Here's where to buy beauty products in Taiwan + a review of their popular makeup
Since discovering the Miss Hana (花娜小姐) gel pencil liner during my last Taipei visit, I knew that Cosmed/Watsons/Ximending and I had unfinished business. Armed with a week’s worth of research and P3000 (converted to NTD1765), I set off for my Taiwan trip with the aim of trying out more of their makeup products. You might be wondering: what about Dr. Morita, My Beauty Diary, My Scheming, Naruko, and 23.5N? The skincare brands are slowly making their way to our shores, so we decided to focus on makeup instead! So if you ever find yourself in Taipei, Kaohsiung, or any of Taiwan’s beautiful cities, consider picking up these local finds.
While I was able to get almost everything I need for a full face, I skipped the foundation. Taiwanese beauty did have ~more~ shades available (four colors, yay) but alas, the darkest shade was still too light for me. So I used Estee Lauder Double Wear in Tawny as a base for all the products.
The most recommended product was the Kuan Yuan Lian (菜瓜水) Luffa Toner, so I had to get it. It serves as a multi-purpose toner mist, and is made from luffa aegyptiaca (yes, the same luffa you use for baths). The mist is very fine and has no scent. I like to use this to wet my brush and to remove the powdery look of my base. It’s lightly hydrating and is refreshing to apply.
Gett it? As a skincare product, it’s honestly meh. For more makeup-related uses like hydrating my base or wetting my brush, sure!
The MKUP 美咖 Real Complexion Cream was another regular in the Taiwan beauty listicles. This claims to be a lazy girl’s beauty hack, like tone-up cream ! Even if I’m averse to anything that claims to be whitening, I bought the smallest tube to try. While I get its popularity (it makes my skin look plump!), this can be unforgiving for darker skin tones and acne-prone people. It looks a little too pale for my skin tone, plus it emphasizes my PIH.
Gett it? Give this a whirl if you have nice skin + love a no-makeup makeup look.
While I was at checkout at the 86 Store, I saw a teeny little Miss Hana Primer-One Face Primer in the Soft Focus and Oil Control variant. While it was a travesty to buy samples (I will stand by the fact that it is sample-sized), it was cheap anyway so I got one. This primer smoothened out my skin’s texture so nicely! Too bad it didn't deliver on the oil control promise since I started oiling up four hours after application.
Gett it? I will likely buy the regular size when I next visit Taiwan as it's a really nice smoothening primer.
Because it was cute, tiny, and blue, I got the 1028 Visual Therapy (1028 時尚彩妝) Ultimate Oil Control Powder. This brand was created by Xiao Kai, a Taiwanese celebrity makeup artist. At first, I had to scrub down my brush to get any powder out. It’s not very dusty for sure. But once applied, it has a blurring effect on my foundation. The oil control was decent. I started getting shiny on my forehead and cheeks midday.
Gett it? If you’re on the hunt for an effective powder in a cute compact, try this!
To give all eye makeup products a good fighting chance on my oily lids, I made sure to prime them first with my trusty Etude House Proof 10 Primer. I’m not a big eyeshadow girl myself, but I was so mesmerized by the compact size (and adorable tin case) of the Solone Classic Eyeshadow Kit Tipsy Eyes. The eyeshadow kit comes in four different variants, and has eight eyeshadows with four mattes, two frosts, and two lusters.
This has that very cheap makeup smell. The mattes were easily the best thing in the palette - they were very easy and even to blend, and had great pigmentation. The frosts (the gold and champagne pink) had to be packed on with a wet brush to even show up. I was really disappointed with the peachy coral luster shade because you have to layer it a couple of times in addition to foiling. My best bet is to use the luffa mist or a setting spray to get it to show up better.
Gett it? Skip this and try out their single shadows instead.
While y’all know I’m loyal to my Heroine Make Volume and Curl Waterproof, I may have found a mascara that I like in the 1028 Visual Therapy Extend Curl Waterproof Mascara! It was a rocky start at first, because I thought it was the smudgy culprit on my undereye area (turns out it was one of the liners below). This is a lengthening mascara that gets better as it dries up. It does as it names says, and does not clump or flake, thanks to its itty bitty separating brush.
Gett it? Thank you, kind SA. This was a good mascara pick!
I’ve heard of UNT from nail polish channels, but I was surprised that it was Taiwanese and had its own makeup line! I just wanted a safe brow pick so I went with the normal-looking Brow Master Dual Ended Brow Pencil. It reminded me a lot of the Etude House brow pencil I used to like, only a bit creamier. It’s a good brow pencil, but nothing to write home about.
Gett it? If you forgot your kilay stuff and in dire need of one, why not.
I was about to give up on eyeliners and lead an eyeliner-less existence because of my oily lids, but Miss Hana came my way! I was also thrilled to discover that Taiwanese eyeliners are generally well-reviewed so I got three recos.
I didn’t have high expectations for liquid liners because they usually migrate away from my lids. But the Solone Magic Liquid Eyeliner surprised me with how it stayed put with very little smudging! It just frustrates me that I have to layer the liner to get the pigmentation I want. I’ll still keep this around to use to perfect lines or to draw on fake lower lashes.
The Miss Hana Eyeliner in Night Black is the intense black liner of my dreams. It is so black, you can hardly see my lashes! It’s also easy to use, does not tug on my lids, and has good staying power at 6 hours. Make sure to let this set for a few seconds after application to prevent any transfers. Note also that this is a pencil-type liner so you will need a sharpener.
I confess that I wanted the Solone Waterproof Eyepencil in Brown because of the Hello Kitty packaging. Like the Miss Hana one, this is a pencil-type liner so you’ll have to sharpen it. Good thing it comes with its own sharpener! I also really like this one: it’s a nice everyday brown. Staying power is also at around 6 hours.
Gett them? HOARD ALL THE EYELINERS IN TAIWAN. GET THESE THREE.
This was the wild card and admittedly the regret portion of my haul: the Miss Hana 4 Way Tint Color Pens. These are multi-use tints in a liner format that you can use on your brows, eyes, cheeks, and lips. I only bought them because they were on Buy 1, Take 1 and they reminded me of the Dior Ink Lip Liners. They have a flat paddle applicator so it’s easy to draw with.
The formulation and colors are so inconsistent - the red was supposed to be a dark burgundy red, while the orange-y brown was supposed to be a flat-out brown! Also, the latter was so sticky and patchy, I couldn’t stand having them on my eyes, lips, or cheeks. They’re best used as tints, but ultimately a complete waste of money.
Gett it? I should have listened to my gut and got a cream lipstick from the Taiwanese brand, heme instead. Remember, not all Buy 1 Take 1 offers are good. Reflect on your life choices (well, mine) and find something else.
There are still a lot of brands and products I hope to try from Taiwan, but I hope that this can give you an idea on what to get when you visit. After all, shopping for local beauty is another great way to experience all that a foreign country has to offer!
Have you tried any Taiwanese makeup products? What are your fave brands and best finds?
SHOPPING LIST (with prices converted to PHP)
Kuan Yuan Lian Luffa Toner 50ml - NTD69 or P118
MKUP Real Complexion Cream 10ml - NTD199 or P340
1028 Visual Therapy Ultimate Oil Control Powder 4.6g - NTD99 or P167
Solone Magic Liquid Eyeliner 0.5ml - NTD219 or P374
Solone Waterproof Eyepencil 1.5g - NTD127 or P217
Solone Classic Eyeshadow Kit Tipsy Eyes - NTD249 or P425
UNT Brow Master Dual Ended Brow Pencil 0.2g - NTD153 or P261
From 86 Shop:
Miss Hana Primer One Soft Focus and Oil Control 3g - NTD19 or P33
Miss Hana Eyeliner in Night Black 1.3g - NTD149 or P254
Miss Hana 4 Way Tint Color Pen (in WR04 and DB02) 1.6g - NTD99 or P167
From Little Three Shop:
1028 Visual Therapy Extend Curl Waterproof Mascara 8g - NTD319 or P544