The very first make-up tutorial I watched on YouTube was by Marlena Stell on her Makeup Geek site. It was a white and green MAC eyeshadow look and I remember finding it so interesting as it was in the early days of make-up blogs and YouTube beauty videos. Marlena started her own make-up brand (Makeup Geek) several years ago and the brand was recently re-branded and re-vamped earlier this year (2020).
One of the big releases as part of the Makeup Geek re-launch has been their Matrix system for eyeshadows (you can see Marlena’s videos on the Matrix system here and here). I’ve seen several people on YouTube (and some blog posts) showcasing, swatching and reviewing the Makeup Geek Matrix Palettes. They looked amazing and so I couldn’t resist ordering them to try myself, along with some other products from their range.
Makeup Geek is based in the USA, so I had to place an international order to be shipped to Scotland, where I live. I’ve only ever placed a small-ish order on the Tarte official site before, so this was my first experience of placing and receiving a large international order.
I thought it might be helpful to provide some information on my experience ordering from Makeup Geek, in case you are interested in what it’s like to place and receive an order if you live outside of the USA. This post provides details on the following aspects: what I ordered; customs, duties, import and handling fees; delivery timescales; shipping options; parcel packaging; and customer service. I’ve provided several photos as well so you can see how the parcel and all the contents were packaged.
I will try to get a post together on the Matrix Palettes, along with combination ideas for the eyeshadows, so stay tuned!
What I Ordered
I chose to order the complete Matrix Palette set, which included one Colour Matrix Palette (28 eyeshadows), one Neutral Matrix Palette (28 eyeshadows) and two empty Mega Vault Eyeshadow Palettes to hold the eyeshadows.
I ordered four additional shades from the current Makeup Geek eyeshadow line-up not included in the palettes (Flame Thrower, Grandstand, Mystical and Peach Smoothie). I ordered these shades as I wanted the option of re-creating palettes on the Makeup Geek site (in addition to the Matrix Palettes, there are 9 and 4 eyeshadow pre-made palette options available) to give me extra inspiration for eyeshadow combinations. Having these shades means I also have the complete set of all the Makeup Geek Signature and Foiled eyeshadows.
I ordered the Makeup Geek Travel Vault Palette, an empty palette which can hold up to 9 eyeshadows. I ordered this palette so that I could arrange my eyeshadows in combinations easily if I wanted to re-create those from the Makeup Geek site or make up my own.
I ordered an empty Mega palette (like the ones for the Matrix palette) as I wanted a magnetic palette to hold my Inglot and Kiko eyeshadows.
Customs and Duties for International Orders
Makeup Geek states that fees are not included in the order, meaning that you are liable for the fees on arrival. Some companies let you pay the customs and taxes upfront when ordering so you don’t have additional fees to pay when you get the parcel (Tati Beauty does this on their site). However, this is not the case with Makeup Geek. The Makeup Geek site states that: “Shipping charges DO NOT include any import fees, Customs/VAT, Duties, or miscellaneous local fees. These fees vary from country to country and cannot be predicted at time of checkout as they are assessed at a national and/or local level”. This means it is advisable (if you are concerned about costs) to check yourself what you might have to pay for fees in advance of placing any order.
I used an online tax calculator tool to check how much I might have to pay for customs and taxes on receipt of my parcel. You put in the amount you will be spending on the order in the tax calculator and then it tells you how much tax you will have to pay. VAT is 20% in the UK, so the other way is calculate 20% of what you are ordering and add that on to get the total amount.
A couple more aspects to be aware of if you are ordering from the UK is that you may be subject to additional charges, depending on the total of the order. If the order is valued over £135, your parcel is subject to import duty. The Customs Declaration form on the parcel gives Customs details of the parcel contents, value and total amount. I had placed a sizeable order on the Makeup Geek site, so I was subject to import duty and had an additional £8.98 to my total order. Royal Mail also charged me an international handling fee of £8.00.
Makeup Geek gives details on their website all aspects of delivery, including timescales (you can find more information in their FAQs here). The UK is cited as taking up to 31 days.
The Coronavirus situation has had an effect everywhere in the world and so Makeup Geek didn’t start shipping orders until they were able to do so. I placed my order with Makeup Geek on 20 March 2020 (just before everything kicked off in the UK) and my order was shipped on 16 May 2020. I saw online that my parcel was with my local Royal Mail delivery office as of 5 June 2020 and that there was a customs fee to pay before the parcel could be released to me. I paid the custom charge online and then I received the parcel on Tuesday 9 June. I was really pleased to receive my parcel so quickly once it was shipped, particularly given the current Coronavirus situation.
Shipping and Shipping Protection Options
Makeup Geek provides lots of details on shipping on their website (you can read more on their FAQs here). The Makeup Geek site states that “Standard International Mail shipping rates begin at $5.99 and go up based on the weight of the items you order”. The site states that “To find out exactly how much your shipping will be before completing your order, please proceed to checkout”. International Shipping is free if you spend over $65.
Makeup Geek gives you the option of paying for Route Shipping Insurance, which gives you protection for shipments that are lost, broken or stolen. This option also enables you to track your package throughout its journey, from being posted to being received by you. The amount it costs is based on the total amount of your order so that it covers the whole order. I chose to take out the Route Shipping Insurance so I could have peace of mind for my parcel, particularly given that I was placing a large order which was being shipped internationally. My insurance cost $4.35, so it wasn’t too bad.
Makeup Geek sent me an email to say the parcel had been shipped and gave me the tracking details. The tracking details didn’t work and they said in their email (I contacted them and they replied very quickly) that different tracking references had to be used for international shipments. There was one link and tracking reference for the delivery from the Makeup Geek location through to UK customs. They also gave me another link and tracking reference to use for Royal Mail so I could track the parcel once it was in the UK and with Royal Mail.
I found the Route Shipping Insurance really helpful, as I was able to track my order and see where it was at each point. I found it very reassuring as well knowing that if there was any damage to the contents in my parcel, I would be able to contact Makeup Geek to have the issue(s) sorted. I’m so pleased to say nothing was damaged but it was worth having the insurance in place, just in case.
I was extremely impressed with how my parcel contents were packaged when I opened the box. The box was presented so beautifully and everything was extremely well wrapped, protected and tucked in snuggly. There were thick wedges of paper in gaps between products, preventing items from moving around in transit and potentially become damaged. I took photos after I had already opened and peeked in the box (I couldn’t wait to take a look inside!), so the presentation isn’t immaculate anymore and the packaging looks a bit messy now. However, the photos give you an idea of how things were packaged.
There was a thick wedge of white tissue paper on the very top of the box inside, protecting everything underneath.
When I removed the top wedge, there was more paper folded over and sealed with a sticker bearing the Makeup Geek logo.
When I opened that paper, there was a card on top with a picture of the Makeup Geek founder, Marlena Stell and a little message as well. I thought the card was such a lovely surprise; the card was standardised but it really gave a personal touch to the parcel.
Underneath the card and the paper were the contents of the parcel. As mentioned above, the parcel was beautifully presented and immaculate when I opened the box. I took photos after peeking at the contents, so the packaging looks a bit messy now.
There were three chunky thick paper covered parcels (top part of the parcel), with each one containing several packets containing the eyeshadows.
The foiled eyeshadows were bunched together and wrapped in a wedge of bubble wrap to provide protection.
The empty Matrix Palettes were wrapped in bubble wrap to protect them. Each palette was wrapped individually and sealed.
The empty Travel Vault Palette (which holds 9 eyeshadow pans) I had ordered was wrapped in clear plastic wrap. The magnetic sheet inside the Travel Vault Palette had come away slightly inside (possibly due to variable temperatures in transit) but it stuck down again very easily and has stayed in place. There aren’t any issues with it, which is great.
There were also several layers of thickly wedged paper underneath all the items in the base of the box (see photo below). This extra layer provided further shielding and protection for the items enclosed inside the box.
Here is a photo of the palettes (still in their bubblewrap) and the unwrapped eyeshadows:
The customer service from Makeup Geek has always been fantastic whenever I have emailed them. You can contact them using the contact form on their site or you can email them directly. They reply extremely quickly (they send an automated response to let you know how long it will take; I have often found they reply within 12-48 hours) and always provide a detailed response answering my questions. I emailed them when the tracking details sent in my ‘order shipped’ email weren’t working and they responded within 24 hours with the details I needed. They also replied extremely quickly to emails I sent before placing the order asking about delivery, customs and products.
Something worth mentioning is how professional and friendly the emails I have received from Makeup Geek have been in tone. They strike an amazing balance between being incredibly helpful, answering your questions, being incredibly professional and all with a lovely, friendly and personal touch.
I am so pleased to say that I have been extremely happy with my experience ordering internationally from Makeup Geek. It was so easy to place the order online and there was plenty of information available on the site in the FAQs. As mentioned above, the Makeup Geek Customer Service team are extremely helpful and are fantastic at replying to any queries you might have.
I was so delighted with how the parcel was packaged and having everything arrive in pristine condition. I have since unwrapped everything and nothing was damaged. It was nice to have everything wrapped in thick wads of white tissue paper as well; I feel it was much more effective at protecting the items and not messy like styrofoam or other packing materials.
I am sooooo happy with the items that I ordered as well! Everything looks beautiful, high quality and in pristine condition. I have started playing with the eyeshadows and they are amazing!!! Look out for a post on the products I ordered soon, as well as some combination ideas for the eyeshadows!
I hope that you found the post helpful! Have you ordered anything from Makeup Geek and do you live in the USA, the UK or elsewhere? What has your experience been like? Any products you love or would recommend from Makeup Geek? I would love to know your thoughts below.