Reader questions #2

I’ve received some reader emails again in the past couple of weeks, and there were two that I wanted to answer over here so let’s get cracking.

Q: How does it work when you order products online? Do you pay import taxes, do you order from various countries, and how are the orders sent to you?

For the longest time I found online shopping so daunting – I think I only really started getting into it about 3 years ago.

As far as shopping on local sites go, you can happily order from any store name you recognise without worrying about anything. I always select courier delivery since I find the postal service way too unreliable (I’m not sure if it’s just my area though, some people seem to be doing fine with post). Keep an eye out for free delivery options when you spend a certain amount.

It’s worth noting the return/refund policy, although I can only think of two cases where I’ve had to deal with that kind of thing.

As for international sites, stick with the big names if you’re really nervous and not too internet-savvy. I’ve merrily bought things through individual sellers from all over the world via ebay and I’ve never had an issue aside from delivery time – two weeks ago I received things I ordered in January due to the myriad of Post Office strikes, go-slows and interruptions. So that only took seven months. Mostly you do pay customs on these, but it’s impossible to predict how much – reasonably you should allow for up to 40% on average when you make your calculations, but I’ve never paid that much.

I’ve bought via Amazon and I loved how streamline the process was – you pay delivery, duties & taxes at checkout (it’s an estimate though), and your loot gets delivered via courier within a week or two. They then refund any fees they’ve overcharged you a couple of months later once everything has been processed. I wrote about that whole process here.

There are unfortunately many sites that do not ship to SA, so a lot of my shopping reaches me via friends that travel – I can’t resist some of the things you’ll find in the aisles of Boots, Superdrug, Sephora, Space NK…

If you’re after an in-depth online shopping guide, hop over to my friend Luzanne’s blog Pink Peonies – she’s put together a brilliant guide here.

paulas choice

Q: What are your thoughts on the Paula’s Choice skincare range? I have sensitive skin and I’m looking at adding their 1% BHA lotion to my regime. 

I’m a big fan of Paula Begoun, her products, and her no-nonsense approach to skincare – read some more about the day I met her here.

I have since, however, gotten a little bored with the product reviews on their site where I previously used to go check them religiously – it feels like they’re repeating the same things over and over, which is fine with certain core principles, but I’m not convinced that they’re considering all new advances and technology available when they review products. But that is completely and utterly besides the point.

Salicylic acid, which is the active ingredient in 1% BHA lotion is a great exfoliant, and if you introduce it slowly there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to use it even on sensitive skin. Many people experience BHAs to be more tolerable than AHAs because they’re oil soluble.

I specifically chose to answer this question because I found I had the opposite experience with their 2% BHA Gel, and I kept getting a reaction – similar to and allergic reaction, even though there’s nothing in there I’m allergic to – when I used it. I’m in no way saying this will be the case for you, but if you do have sensitivity issues maybe order some samples first, or do a patch test. This was the first product in years that my skin reacted to, and there also hasn’t been anything since, which is why I’m mentioning it.

I will add that I very happily used samples of the Daily Smoothing Treatment that has 5% AHA and 0.5% BHA and my skin absolutely loved it, so maybe it was just a case of 2% BHA being too much for my skin.

C x




  1. Aug 6, 2015 / 12:09 PM

    thank you so much for replying to my email Chantelle – really appreciate it. I’ll definitely take your advice and get some samples before hand!! Will let you know how it goes. 🙂

    • Chantelle Bester
      Aug 6, 2015 / 12:24 PM

      Only a pleasure, and please do let me know – hopefully you won’t have any issues!

  2. Jessica
    Aug 7, 2015 / 7:13 AM

    I need some advice on Paulas Choice products. I need something that can help with my acne scars, black heads and large pores . I feel like everything that can be wrong with your skin is something I’m struggling with haha. I feel a bit overwhelmed with all the products available so I’m hoping you have a recommendation on what to use.

  3. Jessica
    Aug 7, 2015 / 7:17 AM

    I did purchase the skin transforming treatment which I’m currently using. So I’m not sure if I can use another product with it or should I use it on its own. Thank you so much!!

    Ps I looove your blog 🙂

    • Chantelle Bester
      Aug 7, 2015 / 11:23 AM

      Thanks Jessica! I really don’t know all their products so I can’t comment on the one you have, but the BHA gel/lotion discussed here sounds ideal for your skin problems. Best of luck!

  4. Aug 9, 2015 / 2:19 PM

    Thank you for this. I’ve always wondered about buying beauty products from overseas. Doesn’t import duties make the product more expensive than it’s worth though? I usually use local online stores and never had a problem.

    • Chantelle Bester
      Aug 10, 2015 / 10:23 AM

      Pleasure Abigail! It depends, there’s really not much rhyme or reason to it – some people pay zero duties and others get slapped with 70%. I only buy products that aren’t available here.

  5. Nausheen
    Aug 30, 2015 / 10:58 PM

    Do you have any thoughts on Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% RETINOL TREATMENT, especially since I have never used retinol before. I have developed fine lines and deep expression lines on my forehead.

    • Chantelle Bester
      Aug 31, 2015 / 9:06 AM

      As long as you start gradually (once or twice a week) and build up from there you’ll be fine. Nothing topical is going to permanently tackle deep lines though, only a couple of botox shots will sort that out x

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