Beauty Cliff Notes: Where to shop for beauty items in Germany
Say you’ve found yourself in Germany, and while you’re a professed beauty junkie, you’ve no idea where you can find unique German beauty products, heck, any beauty products at all! Twindly to the rescue – here in this blog post is everything you need to know.
After the post about the best beauty shopping places in Frankfurt (there’ll be another post about Berlin soon!) I started to think about German store and brand names – and while those will be familiar to Germans and I guess most people from Europe, what about all of you lovely tourists from far away places who find themselves in Germany for a layover or a business trip and want to do some recreational beauty shopping? The following will hopefully open up a whole new beauty world for you!
Where to shop the big international brands
If you’re looking for international brands like everything from L’Oreal, Lauder and Coty, you’ll find nearly everything at the beauty department of either Kaufhof or Karstadt. Those two are the biggest German department stores, and there you’ll find an offering of mid-range to high-end brands. Also, clothes, food, stationary etc. You get the picture. Think Macy’s or Debenham’s. If you’re looking for a Sephora-like experience, have a look at Douglas. Nearly every German city has one, ranging from tiny to huge, with everything beauty-related from skincare, hair products, accessories and perfumes to makeup. If you’re in need of a drugstore because you forgot your toothbrush or cotton pads and also want to check out some mascara or nailpolish at the same time, look for a dm, Rossmann or Müller. Rossmann and Müller both also carry household goods, and in some cases stationary, dvds and cds, while dm also has some organic food.
What’s the best drugstore and what brands do they carry?
Well, that depends a lot on your taste, what you’re looking for and the location of the branch itself. dm (they’re called budni in northern Germany) has some organic food stuff you might want to check out, Rossmann always has some offer going on (10% off on all mascaras, that type of thing) and has some household appliances and knick-knacks as well if you’re in desperate need of an ironing board or an electrical grill, some wooden spoons and placemats. They also carry their own makeup brand called Rival de Loop, which is mostly lacking when you’re looking at Catrice and Essence. Both of the latter and also P2 (which can be exclusively found at dm) are famous for their huge offerings and small prices. Look around, you’ll find some gems! dm’s own brands balea and ebelin also offer some excellent products – I’m completely addicted to balea hair products and some of the ebelin brushes are really, really good.
Müller has the biggest stores, with children’s toys, stationary and cds and dvds. They also carry high-end brands like Estée Lauder, Chanel and Dior.
If you’re looking for famous German brands at your drugstore experience, have a look at 4711 and Nivea. Both are traditional German brands with their star products both over 100 years old respectively. 4711 is in existence since 1799 when they started to sell their ‘Kölnisch Wasser’. The exact translation for that is Eau de Cologne, and indeed we have the first Cologne here that’s still sold today! The name stems from the original seat of the brand in Cologne – their house number was 4711. Nivea cream was first sold in 1911, its name comes from Latin ‘niveus’, meaning snowwhite. Its parent company Beiersdorf also does a chapstick line called Labello that has a following nearly as big as Nivea cream.
Another nice drugstore brand is Astor, which has been around since the 1950s and has recently begun to shed its slightly fusty image. Their Lipcolor Butters are seriously good and come in glossy and matte formulas.
Wait, there’re German pharmacy brands?!
There’re indeed! Both Weleda and Dr. Hauschka have become famous worldwide after models and actresses alike (Gwyneth Paltrow, for example) have named them as their favourites. Both are organic brands with roots in anthroposophy and a belief in medical plants that both use in their products. Dr. Hauschka even carries a cosmetics line beside their skin and body care. Weleda has got a special lineup for baby products, products for hair, dental care, and of course body and skin care. Weleda is also nice for trying out products – they usually offer minis of a lot of their lines which you can find in most pharmacies and drugstores.
Another pharmacy brand that is worth checking out is Eucerin that offers both skin and body care. I especially like their body lotion for extra dry skin with Urea and have also used their eye cream which is really pleasant to use. Dermasence is a skincare brand that you can’t go wrong with. They don’t give their products any mumbo-jumbo names like some brands do, but no nonsense names like AHA Body and Face lotion that do what they claim. All of their product lines are easy to navigate because of this and have mostly top notch ingredients. Products I also buy again and again (and have wrote about here) are Sagella lotion and Bepanthen cream.
What about organic brands?
Well, I mentioned Weleda and Dr. Hauschka above, but you’ll find a lot of organic brands in the various drugstores, department stores and pharmacies. Alnatura, an organic food store chain, also has a beauty section where you’ll find brands like Lavera, Martina Gebhardt and Logona. At dm you’ll find both cosmetics and skincare by Alverde, and Kneipp does nice bath products.
German brands for insiders
So now you’ve stocked up on Nivea Cream, bought some Catrice nail polishes and Essence blushes, got a little tube of Bepanthen cream and Weleda skinfood, but now you want more? No worries! Maybe we can interest you in some really nice makeup and brushes? Well, Zoeva does both and are easily available at Douglas (only big stores will carry them though, but you always can order online). They have both good brushes and a nice selection of makeup. Their palettes are supposedly very good, as are their liners and lipsticks. Artdeco is a brand you’ll see everywhere in Germany – most department stores carry their lineup. They’re a midrange brand, and the quality matches the price. Recommendable are their powders (eyeshadows, powders, blushes) and mascaras, while I think that their nailpolishes are overpriced. They have a nice system where you can buy empty palettes (which can be awfully pretty and very tempting) and fill them with eyeshadow refills and powders.
A4 Cosmetics is a small company from Munich whose products I really like – I’m completely addicted to their wonderfully smelling body oil that I featured here. They can be found in some perfumeries. If you find them, go on and splurge – you won’t regret it!
Babor is another company that may be hard to find – mostly you’ll see them at spas and at beauticians. (They also have a website where you can order.) They also come from my hometown and I worked in their factory when I just had finished high school. Good times! Anyway, they have a very extensive lineup – skincare, body care, cosmetics, perfume, and men’s care. What they’re famous for are their ampoules. They can be pricey, but they also use a lot of local ingredients and their claim as an organic luxury brand is indisputable.
Bonus tip: online brands
If you’re staying in Germany for a few days (or longer), you can also order online from two companies close to my heart. Their products are among the best I’ve ever encountered in their respective fields and I’m a loyal customer of both of them.
If you’re a nail polish aficionado, Miss Sophie’s nailwraps are a must-have for you (see our interview with founder Sophie here). I’ve tried a lot of wraps, but her’s are simply the best. Very easy to apply, you can use your own preferred topcoat, and they hold up very well. Everybody else should try Beyer & Söhne products. And I mean that. Coming from a family of apothecaries, the Beyer sons have come up with absolutely stellar products, mainly their skin and body cream. Both creams only have ingredients that do something – so no useless crap in there! You can also order samples if you want to try them out first, but I’ll promise – you’ll be hooked once you tried them!
As always, if you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer.