Sometimes living in New Zealand can feel a lot like living in the middle of nowhere. Very few musicians come here on tours, we get TV shows screened months late, some maps don't even include us... Australia may be nearby, but it doesn't feel like it!
Sometimes I ask myself the same question...
Cruelty-free makeup can be really hard to buy in New Zealand. Even though animal testing on cosmetics that are manufactured in New Zealand is banned, there are very few New Zealand makeup brands, and those that do exist are sold in small quantities, usually online.
This image is taken from the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society website (www.nzavs.org.nz)
We don't have a Sephora (in person anyway - we do have a very limited online NZ Sephora) or an Ulta. Pharmacies, Kmart, supermarkets, and The Warehouse all stock the same brands, which usually stop at Maybelline and Covergirl - who most definitely do test. You can get E.L.F. at Kmart, but it's a very limited range. The Body Shop is owned by L'Oreal, so if you like to only use brands with cruelty-free parent companies, your options are narrowed. You can find the odd MAC counter in a city mall, but they have started to test on animals as they now sell to China. There are a couple of stores in large cities like Wellington and Auckland that sell makeup in person, like Kirks in Wellington (now David Jones), but they are location-bound. So really the only reliable place to get ethical makeup in person country-wide is Farmers. And even Farmers' range is limited to about three or four brands.
To the internet, then. Surely it's easy to get hold of makeup on the internet?
Shipping prices are often astronomical when you have a Kiwi postcode. Okay, I get it; it's a lot of work to get a package from Europe or the States to New Zealand, especially because it has to hitch a ride on a plane. But the difference between websites is very telling: Beauty Joint charged me $USD7 to ship my last package of three lipsticks, while Colour Pop charged me $USD15 to ship the same amount. Add more products, even if they're light packets or pencils, and by that point the shipping can cost more than the products themselves.
Shipping at the post office is calculated by weight, but this doesn't mean that the website will charge you just what it costs to post it. This is down to two factors: overpriced shipping and packaging. A lot of companies will charge you extra for shipping, rather than just the price it actually costs, to make a quick buck. Or they will make shipping expensive up until a certain price point to encourage shoppers to spend more (NZ Sephora, I'm looking at you!) Many companies will also package their products so well that it adds heaps of weight. This can be a good thing - if you've bought something packaged in glass, for example - but it can be super frustrating when all you wanted was a lip pencil and mascara. If you choose a brand that is known for its cute and unnecessary packaging, be prepared to pay more - that adorable box and coloured bubble wrap has to be paid for somewhere!
But all of this becomes irrelevant when you realise that the website you're shopping on doesn't even ship to New Zealand. At all. This includes Sephora, Ulta, numerous brand websites like Too Faced and NYX... It's the ultimate first world problem, I know, but the struggle is real.
Since I know that there are lots of Kiwis out there who are struggling with the same thing, I've decided to list some of my favourite websites that are based in New Zealand, ship to New Zealand at a semi-reasonable price, and some shipping methods to buy from US-only websites, in the hopes that it may help some people.
I won't be including brand websites that do shop to NZ in this list; rather, this is a list of websites that stock multiple brands. This is because there are simply too many brands out there for me to give a comprehensive list of those that do and don't ship to NZ!
I think that I may start a working document on this topic and fill in brand websites when I do encounter ones that ship to NZ - would anybody be interested in that?
I will, however, be listing some shipping methods that you can use to access both brand websites and multi-brand websites that don't ship to New Zealand.
There are a couple of New Zealand websites that have good ranges to choose from:
I am a huge fan of Beauty Bliss (www.beautybliss.co.nz): they are my number one, hands down, New Zealand makeup supplier. They have a good range of products, some of which are difficult to get in NZ like the Jeffree Star liquid lipsticks, the Becca range, and Morphe. They have very fast and well-packaged shipping at a cheap price; they have an active social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest) and respond to comments and questions quickly; and the rewards system is generous and easily accumulates. If you post a photo of your purchases on Instagram with the hashtag #beautybliss you go into the draw to win a $25 voucher every month, and they regularly re-post and comment. Aaand they have a physical store in Wellington, where you can go and try out products, as well as pick up online orders.
Another good NZ makeup site is Makeup.co.nz (www.makeup.co.nz). While this site doesn't have extensive products per brand, it does sell Anastasia Beverly Hills at a semi-decent price, which is rare in New Zealand (Beauty Bliss stocks ABH as well). You can get all of their eyebrow products and their contour kits, but none of their lip products yet. They have a fast shipping rate and their prices are comparable to Beauty Bliss. Their website isn't the most user-friendly, but it's workable.
I can't talk about a NZ makeup site without mentioning Sephora (www.sephora.nz)... It has good brands, don't get me wrong - although it is missing key brands like Urban Decay, Too Faced, OCC, and Tarte, so really its range isn't that fabulous - but shipping is $25 until you spend $75!! Not to mention that returning products is a difficult and expensive business that is not refunded. But if you like Kat Von D makeup (I don't support her brand for a number of reasons, but I know many people love her products), Anastasia Beverly Hills, Bite Beauty, Nudestix, or theBalm, then it might be worth it if you're willing to drop $75. I personally haven't shopped there because I'm not rich enough to spend that much money at once, but when I do (I've been saving up for a couple of months to get a decent amount of money - the student struggle is real) I'll post a shopping review.
There are other websites like Strawberry Net (nz.strawberrynet.com) and Makeup Direct (www.makeupdirect.com) that also have reasonable shipping prices, although their ranges are quite limited for cruelty-free brands. Strawberry Net is better for skincare and haircare; Makeup Direct stocks my favourite bath brand ever, Bomb Cosmetics! Mecca (www.meccacosmetica.co.nz) has a lot of high-end brands, but their prices are very high. Extremely high. Bum-clenchingly high.
When you're shopping on an overseas website, you're better off buying from a multi-brand retailer, rather than a specifically branded website. These sites are often better equipped for overseas purchases and can afford to lower their prices a bit. Some notable websites that ship to New Zealand don't charge an arm and a leg: you just need to know where to look.
Beauty Joint (www.beautyjoint.com) has remarkably cheap shipping for a US site. For a highlight, lipstick, concealer, and foundation sponge (so a decent amount of product), weight-based non-tracked shipping was $US7.38. I have shopped with them a number of times using the non-tracked option and have never had a problem, but I don't officially recommend taking this option as you never know what might happen (yes, I'm a cheap hypocrite). Packages don't take long to get here, but I would allow two weeks, just to allow for wiggle room. I use this website for cheaper brands that are still hard to get here in NZ, like NYX and a small range of OCC.
Beauty Bay (www.beautybay.com) has a wide range of brands including Too Faced and Urban Decay. They often have free international shipping (they also offer a very cheap International Saver rate), as well as offering small samples when you spend a certain amount, and regular online sales. This is a website that reminds me of Sephora or Ulta, where you can get small samples, the website is pretty, and you have lots of options. It's an Australian website, but the exchange rate between NZ and Aus is usually okay - at least it's better than the US exchange rate at the moment!
Glam Bot (www.glambot.com) is a great website to get hold of discounted makeup products for a low price. The makeup items have been used, but are all in excellent sanitised condition (as the website sells them, rather than individual sellers, guaranteeing consistent quality). Shipping is pretty good once you buy enough product: my last purchase - two blushes, one with quite hefty packaging, and a lipstick - cost me $US10. The only issue with the website is that it is supply-based, so they can't guarantee that they will have certain products, or even certain brands, at any given time. It's frustrating to see products that have been there in the past with 'SOLD OUT' over the top of the picture - I wish that they didn't even show them because it reminds me of things that I wish I could buy!
Beautylish (www.beautylish.com) is a new discovery of mine. It stocks some brands that I've heard about on YouTube but have never had the opportunity to try: Natasha Denona, Charlotte Tilbury, Lit Cosmetics, and RCMA Makeup. I'm yet to make a purchase from here, but shipping is a flat rate of $USD10 until you spend $USD50, when shipping becomes free. That's really generous once you pass the $50 mark, because you can load up your order as much as you'd like! I'm looking forward to shopping from them. I'm just waiting until the RCMA No Colour Powder is back in stock.
All Cosmetics Wholesale (www.allcosmeticswholesale.com) sells retail shelf pull and manufacturer excess inventory makeup at heavily discounted prices. All products are guaranteed authentic, but the packaging is often not 'shelf quality' and may be marked with store labels or be labelled as Tester or Free Sample (this doesn't mean that they have been used - they are just overstock that have been sold to the wholesale market). I've found some great products on this website, and shipping isn't too bad - generally it is around $10 for one thing, $15 for three things.
One of New Zealand's most well-known shipping services is YouShop (www.nzpost.co.nz/tools/youshop), which is run by NZ Post, our national post system. They have warehouses in Europe, the USA, and China, which you can ship orders to from websites that do not ship to New Zealand. Basically it opens up a number of websites and brands to you that you would otherwise not be able to access. It's fast and secure: once the item reaches the warehouse it takes 5-6 days to arrive in NZ from the USA, 3-4 days from the UK, and 2-3 days from China (see my in-depth review here). That's faster than orders from websites that ship directly to NZ often take! The only downside of this service is a. it's expensive (my latest order, which was small, was $NZD22 to ship), and b. Sephora doesn't ship to their warehouses as they've realised that it's a shipping service that sends items to NZ. However it's a trustworthy service that opens up a lot of beauty goodies to us!
There are a number of other shipping services that you can try, although I personally haven't used any. MyUS (www.myus.com) is one that comes to mind. MyUS also has a Personal Shopper service, which lets you purchase from websites that don't take overseas credit cards or have other payment specifications that you can't meet. There are a number of other services available if you do a quick Google search, although I plan on sticking with YouShop as it's a national and safe service.
So there are ways to get hold of makeup, even in little ol' backwater NZ. You just have to be prepared to do some digging, look carefully for bargains and free shipping deals, and spend a whole heap of time waiting by your mailbox, just you by yourself with your considerably smaller bank balance.
Hopefully in the next few years things will get easier, as New Zealand starts to be recognised as a country in its own right, rather than an island that's part of Australia (which, for the record, it isn't!!). And hey, an online Sephora has opened up in NZ, even though shipping is expensive and the range is small. If that's not a sign of brighter and better things to come, then I don't know what is!
What stores do you shop with? Do you have any other tips for New Zealanders when shopping online?