As a makeup junkie I’m always wanting the new palette, that creamy lipstick, those wonder mascaras. It’s part of the hobby and as many people have shown, it can be a lifestyle.
Living in South Africa is limiting – we have some amazing brands available, and our pharmacies (drugstores) have testers, but we also are missing some key players. Anastasia Beverly Hills, Too Faced, Colourpop, LORAC, Juvia’s Place – these are all brands I’m super keen to try and have great difficulty getting a hold of. They are available on trustworthy third party sites, but not being able to swatch something before you spend >R1000 on it is risky and can be dangerous. There are also definite markups on all products which is annoying. I appreciate that shipping and tax is real, and I recognize that the people who run these sites are running their businesses, but I’ve wondered if it wouldn’t be cheaper to order stuff myself.
The biggest problem with access to international products in SA is undoubtedly the post office. They’ve had parcels of mine for weeks and their communication is disgraceful. Ordering directly from company websites puts you at their mercy and that’s not a place I want to be.
In comes freight forwarding companies. These guys will ship overseas purchases to your door and clear the rigamarole of customs as well – for a price. The question for me is – does it make sense to pay them instead of the third party sites.
Now Sephora USA blocks freight forwarding addresses – I discovered this last year when after signing up for Aramex my order was cancelled 3 times. I decided to try one last time with Postbox Courier because I had a voucher that I needed to spend. And it worked!
I found an amazing deal on the Too Faced Peach collection – both the sweetie pie bronzer and white peach palette for $46. The palette alone retails for $45! I’ve been wanting that palette for a while and had been considering purchasing the bronzer and this seemed like fate.
I also picked up 2 Makeup Forever refillable palettes for $2 each. They’re a little smaller than I was expecting but they’ll do the job just fine.
Of course, with Sephora codes I received a few samples and travel sizes to try. I’m getting a little concerned at the sheer number of these I have collected but it’s just too tempting.
So how did the maths work out? Well, I spent R675.08 ($50) on products. Another R63.24 on taxes. R646.19 ($47.50) on PbC shipping. And R480.36 on customs. For a total of R1864.87!!!
How much would it have cost me ordering locally? The only site where I could find the TooFaced products was Muse Beauty. They cost a total of R1650 plus R75 for shipping. Muse didn’t have any magnetic palettes in stock, so I found 2 options – Samika had Z palettes in similar sizes for R120-R330 with standard shipping of R100. Ofra has a South African site that sells their pop up palette (bigger) for R400 plus R100 shipping. That’s a cost of R1955-R2235, assuming I bought only 1 palette. That was the original plan and buying both MUFE palettes was purely for the $2 price tag.
This shows that it is cheaper to do it yourself – but only just. My respect for the people behind third party sites has gone up realising the narrow margins they work with.
There is the “value” of the samples that I didn’t account for. I don’t really know how to account for them in this equation – it feels like a bonus for ordering but if I had bought something from Muse and not received anything I wouldn’t have really cared. A part of me feels like it’s a manipulative technique to get to purchase – I was NOT planning this purchase, I didn’t need the products and yet I bought it because I had a free product code. Also because buying makeup makes me feel good and I was quite down last week, but I could easily have walked into clicks and spent R200 at the Revlon counter for the same effect.
This post is so messy – apologies! It’s been on my mind for a while and I wanted to get it out. I hope anyone reading who wants to order using freight forwarding gains something from this – there’s a lot of convenience and you do save. But it may be worth it to support your local reseller.