how to // shopping on aliexpress

shopping on aliexpress

I am the ultimate budget shopper, I love a good bargain! This personality trait and my love for things is how I ended up finding out about AliExpress and shopping on the site a number of times. I usually get questions from readers of my blog and people who follow me on social media about the ins and outs of shopping on AliExpress, so I thought to write this post to let you guys know my experience and some tips. I am not saying that I’m the expert on AliExpress shopping, but I have been doing it for over 3 years now – so I have some insight.

What I buy and won’t buy on AliExpress
You can literally buy anything on AliExpress; the items that I have bought on the site include: makeup brushes, cellphone covers, t-shirts, hair (wigs & weaves), wig caps. The items I will not buy from the site are items like makeup and everything else that I haven’t mentioned in my to-buy list. I am 99% sure that the makeup sold on AliExpress is not real and that is the main reason why I don’t buy makeup from them.

Fake or nah?
First things first, AliExpress sells mostly dupes – you need to be okay with that when you shop on the site. So if a bag says it’s Chanel, trust me, it is not the original Chanel from Miss Coco herself. Thus, it is up to you to decide which types of items you don’t mind having dupes of and shop for those.

Which shop to choose
Now this is where it becomes a bit hard because there are thousands of shops to choose from – if you are a first time buyer, there is no way to know where to buy. This is the process I go through:

  1. figure out what I want to buy e.g. makeup brushes,
  2. search for a more specific descriptor of what I want e.g. rose gold makeup brushes,
  3. filter the results by those shops that only offer free shipping,
  4. from those results, find a few that look good
  5. choose the one I want based on number of orders and reviews

I usually only buy items that have had more than 1000 orders and have mostly good reviews, no item will ever have 100% good reviews, so it is up to you to discern which is the best item to choose.

There are a number of shipping options on AliExpress ranging from the very expensive to the very cheap. You can use courier companies like FedEx, DHL etc. this asures you that you will have your items delivered in minimum time and have the advantage of getting a tracking number and being able to track your parcel from China to South Africa. Using a courier company is the most expensive way to ship on AliExpress. Alternatively, you can use the free shipping option, you will receive your parcel via the South African Post Office, your parcel will arrive in 6-8 weeks (this is based on my experience). The disadvantage of this shipping method is that you cannot track your parcel, you just have to pray that it will get to you. However, AliExpress has buyer protection where if you do not receive your parcel after a number of days, you get a 100% refund.

That is basically my 2 cents on shopping on AliExpress, I think I have covered most things, if you have anything else that you want to find out, you can ask in the comments 🙂

Update 10 November 2017

Here are some of the items that I bought and the stores that I bought them from:


Little girl’s clothes

Cellphone covers

Makeup brushes

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  • Reply Diapeng

    Hi Lungi,

    Great to have you back, dear. Anyway, you read my mind on this one as I was about to ask you this very question myself. Other than Aliexpress, do you have other favourite online shopping sites? I’m considering Amazon.

    July 12, 2017 at 10:08
    • Reply Lungi

      Thank you Diapeng . I usually buy from US stores: colourpop, morphe & elf. Amazon is also a good option

      July 13, 2017 at 17:19
  • Reply SSS

    Thank you for the informative post. I’m slowly starting to warm up to the idea of on-line shopping, I know, I’m late. But I must admit, waiting for my items to get delivered is the worst for me.

    July 13, 2017 at 13:40
    • Reply Lungi

      You’re welcome . Oh yeah, delivery times are the worst! The advantages of living at the southern tip of Africa

      July 13, 2017 at 17:22
  • Reply Mvumikazi

    Thanks for this babes. Theres nothing I’m more scared of than saving monry for months only to lose it to a parcel the never arrives. Eeek! Looking to buy bundles for some wigs. I need about 6 months to mentally prepare

    Mvumikazi | Urban Mnguni

    July 13, 2017 at 19:12
    • Reply Lungi

      That’s the worst part, I’ve also had one parcel never arriving and I couldn’t claim a refund – I hadn’t bought it from AliExpress though. Please opt for courier delivery if you are buying bundles.

      July 17, 2017 at 12:37
  • Reply Nomsa

    Thanks for the review. The only reason I have tried the site is because they don’t accept PayPal for payment.
    How are you paying for your purchases?

    July 14, 2017 at 14:35
    • Reply Lungi

      Hi Nomsa, I use my credit card directly to pay.

      July 17, 2017 at 12:38
  • Reply Nomsa

    Lol, meant I haven’t tried Aliexpress

    July 14, 2017 at 14:36
  • Reply Nwabisa

    Thank you for your reveiw, how much customs & duties fee did you pay when you bought shirts (clothes) ? I’m really keen on shopping a few small clothing items there.

    August 2, 2017 at 17:30
    • Reply Lungi

      Hi Nwabisa, nope – I didn’t pay any custom fees. As a general rule of thumb, you don’t pay customs for items worth less than R500

      August 2, 2017 at 19:50
  • Reply Isabel

    Okay great thank you Lungi I will stay clear of makeup great post very helpful

    November 9, 2017 at 15:21
    • Reply Lungi

      You’re welcome, Isabel

      November 10, 2017 at 09:00
  • Reply Thabang

    HI Lungi.

    Do you mind posting a link or the name of the stores you bought from?


    November 9, 2017 at 15:49
    • Reply Lungi

      Hi Thabang, I’ve updated the post 🙂

      November 10, 2017 at 08:59
  • Reply Kamohelo

    I LOVE aliexpress!! And unlike you I’ve always been able to track my orders from start to end, even after getting them from the post office the tracking will show that it was fetched by me at which post office. I always ship with China post small packets. My next buy will be gel nail polishes and a uv lamp on 11.11 they having a massive sale. And about customs, it depends on what’s been ordered I think because I’ve only bought under 500 and I always have to pay customs. The sunglasses waiting for me at my local post office need 24 bucks for customs. Oh and there’s this bob lace wig I’m eyeing but I’m scared. The reviews are great though and there’s actually quite a lot from South Africans even so I don’t know why I’m hesitant. Maybe it has to do with being natural for so long and being scared of going bone straight (even if it’s just s wig)

    November 9, 2017 at 19:23
    • Reply Lungi

      Hey Kamohelo, you seem to be a seasoned aliExpress shopper! It’s great that you’ve been able to track your parcels, it gives you such peace of mind.
      Buying hair on there can be such a daunting process, I’ve bought 2 wigs recently and I’ve been happy with my purchases 🙂

      November 10, 2017 at 08:50
  • Reply Vee

    Great info but can you please tell me why we have to pay R24 to collect a small packaging at the post office we already pay shipping fee but then we have to pay at the post office too? Thanks.

    November 27, 2017 at 07:52
    • Reply Lungi

      Hi Vee, that’s the negative thing about shopping internationally: all the hidden fees that pop up. I don’t know what the post office fee is for, I’ve never had to pay it.

      November 27, 2017 at 21:29

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