Thanks to the internet, the world that we live in now is now very different to what it was 20 or so years ago. Social media has a huge influence on us as consumers and is now considered to be a powerful marketing tool, instead of waiting or buying the paper everyday - we can now access the latest news straight away from the comfort of our own office/home or on the go, a simple Google search for clay mask will expose you to a plethora of different products and brands that you never knew even existed and we can now purchase things with the click of a button. We now live in a very globalised community, where thanks to the internet the world doesn't seem that big and accessing the latest and greatest isn't terribly hard. Online shopping has reigned supreme and thanks to globalisation and the internet, buying goods overseas is so accessible, easy (and fun!) for many of us.
Living in Australia has made me somewhat of a savvy internet shopper. Back when the Australian dollar was almost level to the US dollar, I refused to pay the exorbitant pricing on some big brand cosmetics (MAC anyone?!) locally. I could understand perhaps a 20% difference between the US and Australia but paying double the price was not an option. I just felt ripped off as a consumer. As a matter of principle, the prices were just too much of a difference and it felt wrong supporting local businesses (such as Myer and David Jones department stores) when clearly, they were not supporting me. I instead looked to the internet and thanks to freight forwarding, I was generally able to purchase a lot of my cosmetics for a fraction of what I paid in Australia at the time.
Times have changed since then, the Australian dollar is about 25% weaker than the US dollar now and a lot of local businesses have cottoned on to the fact consumers are not that stupid and are willing to do some research (Mecca is a perfect example of this). Prices of products are generally in line with the US or at least relatively close to it (with a few brand exceptions) and in general, I think Aussies are in a better place than they were 3-4 years ago by way of competitive global pricing. However, my online shopping habits have not changed, I still love purchasing things online and whilst I buy what I can locally, there are brands that are just simply not available at home in Australia.
Since living in China and due to Chinese customs (it's a crazy 30% of the declared value for cosmetics and skincare), my mail doesn't go directly to me but instead to my parents home in Australia. A small inconvenience but this hasn't stopped me from buying online. It does mean that I do have to wait a little longer for my deliveries, but for me it is well worth it! I thought I would share with you a small fraction of my favourite online websites and why I love them so much.
A relatively new discovery for me, CultBeauty is possibly one of my current favourite online retailers as of late. For me, it is like my beloved Mecca Cosmetica (an Australian multi-brand cosmetic and skincare retailer) but with more and different products. CultBeauty stocks hard to find brands from all over the world such as OSKIA Skincare, January Labs, Kypris, Pixi, Zelens, Korean Brands such as 3CE and Blithe etc and has free worldwide shipping if you spend over GBP £50.00. CultBeauty often has offers whether it be a certain percentage off, free shipping on everything or amazing gift with purchase options. With all orders, you do receive some free samples which are often satchets and you are able to choose what interests you at checkout. What I do love about CultBeauty over other UK websites however, is the fact that they take the UK VAT (Goods and Services Tax) off your purchase if the item is being shipped overseas.
Items will of course take a little longer to arrive as they are based in the UK, but generally I find that with overseas shipping, it takes about 2 weeks maximum which is pretty standard. The CultBeauty customer service is second to none - one of the best I have received from a larger international website. The ladies in the customer service department are so lovely, helpful and most importantly they get back to you ASAP!
Shop at: www.cultbeauty.co.uk
This is an Australian online retailer that specialises in green beauty products and I love this store as they have an amazing edit of both local and international green beauty brands. IamNaturalStore is a stockist of cult labels such as May Lindstrom Skin, African Botanics, Vered, W3llPeople and Tata Harper and prices are very, very comparable to their global counterparts. Shipping domestically in Australia is free if over $100 and they do ship internationally via Australia Post with a few different shipping options.
Postage domestically arrives the next day for me (in Australia) but expect to pay around AUD$25 for international shipping that will arrive within 1-2 weeks from item being shipped. There are faster options available but they are quite a bit more expensive. With the US dollar and UK dollar generally being a bit stronger than the Australian dollar, overseas ladies can often score a cheaper deal (ie. Jeju Blossum, a natural Korean brand is MUCH more expensive at cultbeauty.com in comparison to IamNaturalStore). It is definitely worth doing some research and price comparisons.
Shop at: www.iamnaturalstore.com.au
A HUGE online e-tailer that is based in the UK that I often used because they always generally seem to have great deals - whether it be 15-20% off your entire purchase, buy 2 get 1 free deals, gift with purchases or certain percentage off particular brands. LookFantastic has a huge selection of different skincare brands ranging from French Pharmacy favourites like La Roche Posay, Avene, Nuxe or Vichy to high end brands such as Omorovicza, Eve Lom and recently - Chantecaille. LookFantastic also has some of those harder to find brands such as Codage Paris, NIOD and ARgENTUM. If you are a fan of REN Skincare, it is also so much cheaper to purchase from here as well, as I generally find it is cheaper than purchasing in the US and at Mecca in Australia, especially with a coupon discount. Skincare is not the only thing available at LookFantastic either, as the website carries a huge range of haircare and some cosmetics as well (although I find the cosmetics range not that great). Each month, LookFantastic also have a different beauty box which I have purchased a few times in the past. These beauty boxes are generally great value, with a good edit of different products and come beautifully packaged as well!
The best thing about LookFantatsic is shipping is free, no matter how little or much you buy. Postage generally take 2-3 weeks to arrive to me in Australia but if you spend over a certain amount postage is automatically upgraded to their "Tracked" delivery which is faster and you also get a tracking number. LookFantatsic is great if you know EXACTLY what you want to purchase, if you have any questions about the product however, don't bet on them helping you to answer your questions. Their customer service is pretty terrible.
Shop at: www.lookfantastic.com
This website is fantastic for those who want to purchase K Beauty items - especially some of those hard to find brands (such as Sum37, 3CE, Primera, Son&Park just to name a few) and hard to find but coveted products. There is ALOT of product to look through on this website (and I cannot even imagine what it would be like to actually shop for this items in Korea) and it covers both the cosmetic and skincare spectrum. Prices are generally slightly cheaper than the US retailers, there is a huge range available and the website offers free international shipping on all orders. Postage can take some time, as all packages come directly from South Korea but you can pay a bit extra for faster shipping or at least to have the package tracked. There is often a coupon code floating about for $5 off your first purchase (with a minimum spend) as well, which is always helpful and all orders come with a bunch of great samples and sometimes a free full sized gift as well.
What sets W2Beauty from many of the other Korean online e-tailers is that Alice, the owner, is incredibly lovely and super helpful. I emailed her a while back to ask her about shipping to China and she was more than helpful with answering any concerns and explaining the customs process in China. I also cannot stress how large the range is on W2Beauty, and this is something that really does set it apart from a lot of the US Retailers as the products are coming directly from Seoul. It is really easy to get carried away on the website and you can find yourself trawling on there for hours (but it is alot of fun!).
Shop at: www.w2beauty.com
The online retailers above, are just a very SMALL selection of what is available out there but these are the ones that I find the most reliable, competitive in pricing and also easiest to shop for internationally as well (ie. free shipping). What are some of your favourite online retailers? What sets them apart from everyone else? Don't forget to share in the comments section below!