What better way is there to travel the world if not in the search of exciting new products and innovative cosmetic brands? Wherever I go, live or travel I try to discover the local beauty industry. Being born in Germany leaves me with a lot of choices but over time I discovered how many interesting brands never made it to the market there. While living abroad over the last years, I had the opportunity to explore a world of cosmetics I didn’t even know existed.
Without doubt, France is my personal land of honey and milk when it comes to cosmetics. Aside from lovely perfumeries, such as Marionnaud, Sephora or Nocibé, one can find several department stores, e.g. Galeries Lafayette or Printemps. Last but not least, France has great pharmacies, which have much more to offer than just medicine. I’d always be on the lookout for their skincare brands, which started to expand more and more throughout Europe but still remain the cheapest there. In the French pharmacies, I first discovered Bioderma, a brand I love for treating and cleansing my skin very gently. For me, this country is simply a paradise for skincare! Until I found my The Body Shop Sumptuous Cleansing Balm, I was using their Bioderma Sensibio H2O consistently although it used to be very difficult to obtain outside of France. After visiting the pharmacies, I’d always take a look at the perfumeries with their different brands (Paul & Joe!!), and huge clearance sales. For instance, I’m still proud of my Guerlain Cruel Gardenia Highlighter, which I scored with 70% off during the bi-annual sales period.
The Scandinavian beauty market is interesting in itself: While in other countries one can find drugstores, perfumeries and pharmacies alike, neither Sweden nor Norway really have drugstores. The gap is closed with department stores and clothing stores, e.g. H&M, where you can also find your usual shampoo or makeup brands. I personally didn’t find their decorative cosmetic brands too impressive but the local, organic skincare is very luxurious and exciting to try out. Otherwise, if you are lucky to live close to one of their few Sephora’s, you can get access to everything you need. If not, you can always visit Åhléns and Kicks for the usual perfumery brands or try some scandinavian beauty brands for hair care (SachaJuan) and skincare (Emma S., Estelle & Thild, REN). Especially the organic skincare brands are worth it in Scandinavia.
Although China is not very well known for cosmetics, you’ll find everything there from Korea and Japan, as the Chinese women are simply crazy about them. Besides, many of the big European companies, such as L’Oréal, often launch products specifically targeted for the Asian market. These products never get or are only launched much later elsewhere. Don’t forget to check out the local drugstores and treat yourself to a handful of facial cloth masks, which are very inexpensive and fun to use. Also, check out premium brands, like Étude house, Herborist or SKII for their products,which are hard to get by in Europe. While being in China, I’d try looking for eye products, light colored foundations in general, cushion foundations and particularly skincare products. For instance, when I visited the country, I got first into contact with cleansing oils and have been a fan ever since. But be aware the quality standards of local brands may be lower, because the Chinese governmental restrictions on testing makeup are different from other countries. Department stores and perfumeries like Sephora should be fine though. Also, I would not recommend buying products on the night markets, there are simply too many knock-offs with low quality that may not only be disappointing but also cause outbreaks.
Although you’ll always find most of the same brands in perfumes (Dior, Chanel, Clarins…) and drugstores (Maybelline, L’Oréal…) across different countries, be on the lookout for those brands you can’t get in your local market. As I lived in The Netherlands I finally had access to Revlon, a brand which does quality products for a reasonable price especially handy when starting an own makeup collection. Particularly, their lip butters, lipglosses and pallets are worth investing in. In general, just keep in mind to always be open for something new, also look at budget brands and try out whatever you find.
For me, there is no better way to collect souvenirs from the countries I visited or lived in than taking some local beauty products home with me. Whenever I use them, I remember my time there and reminisce about it.