Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Lookfantastic launches its Indian site--but wait, is that really good news?

Being a skin sleuth, I'm always on the lookout for great value in skincare/makeup, especially when I'm stalking browsing online shopping destinations for beauty products. A discovery I made yesterday was the Indian site of lookfantastic.com, a UK-based shopping site for hair and beauty products.

Now, you'd imagine me squealing in delight when I chanced upon the Indian counterpart of the popular website. My initial thought was that finally, we Indians can now access some of the most coveted beauty brands like Alpha H, Aromatherapy Associates, Eve Lom, Elemis, Omorovicza and others right here in India. No more stalking the international site.

The Indian website also says this proudly, "Bringing Lookfantastic to India'. Surely, this must be a godsend to us.

Sadly, not all things that appear promising in the beginning turn out so. And here's where I got down to some serious sleuthing. A comparison between the two sites. Warning: nerdiness ahead!

Lookfantastic UK
Lookfantastic India
Free worldwide delivery if you make a purchase over GBP 50, which thanks to Brexit is now INR 4518.

Free worldwide delivery if you make a purchase over INR 6,000. So, wouldn’t it make more sense to purchase from the international site? Just saying…

If you are spending less than GBP 50, the tracked cost for India is GBP 9.99, translating to INR 902.

If you are spending less than INR 6,000, the tracked cost is INR 1,000. So, there’s no clear advantage over the international site.
Prices are listed as prescribed by the brands
Same here, except that in some of the large-format Indian departmental stores like Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop etc., you’d find the same products for a lesser price! For instance, the Elizabeth Arden Eight-Hour Skin Protectant is priced on this website for INR 2,592 whereas the last time I checked in Sephora, Mumbai, it was priced at INR 1,800 or thereabouts. How is that even possible?!

Delivery times are listed as per UK delivery timelines

Same here, which baffles me because international delivery to India takes much longer, and longer still if the order gets stuck in customs. However, the wording on the Indian site regarding shipping/delivery is identical to the international site.

Which brings me to the false impression one gets that when you are shopping from the Indian site, you are getting the product from within India, hence, in a quicker timeframe. Not true! Your order will still be delivered to you from the UK, which beats the purpose of the Indian site.

Reviews—the all-important factor, next to price, that makes a buyer click ‘Add to Cart’. The reviews are left by international buyers, naturally as it is an international site.
Same here, which is logical to an extent, except that when buyers comment on shipping/delivery times, they are talking about their own countries.  
Indian buyers need to take this into account when reading the reviews that are automatically replicated from the international site onto the Indian site.

You get almost any brand that you can think of here, especially convenient when you are looking for specific products that are not yet released in India. For instance, the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Oil, which I have had my eyes on for a very long time.

You don’t see all of the brands listed on the international site here. I was so hoping to see the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Oil on the Indian site.

You can buy fragrances from the UK site. I had my eyes on the much-talked about Chloe.
No mention of fragrances here

The only good part about this whole branching out initiative is that your orders, be it on the international site or the Indian one, are synchronised so you can have a uniform record of everything that you do. If anyone can give me a valid reason as to why I should buy from Lookfantastic India, as opposed to Lookfantastic International, I'm all ears! For now, I'll stick to the international site, thank you!

Thanks for making it this far.

Have a lovely day!


  1. I ordered shampoos and conditioners worth 7.2k and landed up paying 4k as customs. Even though shipping above 6k was free, they charged me for freight. I waited for a week. Spoke at customs and tried to pull few strings also. They say nothing can be reversed after the bill of entry has been issued. Works out to be very expensive.

    1. Hello there! I'm sorry to hear you had to shell out so much dough as customs duty. Believe me, I've been there, done that! Yes, customs is a tricky affair no matter which country you live in. I have learnt the hard way that in India, anything imported above Rs. 2k is charged with customs duty. This was told to me personally by a Customs Officer. In spite of this, on another occasion, I was charged with customs duty for a package with a value of Rs. 1800. It beats me what the processes are at our Customs offices. Now, as a rule of thumb, I try to limit my purchases upto Rs. 2k. If it spills over that, I'm prepared to pay for customs. A tip for all of us: do not fall for offers of free shipping over some xx amount, as invariably you end up paying a lot more as customs duty. Better idea would be to order in smaller quantities limiting up to Rs. 2k per order even if you have to pay shipping. The shipping fee would still be much less than an unpredictable customs charge. Hope this helps. :)

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  3. Hi shradda
    Can u tell me that custom charges apply on retail price or discounted price.

    1. Hi,
      It applies on the retail price, at least from what I have seen in my experience. Hope this helps!

  4. Hi..I purchased products worth 7k and the custom charges turned out to be around 3k.. I totally regret for my choice. I should have read this blog before purchasing. After knowing about the custom charges I wanted to return the products to the seller and so wrote an email to look fantastic and they replied that they would refund the money only if products reach in pristine condition and that they can't guarantee that.. I couldn't risk 7k for 3k so I had to pay for customs..
    I hope my experience helps someone before making their choice..
    I'd say don't go for this as the custom charges are unpredictable.
    By the way, did anybody return their goods because of customs? If did, did u get a full refund?

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