One of the joys of coming to Asia on holiday — for some people, at least — is the chance to let loose in stores full of skincare and makeup that ranges from the weird and puzzling to cool and cutting-edge.
Snail mucin, eyelid tape, rows of “essence” and skin-nourishing bottles of “water” — bring them on! With a bit of research on the blogosphere, it’s easy to figure out what to buy according to your needs and wants. What’s harder: Knowing where to go in the first place.
Thankfully, there are a few easy-to-get-to commercial beauty centers that offer most of what you probably want in one place (one of them is conveniently located inside a mall that’s attached to the BTS), as well as options for those who want specific stuff, the latest shopping experience, or are in a hurry and can only make getting gorgeous a pit-stop.
Option 1: Third Floor of Terminal 21 mall (better if you prefer a contained, air conditioned experience)
This hip mall is attached to Asok BTS station and made up mostly of endless tiny shops owned by small fashion designers. However, the entire third floor is devoted to beauty shopping.
It features a brand-new Eve & Boy (this is like Thailand’s own Ulta, featuring everything from drugstore brands to high-end names), a NYX store with fabulous trans makeup artists on staff, and outlets from typical Asian beauty shops like Beauty Cottage (where the staffers wear old-fashioned waitress uniforms) and Beauty Buffet.
They also have a store featuring organic beauty products from around the world. All About You carries Giovanni, Mad Hippie, Derma-E and other Earth-friendly brands. On the ground floor, this mall has kiosks from major brands like Origins, YSL, Make Up Forever, and Three.
Option 2: Siam Square (crazy, outdoors, better for K-Beauty)
The truly intense will venture into Siam Square, which is an indoor/outdoor shopping area just steps from BTS Siam station. Inside Siam Square One mall, you can find a football field-sized Eve & Boy, a Gap-sized NYX (with a room for makeovers and makeup classes), and large stores by K-beauty brands Innisfree, Laniege, The Face Shop, and Etude House.
For harder-to-find brands, venture next door to Center Point Siam Square mall. We recommend the Beautrium on the ground floor, which extends on both sides of the mall walkway. It’s also one of the only places to find more obscure Western brands such as Lime Crime and Touch in Sol.
Just next door is also where you’ll find the city’s largest Watson’s pharmacy. This two-floor outlet focuses on drugstore (read: budget-friendly) beauty and skincare.
If it all starts to be too much for you with the unusual routines, unfathomable variations in essences, confusing cushion compacts and more, just gaze across Sukhumvit Road at the giant Sephora on the ground floor of Siam Center. You can take refuge there with all the old familiar favorites.
Option 3: For Japanese Products
If J-skincare is more your thing, head to any of the city’s three Matsumoto Kiyoshi locations. With large stores in MBK mall (BTS National Stadium), Mercury Ville mall (BTS Chitlom) and Central Plaza Ladprao (MRT Ladprao), you can get all your Japanese faves here, from Canmake to Chifure to Leanani to Mote Mascara as well as weird tools that only the most beauty-forward would know how to use.
Option 4: The New Thai Disruptor
Hej Street Beauty is new to the scene but offering stuff that’s hard to find elsewhere. Inside, we found an Essence metallic liquid eyeshadow that we totally swore had not yet been released in Asia.
CEO Jenny Wongjesadasakul told Coconuts that she was inspired by street beauty trends — much like street fashion. Her first store, on Silom Road (BTS Sala Daeng), is open until midnight, and offers “middle to mass” brands, says Jenny, which means that the majority of items in the shop can be had cheaply. They carry a handful of exclusive-to-Thailand brands, including skincare line Chu’s Skin (from Korea) and makeup range Girlactik (from the US), beloved for their matte liquid lipsticks.
She has a smattering of more high-end lines too, like Clinique, Anna Sui, and fragrances from luxury brands.
Read our full interview with Jenny here.
Option 5: When you are on a tight time schedule
If you are just in Bangkok briefly, for business, or your partner just won’t let you shop in peace — you still have a decent option: The BTS.
Most of the bigger BTS stations (Siam, Mochit, and Asok) have beauty shops right inside the station. Beauty Cottage and Beauty Buffet are often featured, but our favorite is Karmart, where you can pick up the cool Cathy Doll line, which makes three day brow tints, a snail mucin and aloe face serum, and liquid lipsticks that we highly recommend. Most products are under THB300 and are great to get a beauty fix on the run.
Cheers to buying beauty products in Bangkok, where the options are pretty limitless and you can leave the city more beautiful than when you arrived.