Byline: Laura Klepacki

NEW YORK — Online beauty retailer is now offering customized eye makeup.
Rather than asking women if they prefer natural, medium or heavy mascara or eye makeup, the site displays visual metaphors for women to choose what best represents what they are aiming for. For example, a butterfly is used to express a natural look.
Still, Richard Gerstein, vice president of design and marketing for Reflect, noted that women interpret looks differently — “Tammy Faye Bakker thinks she has a natural look.”
The site offers mascara, powder eye shadow in singles and quads, eyebrow pencils and liner pencils. Brow pencils and mascara are $16.50 each, while liners are $15. One shadow is $16.50 and a four-shade palette is $48. Packaging uses Reflect’s trademark silver components. Delivery takes about 10 days.
For mascara, women are provided options such as lengthening, thickening, separating, waterproof and “even contact-safe” formulas, as well as brush choice, said Gerstein.
So far, Reflect has been defying the odds. As other beauty sites trail off, it is expanding its range. It is still not profitable and doesn’t expect to be yet — however, sales are climbing. “Our revenue has grown every single month since we launched and February looks to be a record month,” said Gerstein.
A recent Valentine’s Day fragrance promotion that offered three celebrity-designed scents pleased Reflect executives even more for what it didn’t achieve than for what it did.
“It was a double win, because a majority of the women that came to the site [for the fragrance promotion] ended up creating one for themselves,” said Gerstein. “Credibility came with the celebrities, but in the end more women experienced what we wanted them to experience — that is, customizing their own beauty products.”
And research has shown that Reflect has the highest purchase conversion rate of any current beauty site and is the second most-visited site after, according to Gerstein. He said Reflect also has lower “shopping cart abandonment” than others. While he declined to provide Reflect’s percentage, the industry average abandonment rate ranges from 65 percent to 85 percent.
Reflect, with upscale packaging and moderate-range prices, positions itself as an online prestige operation. Particularly with its new mascaras, it believes it can lure some business from drugstores, which do the bulk of mascara sales.
Gerstein said Reflect plans to expand its range this summer with hair styling and skin care items. It also intends to offer more seasonal and promotional products.
The site, which launched last year as a joint venture between Procter & Gamble, Institutional Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures, is headquartered in San Francisco.