Why I won’t write a beauty shopping guide for Hongkong (and a mini shopping guide for Hongkong)
Oh, Hongkong. You’re crowded, confusing, vibrant, multi-cultural, humid, and an alluring mix of old and new, east and west, Britain and China, skyscrapers and old alleyways. And its beauty offerings are exactly mirroring that. A post about how I got lost in Hongkong’s beauty offerings.
Hongkong beauty shopping guide – or not?
Differently to most places I write shopping guides about, I was only three days in Hongkong, and it was clear from the start that this was not the trip to go on long beauty hunts and research different shops. But then, surprisingly, I did some beauty shopping, and thought to share some peeks into Hongkong’s beauty shops with you. Nevertheless, Hongkong, small of space as it is, is chock-full of things beauty enthusiasts will love. There’s an amazing variety of brands, stores, malls and markets where everyone will find a product they love, and exactly because it’s that diverse, it’s difficult to write a proper guide. I give you some pointers instead!
Don’t look for a Sasa, it’ll come to you
Wherever I am, I’m rarely interested in the big department store brands. Instead, I love to explore local brands, and love to haunt drugstores. There’re different drugstore chains in Hongkong. Sasa, pink and blingy and just around every corner with the widest range of skincare and makeup and perfume. Watsons, a proper drugstore that stocks everything from toothpaste to sheetmasks to snacks, and Mannings that you can easily skip if you’re hunting for cosmetics, because its range is much smaller.
Confusingly, while there’s one of the three about everywhere you turn, I found that they differ vastly – that Sasa will be small while that one has two stories and will give you a special offer on that item that the next one doesn’t even stock. So, choose wisely, young Padawan – the set of sheetmasks you’re buying here could be on offer for a tempting 2 for 1 deal in the next store. It’s confusing. I told you.
Do your math
While Hongkong doesn’t have any VAT, prices are still all over the place and quite baffling. I can only encourage you to check prices first before you buy anything. Especially Korean brands that are easily available online are quite unattractive, considering. Saying that, I found (confusingly) some great deals at Sasa – I got the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask for about 12€, which is about half price from its Korean price. While Sasa is a reputable chain, I’ve no idea how they do it – do they buy leftover stock from somewhere? I saw a Sulwhasoo cushion for about 20€ and could just wonder. I also went wild at Japanese brand Three – I think I paid more than I would’ve in Japan, but at that moment, I didn’t care.
Do not only compare prices, but always check the label too and have a look at the expiry date. How long has a product been sitting on a shelf? Is that maybe the reason it’s so cheap?
It’s all there
French pharmacy brands, American brands, Korean brands and Japanese brands, even German brands – you can find them all. High-end, low-end, mid-range, regular line and Asian exclusives – you’ll see them either in a department store, shopping center or a drugstore. I was drawn to a few Japanese brands, Taiwanese sheet masks and Korean sunscreens. Hongkong can be the ultimate beauty wonderland, but think wisely before you’re getting overwhelmed – how are prices compared to your homecountry and the methods of buying (online?) that are available to you. Also, if a deal is too good, be wary. I also wouldn’t ever buy products I’m putting on my face from those little market stalls or hole in the wall stores (you can’t know how products stored, how they came there and if they’re real or fake), but then, that might be me.
In the end, Hongkong is confusing, huge, small, irritating, crowded, enticing, exciting and much more – go and explore!