Beauty and the beast – Beauty shopping online

Shopping in Perth and surrounds is a bit of a joke.  The clothes shops are all clones of each other, churning out raggy skanky tacky stuff that I have absolutely no wish to buy and in general make me lose my will to live; certainly my will to go clothes shopping.   There is an exception of course;  the Armani et al sections in the David Jones Perth store, which of course are horrifically out of my reach monetarily speaking.  Siiiiigh.  I think it’s time to visit my dressmaker again …

As for shopping for make up and skin care, well that’s just as bad.  Every department store [of which there are two, yes the same two, in the city or suburban malls] has an identical “beauty floor” with the exact same brands – the big names, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Dior, Chanel, Clarins, blah blah blah. 

The smaller, more interesting brands have zero to minimal representation, maybe one counter at one department store, and only in the city.  As evidence, I give you MAC, my beloved make up line – which isn’t exactly a “small” brand – and my favourite skin care brand Ultraceuticals.  Both are available at just the one counter in just the one department store in the city, and this is sometimes problematic.  I can’t always make it into town, or want to make the trek, especially now I need a walking stick / elbow crutch for any distance. 

For me then, it’s obvious that online is the way to go.  In fact I pretty much do all my skin care and make up shopping online now.  Shopping online can be chancy however, and I’m ultra picky about the quality of service, the security of the site, the speed of delivery, the overall cost and so on.   I have come to trust and love only a chosen few – Adore Beauty; MAC Online; Strawberrynet and Smart Poppy.

  

. . . . . . . . . .

Adore Beauty

Adore Beauty stocks a massive range of make up, skin care, hair care, accessories, bath and body products, guy’s stuff, and fragrance.  I arrow in on Ultraceuticals, Napoleon Perdis, L’Occitane, Dr Hauschka, Bloom, and MOP [hair care].  As well as a few big names [Clarins, Laura Mercier] Adore stocks many interesting organic skin care lines such as Akin and Aesop plus cult lines like Ole Henriksen, SkinCeuticals, Alpha-H, and make up brands BECCA, Bare Escentuals, Mirenesse, Cargo … that’s just the start.

I appreciate Adore Beauty not only for it’s huge range of products and hard-to-find brands [well, hard to find in Western Australia], but for it’s excellent brand / product information, interesting articles, the fun informative forum and unbiased reviews, and no-bullshit content.  The web site has recently had a makeover of it’s own and is even better than before; easy to navigate whether on a search and destroy mission or “just browsing”.  It was Adore that introduced me to Ultraceuticals, this little-known, unprepossessing and simply sensational Aussie skin care line [and look at me now! A positively evangelical convert … but one with fabulous skin].

The service is terrific, confirmation and dispatch emails are sent swiftly, delivery is excellent and relatively inexpensive [about AUD 8.00 for registered post].  My precious packages have always arrived well within the specified time, with items wrapped prettily and boxed well, with a couple of free samples and sweeties hidden amongst the packing popcorn.  I’ve never experienced an order stuff-up or breakage but imagine that even if such a thing could happen A.B. would be on the case with a replacement or refund quicker than you can open a Burt’s Bees Lip Balm tin.

Too, too gorgeous, sweetie.

. . . . . . . . . .

MAC Australia

I am such a MAC whore.  Just about all my make up is MAC; except for mascara, a bunch of lip glosses and a few other “pieces” here and there, from foundation to eye shadow to make up brushes it’s all MAC.  I adore the brand;  the quality of products across the brand is exceptional and the pricing is pretty reasonable, especially compared with eg, Dior and Chanel, and it’s not much more expensive than many budget brands these days but the quality is a zillion times better.  Plus it’s such an interesting, fun and versatile brand.  There’s something for everyone there.

The site in general is very easy to navigate, it’s look very much in keeping with the MAC philosophy of letting the products do the talking, so it’s very clean and uncluttered looking.  The images of products are clear and accurate, as is the product information.   The swatches of colours on-site, from eye shadow to lip colour to foundation, are true to “real life” so it’s easy to get a good-to-perfect match. 

Service and delivery arepretty good; order confirmation / dispatch emails are sent quickly. I’ve always received my orders within the seven-day delivery period and they’ve always been well-packed, no breakages.  Shipping costs are pretty reasonable too, about AUD 10.00 for express, registered post. 

[NB:  Always insure and register your online shopping orders; it might add a few bucks onto the total but is worth it for peace of mind, the knowledge that the package will actually get to you, and accountability if you need to request a refund or whatever]

Yep, MAC Online is simply to die for, dearest …

. . . . . . . . . .

Strawberrynet

Strawberrynet [oh I know it’s really StrawberryNET but the emphasis annoys me; we all know it’s on THE NET, the url kind of gives it away, sheesh] is The Big Wahoonie of online beauty shopping sites, stocking skin care, cosmetics, fragrance, and hair care.  The range of brands is immense, and the discounts equally mind-boggling, ranging from 2% to 60%.  Them’s big savings.  The brands include all the big ones, and many small ones too so you won’t be stuck for choice.  There’s also additional incentive with extra 5% discount if you buy three or more products at a time, and incremental “loyalty discounts”; basically the more you shop the more the discount.

While I love browsing, my purchases have been mostly from the big names; Clarins, Dr Haushka, Lancôme, L’Occitane.  S’net also stocks many brands unavailable in Australia such as Smashbox, Shu Uemura and Fresh, although the range is quite small.

The site is well structured and easy to navigate; given the thousands of brands and products listed it could be easy to get lost but S’net is very well organised.  Product information and images can be hit-and-miss; some products / brands are described accurately [albeit verbatim from the official site] while others have no description at all.  There are no ingredients listings, so I usually check out the official sites or other beauty sites to get the information I need.   My favourite make up and beauty blogs are absolutely invaluable for providing unbiased info and reviews.   So do your research elsewhere then shop at S’net.

Service and delivery are great, although order confirmation / dispatch emails can be slow.  There are a range of shipping options, the best being FREE registered shipping.  This is pretty awesome.  Delivery is unbelievably fast, seeing as how one’s goodies are coming from Hong Kong – my orders have taken about five days maximum, with 4 – 10 being the official estimate.  There is also an express option if you are experiencing a skin care / make up or gift-related emergency that costs about AUD 10.00 and guarantees delivery in two to three days.

Luscious, darling.

. . . . . . . . . .

AND INTRODUCING . . . [cue fanfare and cascade of sparkly pink balloons]

Smart Poppy

I feel somewhat ashamed of myself that I’ve only recently discovered Smart Poppy.  It’s a really cute site with some amazing bargains, AND it’s Australian.   I like to support Australian businesses so even if, for example, Strawberrynet has the item I want, if it’s available at Smart Poppy that’s where I’ll shop.

Smart Poppy stocks MAC, NARS, some Smashbox mmm, Lancôme, Clinique, stila, Too Faced and others.  The range of brands and products is, admittedly, quite small especially when compared to the leviathan that is Strawberrynet, but is pretty comprehensive for all that, and it’s constantly updating and adding new goodies.  Serious beauty junkies will find plenty to squeal over at Smart Poppy [hint: they carry Smashbox’s cult Foundation Primer!], and there’s a range of products to suit everybody.

What’s really attractive [or addictive?] about Smart Poppy is the amazing deals.  F’r instance; NARS cult lip gloss Dolce Vita retails at Mecca Cosmetica for AUD 50.00, but is just over AUD 30.00 here!  You can bet that went in my shopping cart … Plus there are additional ongoing discounts and sales, samples and freebies.  There are a number of hard to find, cult MAC products here too – and you know how I love my MAC! 

The site is very pretty, uncluttered, easily navigated, and with excellent product information and description.  The swatches and photos of cosmetic products are impressive; the images depict the colour / texture of the product totally true-to-life, and in many cases are not just the image off the official site [as with, eg, Strawberrynet] so you get a really, really accurate idea of the shade.

Service is good, with immediate email replies and dispatch information.  Shipping costs are even less expensive than MAC and Adore Beauty, about AUD 6.00 for registered express post for a small package.  Delivery itself was right within expected time, so I was very happy with my first order.  The package was well-packed, and included a couple of very nice samples, an additional coupon toward my next order, and some sweeties [which Tux enjoyed very much].  All in all, exceptional value and added incentive to order again … not that I needed incentive.

Simply beautiful, petals.

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Comments

  • 20metercircleoflife  On Thursday 24 July 2008 at 12:22 am

    I am the worst at make up shopping. I go to exactly the same store and get the exact same stuff everytime. I am a Bare Minerals girl, but as said before a mascara whore. Dior disco ‘d my fave several years ago and have yet to find the ultimate replacement. ACK. But given that I allow myself all of 5 minutes to “put on a face” in the am I think Bare Minerals is most likely my best bet so I dont end up at the office looking like a circus clown.
    Hope your felling well and taking care of yourself.
    How about that B Day of yours crumbcake??? Tell all please

  • otterkat  On Friday 25 July 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Ahh I love make up shopping – but HATE spending especially on over-hyped crap, so for a beauty junkie my “collection” is very small, I don’t have 50 lip glosses or 10 kinds of foundation or anything like that … I also hate beauty counters who slather gunk an inch thick & slap on eye shadow & make you loook like a drag queen. Clinique, Laura Mercier & Bobbi Brown have been the major offenders in my experience – & they’re not even the brands drag queens would buy!

    GAH, hate when co’s discontinue things on you – not just make up; my fave bras & undies were disco’d, ditto shoes, jeans, all things that are really really REALLY hard to find “The One” – almost as difficult as finding Mr Right.

    Birthday still a fortnight away but some shopping & planning has been done. Whee! Still to get horsey gear, half chaps, jodhs et al … ack don’t liiiike trying on jodhs, hmmm can you wear that scarey-looking body-shaping corsetry for dressage?

  • 20metercircleoflife  On Saturday 26 July 2008 at 3:37 am

    May I suggest SPANX for under jod wear. It really helps

  • GreyHorseMatters  On Sunday 27 July 2008 at 8:55 am

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I love the therapeutic way you named the rams for old b.f.’s before you did the deed, very funny.
    I’m not much of a clothes shopper anymore, ditto with makeup so it’s hard for me to comment on this post. I usually just buy the same makeup all the time at the mall.

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