Beauty adventures in Singapore
I love Singapore. It has been dubbed the Asian city for beginners, because for a Western person, it’s incredibly easy to get around. For me, though, it’s the Asian New York City – a melting pot, a financial hub, a touristy mess – topped with a all-year round hot climate, awesome parks and gardens, yummy food and well, the shopping. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the shopping malls and opportunities, and I wouldn’t say that I even scratched the surface of this teeming city. But here’re my favourite spots for beauty shopping in Singapore.
The obvious – Sephora, duh!
Sephora at ION Orchard Mall is supposedly the biggest Sephora in Asia. For someone who’s starved for beauty and makeup products like me whenever I come to Singapore (there’s nothing fun found in Shanghai’s Sephora), it’s heaven. Pricewise, for beauty enthusiasts from the US it’ll be more expensive than they’re used to. For makeup junkies from Europe it’ll be quite similar to the prices at home. Likewise, US beauties will likely be a bit bored – the brands are similar, the line-up lacks some things (like Sephora’s nice mini sets, for example, and a lot of limited edition and seasonal edition items), while European ladies will like to swatch some brands that are hard to find in their countries.
Makeup brands include Anastasia Beverly Hills, Kat von D, Urban Decay, Becca, Stila, Tarte, Marc Jacobs, Burberry, Nars, Benefit, Cover FX, MUFE, it cosmetics and Hourglass. Of course there’s also Sephora’s own brand, perfume and skincare. On top of that, have a look at Korean brands Laneige and Moonshot. SAs will likely leave you alone while you browse, and I just love doing exactly that. (Btw, high-end brands like YSL, Dior, Guerlain, Chanel and mid-range brands like Bobbi Brown and MAC nearly always have their own little beauty boutiques in the big malls. At ION, they’re on the same level as Sephora iirc.)
The utterly luxe perfume heaven – Escentials at Paragon Mall
I was looking for Le Labo in Singapore (remember my ode to Rose 31 here and my solemn oath to buy it asap?), and Escential popped up. It’s a high-end perfumery that carries mainly perfume brands (Byredo, Diptyque, Le Labo, Francis Kurkdjian, Annick Goutal), but also a bit makeup (Lipstick Queen, By Terry) and skincare (REN, Eve Lom). They also have a lot of awesome candles. But, Le Labo. After picking out the fragrance you want, they mix your own bottle right there. I found it nearly magical – the incredibly nice SAs put everything together like alchemists. When do you ever have the chance to witness how a perfume is mixed? Worth every penny. Caution, though, the process is not exactly quick. I loved every second of it.
The department store – Takashimaya
A Japanese department store in Ngee Ann Mall that carries all kinds of Western and Asian beauty brands. I made a beeline for the Hakuhodo counter. I’ve never seen the famous Japanese brushes before. I, beaming, told the SA breathlessly ‘I could pet the brushes all day!’ upon which she kindly replied ‘We get that a lot.’ It’s a small counter, but nevertheless I loved actually seeing and handling the brushes in person instead of seeing them on a website. (See my review of the brushes I bought here!)
The fun starts underground – the underpass between ION Orchard and Tangs/Takashimaya
In Asian shopping malls, all the fun shops are actually underground. Don’t bother with the pretentious and luxe high-end stores at street level and above (I enjoy window shopping a lot, but after a while I just crave something different), but go down the next escalator and the fun begins. Here’re the food courts (and they’re good!) and the temperature is nice and cool. The underpasses technically just connect malls and metro stations, but they’re so much more! You’ll find cute gift shops, cute clothing stores, the ubiquitous Victoria’s Secret, drugstores (see more below) and some beauty destinations. You’ll also find the best MAC counter/store in Singapore under Takashimaya. Go in the direction of Tangs Department Store to find The Face Shop, Etude House and also Guardian and Watsons.
All the Asian drugstore brands – Watson, Guardian and Sasa
I love a good snoop around drugstore beauty brands and find some hidden gems, be it at Boots, Walgreens, dm or Watsons. Have a look at L’Oreal – their Asian line-up is slightly different, and this time I came back with a cushion blush that isn’t available (yet) in the Western world. Here you’ll also find the famous and hard to find sunscreen spray (see review here)! Asian makeup brands include Kate, Clio, heroine make, Majolica Majorca, Canmake and Dolly Wink. My favourite skincare brands are Hado Labo (I always stock up on their Essence), sheet mask brand My Beauty Diary, Biore and bio essence (just included in Cult Beauty’s line-up).
You’ll also find a ton of Western makeup and skincare brands (just in case you either run out of something or forgot some essential product) – Bioderma, LRP, Aveeno, Neutrogena, Dove, Nivea etc. Sasa (easy to find in the underpass between ION Orchard and Tangs) is a bit different – a bit more upscale and makeup-centric. You’ll find hip brand Chosungah22, old friends like theBalm, European brands like Collistar and Gosh there.
And now for something completely different – Haji Lane
After a day roaming the clean, cool and (admit it) a bit generic stores at Orchard Road you’ll maybe be in the mood for something completely different. Haji Lane is hip, touristy and totally instagrammable. Nevertheless, the tiny stores have a ton of charm and I loved to browse through them for one hour or two. Stock up on affordable jewellery and stationery, or try on some summery clothes (Metro stop Bugis).