TUTORIAL: How to Buy from MACCosmetics.com

Hey there!

Hope everyone’s having a stupendous week so far! I just got back from a 5-day break in Hong Kong (thus the lack of updates here). Will blog about my trip sometime next week after I’ve repaid my sleep debt. Meanwhile, allow me to share something that almost every Singaporean, who had read my MAC lipstick reviews, had asked me about.

“How do you buy lipsticks from MACCosmetics.com?”

M.A.C is known to be one of the best mid-end cosmetics brand in the world, offering a wide selection of high-quality cosmetics at very affordable prices. Their lipsticks, for example, range between US$16 (S$22) for permanent collections and some celebrity-endorsed ones, and US$30 (S$40) typically for collaborations with renowned designers on their website. Other brands sell for more than triple the price when their quality may not necessarily be as good as M.A.C’s. But of course, products sold on the main M.A.C website are only available to shoppers living in the Americas (you lucky people!). And to top it off, their orders get to be shipped for free.

Sadly for the rest of us living outside the U.S., we have to rely on imported products which prices are usually inflated. A US$16 M.A.C. lipstick can cost as much as S$30 here in Singapore. That’s $8 more than what I’d pay on maccosmetics.com. Very pricey, don’t you think? And it gets worse for products that are in high demand.

Hence, people started organising sprees to online shops that do not offer international shipping. But no one would be so foolish to help without expecting anything in return, There must be something in it for them. Thus, some started charging exorbitant exchange rates on top of an unreasonable handling fee per item. It’s so ridiculous, you might just end up paying a few dollars less than you would in the retail store. Plus, I don’t think it’s worth the wait (as spree organisers have to compile orders and setup a meetup event for all the buyers).

So after much contemplation, I figured that I’m better off buying the items online on my own. And I’ve been doing that ever since making my first U.S. purchase (it was my M.A.C x Lorde lipstick actually, not too long ago) through a freight forwarder.

A spree participant and still not convinced to make the switch? Here are some more reasons:

  • Cheaper in general
  • You get to confirm your orders immediately
  • You get to track your own orders
  • Shorter waiting time for your parcel to reach you
  • The more you buy in one shipment, the lesser you pay for shipping (chargeable to forwarder)
  • The exchange rate is fixed by the bank

Not sure on how to go about ordering from maccosmetics.com? Simply follow these steps and you’ll be fine! 🙂

* * *

1. Create an account with your desired freight forwarder.

Here are some freight forwarders that ship to Singapore:

  • ComGateway (U.S. orders only) – For this tutorial, I will be using CGW’s service.
  • vPOST (U.S., China, Japan and Europe orders)
  • Borderlinx (U.S. and U.K. orders)
  • 65Daigou (U.S., Taiwan and China orders)

Do ensure that you’ve fill the form out correctly.

After registration, you should be given your own U.S. address.

buytute-9

1. It should be reflected on the top left hand corner of the page. Otherwise, you can view it on “Your Account”.

2. Create an account with M.A.C.

On the left menu bar, click “My M.A.C” and another panel would appear beside it. Click “Register“.

For more details on how to fill out the registration form, please refer to images 2d and 2e.

Alternatively, you can register after checking out your shopping cart like what I’ve done below:

buytute-1

2a. Bought these during the Cyber Monday sale. If you have a discount code (usually mentioned in their mailers), be sure to key it in.

buytute-2

2b. Once you’ve applied your discount code, you may proceed to checkout your items.

buytute-3

2c. MAC will prompt you to sign in (if you’re not) or sign up before you could make payment. I’m already a member so I’m gonna use the fields on the left. By right, if you’ve keyed in all your billing and mailing information, you’d be directed to the payment page after this.

buytute-4

2d. For new users, you’d be prompted to key in your billing information.

M.A.C. accepts international credit cards. For the page reflected on image 2d, key in your own credit card information. Check the first box if you wish to make this credit card your default payment option, or the second if you want to save the details in your account. (I actually checked both)

Before you click “Save Changes”, you may want to add your address first. Refer to image 1 for the address.

buytute-5

2e. Remember, you do not input your Singapore address. Instead, you should use the U.S. address provided by your freight forwarder. It may be a little confusing for first-timers, so please follow the numbering on image 1.

Make the address your shipping address as well. Otherwise, the order will not go through (as it’s not a U.S. address)

Likewise, if you’re paying via PayPal, do ensure that the reflected billing address is your U.S. address. Failure to do so would lead to an error message.

Once you’re done, you would be back on your Billing Information window. Click “Save Changes“.

3. Submit final order

You are now directed back to your checkout page. Verify your billing and shipping addresses (they should be the same), your payment method and your shipping method (mine was overnight shipping because I applied a discount code. Otherwise, it should be standard).

buytute-6

3a. Submit your order if there are no errors.

buytute-7

3b. Order completed!

You should also receive an order confirmation via e-mail. M.A.C. will provide you your DHL tracking number (hyperlinked to the DHL tracking page) once your order has been shipped. This could take 2-3 days for Standard Shipping (the free option), and about a week for the parcel to arrive at your U.S. address. The tracking page is pretty accurate. No delays for me so far.

4. Parcel arrives at your U.S. address

buytute-8

4a. You will receive this e-mail from CGW. Click on it! *excited*

buytute-22

4b. Click on “here” to view the details of your parcel

buytute-12

4c. Details on your parcel’s weight. You can also view the invoice from the merchant (maccosmetics.com in this case)

If, upon viewing the merchant invoice, you found out that your orders are separated into two parcels (happens if you order a lot of stuff and they can’t possibly fit into one box), you can wait for the other parcel to arrive at your U.S. address. You’re entitled to store your parcels with CGW for free for 30 days (60 days for Prime Members).

5. Shipping to Singapore

Once all your parcels have arrived (you will also be notified via e-mail), you may proceed to ship them to you.

buytute-13

5a. On the same page, scroll down until you see the “Ready to Ship” button. Click on that.

buytute-14

5b. On the following page, select the parcels you want to ship (a.k.a. everything. Do bear in mind that base shipping charges would incur for new/separate shipments) and click “Select to Ship

buytute-15

5c. Next, ensure that your mailing address is correct. It should be your Singapore address this time.

You have the option to collect it from Cheers/FairPrice Xpress if you know that you won’t be home during time of delivery (usually between 12-3pm for me but you can call and arrange for a re-delivery if you’re not around to receive it). Delivery is also done over the weekends. Quite amazing!

buytute-16

5d. Select your desired delivery option and click “Continue

buytute-17

5e. Then, select your shipping speed. Click “Continue

buytute-18

5f. If you pay by DBS/POSB debit or credit card, you get to enjoy a FREE upgrade to Express Shipping on top of a 10% discount! So pay by DBS/POSB card ok?! Good deals don’t say I bo jio! Click “Continue” again.

The above shows how much I had to pay to ship 2 parcels containing 8 lipsticks in total from M.A.C, in US dollars. Yup, CGW charges in USD. Please do the conversion yourself! 🙂

buytute-19

5g. You will then be directed to a page where you’d have to key in the code sent to your phone. It’s some security feature for payments made by credit/debit card.

buytute-20

5h. Aaaaand you’re done!

buytute-10

5i. Order receipt from CGW

buytute-21

5j. An e-mail to acknowledge your payment!

buytute-11

5k. And this will come within 1-2 working days. Shipment is also by DHL.

Again, this doesn’t just work for M.A.C. If you know of any U.S. online shops that accept international credit card, this method will still apply.

NOTE: If your purchases exceed S$400, you are liable to pay 7% GST

The cost of shipping generally differs according to the weight of your parcels, which would be measured by the freight forwarder when your parcel reaches your U.S. address. Hence, you will not be able to know how much your package weighs until then. The freight forwarder, however, may indicate on their website how much it charges for the first and subsequent 0.5kg.

If you feel that you’re being overcharged, chances are your merchant had used a very big box to contain your stuff (thus the weight). You may request for a repack (except vPOST as they don’t offer this service) if it’s available. This service is chargeable though.

I hope this is useful for you ladies! Feel free to drop me a comment if you have any other enquiries. I’m not an expert myself but I’ll try my best to help!

If time permits, I may also do one on Taobao.

Thanks for reading 🙂

My Skin Imperfections + How to Clear Pimples

Hello ladies (and maybe gentlemen as well)! Hope all of you had a splendid new year! I spent mine in Taiwan and I will definitely find time to blog about it soon!

Last week while looking into my mirror like how I’d usually do to prep myself for a night out, it occurred to me that my complexion wasn’t as bad as it looked 10 years ago when I had my first sudden outbreak of acne. I was kinda astonished because it was my time of the month and I expected more red bumps on my cheeks.

They say pictures are deceiving – that’s certainly true for me. I never had flawless skin since I was 15 when I started breaking out on my forehead, cheeks and jawline (strangely zits rarely formed on my nose). Prior to that, I had smooth and supple skin 😦 I was obviously not very proud of my complexion so I photoshopped my pictures ever since (which is a blessing in disguise because that was how I honed my photoshopping skills LOL) before publishing them online. My skin was at its worst during my secondary school days. My confidence plunged to the lowest level then and I totally avoided making eye contact during conversations as I didn’t want to see the other party scrutinising every detail on my face. Every pimple I popped, a few more would appear. I was so afraid to walk into pharmacies because I’d definitely get approached by salesgirls trying to promote me acne products. It was so depressing that I even broke down before my Mom once!

My acne-prone skin is definitely not hereditary though, for both my parents had perfect skin when they were young. My sister who is turning 20 this year, no matter how unhealthy her diet and lifestyle are, maintains a flawless complexion and has never had more than 3 zits on her face. Something must have gone wrong in my body system – I just can’t figure out what.

Nauseating pictures coming up. Swallow whatever’s in your mouth.. You’ve been warned.

Pimply me

Pimply me back in 2007 with Angel, who has passed away last August 😥

Pimply me 2

In 2007 again. SEE THAT BIG PIMPLE ON MY CHEEK?! homg.

Instead of berating my parents for giving me bad genes (lol), I tried all sorts of crazy pimple home remedies in hopes of clearing my skin before I entered Poly. I’ve tried applying toothpaste which stung my skin really bad, the juice of aloe vera, lemon (another bad choice) and cucumber. Sadly none of them worked at all so I turned to over-the-counter pimple treatments. The first I got was OXY pimple cream which gave me swollen face every time I used it.. because (I later realised) I’m allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide – the supposed chemical that kills pimple-causing bacteria. How unlucky can I get? Am I destined to have awful complexion? 😦 Then I got Avène, which improved my skin condition a little BUT somehow my face became oilier. Seriously?

I stopped using pimple cream entirely because it was taking a toll on my wallet (I was like 17 or younger. No money!). I tried drinking plenty of water but the zits left and returned with a vengeance what the hell. I almost gave up hope until one day somebody recommended me what seemed to be a dietary supplement. He was one of the buyers of Angel‘s puppies in 2007 and was taken aback by my terrible skin condition LOL. I was hesitant at first as it was pricey and the guy was also a part of the company which also makes him a promoter (something like MLM). But I gave it a shot still because desperate times call for desperate measures – my first Poly semester was commencing in a few weeks’ time! On top of that, he also allowed payment to be made later so I guess it ain’t that bad.

To my surprise, it kinda worked! I also lost some weight in the process – from 55kg to 48kg, my lightest on the scale. I still had some tiny zits here and there but I saw improvement in my skin generally. I stopped taking it after a few months because I was afraid that I’d be too dependent on it. Maybe due to this reason, my zits made a comeback. My face appeared mo-pengy (pot holes) side view because of the many tiny zits on my cheeks. Argh, so sickening!

Don’t bother asking the product name (nope, not Accutane) because it has been discontinued.

Then came my final year in Poly when I had to get an internship as required by the school. I managed to clinch a placement in a (now defunct and I’m so glad it did) fashion magazine as a design intern. F-A-S-H-I-O-N. It was like an Ugly Betty moment for me. How can a pimply-faced girl work for a fashion magazine? No way, I need to get rid of my zits. NEED.

It’s funny how easy an internship changed my lifestyle, probably because my grade was at stake. I associated appearance/image with confidence. With confidence, you’ll do well and if you perform well in your internship, you’ll get a good grade. I believe this applies to everything else you do. Oh and that was also when I started applying more make-up to boost my image hahahaha!

So yup as mentioned, I started leading a healthier lifestyle for the sake of looking good to feel good. Throughout my internship, I saw more radiance on my face with lesser zits – many times none – and my skin was also smoother which makes applying make-up so much easier! This was also achieved without the help of acne supplements and remedies.

For the benefit of those with troubled skin, this was how I cleared my pimples without spending a single cent:

  • Go to bed by 11.00 pm daily. This is a MUST.
    If you’re one who have got accustomed to sleeping past midnight, give yourself 30 minutes of buffer time to toss and turn in bed. You’ll get used to turning in early in no time!
  • Pin your fringe back (or wear a strong hair band) when sleeping
    Sometimes your fringe can aggravate your acne so it’s best to keep your hair off your face.
  • Change pillow sheets regularly (maybe once a week, or once every 2 days for the kiasus)
    Your acne-causing bacteria may be living in your pillow sheet since your face comes in close contact with it every night. It’s best to ensure you have a clean surface to rest your troubled skin on every night. When I travel, I bring a clean towel and I lay it on the hotel pillow before I sleep. 潔癖。
  • Don’t lie on your pillow/sleep without washing up first
    ..because by doing so, you’re transferring more bacteria to your sleeping area!
  • Drink lots of water (8 cups or 2 litres for me)
    This rule remains because water does help in ridding acne in a way.
  • If you need to pop a pimple, make sure you do it correctly
    Those who advised against popping pimples, seriously… You like seeing people with pus-filled spots, is it? -_- Anyway, I’ve been popping mine since I was 15 so I’m pretty skilled at it LOL. Make sure you wash your hands before doing so, and squeeze out the root of the pimple (hard yellow thingy followed by lotsa blood) or else it’s as good as not popping it at all. It will leave a scar of course but facial cream should be able to lighten it.
  • Exercise or jog regularly
    Yup, this definitely work for me! Your skin clears up and you lose weight. That’s killing two birds with one stone 🙂

1. Exercise helps by increasing blood circulation, carrying nutrients and oxygen to the skin and other cells, and transporting toxins and cellular waste for removal from the body, and

2. Exercise helps alleviate stress.  Studies have shown that stress hormones can increase oil production in the sebaceous glands, which is bad news for those already prone to acne.

Extracted from naturalacnedefense.com

Unfortunately once internship ended, I reverted to my old lifestyle. However I didn’t break out that often because I’ve learned how to take care of and pamper my skin.

Some product recommendations with pictures taken from Google because I’m just too lazy to snap my own pictures. These are also what I’m currently using:

1. ORIGINS Spot Remover

Origins Spot Remover

Image from tattooedtealady.com // Retails at S$29 at local Origins counters.

The image above shows “Super Spot Remover” but what we have here (unless they’ve changed it) is just “Spot Remover”. Not very affordable since it comes in a very small bottle BUT it lasted me for about 6 months because all you need is a small amount each time. It dries up within minutes of application and it has this menthol feel which is great! Coz it means it’s doing something hahaha! It helped clear some of my small zits but generally not effective on my bigger/more unsightly ones. However it’s a highly-raved product! It’ll probably work well on others.

ORIGINS locations:
Isetan Scotts ▪ Metro Paragon ▪ Robinsons JEM ▪ Robinsons Orchard ▪ Robinsons Raffles City ▪ Robinsons The Centrepoint ▪ Tangs Vivocity

* * *

2. Mentholatum ACNES Medicated Skincare

I first got this in trial size as part of my WKWSCI welfare pack last year. I’m usually very lazy to get out of my comfort zone and use product samples but I’m so glad I wasn’t for this!

Acnes Sealing Jell

Image from justjaslin.com // Retails at about S$9 at Watsons if I remember correctly

Acnes Powder Lotion

Image from thesnowflowerrr.blogspot.com // Forgot how much it retails for in Watsons but it should be less than S$10.

I only use 2 out of 3 products from this series: powder lotion and sealing jell. The last one is actually the face wash which I never touched since I already using one I’m comfortable with. The sealing jell is damn tokong I tell you! IT REALLY WORKS WONDERS!! Zits seldom appear ever since I started using the gel (jell?). I also apply it directly onto my popped pimples and they reduce greatly in size by the next morning! I’m using the full-sized ones and they are easily my favourite acne products at the moment!

3. 3M Nexcare Skin Care Acne Patch

3M Nexcare Acne Patch

Image from vivawoman.net // Retails at about S$5 for a box of 18 and $9 for a box of 36 in Watsons

Before I discovered Acnes products, I had been using Nexcare acne patch to tame my huge pus-filled pimples. I have been using this for YEARS and I believe I have spent hundred of dollars on this already hahaha! Basically this product “acts like a sponge to absorb the oily secretion, fluid or pus” of the pimple and yes, it works exactly like that! NO GIMMICK! The patch turns white and gooey on the side where it faces your pimple after a few hours of sucking. If you’re looking to stop your pimple from oozing after removing the white pus, this is the ideal product since it’s breathable to improve healing, and it doesn’t come off very easily. It works best on popped pimples though but that doesn’t mean it won’t work on headless ones! You’ll probably need a lot more of these patches to subside that huge painful one.

Since it can be quite costly in the long run, I’d usually wait for the $9.90 packs (includes 2 boxes of 36) to be stocked up in Watsons/Guardians so that I can sweep the shelves LOL. That’d probably last me for about 3-4 months. Alternatively, if you’re always travelling, you can buy this at a cheaper rate (but different packaging) from the Watsons there.

4. My Beauty Diary Aloe Sheet Masks (我的美丽日记)

My Beauty Diary Aloe Masks

Image from bonboncosmetics.com // Retails at about S$15 in stores but you can get it S$3-4 cheaper online OR if you’re in Taiwan, you can buy one box for just S$9! One box contains 10 pieces.

I chose this because aloe vera is known for reducing acne and scarring. It does reduce my acne quite a bit but only when used about 4-5 times a week. I used to leave it on my face overnight but I kinda hated the wetness around my jaw and neck so I now take it off after 20 minutes or so. It leaves your face refreshed and rejuvenated like any other masks!

Psst.. I recently lugged home 9 boxes of this from Taiwan HAHAHA! #crazy

5. The Body Shop Aloe Gentle Facial Wash

TBS Aloe Gentle Facial Wash

Image from thebodyshop.com.hk // Retails at about S$20-ish in local TBS stores.

Another aloe vera product! This is my current facial wash which I’ve been using for 3 years already. It doesn’t really contribute much to preventing acne but it’s kinda scentless and somehow light on your face? I don’t really like how some acne facial wash have this strong medicated smell and it feels so heavy on your face, if you get what I mean. Bleargh.

6. Clarisonic Mia Cleanser

Clarisonic Mia Cleanser

Image from miaclarisonic5.com // Retails at about S$168 in local Sephora stores

Last but not least, the very expensive cleanser from Sephora! This was a birthday gift from the boyfriend (I casually said that I wanted it and the silly boy took it to the counter) and I use it to cleanse my face after removing my make-up. Sometimes I feel that there’s still some underlying dirt/make-up in my pores even after cleaning my face with a wet towel or with wet wipes and this could potentially form pimples. After using Clarisonic, my face feels cleaner and “empty”! I usually use this before applying my Acnes lotion and gel.

That’s about it 😀

Some recent pictures of me with no make-up to erase those disgusting images of me from above in your mind before I end this post:

Me in 2012

Me in 2012

No make-up!

Me in Taiwan just a week ago 🙂

Until next time 🙂