Saturday, 8 May 2010

Why I rarely buy cosmetics in Australia

I went shopping this morning because I wanted to see Elizabeth Arden's anniversary Red Door lipstick. I went to two different stores and neither of them had testers so I asked at one of the counters if there was a tester. There wasn't and she told me that as the item was limited edition they wouldn't be getting any testers. She then went on to tell me that the lipstick was a beautiful pinky red and cost $47 (AUD). 

As there weren't any testers or even any pictures, I asked if I could return the lipstick if I bought it and didn't like the colour. The answer was no. (In Australia it is very difficult to return open or used cosmetics). So Elizabeth Arden is expecting people to buy a $47 lipstick without even knowing what it looks like. How crazy is that?

And if that weren't bad enough, if I was to buy the same lipstick in the USA it would cost me $20 (USD). With today's exchange rate that works out to $22.50 (AUD). 

And this gets me on to why I rarely buy cosmetics in Australia. Not only is it nearly impossible to return an opened product (let alone a used one), the price that we pay here is ridiculous. Things usually cost at least double what they cost overseas. I don't understand why we get slugged such ridiculous prices. I can understand products costing a little bit more, but more than double? 

Another example is the new Dior Serum De Rouge lipsticks. They cost $68 (AUD). The same lipsticks cost $32 (USD). I could go on but you get the picture.

It's for this reason that I purchase most of my cosmetics from overseas. Even with shipping I save money. Take for instance the MAC Baby Sparks Dazzleglass I got from All Cosmetics Wholesale. It cost me $14.99 plus shipping which was around $4. All up I paid around $20 (AUD). If I'd purchased Baby Sparks in Australia it would have cost me $42. Not that I can purchase it here, I've been on two waiting lists since November and it's still not back in stock.

And that's the end of my rant :)  


  1. Yep, I feel exactly the same way. It's ridiculous the mark up on cosmetics, it does not cost $30 to ship a Dior lipstick to Australia. What sites do you use for make up? I find more US ones will ship to Australia now but I'd live Sephora to. I only buy nail polish now from as you get Chiba Glaze, Essie and OPI for between US$2.75-5 each and they retail for AUD$20 here. Even with shipping of US$18 for up to nine bottles you are ahead. Plus you can get lines like the OPI Alice in Wonderland range that are difficult to get here. It's all such a headache!

  2. I agree so whole-heartedly with everything you say here. It's not just the fact that buying cosmetics in Australia is double what you'd pay overseas, it's the fact that you take a gamble on a product that you might not like and can't return.

    I had the same problem trying to purchase Lancome's Secret de Vie moisturiser in Perth. I tried both David Jones and Myer, and both had no samples to give out. The way I was supposed to try the moisturiser was to book in for a Lancome facial. For a $400 moisturiser, I definitely want to try it before I invest. Needless to say, I found it much cheaper online (about $70) and whilst it was good, it wasn't $400 worth of good.

  3. This is a regular rant of mine - it infuriates me. I understand we're kind of remote and there is shipping and whatnot to take into account, but we get gouged here. Revlon ColorStay foundation is triple the price you would pay in the US!

    Pretty much everyone I know who regularly buys makeup or skincare regularly gets most of it online, so I can't help but think that eventually the beauty companies are going to have more competitive prices or they just won't be able to operate here.

  4. its the same in japan. a mac dazzleglass cost about £20 ($29.60) in japan, but only cost £14.50 ($21.40)in the uk. what's worse is that for nars sheer glow, i bought it for £46 ($68) in japan and yet it only cost £29 ($42) in the uk.

  5. Ugh! I thought we had it bad in England where MAC and other cosmetics are a bit higher than in the US but those prices are just insane! You poor Aussie dears! D:
    And since when do limited edition products not get testers? I would rarely buy makeup i couldn't return without testing it (the only thing i will get is mascara which you can never test really) let alone something that pricey!

  6. It is the same thing here in Sweden. An example: We pay about 16 USD for a China glaze-polish. If I buy it online from a US webshop it will cost me about 5 USD including shipping cost. Isn't that crazy? I am going to New York this fall and I am gonna go shopping a lot - definitely!

  7. Interesting post! The companies who listen are going to do well!

  8. Let's hope that companies start to pay attention and stop charging us all such crazy prices!

    Nat, I main use,, and ebay for my purchases.

    And Dempss01, that's the other thing that really annoys me, how difficult it is to get samples.

  9. Oh god, I could rant for HOURS on this subject. Elizabeth Arden are full of shit, if MAC can manage to have testers for all their millions of LE collections, they can too.

    *stabs* >=|

  10. Hear! Hear! I hardly buy skincare products in Australia too, let alone cosmetics. The markup is ridiculous, and seriously offensive. I get my skincare stuff from Strawberrynet. NARS makeup (my fave), I get from a US-based website. Why even bother to buy NARS here, when it's half the price in the US, including shipping?

    As much as I'd love to support the Australian economy, I just cannot pay that much for stuff I know I can get cheaper elsewhere.

  11. Thanks - I already use Strawberry.NET so I'll have to check out the others.

  12. I definitely see your point (such a well written post!) but I feel sorry for the companies because it is not simply a matter of them marking it up on a whim - it costs a ridiculous amount to sustain a brand in this country. Not only is our market so much smaller, but there are a ridiculous amounts of duties, taxes and higher costs involved in running a business here. Makeup is marked up across the board, as are clothes, books, farrrrking everything!
    I do feel sorry for the companies because it means a lot of people then do their own 'parallel importing', and the $$ the companies spend to invest in our market goes to waste as consumers undercut their distribution channels.

    Although I would be careful buying products from overseas places that aren't 'official' - I mean that transdesign site another commenter mentioned is being sued by OPI!

  13. That is a sad reality, but one we don't have to accept. I am wondering if you could post some links where you buy cosmetic from overseas and in the instance where many places don't ship to Australia what do you do?

  14. Have you contacted any of your favorite brands to ask why the prices are so much higher? I'd love to see a breakdown of how they arrive at such a price.

    Do you at least get Becca Cosmetics for a decent price? If so, I'm terrible jealous :)

  15. Theloveofpink, that's really interesting, I didn't realise that companies here get charged so much. But since that's the case, I wonder why they don't provide better customer service then? If they know they're charging crazy prices why don't they try to make purchasing from them more attractive with great service and gwp's? The gwp's that I see overseas are heaps better than the ones we get.

    Nat, when I find sites that don't ship to Australia I email and ask about shipping, often they're willing to ship internationally if they're asked. I'm also considering signing up to a mail forwarding centre.

    MLBB, we don't even get cheap Becca here, even that is cheaper overseas.

  16. Anonymous. I haven't posted your comment as I don't publish rude comments on my blog. However, in answer to your question, as I've mentioned above, you can buy Nars from strawberrynet and Kiss and Makeup NY. They both ship to Australia. Strawberrynet has free shipping and Kiss and Makeup charges $7.95 (USD).

  17. I've always griped about the ridiculous prices here in the US, but had no idea people in other countries were REALLY getting it "socked to them". Thank goodness for the Internet these days, where you can buy almost anything from anywhere. Before, you really had no other options.

  18. I'm in Canada, and this happens to us too! I was trying to order something on was 32 bucks...switched to Canadian checkout and it was 68!!? How do they even justify THAT! We are pretty much at par! Just like with Australia. <3

    1. It's crazy isn't it? And then they complain that shops are doing it tough cause everyone buys from overseas.

  19. YES IT WAS ON TV stocks all big brands which are on sephora in Australia it's finally here!


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