Ordering From Overseas - A Guide to International Shopping

June 23, 2014

As I've tried to 'green' up my make up collection I've found that often the best products and best prices are often to be found outside of the UK, normally across the pond in the good old US of A.

I'm not saying you can't get some great stuff here in the UK, and in sales you can get some bargains BUT if you want everyday, low prices then I have some sites to share with you plus some tips and tricks of how to order from abroad, avoiding customs charges and sky high shipping costs.

So the two most obvious sites to mention are Vitacost and iHerb. I personally find these sites a bit overwhelming at times, I like to use these when I have something specific in mind e.g. shampoo or eye liner. if you just go the these sites and try to peruse the 'shelves' you may well feel lost like I do! Having said that, you may not! You may be in heaven!


I have only used Vitacost once, I think you can find some great bargains on there but I think the shipping is more expensive and the delivery time is slower. When I placed my order I used a 'refer a friend' discount code which took about $10 off (half the cost of shipping) and I got some very reasonably priced items. However, they have a few things on their site that you have to buy a minimum quantity of (i.e. two boxes of tea, two jars of honey, etc) and I didn't see much in their make up selection that was a real bargain.

If you did want to try out Vitacost you could use my link or code if you like: RFP7KYRU


I would say that I prefer iHerb over Vitacost. I find it easier to use and understand their site. In my experience the shipping is cheaper and the delivery faster.

They offer a great rewards programme to - if you use my code on you first order: TKP239 or use my link to iHerb then you will get money off your order, I get some 'credit' to use on future shopping and then you will get your own code to share with your friends. iHerb say on their website that they don't pay for advertising, they reward shoppers for spreading the word instead. I love this! We all get something out of the arrangement!

My Natural Market

This is one that I've only used once but they have a great product selection and VERY good shipping costs. This is where I bought my Physicians Formula mascaras for and I seem to remember that they arrived very quickly.

The All Natural Face

If you're looking for low cost, high quality make up, hair and skin care items and you're not a packaging junkie then this is the place for you! I absolutely love how much I can get from here for under £15 (customs limit) and I have never been disappointed. Their shipping costs are ridiculously low.

Half of my make up is TANF and I still want loads more!

I have a 'loyalty' offer which you can use to get 10% off your first order, just click here :-)

Brija Cosmetics 

As you will probably all know by now I really love Brija Cosmetics. This company is run by Brianna of I Luv Jesse 444 on YouTube and is fully vegan. She has very strict policies on ingredients and everything is made to extremely high standards. While Brija isn't an online superstore (yet!) it does have a great selection of different items, often in cool, media themed collections. Shipping from Brija isn't very high and I've enjoyed everything I've bought from there.

Silk Naturals

This really is a great site for high quality, natural and fair priced make up. It's not cheap but their samples are very generous and well worth $0.99 and their stuff is made with excellent ingredients. I am desperate to own some of their lipsticks as everyone raves about them but at the moment I have a few of their blushes and eye shadows which are all brilliant. 

Their international shipping costs have recently increased but they are still pretty reasonable.

Onto the practical matters:

Working out costs

When figuring out how much something is from $ to £ I either Google 'USD to GBP' or I open a window with XE.com loaded up ready before I start shopping. 

Restricted items

There will be some items that cannot be sent to you from abroad, off the top of my head they include some liquid items over a certain ml and nail polish. The site you are on will probably let you know either as you add it to your basket or at the checkout stage.

Customs Charges

How much will it cost in customs charges is like asking how long is a piece of string. Officially you will be charged a % of the total cost based on they type of item you are buying. You can read more on the HMRC website - see if you can make sense of it?

In addition to your % charge there will often be an admin fee by the carrier. Lovely old Royal Mail like to stick an £8 fee on... yeah cheers for that. I think that other couriers and carriers charge less and are more likely to let your through without charges but there seems to be no real rhyme or reason to the system.

The only rule I stick to, to be on the safe side is KEEP YOUR ORDER UNDER £15. If it is under that magic number then you should not be charged anything.

I've been known to place two orders with TANF for under £15 each but as their shipping costs are SO low it works out MUCH cheaper than paying customs charges on one, larger order.

Delivery Times

Obviously this varies from site to site, order to order, but I've mentioned that iHerb seems faster than Vitacost. Bear in mind if you order from Brija or TANF they make their products by hand, often to order, so this can affect delivery times.

Generally things turn up in about 2-3 weeks after ordering but you need to allow 6 weeks to be on the safe side.

Anything else

Don't be scared to order from overseas. I know it can seem daunting and scary but think of it like ordering from any other shop but with a £15 budget in mind. If you have any other questions or worries let me know and I'll try to help out!
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I have a video on this, click here to watch.

More links:

Info from Royal Mail:

This post does not include any products sent for consideration. 
The links are not affiliated (although they will take you to my loyalty reward pages)
All opinions are honest and my own, any suggestions made are based on my own experiences and are meant as a guide. 
Please always take care when making any DIY products and patch test to rule out an adverse reaction.


  1. Very informative, Thanks.x

  2. Great post! I was thinking of asking you about this just yesterday haha

  3. Great informative and helpful post as always! I will definitely be trying something from TANF soon! :) x

    1. Thank you :-) make sure you use someone's code to get 10% off :-) I really love TANF! xx

  4. When you "green up" your make up collection, isn't the shipping of products something you would like to minimize? We want our food to be produced nearby because transports pollutes our environment, why is make up different?

    1. I can see what you're saying but for me my focus is on getting the right make up with the right ingredients at the right price - my focus is more selfish as it is about what I'm putting on my skin not where it's come from. We all have different 'aims' and focuses.
      I also like to support smaller businesses whether they are British or not, a lot of the make up brands I purchase from are smaller, independent companies and I like supporting them through my purchases and by bringing them a little bit of extra attention through my blog (hopefully!)
      I am not disagreeing with you but just explaining that my focus is more on ingredients than environment (this may be wrong but it is my personal choice) and my local make up choices are extremely limited.
      I make lots of day to day choices to reduce my environmental impact by walking & cycling most places, recycling, reusing, etc. I think we are all on our own journey with our own goals.
      Thanks very much for reading and for your comment :-)

  5. Good post Rach, I'm always a bit twitchy about ordering from overseas having been stung for customs charges once or twice in the past so this is very helpful x

    1. Thanks! :-) Yep it is so disappointing when you get stung, it certainly does put you off. I once had to pay fees on a £16 order, over £12 of fees!! So annoying as it was only JUST over. grr.

  6. Great post dear! I'm always checking TANF and Silk Naturals and I really have no idea why I still haven't ordered anything from them :) xx

    1. Hee hee, do it! I'm sure you won't regret it ;-) xx

  7. Hello, had a quick qs - when you say keep your orders under £15 is that with or without shipping costs?
    thank you

  8. I have found it works as long as the goods are under £15 excluding delivery/shipping. I hope that helps :-)


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