The beauty nerd's guide to makeup and skincare shopping in Hong Kong (2019)
Hong Kong holds very special memories for me because it’s the very first place I visited abroad. I was still very young when I first went though, so when I recently traveled there again earlier this year, I couldn’t miss out on doing a bit of beauty shopping!
Let’s start with where to find the best deals and sulit sets: the specialty beauty stores and pharmacies!
In a sea of bright lights and numerous signages, you can immediately recognize the bright fuchsia-pink signage of Sasa. Due to the space problem in Hong Kong, most Sasa stores I went to had two floors but very cramped displays, which made shopping there feel very overwhelming. They also display their products by type, so be prepared to play a game of Hide and Seek if you’re hunting for several products from a single brand.
It’s worth overcoming those hurdles as you can get a lot of beauty products on discount here. The brands available will vary from store to store, but you can usually find a good selection of Japanese brands like Heroine Make and Media; Korean brands like Dr. Jart and VT; and even some high-end brands like Estee Lauder. You can also find Western brand fragrances here at really good prices. And good news for those who collect mini skincare: you can find some from brands like Lancome, Laneige, and Shiseido!
Colourmix is not as common as Sasa, but it offers the same concept of selling discounted beauty products. I think the difference is that it caters more towards the mainland crowd with its selection of unfamiliar Chinese brands and Rich Bitch skincare choices. I found a good selection of The Face Shop skincare (你好GOT7!), Sulwhasoo, and The History of Whoo sets. Fragrances also take up a huge wall in the store and are displayed proudly behind a glass panel.
I lost count of the number of Bonjour stores we passed in the Tsim Sha Tsui area. What fascinated me about it is the store layout, which reminded me of a traditional Chinese pharmacy. On the first floor, they mostly have unfamiliar Chinese brands. The second floor consisted of a mix of traditional Chinese treatments and ointments alongside a random mix of products like Papa Recipe sheet masks and Caudalie facial mists. Unfortunately, I was only able to take photos of the second floor because it was empty; the SAs there looked like they would confiscate my phone!
Mannings is so ubiquitous, it’s practically on every block! As a pharmacy, they carry both traditional Chinese and modern medicines, plus supplements and drugstore beauty products. The selection will vary per branch but I noticed that they mostly focused on skincare items. Some brands I found were Rohto Melano, Biore, and Mentholatum.
What would an Asian destination be without good ol’ Watsons? Our favorite pharmacy has in-store brands like Pure Beauty, and also carries different brands ranging from Japanese (Hada Labo, FANCL, and Ettusais) to Western (Uriage, Avene, and Bioderma). I found it fascinating that Watsons separates the beauty and personal care products from the traditional Chinese and modern medicinal products, probably due to the strong herbal smell that comes from the medicines.
For all things trendy and glam, Causeway Bay is the place to go. My HK-based friend compares this to Shibuya in terms of shopping options. This was probably my favorite area to browse because I liked the cool vibe, as well as the selection of stores and restos. Admittedly, my heart skipped a beat at the multistorey Watsons and the Sasa Supreme that were in the Causeway Bay area.
The whole world has caught on to the Japanese beauty obsession (get it together, PH!) and Hong Kong is no different. Along with Japanese snacks and groceries, Mono Mono is where you can find J-beauty brands like Canmake, Heroine, Ettusais, K-Palette, and Cezanne. The prices were quite similar to PH prices though so hoard wisely.
For the serious shopaholic, the Tsim Sha Tsui area brings all the different stores you may want to visit within easy distance of each other. After clothes shopping, you can hop over to the numerous Sasa, Watsons, Mannings, and Bonjour stores to get your beauty fix. Walk along Nathan Road and you can find standalone stores of Korean faves like Innisfree and Etude House.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can enjoy luxury beauty shopping at The One. This multistorey mall has a Harvey Nichols, Åland, and 3CE. Harvey Nichols is a luxury department store with a dedicated floor for brands like Chanel, SK-II, Bobbi Brown, Charlotte Tilbury, and more.
One of my friends was surprised that there aren’t any Sephoras in Hong Kong but I think Facesss is the better option! Its brightly-lit interiors with splashes of neon pink and blue almost lured me in to spend money (but I didn’t, ha!). There were a hundred brands in there, including BareMinerals, Laduree, Urban Decay, and By Terry.
Gett’s Shopping Tips:
Credit cards are widely accepted in Hong Kong. Got WeChat Pay or Apple Pay? You can use those, too, along with your MTR Octopus Card. I love the cashless system most Hong Kong stores have!
Do your homework. Shopping is the main activity here in Hong Kong, and you will get overwhelmed with choices. Prepare a list of products you want to get beforehand so you don’t go over-budget.
Try to check prices in different stores, if you can. My friend bought a lip product in Sasa, which we later found for a lot cheaper in Watsons!
Conversion rate is roughly 1HKD = 6.66PHP
Have you gone beauty shopping in Hong Kong? Which stores are your fave? What other beauty shopping spots have we missed? Which country should we go to next? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!