Once upon a time, beautiful people — shiny hair — and happy dreams were the stuff of every girl’s fantasies. Then followed years of blemishes, frizzy hair, weight gain, and teenage angst.

Of course, those torturous, angst-ridden years didn’t overlook teenage boys either. Towering height and super-athletic status never appeared. Muscles stopped developing as expected — no matter how often boys “pumped them up.”

These (rather ordinary) trials and tribulations drove teenagers to experiment with every different skin care product, hair care line, diet pill, and muscle developing gadget in the market.

If only the promises made by every manufacturer and marketing team were true. We’d all be able to avoid signs of aging, thinning hair, and flabby abdomens forever.

Finally released from the torture of teenage years, these same folks are now online beauty business customers. Today’s online marketplace offers everyone personal care products they want and need, from around the world.

Merchants pursuing dreams in the online beauty business joined a high-growth worldwide industry. Beautiful.

But like it or not, there’s no way to avoid the ugly truth that the “high risk” status of the online beauty business makes your trade more challenging.

Why high risk? What challenges? And what advice can we offer? Keep reading to find out.

What’s Risky About the Online Beauty Business?

Online beauty business models include sales and marketing strategies like trial offers and subscription services (with recurring billing). These business models cause a majority of online beauty businesses to be considered high risk. And then there are the product lines.

The online beauty business reputation comes before ye… with “snake oil salesman” coming to mind. How many miracle cures for wrinkles have you tried that actually worked? Yet manufacturers boasting pseudo-science-based cures are a dime a dozen in the industry.

What happens when customers fall for the hype, sign up for a subscription service, and decide after six months that the results just aren’t good enough? You guessed it: Chargebacks!

Hence the “high risk” label applied to online beauty businesses.

Some product line-ups include merchandise subject to government regulation or requiring FDA approval, and that’s risky too. Even if the skin care product line you offer really does work, your ecommerce business carries the risky label by virtue of industry association.

So banks, credit card brands, and many payment processors shy away or outright refuse to work with you.

Yet as an online beauty business professional, you know that turning a profit keeps you in business. And that means processing payment card transactions. But, no bank — no merchant account — no card payments — no business.

If you want to build your online beauty business, a health and beauty merchant account is a “must have.” And you can land one.

What to Look For in a Merchant Account

As an online beauty business, your customer base already spans much of the globe. But does your business model support it?

Choose a merchant account tailored to your online beauty business — which means, tailored to a high risk business like yours. Once your payment processing is up and running, your chosen processor should also help you expand your business.

Whether your expansion choice takes you further domestically or internationally, your merchant account should get you there. After all, the beauty of an online business model is how easy it is for Internet-enabled customers to find your shop.

By year-end 2016, (forty-six percent of the world’s population from 198 countries) were projected to be online. That’s huge number of consumers with Internet connections — your potential customers.

(For more ideas to help with thoughtful international expansion for your online beauty business, look here and here.)

So while both domestic and international expansion provide growth opportunities for the future, a merchant account comes first.

Look for capabilities like these, to help your business thrive:

  • Multi-currency payment options that allow you to explore international markets. That alone enhances your market reach efficiently, with little extra cost. You’ll be able to earn more from the swift growth of international e-commerce.
  • A secure online portal (gateway) to help prevent CNP fraud and stop the damage to your online beauty business sales. Be sure your processor offers a Level 1 PCI-DSS compliant gateway.
  • Business protection through robust risk management and chargeback management capabilities offered by your chosen payment processor — who should help you pinpoint both causes and solutions when issues arise.


Perhaps most important for online beauty business success is to have a scalable payment processing solution represented by your own health and beauty merchant account.

Another key success factor for your business is the right payments processing business partner.

Choose someone who’s expert in the payments industry, and who keeps your needs front-and-center at all times. Your goals and objectives should drive the solutions proposed for your business.

So if you’re new to health and beauty ecommerce, or if you want to find a new payment processor, choose carefully. Then you can relax and focus on growing your online beauty business.