I know I feature a few Japanese cosmetics products and brands that aren’t available for purchase in North America, and I know that feeling of it being so lovely that you want it, but just can’t get your hands on it because its not available here. Because of that, I’ve put together an online shopping guide for purchasing Japanese [and most Asian branded] cosmetics in general.
This is my favourite place to shop for cosmetics of any kind and if I can find it here, I usually don’t go elsewhere. They are based in Hong Kong and offer a variety of Asian and Western brands, many of which are at a lower/discount price to what you would find in store. Best of all, they have Jill Stuart products selling at near retail price. Brands include Jill Stuart, Etude, Missha, Skin79, Lunasol and more. Free shipping anywhere in the world on all orders of any size.
Another one of my favourite places to shop and also based in Hong Kong. They have a nice selection of items available for purchase and I love their bi-monthly “special offer” deals where they have certain stuff discounted for around half price. They also have a “loyalty discount” where the more you shop, the more you save. Brands include Paul & Joe, Coffret D’or, Kose, Kanebo, Maquillage and more. Free shipping anywhere in the world on all orders of any size and you get a 5% discount if you purchase 3 or more items in one order.
This is where I buy My Beauty Diary masks and other random stuff. They are kind of like a mid to high end beauty depot based in Hong Kong. If you’ve ever been to one of their brick-and-mortar stores, you will know that they offer a melange of everything beauty-related. You can find some amazing deals on their site, often for a limited time only. Shipping is free, depending on where you are, with a $75 or $100 purchase, otherwise it is $18.
My favourite online store, based in Hong Kong, to get the most recent and up-to-date collections and releases. They offer pretty much all of the Japanese brands, but their website a little hard to surf so you’ll need to the patience. Basically when you shop from there, you pay for the price of the product (listed beside the product name), shipping (by weight), and a “service charge.” One reason I don’t like buying from here is because you don’t see the final total until right before you confirm payment. One more thing is that they prevent fraud by waiting one week between the time of order and when they ship out your package if your billing and shipping addresses are not the same. Its a little troublesome, but totally worth it if you are out to get some limited edition item.
Another one based in Hong Kong, this store sells a very good selection of both Western and Asian brands. I’ve purchased Guerlain from here and surprisingly it was priced at lower than the North American retail price. Shipping is free over $30.
A webstore based in Japan with the biggest selection of Japanese high end, mid end and drugstore brands. I have never purchased from here because the prices are quite high compared to the webstores from Hong Kong (products in Japan are generally more expensive than HK or TW anyways). Shipping is included in the listed prices.
One more based in Hong Kong. They have a bunch of limited edition stuff from a few years ago, so this is a good place to start if you are limited for discontinued or limited edition products. Shipping is included for certain products, but not for others, so it is always good to double check. Also sometimes they double list certain products and the price between them are not the same, so make sure to do a general search of the site to see if you’re getting the best deal!
8. Mihoko Shop
A shop based in Japan that offers a wide selection of brands and products, as well as clothes. EMS Shipping is free over $150. I’ve never purchased from here for the same reason as Ichibankao; its just cheaper to buy it from a site based in Hong Kong or ask someone to CP.
I know some of you are wary of shopping on eBay, but truthfully, its not as scary as it seems. I have made countless orders from sellers across the world and most of them turned out very well. My only advice for eBay shopping for any type of product is to do your research. If you know the type of product you are buying and you know its characteristics, then you will be less likely to get scammed with a fake. Even researching the seller is very important: do they have many negative feedback comments? Doing research ahead of time is the best thing that you can do to ensure that you’re getting a good deal. Another tip is if the product you are after is listed as an auction, don’t bid on it right away! Bid on it at most 2 minutes before the auction ends, this ensures that unless someone else is using this technique too, there will unlikely be people who have higher bids than you. But if you do this, make sure your internet connection is fast/stable; you don’t want to sit there for 5 minutes waiting for the page to load or the internet to get reconnected!
ASOS is a webstore based in the UK. When I was in the UK in the early months of 2010, I ordered from this place like crazy. They have extremely reasonable shipping rates for shipping worldwide and their sales are out of this world. I snagged some Paul & Joe makeup for half off, and also some True Religion jeans for 80% off. Shipping to Canada and the US is just a mere $6 for any sized order, so just order all at once and it’ll be pretty worth it. One word of advice is that if you see something on sale/you want, you want to grab it fast. People are so fast when they use this site, many times I’ve had things go out of stock as I was reading the item description. I also love how once you add something to the cart, you can hold it for up to 2 hours, after that it goes back to be available to everyone. Japanese brands available on ASOS include RMK and Paul & Joe, and you can also grab European brands like Bourjois, Soap & Glory and Steamcream.
This is a site based in Taiwan. You can find a variety of products and brands priced at the TW retail price (some stuff they do charge a “service fee” (aka CP fee) for it, such as a $1 service fee for the My Beauty Diary masks (still a good deal though at $8.33CAD after service fee). Shipping is $15 for anything under $100 and it increases as the total amount of your order increases. Of course, it would still be a good deal, especially on Jill Stuart items since eBay and other sites charge anywhere between 20% to 100% more than the retail price. I have purchased from here and I must say the service is really great, communication is quick and easy and if you accidentally make an order, you can cancel it yourself in the “accounts” section. The only catch is the site is in Chinese, so if you can’t read Chinese then you’re a little out of luck, unless of course you use Google Translator. One thing I do love about this site is that you can collect points to redeem for full size products. Basically you earn 3% of your total order amount back in points and you can redeem those points either on the little samples or each point is worth $1NT and you can save up enough points to redeem yourself a box of masks or a Paul & Joe foundation primer or a Bihada Ichizoku mask. Prices are in New Taiwan Dollars.
Another Hong Kong store! Their prices are pretty reasonable and their stock is updated quickly. Shipping is with tracking and (apparently) $8 for the first item and $2 for each subsequent item. I haven’t shopped there before, but I heard from a few other bloggers that their service is excellent.
PLMM is another store based in Taiwan. The acronym PLMM stands for 漂亮妹妹 which basically means “pretty girl.” They are similar to Beauty Going On, but they often do sales on entire brands and their shipping costs have different levels. They also have the typical brands like My Beauty Diary, Jill Stuart, Majolica Majorca, etc. and from browsing their site, it looks like they get items in faster and have a larger selection of goods.
14. Shop JBP
A Japan-based store, Shop JBP sells the usual Albion, Shiseido, SK II, but they also have a wide selection of Kumano-made makeup brushes, including Chikuhodo but a few other brands as well. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, Shop JBP offers purchasing services where you can ask them to find what you want, and just pay the cost of the product plus a service fee, and shipping.
Ordering: Most sites accept Paypal as their preferred method of payment, which is safer and more convenient for you. If you have questions about the products, communication is generally preferred, and a common courtesy, before you order just in case it isn’t what you have in mind after you see it on your doorstep. It just makes everything go so much smoother for both you and the retailer. Also if you want to try a certain product, you can always request a sample. Stores will usually include a few samples with each order anyways, but if there is anything in particular you would like to try, let them know and they will usually try to accommodate your request to the best of their ability.
Customs & Duties: I know if you live in Canada or the US, you will probably get slapped on with some kind of import tax when your goodies arrive at the border. In Canada, the “rule” is that if its value is over $20 and its a personal import (ie. not a gift to you), then you will get taxed; if its a gift from someone else to you, the maximum value before they can tax you is $60. However from my experience, they usually don’t bother to tax you until your value is $100 or so, or even more. The maximum value of an order that I’ve receive without being taxes was $240, but I have also had incidences when I was taxed on a $70 order, so it really depends on your luck (and the mood of your customs agent that day!). If they offer free shipping on any sized order, then for safety’s sake, divide up your order into 2 or even 3 if your overall value is high. Its really not worth it to get taxed, especially if you’re already purchasing something at a price much higher than retail, and sometimes these taxes can go as high as 40% if shipping via regular mail, or even more than 100% if shipping via UPS or Fedex.
I hope this little “tutorial” was useful to you and that you’ll be able to find those products that you want with ease. If you have any additional questions regarding ordering cosmetics online and whatnot, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment!