Thursday, May 2, 2013

Beauty shopping - country: Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a destination I travel to almost every year (sometimes more than twice in 6 months). Mr Effort's family speaks Cantonese and love food, so it is no wonder that whenever we discuss where to go for a extended family vacation, Hong Kong typically comes up on the shortlist of destinations.

Beauty shopping country: Hong Kong
Cities/areas of reference: Hong Kong is widely known to be divided between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island (we'll leave the New Territories out of it for now)
Causeway Bay & Central are on HK Island, Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) and Mongkok are on Kowloon.

Departmental stores in Hong Kong with extensive beauty departments:
1) Sogo departmental store (2 branches in HK, mtr stations: Causeway Bay/East Tsim Sha Tsui)
2) Langham Place (closest mtr station: Mongkok)
3) Lane Crawford (4 branches in HK)
4) Hysen Place (closest mtr station: Causeway Bay)

Drugstore chains in Hong Kong (equivalent to USA's Walgreens/CVS and UK's Superdrug/Boots)

1) Watsons (see my post on beauty shopping in Taiwan here)

2) Mannings

3) Sa Sa

4) Bonjour (there are some who claim that Bonjour is cheaper than Sa Sa. I am unable to verify this, but if you have time to comparison shop, you might want to try)

5) Colourmix

Other beauty shopping outlets
1) Joyce Beauty
Joyce Beauty is the beauty/cosmetics offshoot of the Joyce retail speciality. Joyce Beauty (9 branches in HK) stocks Lipstick Queen, Deborah Lippmann, Bumble & Bumble hair care, By Terry makeup among others. 

2) Upstairs shops
The upstair shops that I've seen in HK stock skincare and nail polishes (read my blog post here). However, it does take effort to search for them.  

Websites (multi-label/brand cosmetics)
- Yahoo HK shopping. Various sellers, various sellers' ratings. 

I was unable to find many multi-label/brand cosmetics websites which would accept non-HK credit cards and which would deliver within HK (excluding official drugstore websites like, etc). Several websites I came across required payment via HK bank accounts, which is not available to the average tourist. A HK acquaintance shared with me that domestic HK online shopping is not predominant, that she tended to shop online with overseas (e.g. US) sites.

Where to go 
If you only have one day
If your accommodation is on HK Island, Causeway Bay is the ultimate stop. If you're staying on Kowloon instead, go to Mongkok. 

There is a Sogo branch at Causeway Bay. Exiting Sogo via the doors nearest to the MAC store-in-store, you can walk to Lockhart Road which is peppered with Colourmix, Bonjour and a Skin Food store. Hysen Place has Joyce Beauty, its own beauty floor and various Korean brands like too cool for school, Holika Holika and the saem. Innisfree has also opened up a store just diagonal to Hysen Place (the store is on the small side and there is a queue to get into the store). There is also a Sasa (2 floors) store at the Goldmark just next to Hysen Place if you don't want to dash to Hang Lung Centre. Cher2 also has a Causeway Bay branch.

Innisfree store in Causeway Bay

Once you exit Causeway Bay (mtr exit E), you will see an Etude House and Bonjour branch. Leaving the exit, there is a big Sasa shop at the ground floor of Hang Lung Centre, Paterson Street and Mannings is conveniently located 1 floor above Sasa. In Windsor House (the building next to Hang Lung Centre), there is a big Watsons store at the basement floor as well as Kiss nail store. In Times Square, brands like Jill Stuart, Fancl, ettusais, L'occitane, Jurlique can be found as well as Lane Crawford's own beauty hall.

Mongkok, Kowloon is one of the busiest areas in Hong Kong for shopping. Be prepared for jostling in the stores. I do like Langham Place and you can easily find various drugstores just minutes away from Langham Place (all of the 5 I've mentioned above). 

If you only have one weekend
I would recommend doing the same, but at a far more relaxed pace. I have visited Causeway Bay or Mongkok over a few days simply because I needed time to think about whether or not to purchase the product.

If you have one weekend and are visiting Causeway Bay, I do recommend adding eslite at Hysen Place. eslite is a famous Taiwanese book store chain and its first foray overseas is in Hysen Place. The eslite store has a tea salon and carries tea, skincare, bodycare products alongside books and magazines. 

If you have one week
I would recommend getting a Chinese facial/massage. I simply never have the time whenever I'm in HK but I have done Chinese facials (in Singapore) before and it is different from the 'Western' type of facial treatments. Alternatively, you could have a Bliss Spa facial at the W Hong Kong. 

When to go
Hong Kong due to its proximity to China gets a huge influx of China tourists. On one hand, retail stores run promotions to cater to this influx of tourists (lower prices, packaged deals etc). On the other hand, the jostling in the streets can get quite maddening. The peak China tourism periods in Hong Kong are just before or after Chinese New Year (in 2014, Chinese New Year falls on 31 Jan), the first week of May and the first week of October.

Hong Kong runs their summer sale typically in July, although they have been known to stretch this period longer and longer in recent years. It might start from mid June and end only in September but the steeper discounts are typically in July. 

HK vs Taiwan

Having travelled to both countries in the span of 2 months, I can safely compare them in terms of beauty shopping. Taiwan is highly influenced by Japan in terms of beauty shopping. Many Japanese beauty brands have chosen Taiwan as their first choice to sell outside Japan and many beauty bloggers have commented that the same beauty product could be cheaper in Taiwan than in Japan (the release date in Taiwan is typically later than Japan). Following the global trend, Korean skincare and cosmetics have also entered the Taiwanese market, but is still not as prevalant as Japanese brands. Taiwanese skincare brands also have made a name for themselves internationally, with Naruko, Beautymaker, For Beloved One, My Beauty Diary, My Scheming being the forerunners.

HK, on the other hand, has lots of beauty stores peppering every street (and sometimes 2 branches of the same chain on the same street!). These beauty stores carry an amazing variety of brands from all over the world, including China brands. Mannings also stocks Boots (UK) items, so it is easy to pop in and buy a Boots item replacement if you're from UK. Among the brands I spotted in Watsons HK (but did not spot in Watsons Taipei) were Max Factor (a full display, similar to Maybelline New York) and Racinne Skincare.

I would say offhand that there are more Korean skincare and cosmetics brands (both official and unofficial stores) in HK than there are in Taipei. Other than Sulwhasoo and History of Whoo (which are in both HK and Taiwan), I came across another LG Beauty store in HK which stocks Isa Knox and Cathy Cat.

Max Factor limited edition collection with mascara, eyeliner and 3 nail polishes

If you have any questions, do let me know and I will try my best to answer them.

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