on other sites…haven't ever happened while I've been shopping with Silk Naturals. That may all be a question of timing and coincidence, though - any problems I have with Paypal, I lay firmly at Paypal's feet, not the merchant in question.
The order turnaround has generally been about three to five business days. I had to admit I've never placed an order around a major holiday, though, so I don't know if this ever lengthens.
Silk Naturals has a rewards program, a weekly GWP, and a regular ‘special': for each $30 you spend, you get to choose the full-size eyeshadow or lip balm of your choice. That's in addition to any points you accrue. The GWP changes weekly, and for every order over a certain amount (over $10, as of August 2012, and this has been the same for at least three years) you'll receive a 3-gram jar of that week's GWP eyeshadow. Often these colors are one-offs, but sometimes a GWP shade is in such demand that it gets added to the regular line. In addition to those two bonuses, they have a rewards-point program. If you tend to order only samples, it will take you a while to be able to redeem your points (the threshold is 100 points.) As of August 2012, the program essentially gives you a 5% discount (each dollar you spend gets you one point; 100 points gets you a coupon worth $5 off your next Silk Naturals order) so while it's a nice extra, it's not necessarily a huge selling point by itself. It's just a nice, constantly-accumulating reward program.
Once the order has been processed, shipping generally takes about four to seven business days - which is kind of standard for mail travelling from one coast to the other. They have set days that they ship orders out (Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays) and they print that information on the site. They don't provide tracking numbers, but if you pay with Paypal, you'll be able to track your order that way.
I've been pretty happy with almost all of the colors I've ordered from Silk Naturals! I am unhappy that I missed some colors that are still on other products' group-swatch photos; but with very few exceptions I've been happy with all my purchases from Silk Naturals. The detail provided about the products gives me a good idea of what to expect, so I have a fairly good idea how a product will look, how it will apply, how opaque or soft it will be. Even colors like Propinquity or Pop, which have subtler shimmers and highlights, were portrayed fairly accurately on the site - so while I got a little pleasant surprise at tiny extra details that were a little more noticeable, I never got the letdown of “...but it was described thusly and the swatch looked different!” that I've occasionally gotten with other companies' products.
Silk Naturals sells foundations, and gives directions on how to mix your own to get an exact shade match and your preferred coverage and finish. I use another company's foundation and am quite happy with it, and I'm kind of lazy - I'd be a little too intimidated to mix my own foundation color. But they give very clear directions, and have intro sample kits so that someone who's tried and tried to get an exact foundation match, and has just about had it, is going to be able to get exactly what they need…with ingredients that won't cause skin reactions.
Along with eyeshadows and foundations, Silk Naturals offers blushers; glow and finishing powders; lipsticks, glosses, and balms; hair- and skin-care products; brushes…there's lots to try out here!
Whether you've tried no indie makeup companies or dozens, you can feel confident about Silk Naturals. They've been around for quite a while, their service is solid, their products work well and are a good value, and they have an active customer forum where you can get tips on foundation blending, application hints, and share wishes for the perfect eye/lip/blush color (and bemoan the Ones That Got Away - products that Silk Naturals used to have, but that got discontinued.)
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