Summer holidays are here, and you know what that means – travelling time! One of the reasons for me coming to Korea for the year was so that I could visit other countries in Asia (although, with the job I have, we don’t get a huge amount of time off). So when the time came for me to decide where I should go, I was completely overwhelmed with choices. I want to visit everything! In the end, flights and my bank balance brought me to a swift conclusion – Taiwan and Japan. My boyfriend flew out to join me in Korea, and after a few days here, we hopped over to Taipei, then a week later or so, flew out to Fukuoka in Japan, and had an absolute blast. But you guys don’t care about that. Let’s be honest, one of the reasons those two countries resonated with me so hard was the serious beauty culture in both. So here I am to tell you all about my beauty travels.
Korean women are extremely stylish, and always seem to have perfect make-up, in my eyes at least. I didn’t get so much of that vibe in Taipei. While people were certainly fashionable, there didn’t seem to be so much of a uniform clothing trend that people in Korea follow so readily. Sure, there are similar styles here and there, but the emphasis seemed to be much more on individuality, which I really liked. Taipei has a really laid-back feel to it, and it was easy to soak up the carefree, fun atmosphere. I didn’t notice much of a make-up trend in Taiwan (i.e Korean girls nearly all, without fail, wear lip tints), but the radiant, bright faces of the models in adverts all around the city indicated the trends were similar to Korea, pushing clear skin, pale-faced goals on all of us.
Much more is talked about online regarding Japanese beauty trends, so I already knew a little bit about what to expect regarding women’s make-up over there. The clothing was beautiful – I already love Korean style, and Japan is like the next level in fashion. I gawked at pretty much everyone passing by me, in awe of just how cool they were. Wide bottomed ankle length trousers and boyfriend fits were hugely popular. The Korean ‘wearing glasses without actually having any glass in them’ trend doesn’t seem to have made it over there. Make-up wise, the cute, rosy-cheeked look was everywhere. Girls wore pink colour underneath their eyes, and along their cheeks, in copious amounts. Bright, candy floss pink, teamed with a pair of false lashes flecked in mascara, and a swoop of eyeliner, was the way to go. There was also a big festival at the Fukuoka Dome while we were over there, so I got to witness fan-girls and boys out in droves. I applaud their dedication – hardly a person there was without a fan t-shirt, bandanna, the group’s name written on their face, and some other form of merchandise or ten attached to their bodies. The make-up got bigger and better when it came to concert-going. Bejeweled faces, sparkly eyes, and war paint to the max. I can’t claim to be an expert, though – these are just my views from brief trips.
So where did I go? What did I buy? What’s it like to shop in these places? I thought I’d piece together a little mini-guide of the shopping I did, for those of you who might be interested in doing beauty shopping in these places in a short space of time (just like me!), so you can cram in all your sightseeing easily.
Taipei and Fukuoka – a speedy shoppers’ guide.
Where to go:
Shops that stock Taiwanese brands are usually not the singular ‘road shop’ style that is found so readily in Korea. It is more common to do your beauty shopping in a big drugstore that stocks several brands, from all across Asia, in one place. It can be quite hard to determine what is and what isn’t Taiwanese when shopping – the Japanese beauty industry has a heavy influence on the Taiwanese one (more so than in Korea), and there is an abundance of products shipped over. If you’re useless like me, and can’t see much of a difference between Chinese and Japanese (as the Japanese used in logos is often kanji, the Chinese symbols used in the Japanese language), it can be hard to tell them apart, so do your research about the brands you want to buy before going, if buying Taiwanese brands is what you’re after.
The big stores with a huge selection are usually in any big metro area (where you might change lines, for example). Look out for Watson’s and CosMed, the two giants which stock a huge range, that can be found almost everywhere. Watson’s is more frequently seen, and the prices are similar in both. Ximending has the highest concentration of Watson’s (I think I saw at least four), and there is a CosMed there too. Big Cosmeds/Watson’s can also be found at Longshan Temple Station, Shilin, Songshan, and Gongguan. Most of these places have a night market really nearby so you can go in the evening, shop a little, and snack a little – the best way to do it in Taipei!
If you are looking for Korean brands, then Ximending is again the place to be. You will find Nature Republic, Tony Moly, and The Face Shop there, all within a stone’s throw of one another. Below I’ve included my drawn-on terribly phone map of the area, which I made before I went to the shopping area.
Across from the CosMed, there is also a pretty temple, and a bubble tea shop called Coco – try their three delights bubble tea with tapioca, grass jelly, and sweet Taiwanese pudding!
What to buy:
Some of the most popular Taiwanese brands available to you will be:
My Beauty Diary, Naruko, My Scheming, Dr. Morita, MeGustaMe, Dr. Wu, L’Herboflore (NB. not usually in drugstores – find in the Taipei 101 shopping area)
If you want to buy Korean or Japanese, you have many options. Korean road shops are located mostly in Ximending, but are scattered throughout the city and can easily be found on a quick Google search. I didn’t look in any of the Korean shops as I have enough access to them at home, but from my flick through other blogs, prices are relatively similar, and most products are too. Some specific collections are not available, such as The Face Shop X Disney.
Japanese products are everywhere and are about the same price as they would be in Japan. There are also products from across other parts of Asia but they are not so readily available. In Korea, there is only a select variety of Hada Labo products, but in Taiwan nearly everything can be found (the Premium versions are harder to get your hands on), including the 3D red bottles and Shirojyun masks. The Hada Labo Shirojyun masks were actually more abundant in Taiwan (I only saw them in duty free in Japan at a ridiculous price), so snap these up there if you can.
The 5th tallest building in the world, Taipei 101, also sells masks at their gift shop, such is their popularity. There you can buy Dr. Morita and My Beauty Diary sets of ten for around $10, with special Taipei 101 packaging and an extra free mask pack.
Gudetama products are absolutely everywhere. You can find foot peeling masks, lotion, toner, moisturising cream, and sheet masks with this little guy on. Most of the Gudetama products are made by My Scheming. I found most of the Gudetama products in the CosMed in Ximending, and the CosMed in the Longshan Temple station.
My star find was a Doraemon X A’Pieu cushion and Missha Hello Kitty masks in the Watson’s near Songshan station. Taipei’s love for cute means things no longer available in Korea are out on the street here, so get digging!
Beauty products are cheap here. On my first big shop, I got roughly 40 masks, including a Gudetama pack, a moisturiser, and sunscreen (Biore is very popular in Taiwan, and cheap too) for about $40. Take advantage of the 1 + 1 offers, and look out for deals and sale days. CosMed had a special 10% off day while I was there. Expect to pay a little bit extra for Korean products, and around the same for most Japanese products. They import such a lot of them that it doesn’t make the prices so high.
If you’re really interested in Japanese products and are only going to Taiwan, there is a Japanese beauty superstore located in Songshan. It has EVERYTHING. I just about died at the wall of cleansers, so imagine what the rest of it is like. It’s not at all expensive, so if you’re serious about your Japanese beauty shopping, head for Songshan station on the green line, and take exit 5 (as far as I remember). Make a u-turn as you come out (don’t head straight forward), and you will see a building with big red signs called Japan Medical. It’s near Raohe night market, which sells incredible street food, so kill two birds with one stone and eat some delicious pork buns while you’re there.
Never in my life have I been somewhere so shopping driven as Japan. In Fukuoka, there are huge shopping centres on practically every street, ranging from the normal to the incredibly high-market. Here is where you are likely to find your beauty goods.
Where to go:
In Fukuoka, you need only go to one place for all your shopping – Tenjin. This district has it all. An underground shopping centre which spans for streets and streets, like a mini-city under the city itself. The Sanrio store and Its’ Demo can be found here, after leaving the subway and entering the underground complex. They’ll be in the tunnels on your left. Outside, in the world where you may forget the sun exists, there are shopping centres and department stores galore. The high-end: Iwataya, Daimaru, and the lower floors of Parco. Go here if you are looking for the beauty counters such as Shiseido and SKII. When looking online, I read Tenjin Core was the place to go, but there were virtually no beauty stores. There is a huge Daiso on the same side of the road in the street behind Tenjin Core, running parallel to the main street, so that’s worth a look. The best department store by far is the Fukuoka Parco, with eight floors and something for everyone. It has cosmetics everywhere, and while you might get lost, you’ll be no more than 50m away from some kind of mask somewhere, so that’s comforting. Head to the health and beauty section on floor 2. On the anime floor in the Parco department store, you can find beauty products interspersed among the manga, soft toys, and irresistible t-shirts. Fukuoka also has several stores claiming ‘duty free’ sales (Japan adds tax when you get to the till), and some of these department stores are included. Walk around and you will see pharmacy-style stores selling a huge range of products at a cheaper, duty-free price. These stores can be found on many streets, but some good ones I found were:
- Round the back of Iwataya department store, at the end of the street where the gaming arcades are located (street’s name is Tenjin Nishi Dori).
- Drug Eleven, 2 Chome-2-14 Tenjin, Chuo Ward, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture 810-0001, Japan.
- Opposite the Nakasukawabata station and Riverain Mall, another Drug Eleven.
What to buy:
Everything. No, seriously. I spent so much money here but it was totally worth it – I’m probably never going to go to Japan again, so I stocked up on masks more than anything. In Japan they sell packages of masks all lumped in together in one, ranging from about 30-50 per packet. These will typically be around 1000-1400 yen. Popular ones are LuluLun, Babysoft, Hada Labo, and Kose. These are everywhere, including in your local 7/11 corner shop. If you want fun gifts to take home, NariKiri masks with Hello Kitty on are everywhere, with fun designs ranging from robots to waving cats. Keep an eye out for fun masks – Japan has some serious sheet mask game. I found a sheet mask that would turn the wearer into a ‘The Grudge’ girl lookalike, and never have there been so many ways to look like everyone’s favourite lazy egg, Gudetama. Great deals can be found on high-end brands such as SKII, Shiseido, and Kose Sekkisei in the aforementioned Parco department store. The SKII Pitera set I picked up, containing the famed essence (75ml), a sheet mask, and a small bottle of clear lotion, set me back 6,800 yen, which is not to be sniffed at considering the duty free shop in the airport sold the single bottle of essence (75ml) at 8,000 yen.
Make sure to head to Daiso and pick up some silicon masks, as they aren’t carried in all Daisos around the planet. They aren’t sold in most Korean ones, and I’m so glad I picked one up as it is amazing when it comes to sheet masking time. I also picked up a little silicone cleansing pad which works rather efficiently in getting right into my pores. One of the most effective cleansing tools I’ve found.
Pick up Hada Labo products that are hard to find online, such as the premium lotion, and mask pack sets. Its’ Demo have some amazing powder compacts with Disney characters on them, and cheek tint puffs which have a huge amount of pigment in them. The airy touch powder puffs are a must from anywhere, with their excellent coverage, soft feel, and pore minimisation. You should also pick up some sunscreen, and in Japan the Biore Watery Gel bottles can be bought in bigger sizes (but not in all shops).
Honestly, with such a huge amount of skincare products available to you, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Masks are a must, but check out the rankings on Ratzilla Cosme before your trip to Japan to see what the public are buying.
Cushion cases are a big no-no in Japan and the Korean craze is barely seen over there. I encountered a few L’Oreal cushion cases, and a Missha one or two, but the circular cases you’ll find are powders. Pick up some of the pressed powder, which rather than being loose, feels more like a cake of powder, and glides happily onto your skin.
Japan lives up to the hype of being expensive, but skincare was one of the only things where I didn’t find prices too ridiculous. Perhaps because in Korea Japanese imports cost rather a lot more. 1000 yen for around 40 masks isn’t a bad price at all, and most decent moisturisers/lotions/emulsions, etc. from brands like SANA will be around the 800-1000 yen mark. This is roughly $8-10. Novelty masks such as the Nari Kiri Hello Kitty ones cost 400 yen ($4), so you do pay more for your fun. It pays to look around different shops as the prices vary rather a lot. The best prices I found were in the duty-free shops mentioned above, and the Parco department store. Always remember that unless the shop says ‘tax free’, your tax will be included when you get to the till. So a 400 yen mask pack is no longer 400 yen – it is about 413 or so when tax is included. It can make a big difference to your shopping if you’re hauling. Stick with tax free if you don’t fancy a nasty surprise.
Many stores offer tax refunds so keep your receipts and take your passport with you if you need to prove tourist status. If you don’t want to risk it (I know I hate carrying my passport around) then just stick to shops that state ‘Tax Free Shopping’ in their windows and double check the prices to see if they include tax or not. In Japan, if tax is not included it will say so. There will usually be two listed prices on the item, or it will have a little symbol written on it which means ‘+ tax’ – so you know to factor that in when making your purchase.
So what did I buy? Below I’ll include my haul pictures, along with a list of everything I bought. If there is something you would really like me to review, please let me know in the comments section! I hope my little guide will be of use, and happy shopping! Both these beautiful countries have so much to offer, in beauty products, and in actual tourist attractions/stunning surroundings. I’d highly recommend a trip to either place.
Masks (clockwise): Kosé Clear Turn Babyish Moisture Mask (50), Dr. Morita Hyaluronic Acid Masks (10), LoveMore Black Pearls True White Mask (5), LoveMore Cubilose Extract Hydrating & Firming Mask (5), Lululun Premium Masks (purchased at airport, didn’t see them elsewhere) (5 x packs of 7), Lululun standard packet (42), Sekkisei Supreme I Have No Bloody Idea What These Are Called (all in Japanese on the packet) (6), Kosé Clear Turn White (30), SK II Facial Treatment Mask, Watson’s Beauty Buffet Mask (4), My Beauty Diary Black Pearl Mask (10 + 1), Hada Labo Gokujyun 3D Perfect Mask (30), My Scheming Gudetama Lazybone Bubble Mud Mask (5), Lululun Gold Mask (42), Hada Labo Arbutin Whitening Mask (4).
Hada Labo: Gokujyun Lotion and Cleansing Oil Pack, Super Hyaluronic Mist, Shirojyun White Sherbert, 3D Perfect Mask, Premium Lotion, and Arbutin Masks.
Gudetama: My Scheming Lazybone Bubble Mud Mask, My Scheming Gudetama Hydrating and Brightening Gel, YourHeart Gudetama Emulsion/Lotion (I’m not 100% sure, I can’t read Chinese), and Gudetama goodies!
Hello Kitty: Hello Kitty Eye Makeup Remover, Bifesta Brightup Cleansing Lotion, Hello Kitty Apple Gommage AHA Cleanser.
Naruko: 2 x Raw Job’s Tears Pore Minimising and Brightening Night Jelly, Taiwan Djulis Plumping and Firming Essence.
Bioré: UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence, UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel BIG Size. I also bought some Bioré milk but am currently using it as I cracked it open while on holiday. I LOVE it, by the way. It has such a nice finish and works really well as a primer.
Japanese randoms: SANA Nameraka Honpo Soy Milk Isoflavone Lotion, Kokuryudo Hipitch Cleansing Oil, Naturie Skin Conditioner (it was listed as being one of the hot products in Japan so I had to try it), Club Airy Touch Powder.
SKII Facial Treatment Mask, Facial Treatment Clear Lotion, Facial Treatment Essence.
And last but not least – Pokemon Its’ Demo Airy Touch Powder. Too pretty to open! Please let me know if there is anything I can review or if you have any questions about any of the products. I’ll leave you with some random (mostly) beauty-related pictures from my travels!
If you’re new to Asian Beauty and would like to find out more, you can head over to Reddit at r/asianbeauty where my username is u/FenellaIce. It’s a wonderful community and you’ll be sure to have all your questions answered, so head over!
This post is part of an AB See, where you can find other great guides and connect with beauty bloggers from all around the world. Check it out by clicking the picture!