PSA: You can buy Hakuhodo brushes (a small selection, mostly J series) at Le Bon Marché in Paris. The department store is paying homage to Japan and its culture, and has imported a lot of usually Japan-only (or Asia-only) fashion and beauty brands. There are also art exhibitions to look at and events and demonstrations to participate in.
The brushes are found on the 2nd floor (usually clothing). It doesn’t have a special stand and no one mans it, so you find what you like and keep it with you and bring it to the till. There are one example of each available brush opened and free for touching so you can feel how soft/firm they are. Prices vary but on the whole very reasonable and not too marked up. There’s a special glass case with really luxurious kabukis as well.
I chose three J series, 242G, 5523 and 210. I was going to get the bigger blush brush but figured I have brushes of similar shape at home but not one like the 210.Also got a pot of the makanai hand cream – sooo silky, this cream absorbs quickly and nourishes the hand but never leaving you feel greasy. Seriously impressed with this one. They have different scents but all of them are quite subtle and have the same fragrance base. The only exception is perhaps the yuzu one, which I’m tempted to get. Also saw the uka hand and nail butter – very good and luxurious but that costs 10 euros more. I think the makanai range are a bit more marked up than they usually cost in Japan. Seeing how I’ve been indulging myself a lot already I figured it’s best not to go too overboard.
The Japanese event continues til 18 October. Meanwhile still no sign of Tom Ford’s Nude Dip in-store nor online.
I’m far from an authority on shopping, I usually leave home with a list of things to check out, or just stick with my standbys and try to do the whole shopping thing efficiently. However I thought a post with some friendly pointers while people are visiting and beauty shopping in Paris may help someone out there. Now I try to be accurate about the information, but don’t hate me if I’m wrong 😦
Some random tidbits:
1. Taxes in France is high. But the price you see has tax included, so there won’t be any surprises at the till.
2. You need to spend a minimum of 175 euros (on one receipt) to qualify for tax refund. See more details on this here.
3. I rarely see exciting GWP/goodie bags. The nice and big GWP bags chocked full of stuff I saw at Clinique/Estee Lauder in the US are sadly absent here.
4. I haven’t seen nor been offered samples scooped/pumped from testers where tester packets aren’t available. However I’ve never asked for one either so I can’t say if this is practiced here. Samples usually come in small packets like those you find in magazines.
5. Good news – you’ll find testers for foundations and lipsticks etc in the supermarket and pharmaicies!
The only thing I recommend you to do, and this applies everywhere, is to say ‘Bonjour’ (or bonsoir). Even (especially?) if you have no intention to buy anything. Greetings are very important here, otherwise you risk coming across as rude and giving a bad first impression, which may or may not influence the service you get afterwards. I understand that perhaps you’re shy/don’t speak French but trust me, saying hello will only work in your favour.
Anyway, because of the tax, and particularly if you are visiting from the US, sometimes it’s just not worth it. You can skip all of our imported brands, and even the French ones like Chanel and Dior. The only exception to this AFAIK is by Terry, which can be cheaper here especially with a tax refund. I base this on the prices I find across various brands on US department store websites/Sephora US and compared it with Sephora FR for example. You *may* find Clarins prices more interesting here, depending on which State you’re from. The brands I looked at are ones that interest me, mostly based in US. I didn’t look at Sisley, for example. Or Valmont.
Unless it’s an LE product/Europe exclusive, or a just-released something that you need to have before it launches at home, I’ll skip it and try to buy at the airport duty-free before your flight home. Or on the flight. Keep in mind though terminals vary at CDG as it does elsewhere in the world and if you’re heading elsewhere in Europe after or not on a direct flight back home you may end up in a terminal that sells nothing.
Everything from Citypharma except the Nivea sunscreen and Bourjois foundation
Everyone knows about the Citypharma, the para-pharmacy that’s said to be the cheapest in Paris, sometimes up to 20% of a markdown. It’s in all the travel guides (I imagine) and all over the internet. I happened to just walk into it years ago without knowing its fame, as I used to live in the area and I would always walk past it while on my way to Pierre Hermé, and be intrigued by the non-stop number of people going in and out.