Monday, May 1, 2017

Where I shop, where I am on the green beauty spectrum and a rant about EU custom charges

Hi Lovelies,

Welcome! And if you are new welcome 💕💕💕

Who loves a good rant? Not me, but I had to vent here, and I am sure many of you will agree with me on this.
So, this post is a little bit different from my usual review posts, but this will be the answer to the most common questions I get, aka most of you want to know where and what do I buy, how clean are my products and I will add a dollop of a rant about custom charges and liquids ban at the end. You can always skip that :)

So, where do I shop? I have to be honest, most of my purchases used to come from online shopping. Now I find more and more clean skincare and bodycare locally, which is great! Shopping locally is my new mantra these days, although I make an exception for make up, as truly clean make up was non existent here. All we had was Bare Minerals (which I don't use anymore) and Benecos (which does not work for me) and plus DrHaushka in some health shops (which I find rather expensive and unappealing. No testers here either) . A little note here, Debenhams started carrying Nude In Nature make up, and you can find my blog post on it here.
I have to come clear about something here, even though I live in the capital of Ireland, we have no place like Detox Market, Content Beauty, or even Wholefoods where I could physically go in an browse and check out the products/swatch the products to my hearts content. None of that for me. And we all know how hard it is to match yourself online to your correct shade - I've a stash of beauty product to prove it - you can't return an open product in Europe, whether it's in store or online. Too bad if the foundation turned out way too light/dark for you, or the gorgeous nude pink lipstick you've been admiring on Instagram pulls straight up brown on you - you are simply stuck with unsuitable products and forget about getting your money back! Admittedly we do have some great health food stores, but these are the size of your average living room, and you get one wall of green beauty products, most of which will be bodycare/skincare and if you are lucky, there is some make up in a form of Benecos and some DrHaushka one if you are lucky. Or a little shelf in some botiques. For skincare and bodycare expect to see brands like Jason, DrHaushka, Ren, DrBronner’s, Lavera and the like. My two favourites are Nourish (website if you are interested) and The Health Store ( Then there are Arnotts and Debenhams, the big department stores, who also listen to the consumers demands and have also introduced sections of natural beauty, at a bigger price point (as you would expect) but I am sure happy they too are trying. Check their websites for the brands they carry if you are curious. And of course, let's not forget my not-so-best-kept secret that is TKMaxx beauty section (blog post here) where I discovered some of my fave products! These are one off purchases, you can never find the same thing there ever again. So if I really like something, I have to shop online for it afterwards.

The struggle is real you guys! 
But fear not, I will let you into my not-so-best-kept secrets on what I do and where I shop.

So where exactly do I shop? I am happy to have found Flying Wild (reviews here and here) so I am covered for almost all bodycare needs, plus their organic beeswax lipbalm with honey and rosemary deserves only the best praise too - no matter how many lip balms I try, I always come back to this, it has the exceptional ability to heal chapped and cracked lips. One of my favourites along with Hurraw. Jo Browne does fabulous stick perfumes (review here) and there are more and more Irish companies who do truly natural products, and I intend to try them and continue to expand my “Irish Series” blog posts reviewing them. By the way, there's still time to get 50%off Human & Kind for my readers, see details here. I am also technically a Neal's Yard Remedies consultant (and in reality my one and only customer) so I do an annual order for about a hundred bucks with them too. My sensitive skin couldn't handle some of the skincare with essential oils in it, but the majority of the products I tried, I loved - the body and hand washes last for aaaages, I also get some healthcare items, books and essential oils from them too. They used to have a brick and mortar shop here too, but closed it down ages ago, like 10 years or so ago,just before I went green. So online purchases it is. (related posts here and here if you are interested).
Other than that I also love shopping online, and three of my favourite websites are all UK based (don't know how it will pan out with Brexit, if I were to pay extra taxes and/or having to squeeze into 22€ limit (more on it later) I will not be a happy bunny! The websites in question are, and - between them they have every possible product you can think of, and trust me you will be spoiled for choice! I frigging love all of them, and don't make me choose, haha!  There are some more fabulous EU based websites like (based in Germany), (in Netherlands), (in Italy) and a good handful more of them, but I never ordered from them myself yet. I used to want to try all those fabulous US products everyone in the green beauty community are talking about, but having to pay a penalty points aka custom fees on top of my rather expensive orders, I quickly learned my lesson and in the last year I came to the conclusion I am reduced to shopping inside EU only. Thankfully many of those brands I’d been wanting to try are realizing what we EU customers have to deal with and getting EU distributors too. Savvy indeed.
Now, let me explain - in the case you didn't know, if a person from inside EU wants to buy anything from OUTSIDE EU (it doesn't have to be green beauty item, it can be anything at all) we are slapped with crippling custom taxes so high that it almost doubles or nearly triples the initial cost of the product one wants, and more often than not I decide to leave it altogether. The tax free limit is 22€ only and that has to include shipping costs and insurance costs too! Now, could you please tell me what can I buy for this kind of money if the shipping alone from US is more often than not at $25? Very rarely companies charge around 11$ and I admire some people who do manage to squeeze into those damned €22 with their orders, which I admire. I am sure I can get a blush or something for 11$ and adding $11 postage fee to it would technically quality for a trouble free order, but I tend to leave those kind of orders all together, they get me depressed. I mean the blush is costing me double already, I didn't insure it, so there's a chance of it going misssing and zero chance of getting my money back. And what if I don't like it? What if I want to get more things from the brand, not just a blusher? Do five separate orders paying 11$ for shipping for each of them or add all to one order and pay hefty custom fees? Or do I sit and count which option would be cheaper? 
Let's see the real life example if I want to order samples? I want to try Root for quite some time, as their foundation seems super high coverage (right up my alley and the blogger in me is itching to compare it to my beloved Pure Anada mineral foundation). Thankfully Root does samples of almost all of their products, so let's see what happens if I want to sample some of their make up (leaving their skincare/bodycare out, again, my decision to get such things within EU).

So, I chose 15 samples (three samples of foundation, a primer, concealer, a couple of blush shades, blushing bronze and one or two corrector samples, and brow pomade, nothing major. Fair amount of samples when one wants to try a new brand, I didn't add everything to the cart, believe moi). The total for them is 44.50$ excluding tax and shipping. Add shipping of $25 and my order total would be 69.50$. (Their free shipping always applies to US only, and I haven't seen any discount codes for international postage yet).
Now, as I mentioned, custom taxes are much higher than regular taxes, they vary from country to country, and they are at 35% in Ireland. Add 10€ handling fee and my total for this order would rise up to 103.80€. Is that worth for a few samples? I think not! It is coming to ridiculous sums, and I am not even kidding you - go on and do the math yourselves. And let me remind you, this is for SAMPLES, zero full size products included! Do you think it's worth it? I think not. I would double think of spending that kind of money if I had money to burn, but at my current situation it is unthinkable. So I have to leave it unfortunately. Root, if you are reading this, please come to EU! I want to try your make up badly, but not at a cost like this. 

So there it is, my permanent story with buying from overseas. I used to be dying wanting to try all those fabulous items the green beauty community is buzzing about, but I had to admit to myself it is not meant to be. My US blogger friends were majorly puzzled by this when I explained what I have to deal with, and admitted they only think about the price of the product they are after, and that's it! No additional costs cross their minds, and let’s not forget they can also return the products for whatever reason, and we can't.

 Another example of the total cost coming to ridiculous sums can be found in my Red Apple Lipstick (now rebranding as Red Apple) review here, if I were to buy one lipstick and one eye shadow from them, I’d end up paying 109€ in total. Now, how is that fair? And I am not even kidding or lying to you, all is laid out and screen shot for a proof. 

 There are different custom tax levels, depending on what you buy, but beauty products are taxed at 35%, which is so much higher than state tax, and I am taxed for the products and the shipping too. And then there's an additional "handling fee", which I used to moan all about, until I was told that in Germany you have to go collect your order in person and pay customs there and then, as well as filling countless documents and waiting for hours at the end. So that makes you change your mind about handling fee pretty quickly, I would rather have it delivered to me, it turns out those 10€ are rather well spent, who knew? As I mentioned, custom taxes vary up to 50% depending on the thing and there's always the small print, but let's leave it it at that, it is too complicated subject to get into, and I am not an expert, I am just a consumer.
Remember, when Mahalo released their limited edition box a couple of months earlier? It cost 250 dollars or euros (not sure, I didn't buy it) and I winced when a couple of Instagram buddies from EU mentioned that they were taxed at around 87€ on top of that! Umm, why are be being punished for spending our hard earned money? And since when buying perfume or nail polish online is hazardous and I am apparently breaking postal laws?

I nearly forgot to include a piece on where I am on the green beauty spectrum, aka how much of a purist I am. As you can see, the struggle is real here, so I am doing the best I can with what I have, but as the time goes by, I am definitely more of a purist to when I was starting, and I am very pleased I don't have to compromise with ingredients anymore. Times and products change, and I am changing with them, I mean there were times when I used PurMinerals when I was featured on No More Dirty Looks a year or two ago (see the post here) and sadly said brand (and a couple of others I had my eye on) reformulated their products to include more chemicals than minerals. I hate when companies do that! Andalou Naturals did that too, and now they include silicones in the BB creams, serums and so on. Why? And I mean WHY do that? It was one of the brands I wanted to try so badly and did a happy dance when I found them in one of the health shops here, and guess what? A week later they sneakily reformulated without letting their customers know about it. I was alerted about this by someone on Instagram, who compared the ingredients list of old and new formulas. Guess what? I've been wanting to try Turmeric line, sensitive skin line and one of their BB creams for summer, because they have SPF30, but now they lost me as a customer. Not only we have to sift through a huge amounts of greenwashing, but cases like this sadly happens.
That's it, rant over. Mic drop! 🎤🎤🎤

So there's that, my blog post for today. I hope this answers the questions you had for me, and if I not, you can always reach out to me via social media.  What are your thoughts on these? Have you had to pay those pesky custom charges too?
*Update: I seemed to touch a raw nerve with this post, be sure to check out an interesting discussion that developed on my IG page here.
Lots of Love,

P.s. Please make my day and like and share my posts, I am working very hard on my blog, but as I don't pay anything to Google, Facebook and the like, my blog is being ghosted and it is not visible to the people who don't follow me already. And I would love to reach bigger audience - I think there's a lot of work to be done in helping people to switch to green beauty, and I like being of service in this field. Also, let's connect on other social media, I will leave links to all my platforms down below. Thank you in advance!



  1. My dear Renata you already know how I feel about this argument... Here in Italy I believe everything is overtaxed and they try to take your money for everything! Not only I have to pay custom fees for importing from extra EU,the taxes depend on how much money you have spent (?????),plus there's a "sanitary inspection" to pay which costs 30€! So let me make an example:I did a swap with an American friend who marketed 30$ value.. I ended up paying 70€ of taxes!!! What???? I am sorry but it's seriously ridiculous! My decision is to shop only in EU,better if it's in Italy because I get free shipping! So that is.. I'm going to read under your IG post right now😘❤❤

    1. Oh my goodness, and to think I used to moan about my 10€ handling fee.. but 30€ fee is seriously ridiculous, and from what I can understand from chat with you and comments from another Italian lady, customs in Italy are working extra hard, because she had to pay a fine because the brand undervalued her purchase! How ridiculous, how was she supposed to know what brand will value it? To be honest I don't know where are we headed with this with postage costs rising year after year and us customer paying fines aka custom fees every time we spend our hard earned cash.. Thanks for reading my dear :)