Wednesday, April 23, 2014

DIY: Comfrey Infused Oil And Toner

Vintage apothecary glass from a flea market. The label is from Ikea.
   I will be travelling in the next two weeks, and I have just one post per week scheduled. However I will be posting beauty tips and glimpses of the french Provence on the Venusian*Glow facebook page. Even if you have already clicked on the "like", don't forget to click on "follow" so that you don't miss anything.

  Comfrey is one of my skin care staples since a few months, and my skin loves it. I have been using it in an oil and a toner since several months, and I love the results. The two extremely simple Comfrey recipes that I use to make my infused oil and my toner come from the amazing Alinarose. These recipes are very basic and can be adapted to many other herbs, in case you can't find comfrey in your country.

Comfrey is a medicinal plants which is extremely beneficial to the skin:
* It helps the skin to regenerate, helping wounds to heal faster.
* It calms the skin, is antibacterial, soothes inflammations.
* Is very helpful in the cases of atiopic dermatitis and acne.
* It evens out the skin tone, removing redness and discolouration.
* Used around the eyes, it helps with under-eye circles.
* It helps with dryness

  I find that comfrey calms my skin, making it looks smoother, brighter and more taut.

   You can buy comfrey from a shop with herbs, I went to a local store which sells herbs for teas, and found comfrey leaves which seem to work very similarly to the roots. You can also try online. Chances are comfrey grows in your garden. I planted some and hope to harvest it this summer.

  I would like to present the recipes of a comfrey toner and an infused oil.

Comfrey Infused Oil

  This is basically an oil that is permeated with a herb. The comfrey infusion can be used as a makeup-remover, for oil-cleansing or like a cream. This is the best oil that I have found so far for the oil-cleansing technique -- my skin loves it, and I never get blocked pores.

What you need: 
Comfrey roots or leaves, flax seed oil. (You can use any oil that your skin likes).
How to: 
  Put the comfrey roots into a container and pour the oil in till the roots are covered. After around three weeks the infusion should be ready. Pour the oil through a sieve, into a pretty container.
    If you use an oil that tolerates heating, you can make a bain-marie to quicken process faster (or use baby food warmer, or put the container on top of the heater).

Comfrey Toner

  To use, dab onto a cotton wool pad and wipe your face with it, alternatively use the pads as compresses for the eyes. It can also be mixed into clay masques.

What you need: Comfrey roots or leaves.
How to:
  Put a tablespoon of comfrey into a glass, pour boiling water over it. Let it steep for a few minutes, then pour through a sieve into a pretty container. It can be stored for a couple of days in the fridge, though you can add a conservant to make it last longer (for eg vitamin E).

   Don't forget to label your cosmetics, or like me you'll find mysterious containers of suspicious liquids every time you declutter your bathroom.

    Have you ever used comfrey? Would you like to try to make this toner or this oil infusion?

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Skin-Toned Basic Underpinnings

   I will be travelling in the next two weeks, and I have just one post per week scheduled. However I will be posting beauty tips and glimpses of the french Provence on the Venusian*Glow facebook page. Even if you have already clicked on the "like", don't forget to click on "follow" so that you don't miss anything.

    I had five different roles in my theatre piece, and that means five different costumes. I literally had minutes to change my clothes and do my hair. And then I had to enter the stage looking calm and collected, as if I had been wearing that outfit all day. I wouldn´t have done it without two helpers and my basics of nude underthings.

    Every woman should have a capsule collection of well-fitting nude underpinnings. Why you need them:
  • They make clothes look more formal, pulled together and modest*.
  • They make difficult clothing work: too sheer formal wear, for example.
  • Perfect for travelling: you never know what clothes you might buy on the way.
   Obviously, what exactly you need depends on your style and lifestyle. Personally, I have discovered that having a nice palette of universal skin-toned underthings means I can be more adventurous with my clothing choices.
   *Modesty: This may or may not be a priority for you. However I find it hard to pull off sheer clothing without looking tacky, if you are not wearing the right undergarments.

Here is my collection of nude basics:

Strapless: Ewa Michalak Toffi and Wonderbra

   I have several nude bras that I wear under whites and most sheers stuff, however the strapless wins because of its versality. It works under strapless dresses, strappy tops and dresses, and all kinds of wide necklines, where visible bra straps would look sloppy. The Wonderbra is more comfortable, but nothing beats the Toffi for support.

Nude tank top: HM

    I wear this under everything that is sheer (or even a tad sheer). I like that it gives me a smooth look and looks modest.
   The tank top form HM isn´t the ideal tank top because the beige is a bit dull. I´d prefer something a bit more satiny -- nudes look nicest if the fabric is glossy. I do however appreciate the thin straps and the length of the tank top (it should not be too short).

Nude bottoms

    When buying nude bottoms, go the whole way and make sure they are invisible or seamless (which means you get no Visible Panty Lines). I have no idea where my favourite pair is from, but my second fav one is from Affinitas. Get ones with a cotton crotch, to keep infections away from your ladybits.

Half-slip: HM

   I use half-slips for several reasons: to mask visible panty lines, to smooth out the area and help clingy skirts fall better, under sheer skirts, and to minimise stactic from tights.
   The half-slip from HM is great: the fabric is soft and slightly stretchy, nothing like the only-fashioned stiff ones. The fabric has a slight sheen and is very pretty, and it matches the Toffik nicely.
   A plus point if the slip has a lace trimming on the bottom -- this will look intriguing and sexy if the bottom of the slip is revealed.
   In case you have a hard time finding a slip that works for your slip colour, this is very easy to sew as long as you know how to work with stretchy fabrics. Here is a tutorial.

Thigh-highs: Falke

   I love Falke because they are basically indestructible. This German-made pair survived the three theatre performances in spite of getting into contact with velcro on my shoes and less-than-careful handling, while the nylons of my fellow actress had runs after the first scene. I chose thigh-highs because waist-highs make me sweat, are often too low at the crotch and the band can create bulges and rolls. This pair actually stays put and I have had no problems with it trying to slip off. I seriously recommend Falke when it comes to hosiery!

On my wishlist:

Here are items that I would like to own, but haven´t yet purchased. Does anyone have any tips for me?
   A nude full slip, to wear under sheer dresses. It is really hard to find something that works in the bust area, so it would either have to be bust-free, or with an in-built bra (is this even possible to find in a 28E?)
   A nude strapless tank-top. Does this have a proper name? For strapless sheer tops.
   A nude bustier-- I noticed this is what celebs wear under sheer stuff. Now I don´t think I´ll ever find something for me as I would need something in my bra size that works for my tum as well.
    A long slip that goes past my knees. This is so rare that it´s almost a unicorn.

Tips for buying basics:

  • "Nude" is a relative colour. My nude is a slightly darker shade of beige. Your nude may be almost white, or tan, or brown -- whatever is close to your skin tone.
  • Black often works really well as a "nude" for darker skin tones, as it is a colour that recedes and does not call attention to itself.
  • Pastel pink can work as a nude tone for very pale skin tones.
  • White bras don´t work under white, nude bras work under white!
  • Nude works best when the fabric is luxurious, aka glossy. Matte nudes can look matronly. I like my nudes to be slightly synthetic, as they age better than pure cotton.
  • A little bit of embellishment can work wonders to make a nude piece look interesting, but the outlines of ruffles or lace should not be visible under clothing.
  • Nude will have you covered for most cases, but you can also get all the basics again in black if you want all your bases covered.

   "Nude" will obviously be defined by your skin tone. Even though the industry tries to define skin-tone as a certain shade of beige, for some, off-white and even pale pink might work as nude, for others it will be browns.

   Do you have a collection of skin-toned underpinnings? Or do you find that too old-fashioned? What are your personal rules about wearing sheer fabrics?

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Do You Really Need To Wear Sunscreen All Year Round? (The Surprising Answer)

Do You Really Need To Wear Sunscreen All Year Round?

   There are definitely upsides to having a science-nerd guy for a husband. There I was, meticulously applying sunscreen to my face in the middle of winter, just like I was always told to. My husband asked what I was doing, and said something like: this doesn´t make sense, the UV radiation is extremely weak in the winter. You should research that.
  So I research it I did, and was very surprised at the findings. In Germany the levels of UV radiation over the year look like this:

Herbst = autumn, Frühling = spring; Zeit = time; Hautwirksame Strahlung = radiation that affects the skin

   The difference between the summer and the winter are extreme. The UV levels of at noon in the winter are similar to those of early mornings in the summer! Also, winter means 8 hours of daylight as opposed to 16 in the summer.  Note the levels of UV radiation in the mornings and evenings as opposed to the middle of the day.

   If you live much closer to the equator the results might be very different, so you should totally take your geographical location into account when reading this post. On the TEMIS site you can see the UV index for today, the past, and even UV radiation forecasts.

   This was in the winter of 2005. Notice how "dark" northern Europe, Asia and Canada are.

This was a few days ago:

   Elevation also plays  role, if you live at a higher altitude you are getting more UV radiation.
  So why is everyone telling me to wear sunscreen all the time? Either most of the info I´ve been reading comes from the south of the US and Australia; or the sunscreen companies want to sell more of their products. Probably both.
 This graph made me realise that I must focus on always wearing sunscreen when I´m going out during the day in the summer, and that I can let the winter, early morning and late afternoon slip. This way I will get the biggest bang for my efforts.

  How about you? How much UV radiation does your area get, and how dilligent are you with wearing suncreen?

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Ruby Jewellery Winners!

Hello everyone

   Here are the lucky winners of the RUBY jewellery giveaway:

Dericka Sweepstaking
Herman Santoso
Mary Dee
Taj Kingston

Congrats! I have sent you emails, in case you can't see it check your spam folders. Or simply contact me with your shipping address and the name of the piece you like best.
  For those of you who haven't won, you can always pick up one of the gorgeous RUBY pieces from their Etsy store.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

One-Piece To Bikini Bottom DIY + How To Pick Cheap Matching Bikini Bottoms

   I wanted to share my small swimwear DIY, and then talk about picking cheap bikini bottoms for your pricier bra-sized bikini tops. But before that, a quick reminder: have you entered the Ruby jewellery give-away yet? I'll be picking six winners, any maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones who gets to pick one of seven different beautiful pieces!

   I own an older bikini set from Ewa Michalak. I love it to bits, but always wish the bottom was higher-cut. When my Freya Soda one-piece stopped fitting me in the cups, I realised it was the exact same shade of red as the Ewa Michalak suit. So I decided to refashion it into a high-waisted bikini bottom.


   I cut off the bottom part, so that the bottoms would end an inch or so below the navel. Then I folded the top over once and sewed it with a zig-zag stitch (which is elastic). It is important to use a jersey needle on the machine, so as not to poke large holes into the fabric (the jersey needle sort of slips in between the threads instead of cutting though them). Because this suit has a lot of lycra, I didn't use an elastic, but you might want to if the bottoms fall off.


   I also scrunched the bottoms on the back, because I find the look extremely flattering. Just watch out: this makes the bottoms quite low-cut at the back (if you scrunch all the way). I was lazy and simply pulled a thread through, but then the scrunch was very uneven. So I did a backstitch by hand to keep the folds in place. But my seamstress friend told me the right way would be like this, this would make the scrunch stable and stretchy.

   My point here is that it is already hard enough to buy bikini tops in your bra size, in a style that works for your breast shape and appeal to your aesthetic sense. And very often the matching bottom is in the wrong style, or simply quite pricey. An alternative can be buying a cheaper piece that goes with your top, or even hacking off a one-piece.

How to pick a matching bikini bottom:

   It is not easy to find a bottom in exactly the same shade as your top. However it is also hard to make a bottom in a different colour and style look deliberate. Black bottoms go with most tops. Also versatile are bottoms that look like denim, because in most people's eyes denim is a neutral and goes with almost everything. If your top has a pattern, you can pick any of the colours from the pattern and get a solid bottom in that colour (and vice-versa, if you are getting a patterned bottom to a solid top.).
   If you choose a bottom in a different colour and you have a hard time seeing which colours go together and which don't, these simple rules might help you out.
    You can also add elements to tie both pieces together, for example buy cute buttons in exactly the same colour as the bikini top and sew them onto the bottom.
    I really suggest looking for matching bottoms in brick-and-mortar stores as opposed to online, since it is really difficult to match the exact shade through a monitor.

   Over to you: do you mix and match bikinis? What is your favourite bikini in your bra size?

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Friday, April 4, 2014

The Unexpected Effects Of Staying Fit

The Surprising Effects Of Staying Fit

   You have probably gathered from past posts that I have been working out regularly in the past couple of months. Vanity and health were my main motivations (in that order), I wanted to lose body fat and have more energy and endurance. The first three days were hard (everything gets better after three days), and after that I started enjoying my time at the gym. My goals shifted, and I suddenly realised that being active had surprising benefits:

* I can dance all night long. When I went dancing with friends, they had to take pauses to rest, while I could move non-stop. It was morning when my feet started getting tired.

* Firmer everything. Firmness is the first effect I noticed: everything feels lifted, harder.

* I'm stronger. And it feels great.

* I'm feeling more comfortable in my body. Working out gives me a serious boost in the self-image department. And I mean the actual exercise, not the effects.

* My bike got a lot lighter. I have to store it in the cellar, and carrying it up the stairs suddenly got a lot easier.

* Shift in body-related goals and wishes. Suddenly what my body can do has become as important as what it looks like. I also love looking at people who can do cool stuff with their bodies.

* Shift in body appreciation. I appreciate stronger, more muscular bodies more than I used to. Because those bodies can do awesome stuff.

* No winter blues. I have stopped taking my St. John's Wort supplement a long time back because I didn't need it any more. And I have been feeling really well. Granted it´s been a mild winter, but still.

   Just to clarify: I was always getting some movement, for example I walk a lot since I don't own a car. However it's the more intensive kind where my heartbeat rises and I break out into sweat that does the magic. I really want to make this a habit, a non-negotiable part of my lifestyle.

  Over to you: what is your favourite effect of staying active?

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cosmetic Favourites January 2014: Catrice Camouflage, Shoenberger Shampoo, Catrice Magic Lipstick, Kajal,

  Hello everyone, in the last weeks I have been testing several new products. Here are the ones that impressed me the most:


Catrice Ultimate Lip Glow

  Magic Lipstick: one colour fits all -- you have probably seen this gimmicky product in the 90s. They seem to be getting popular again, as this one from Catrice is not the only one I spotted on cosmetic shelves. It changes according to your lip colour and it's a great product if you have a hard time figuring out which colours suit you. On me this one from Catrice turns into the pinkest shade that still looks good on my warm complexion.



Catrice Camouflage Cream

   The best concealer I have found so far. It covers really well, and only a very little bit is enough to cover dark circles and discolourations. In fact the concealer is rather thick and heavy, so you have to apply just a thin layer to make it look natural. Also excellent for spot-concealing on very small areas (I use a lip brush for that). The best thing about is that it doesn't settle into the lines in the under-eye area. It is very easy to apply and blend with the fingers or with a brush. I use the 02 for my face, and want to buy the 01 for the under-eye area.


P2 Impressive Gel Kajal in Dramatic Brown

   This Kajal is soft and very easy to apply, you get quite clearly defined lines. It can be blended and smudged very nicely. Once it dries it doesn't smudge and stays in place all day. The colour is chocolate, very slightly on the warm side but practically neutral (unless your skin tone is really cool).


Schoenberger Shampoo Bio Granatapfel

   If you do need a shampoo with sulfates from time to time, this is a nice and gentle one. It cleanses the hair well without drying it out, and leaves the hair soft and moisturised I use it on my scalp and not on the ends, since I use the conditioner-shampoo-conditioner method. Since it contains sulphates, I use once every week or two for a more thorough cleansing. The shampoo is BDIH certified organic.


Aurum Jewelry Hands Manicure In a Bottle

   I picked this up at a spa day, it was love at first try. It is a mixture of oils and sea salt that moisturises and exfoliates your hands at the same time. You rub it all over your hands, wash off with just water and towel-dry. It leaves my hands so amazingly smooth that I checked four times to make sure that there aren't silicones in there. But nope, it's just plant oils. At 10€ it's rather pricey, so I plat to do a DIY version once I've finished up the bottle.

  Over to you: which cosmetic products have impressed you this spring?

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Monday, March 31, 2014

DIYing an, Refashioning And Embellishing Your Swimwear -- A Tutorial Roundup

tutorial here

   If you live on the northern hemisphere, swimsuit season is around the corner! As it can often be pretty hard to find a suit that you like in your bra size, I wanted to show you a couple of ideas on how to alter pieces to your liking. If you wear a size that is hard to shop for, you could buy a simple piece in a colour that you like, and alter or embellish it to fit your style.

   It all started with my red Ewa Michalak bikini. I love the top, it is amazingly flattering and supportive. However I always wished the bottom were not so low-cut. When the Freya Soda stopped fitting me in the cups, I realised that it was the exact shade of red as the EM. I ended up cutting it up to turn the lower part into a bikini bottom. I will post photos when I'm done, as I need access to a sewing machine to finish it.

   Transforming swimsuit pieces can be as simple as adding a couple of embellishments to a basic piece, or a bit harder like turning a one-piece into a two-piece or vice-versa. Interestingly, swimsuit fabric isn't that difficult to work with, since it doesn't fray. Just remember to use a zig-zag stitch if using a sewing machine (to keep things stretchy), and to use a synthetic thread (they are much stronger and resist chlorinated water).

   When I was looking for tutorials on reconstructing swimwear, I found many great ones that I want to share with you. I hope that they will inspire you to customise your own swimwear.

My favourite swimsuit hacks:


Add ruffles (another variation),
Scallop the bottoms,
A simple cut-out or a woven slash,
Another cutout,
Side knots,
Add beads to straps (also works for plain fabrics)
Add beads all over
Add a fabric braid

   Other ideas that I did not find tutorials for, but should be easy: painting with fabric colours or fabric felt-tip pens, glueing on embellishments, adding studs, sewing on buttons or beads.

Modifying and reconstructing swimwear

Sewing a sports bra into an unsupportive swimsuit.
Adding straps to a strapless piece
One-piece to bikini
One-piece to tankini
Retro high-waisted bottoms from a one-piece
Bikini to lacy one-piece

   And my absolute fave: a super-easy way to make your bikini bottoms a thousand times more flattering:

  I hope that these lovely tutorials motivate you to customise your swim wear. If you have never sewn anything before, you could use a cheap piece to practice one. Here is to staying stylish and supported this summer!

   Have you ever tried to alter a swimwear item? Do let me know in the comments, and if you have documented it do link to the photos. I'd love to see!

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Let's Do Something About Fracking + A Sparkly Giveway For You!

   I almost wanted to title this post "a frakking giveway" -- those of you who have seen Battlestar Galactica will know what I mean ;)

   Today I'd like to introduce you to Ruby, a boutique lingerie and handmade jewellery brand based in Cape Town, South Africa that specialises in fashion-forward pieces with hand-crafted elements. Their pieces have been featured in magazines like Elle, Cosmo and Glamour. Many of their items are hand-beaded and finished by the Ruby Beading circle which gives career opportunities for rural, impoverished women with no marketable skills but their traditional beading techniques. As an independent, designer-owned brand, RUBY is in a unique position to leverage off their fashion-forward position, and utilise various media to draw attention to a number of issues that they feel are important for us, and our planet.

   Here is their latest Anti-Fracking "Count Fracula" Lingerie campaign, shot to create awareness about fracking. The South African government recently gave permission to Shell to start the exploration process for shale gas in areas of South Africa. If shale gas is found in large enough quantities oil companies like Shell want to start fracking, which will have a horrific effect on the water, environment and the lives of the people and animals in the region. RUBY's campaign not only grabs our attention with it's gorgeous lingerie but also, most importantly, aims to raise awareness about fracking:

   Now, this I can totally get behind: fashion and ecological issues.

  You have probably heard of fracking, but not everybody knows exactly what it is. Fracking is basically drilling very deep to get to deep oil and gas reserves, (very prettily explained here). The biggest problem with this is that harmful chemicals (the names of which oil and gas companies will not disclose to the public) are pumped into the earth during the process, which end up in the soil, the atmosphere through evaporation of waste-water (a by-product of fracking) and the groundwater. There is high risk of leaks, spills and contamination during all stages of the process. A test frack in the UK even caused an earthquake. This video shows what comes out from the taps in the kitchens of homes near areas where fracking takes place:

   These are the fracking-prone places, as of 2013. If fracking is allowed to boom, many more frackeable sites may be discovered and you might find a drill in your own backyard very soon.

Image from shalestuff

  The solutions? Develop renewable resources instead of drilling for more oil. The world needs to move away from gas and oil anyway, and it is absolutely doable. If Germany, a country with not much sunlight (its photovoltaic potential can be compared to Alaska), not much empty space and few rivers appropriate for generating hydropower, actually managed to get half of its energy from renewable resources last year; then every country can do it. The technology exists, there are so many incentives (environmental, health, decentralisation of the energy business). It's just that governments prefer to overlook the good of the average citizen and support huge corporations instead. Ridiculous subventions of oil have to be stopped. In Germany the government artificially raises the price of energy to motivate push people to make their home energy efficient (an average German house uses around half the energy that an average US house uses, even though many parts of the US have a warm climate and tons of sunlight while all German homes need to be heated several months per year).
  If you are interested in saying no to fracking, search online for petitions in your country. Sign them and pass them on to your friends. Hopefully you are living in a democracy, where voting "no" might just change something. The UK has this great site where you can find out if your home is at risk of being fracked. For the US, here is a handy map, and here is a petition to sign.

Ruby jewelry giveway

   Ruby's gorgeous lingerie and jewellery are available amongst others in their Etsy store. The pieces are surprisingly affordable! RUBY is are kindly giving away jewellery pieces to six lucky winners! You could win one of these beauties:

#1 24k Gold Plated handmade Heart Locket

#2 Copper plated Spirit Quartz Pendant

#3 Gold Geometric and Crystal Necklace 24k Gold

#4 Gold Dipped White Druzy Crystal Pendant

#5 Shark's Tooth Fossil Talisman Pendants

#6 Spirit Quartz Claw Pendant

#7 Upcycled French Franc Coin Heart

#8 Vikki Hoops

   My personal favourite is the Geometric Crystal Pendant, but a close second is the Spirit Quartz Claw because I love the juxtaposition of the rough and the shiny.

   You can enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter form. Don't forget to mention in the comments how do you feel about fracking!

* The giveway is open worldwide
* It will run till the 10th of April 2014
* Six winners will be chosen randomly and notified by email. Please check your spam folders, since almost each time I run a giveway some of the emails that notify the winners never get found.

RUBY images by Gavin Goodman

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

VAT Tax On International Bra Orders: Are You Paying It Twice?

   If you have been buying bras (or anything else) from abroad, you might want to know what VAT is, whether it's included in the price of your bras, and whether you have to pay it or not. You might even be accidentally paying it twice! Also, a tip for those of you with a mastectomy.

So, how does VAT work? 

   VAT a tax on the purchase price. It is a tax meant for residents of that country, (or the whole EU). You pay VAT to the government of the country that you live in, so you do not pay VAT for an item that you order from another country. You will, however, have to pay import tax.
    If you are travelling internationally, you can often get VAT refunded. You need to keep the bills of the items you purchased and find out where to get a refund. I once remember my aunt waking up very sleepy customs officials at the airport at midnight to get back 50€ VAT for us.

According to Wikipedia:

"Nearly all countries that use VAT use special rules for imported and exported goods:
* All imported goods are charged VAT tax for their full price when they are sold for the first time
* All exported goods are exempted from any VAT payments"  
 So, how does this work when buying bras? Prices on most websites include VAT, which may be anywhere from 5% to 22%, depending on the country. Here are two scenarios. EU is used here just as an example, the examples apply to most countries.

Scenario #1: 
  You are buying bras from the EU, and you live in the EU. The VAT is included in the price of the bra, and you have to pay that full price.

Scenario #2:
   You are buying bras from the EU but you live outside the EU. The VAT should be deducted from the price of the bras. This is indisputable.
   What happens when the package arrives to your country depends on the tax laws of your country. Probably you will have to pick up the package at the customs office and pay the VAT of your country + customs for the bras. Or not. The VAT of your country is probably different from the VAT of the country where your bras came from.

You should not be paying VAT twice

   This was brought to my attention by a lovely Swiss reader who also happens to be a lawyer. She lives outside the EU, and had ordered a bra from a store within  the EU. The price of the bras included the VAT tax (20%), which she normally should not be paying since she is not an EU citizen. However the seller did not deduct the VAT, even though the bras were being exported outside the EU. Once the bras were in Switzerland, she had to pay import tax, plus the Swiss VAT (8%). Not fair!

How to navigate the VAT issue

  Unfortunately not many online stores pay attention to the VAT issue when selling internationally. The correct way would be to change the prices to the untaxed price on checkout for non-EU customers. However, it looks like nobody does that, although I have seen an ad of a clothing store offering "21% off for non-EU buyers", which strikes me as a very simple and elegant solution.

  Most online stores that I researched did not even mention VAT. Here is what I found out so far:

Ewa Michalak: will subtract VAT if reminded. Maybe remind them before you actually pay?
Bravissimo stated that "Although goods sent to addresses outside the EU are not subject to VAT, our customers pay the same prices across the world as this helps us to cover some of the additional costs of providing a service to international customers."
Debenhams likewise doesn't refund VAT: "All total prices for goods and services at the checkout represent the total price payable by the customer for those items, regardless of the address for delivery. For deliveries to the EU, this price includes VAT (or VAT equivalent) at the current rate. Although this price is the same for deliveries outside the EU, where VAT (or VAT equivalent) may not be applicable, customers are not entitled to any discount or refund to account for the differences in tax treatment and will pay the same price for the item as a customer placing an order for delivery to the EU. " 

VAT for mastectomy: 

   Apparently if you have had a mastectomy, you don't have to pay VAT.

So what is my advice? 

   I'd suggest writing to bra stores that you want to order from and asking about VAT refunds. There is nothing like customer pressure to change the policies of businesses.

   If anyone of you knows of bra stores that refund VAT, or simply have more precise information about VAT, do share in the comments!

   Big thanks to R. and to the amazing Perfectly Fitted Bra Bloggers (especially the ladies behind FussyBusty, DressingCurves and WideCurves for material for this post!

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